Frustrated beginner, please help

Bern = been.

I have heard this so many times that people who have failed to reach any kind of fluency with traditional methods, but then find it a revelation to fly through SSIW and suddenly find that they can speak Welsh after all!

For exercising your Welsh conversation muscle, this method is indisputably brilliant.

The jury might still be out as to whether pushing all beginners through the challenges with no repetition is necessarily the best strategy. I suspect I might have found that tough. Like many other ‘beginners’ (very many, I suspect) I’d briefly tried learning a few years earlier. So I already had some idea what it was all about, and I went on to use the old courses very successfully and happily - although not in the currently recommended way at all.

It would be terrible to put any people off.

I know there’s a lot of people around using SSIW lessons as part of a range of strategies. Maybe more discussion of that would be useful.

I can’t quite remember why I started sounding off about the detail of writing language courses earlier in the thread - sorry about that. The point I wanted to make was that doing the lessons needn’t and shouldn’t be unpleasant and frustrating. In fact it absolutely mustn’t be or people won’t do it!

I hope you can find a happy strategy @Eigentime that makes your personal best use of these resources!


Hi Michael,
I’ve been following this thread and your progress as an interested, also brand new SSiW learner. I have nothing to reference in terms of learning language in different ways, except high school French over 30 years ago.

I find this challenging for sure but I quickly took recommendations from the forum and I gave up having ANY expectations. I set a goal of about half a lesson at one time, 5 days a week minimum, and I have no specific goal as to when I will be speaking/reading/writing fluently - only that I will. I may have misunderstood the recommendation about doing 10 lessons straight through. Was that in one sitting? I couldn’t fathom doing 2 lessons straight through without stopping, let alone 10. I do 10-15 minutes, sometimes 20 in one sitting and if that’s all my brain can handle in a day I am fine with that. I feel a little bit of frustration when I pick up the lesson later in the day or the next day and can’t get the sentences out before Catrin but letting myself off the hook and continuing on has made the whole process so much more enjoyable and I can see that I’m learning, however slowly. The less stress I feel around it, the better I do. I work a lot of hours, have kids, live in America… who needs the extra stress?! Noone is forcing me to learn Welsh - this is a personal choice, and I expect I’ll be learning/fine tuning for the rest of my life.

All of that blah blah blah is to say…you sound like a seriously smart, accomplished, and diligent man and will assuredly reach your goal. From the outside it really looks as though you are expecting far too much of yourself, and the stress isn’t helping. For all I know, you have a reason why you must learn the language as fast as possible but, if that’s not the case, do you think slowing it down and forcing yourself to let go of the high expectations would produce fewer stress hormones thus allowing for more positive feelings during a lesson and smoother integration? Oh, here’s a good example, I was doing my usual morning lesson last Friday (again, a portion of the whole lesson) and got an urgent call from a client in the middle of the lesson. The stress hormones kicked in and once I got off the phone I absolutely couldn’t concentrate when I picked the lesson back up. I had to cool off for some time before I could go back.

Anyhow, I’m cheering for you from the sidelines. Here’s my disclaimer: I am no expert on anything I said above. I’m just nosy, I’ve been through years of therapy to manage anxiety (hence, all the talk about stress hormones), and I wish for you to enjoy learning Welsh. :vulcan:


My goodness! I don’t think anyone could manage that and still be getting anything out of it by the end!
When people talk about that, they are referring to doing 10 challenges in order, without repeating any.

Phew, I’m exhausted just thinking about doing 10 in one sitting!


@M2017 I thought the same, my head hurt just thinking about it. Thanks for clearing that up. :slight_smile:

Helo pawb.

Now for the clearance this 10 in a row a bit (and some more gooddys).

10 Challenges without repetition usually is thought as doing a challenge a day (or more if it feels like that) without going back and usually without using pause button. This doesn’t mean you must do 10 challenges in one go (in one day or so)

I’m not sure did I miss something somewhere, but there was never recommendation of doing 10 challenges in a row as the best method but as much as I can recall @aran’s strategy, he usually uses this method as a test of one’s ability and feel like when finishing them all (10 in a row without repetition (not at once)) and going back to older (probably most hard at the beginning) Challenge. So as I recall there was never mentioned anywhere this method is the most suitable or the best to go with. But as I said, it might be I’ve missed something somewhere.

