Frustrated beginner, please help

Well, I did it. Kinda. The setup was a bit improvised, I struggled to find the stop button at first, the audio quality is abysmal, and occasionally I could not stop myself from swearing.

If you still, want to listen, I have uploaded the whole mess to Google Drive. Again, I was too frustrated to continue after about 10 minutes - and most of it is awkward silence while I try to remember. I noticed that my frustration rose every time I had not the faintest idea how to translate a particular phrase - which happened more and more often throughout this session. It was particularly irksome when I couldn’t remember even after listening to the translation.

It may well be that my frustration results from me being too hard on myself, but then the question arises how to change that?

Cheers, Michael

Hi and croeso
The way I (just about) manage my frustration is to think – I know more now than when I started. This seems to me to help keep the barrier of frustration as weak as possible. Also I tend to do the challenges in blocks of two or three and then do nothing for the next few days. It is amazing how much I can then remember especially things that I thought I wasn’t remembering at the time.I don’t know if I have explained this very well but I hope it helps a little bit.


Another quick observation, after I tried to clearly analyze the source of my frustration. It seems to stem from the following situation:

  • I am asked to translate some phrase which I am unable to do because I do not remember some part of it.

  • I get the “solution” (the translated phrase), but trying to simultaneously concentrate on the part I did not remember and the new part that is trained is too much, and I do not retain either.

  • The challenge moves on mercilessly to the next phrase which I possibly can’t translate either.

  • I do not get the feeling I have improved at all - neither the new nor the old vocabulary sticks to memory - and I get frustrated.

Maybe there is something I can do after I don’t know an answer?

Cheers, Michael

Again, not wishing to interfere with Aran’s help, but have you tried doing the lessons whilst doing something else? I cannot do the lessons if I am focusing solely on the lesson. I find the intensity makes me start to panic. I have done hem variously whilst helping my wife ironing, washing up, pottering around the house. It may help?


And yet there are a number of five or six word phrases in there that you got correct… so you definitely have improved…

Interesting. I can hear it’s hard for you, which I wouldn’t have expected with your working memory, so some follow up questions:

Do you speak any other languages apart from English to conversational fluency?

What was your experience of language learning at school like?

What was your favourite subject at school?

And… could you do a similar recording of the first 10 minutes of Challenge 1? :slight_smile:

Hello @Eigentime.

Warm welcome to the forum first!

… wait a minute! Is this another me? :slight_smile:

Now, on the sirious note …

I am (once mentioned here) Tatjana from Slovenia who is learning Welsh from the scratch (ups, I was learning it from the scratch a while ago) and if I wouldn’t know you’re a man I’d think my twin me came on here. I’ve started with Lessons (old course) as there was no challenges yet on here when I came to learn the language but even now, after doing (almost) all material I find Challenges (new course you’re doing) harder then old material especially at the beginning. However, some suggest here you might rather try to go through old Course first. I strongly don’t recommend this though. If you’d begin from the scratch with old material then yes but now, when you’ve already plunged into new one, the old Lessons might make more confusion in your head as new Challenges might already done so stick with what you’ve started.

I’m extreamly happy you’ve started with South version (version with @Iestyn) for the solely selfish reason of the fact that I’m doing it too. :slight_smile:

Saying I thought my twin me has come on here it might help doing a quick glance through Tatjana - Progress Reports topic and find some answers to your problems there. (But don’t get panicked as there are 600+ posts. Pick what you think is useful for you.) Not that my progress was any shinny stars at the beginning but you’d find many useful advises there from @aran and the rest of the forum members who helped me, encouraged me and pushed me further when I was at the edge of stopping to learn. You will see I had many of your problems too and that there’s always a solution to them one way or another if you are really willing to try and change your thinking a bit. You can leave my moanings out if you want … :slight_smile: Oh, and one more thing: don’t measure progress as I did. It will frustrate you even more and actually does not do much good to the process though.

From the recording you’ve made I can feel very strong frustration even before you begin the lessons. Yes, yes, I was frustrated many times before even beginning the lesson, too, but people here FINALLY taught me I just have to take it all as a bit of fun. It’s hard to force yourself not to think about mistakes but in order to you’d learn well you’ll just have to be prepared to do just this. I don’t say you should ignore mistakes, but just collect them somewhere in the rare of your brains and try to correct them next time. If you do the same mistake twice, third, fourth time … no problem. There will come the time it’ll all click and come into placer. Oh, and it will maybe help if you’d speak more boldly, louder even if you say things wrong. At least one word you’ll always say right, I’m sure and speaking louder and at least trying to imitate confidence might energize your learning and you’ll feel much better, believe me. Just spit out what yu think is right and at one point you’ll find yourself being aware you actually said things at least half right if not totally correctly.