Then on … I wouldn’t claim no one can do 10 challenges in a day. Ask @Novem how many she did in a weekend and ask those who survived 5 intensive course how many did they do in a row. If there are 25 Challenges and they had 5 days, they had to do 5 challenges a day to complete everything + activities which Aran put in front of them in the afternoon/evening every single day, what could be equivalent to doing 10 lessons a day as they had to struggle all 5 days entirely in Welsh with no-English rule. Not that all would survive something like that, but there are people who do. All about both 5-days intensives you can read here and in another topic of the same kind, starting here, reading about the first ever testers of the method. But, as I’ve said, not everyone would survive this. I surely wouldn’t. :slight_smile:


Some people do,

I have done six in one day, and I found it really rewarding. I think it might depend on what kind of person you are. I have a friend who does SSiW everyday at a regular time. But I just wouldn’t do that. I know that if I decided to do it everyday that I would miss a day and then feel that I’d ‘failed’. By doing 6 lessons in one day (after all that’s only 3 hours) I felt really excited that I’d managed to do it. So, I prefer to ‘binge’ on SSiW :blush:


The ugly truth is that at the beginning of the 5di we were doing 10 challenges a day. We only slowed slightly as the course went on. It was an interesting experience.


If only we had your stats for your first two repetitions of 2 - I’d be hugely surprised if they showed a bigger jump in results than your two attempts at 3. I don’t think the claim that abcde/abcde is better than aa/bb/cc/dd/ee is extraordinary - we’ve seen it work like that for pretty much everyone who’s done it - I think you’re setting a slightly unhelpful target if ‘better’ has to be ‘extraordinarily better’ instead of just ‘better’. That jump in stats from 3 (take 1) to 3 (take 2) is genuinely excellent - repeated from there up to 25, it would have you ready for Bootcamp (a week of Welsh immersion).

Given your stats on 3, I no longer think you’re on an outside part of the curve for how many repetitions you need…:slight_smile:

Having said that, what you say about getting negative emotions from your ‘misses’ makes me think that you’re right not to try and push on with the accelerated approach. Our fastest learners by and large have a very cheerful approach to ‘mistakes’, recognising them as a vital part of the process, and not suffering negative self-talk about them - which is probably the key element.

I think it’s important (for other readers) to make the point that this is not, judging by your results, a matter of ‘training for better runners’ - the stats are entirely consistent with the approach (and as Tatjana has said, they’re better than hers!).

But it’s also important that you find a way for the learning process not to be as unpleasant as you’ve found this, so I’m glad you’re now looking at customising it…:slight_smile:

With regards to your current ideas:

  • doing the challenges in smaller chunks - yup, sure. We’ve seen quite a lot of anecdotal evidence now that looks as though there’s a neural adaptation to the process of doing the lessons - the more you do, the better you get at doing them - but there’s no harm at all in breaking them up into smaller units.

  • repeating - as we’ve covered above - but since you have a tendency to expect higher mastery of the content than is ideal, you’re facing the real risk of over-repeating and getting stuck - so I would strongly encourage you to choose a maximum number of repetitions per challenge and stick to it.

  • repeating ‘not stuck’ - this, I think, would hugely increase the risk that you become overly focused on mastering each individual item - I’d encourage you to operate on a ‘per lesson’ basis and try to increase your tolerance for how many ‘not stuck yet’ items you can tolerate…:wink:

  • 5 in a row instead - if you mean abcde/abcde/abcde then I think that would make an interesting follow up test (more in terms of your emotional adaptation to it than the stats) - I also think that aabbccddeeffgghhiijj would be quite interesting for you, if you’re still thinking of testing that sort of variation.

  • mixing and matching - I tend to think that following one path at a time is more effective, but that’s quite a personal thing - you might well find that Memrise or Duolingo offer you something that feels refreshing to shuffle with SSi - I’d recommend that you try shuffling, but also that you try some time exclusively on each other approach that you use, in case one of them feels more enjoyable to you as a main methodology…:slight_smile:

Am I right that Anki is just spaced repetition? I’m not entirely sure I see how that would work as an addition to SSi…? :slight_smile:

Nope, sorry - we build based on conversational models rather than vocab lists, so we don’t have any straightforward vocab list files. @Eigentime - we’re always happy for you to use the material in whatever way you want for personal use…:slight_smile:

The current record is 35 sessions in two days - and anyone who’s spoken to @novem will tell you that she certainly got a lot out of it…:slight_smile:


She is, at least in learner’s eyes, fluent Welsh speaker! I bet if she wasn’t before she is now after adding bootcamp experience into the mix of very intensive learning.

Yes, more or less. I have a feeling it works more like Mamrise. You set the goal of how many phrases (or whatever) you’ll study per day and, depending of how you mark your success with each and every of them, they repeat. You study all set phrases until you do them right if you clicked “repeat” button, but even if you don’t the system gives you repetition of mistaken things in set amount of time. Time is counted here with how many new things is set inbetween the repetition of that particular missed one. But, in the contrary of Memrise, you can set all parameters by yourself and totally adapt what, how and what way you’re learning.