To make your thoughts a bit lighter - even now when I’m practically waiting for the Level 3 to come out (South didn’t see the light of the day yet but it will soon), I have those very quiet moments when I just can’t say anything at all. I can’t remember anything but what I do when I hear Cat saying things? Usually I’m trying to say the whole sentence I’ve heard from her simultaniously with Iestyn (yes he speaks a bit quick, but try to catch at least some of it). So, don’t torture yourself when you can’t get things right or you can’t remember them. You’re doing quite OK but your thinking will have to be a bit altered and your perfectionism should be pushed away a bit.

@a_jay did you mean I should post a link to Tiny questions with quick answers thread? Yes, there might be some useful answers there but I’d considder to read them a bit later when being further in the lessons maybe.

To be honest, more advises I don’t have. Aran is the right person to guide you through your problems and frustrations just like he guided me and those posting before me said everythign better then me anyway.

Since you’re new on the forum though you might read Really useful ‘How to’ stuff and other great posts topic especially if you have any problems with how to do stuff on the forum (posting a photo, sending a PM, finding members etc). There are some other interesting stuff also.

Here are also many more other topics which might bring some answers to your questions and problems so if you have some time, you can cruise through the topics and read what seams interesting to you.

Oh, and, hearing from your recording, you’re from German speaking country, aren’t you, so English is your second language already but of course the learning of it was much more different then this system of SSi is I believe. First, as I had to and many others, I believe, you’ll have to adapt to the system itself particulatly not thinking about it as if it wouldn’t be suitable for you. It’s suitable to anyone - for some more for some less though - we just have to change our previously gained “imagination” how learning languages should look and feel like and everything would be OK.

Well, I hope my (yes I know … too long) post might help at least a bit and persuade you to go further a bit boldly, louder and with more confidence. You’ve begun the journey from the Welsh learner to the Welsh speaker. No matter how long this journey will be, you’ll come to the end of the way at one point, becomming a Welsh speaker. But … don’t think the journey ends there. No, at that point the journey is ounly about to begin. :slight_smile:

Oh, and Aran, by the way … my result of test is still 4,5 the 1st time and 3,5 the second … ayayay … me forgetful. But I’ve noticed just what I’ve described above. I’ve got frustrated with if I’ll manage to remember the dots and the result got worse. (just to say)

My feeling is, that I have basically only learned the first half of the first challenge and that I have not made any progress since. I had a lot of fun that first time even though I did struggle through the second half. That lack of progress is my main problem at the moment.

Another observation here: I have now worked through the first few minutes of the second challenge three times, but I can not remember the translations for ‘say’ and ‘something’ (the first two new words of that challenge). It’s this lack of progress that gets to me.

My first language is German. I also speak French.

It was quite a disaster. I especially hated the French lessons and just about managed to get a passing grade. Later, I spent a year in France and learned more in each month than in four years of school.

Mathematics. No contest. (I am a mathematician now).

Sure, no problem. It will have to wait for tomorrow 'though - I have to get up at 5 am and it is getting late for me.

Cheers, Michael

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@tatjana, was looking for the pages where Aran explains how to do the lessons. I use an iPad and although the lessons are easy to find, I find navigating around the site really hard and never seem to be able to get back to same place twice! Diolch :slight_smile:

Ah, on the learning page then.

Here you are:

If you click on the “FAQ” link on the right top of any page of SSi you’ll get them on your screen. If this (for some strange coincidence) wouldn’t work, follow this link. Clicking through the tabs on the top of that page you can find many more interesting things like SSiW map of learners, all about Bootcamp and more.


Is it FAQ you want @a_jay? On iPad, when keyboard not showing at bottom of screen is a circle with ‘info’ written in it. Click on that and you get the FAQ list.


Thanks @henddraig and @tatjana :slight_smile:

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The picture I’m getting is that you’re expecting full control over new items - and that isn’t how the system works. And your love for mathematics would certainly fit with the usual academic ‘you’ve either learnt it or you haven’t’ approach… but your results with French in France show that communicative approaches (which is what the SSi Method is at heart) work for you…

If you imagine memory as being like a sink that you’re filling with water - and the point at which you have conscious control of a new memory is the point at which the sink overflows - every bit of water you add (=every exposure to a word/structure) is getting you closer to a full sink - but because we only know we’ve learnt something when the sink starts to overflow, you’re not conscious of all the