I believe the system is good more for “training” your memory then it would be real official addition or way of studying. Actually SSi system already does some sort of such thing it’s just that it’s about listening and speaking and not every Challenge/Lesson has all the repetition but it seams (even if it’s not at all) more like random one what is way more efficiently I’d say.


I’ll be using that with the children from now on when they’re doing maths homework!!!:grinning:
(although when I’m learning Welsh I don’t so much see it as a mistake, more a momentary lapse in the ability to remember)


The difference I see is that Anki is interactive, in that you rate your recollection of an item on a scale and how long it takes until it next repeats depends on that rating. That is spaced recollection as I was first introduced to it. It can also temporarily remove vocab if it detects that it just isn’t sinking in, and then reintroduce it as a new item after a period to give it another chance.

My point about it being a possible direction for SSi in the future was that using the same sort of approach SSi could be better matched to each learners rate of acquisition / memory.

Wow - my record is 2 challenges in a row (the maximum amount of dishes that can pile up before they replace all the tables and there are none to eat from). With some challenges I can imagine getting a third in, but with others just the one is enough! That said, I will soon have a lot of time on my hands for a couple of months, so maybe I’ll give Welsh a go at full throttle.


Ah, right, I see - the rating is a very interesting approach, well done them - yes, we’re definitely interested in being able to customise much more - the interleaving we do (putting items into different contexts) would make it tricky to rate individual items, but I think we could probably do some useful stuff with fairly broad self-rating of whole sentences… it’s probably our next serious piece of work for the SSiBorg… maybe next year, if we’re lucky… :slight_smile:

I think it is only fair to mention that the person who did 35 challenges in 2 days was, I believe, only 15 at the time, 16 at the most and is clearly a very, very clever girl! After all, after moving from Italy to Finland, she had to learn Finnish and Swedish as well as already speaking Italian and English.
I started off having forgotten more Cymraeg that I remembered. and still struggle with my slow 75 year old brain!
We are all different. We learn different subjects more easily than others. Some of us learn all things more easily than others do!
Getting discouraged must be the thing which makes learning harder! Try to do whatever makes learning enjoyable!! As small children, we learn like sponges and mostly without realising it! I like SSiW, because it is more like that natural way than any other I have met. But we all need to add to what we pick up as small children! Reading, word lists… whatever helps! (Me? Too lazy to put in the effort!)

Oh, the other way round, actually. I already spoke Italian and Finnish but had to learn English and Swedish :smile: Ond diolch for the introduction!

Diolch yn fawr for your kind words, I’m blushing :blush: To everyone who is interested in trying the more intensive approach - it’s painful, but also fun if you let it be and relax, and the results possible in such a short amount of time are amazing :smile:


I can sympathise with @Eigentime I’ve just started and I’m having the same problems. The difference in my case is I’ve just completed the Duolingo course so already know a fair number of Welsh words esp in written form but struggle to recall them from memory for speaking purposes, I had hoped this course would help to ‘unlock’ all those words in my memory. The first challenge was ok as I knew all the words bar three so only struggled with the very long sentences; the second challenge however…my memory shut down on me a number of times. I am following the advice contained in the emails - that is don’t use the pause button and don’t repeat; I did repeat the 1st one a couple of times but not the second as I did not want to revisit that car crash as I found it quite distressing. I have done the third one - I had very low expectations for this one which probably helped a bit but I noted that new words weren’t sticking at all, (by ‘new’ I mean ones I’ve never encountered before rather than ones new to that challenge). I certainly don’t want to trash this course but I am also wondering if this is the best way for me to learn - it is so fast and furious and the lessons feel too long - brain fag sets in after about 20 minutes. A very long sentence tends to make my mind go blank so I tried this time to come up with part of the sentence. I do wonder if my ageing brain will be able to grasp much as I am used to a much slower pace!


It happens to all of us, but in trying to say something you are doing the right thing :smiley: .


Um… I can see that’s extremely kindly meant, but it’s sort of the opposite of what I meant by ‘for personal use’…!

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:anguished: sorry - I interpreted it very differently. Was just trying to give something back. I’ll delete the post.


I absolutely understand that, and appreciate it…:slight_smile:

I think for us there’s a key difference between people wanting to use the materials in alternative ways, and us actually offering/sharing short-cuts for using the materials in alternative ways - which would rather look as though we were encouraging the alternatives, which I’m wary about doing unless we uncover some evidence that they are in fact an improvement on what we’re doing (rather than just a variation)… :slight_smile: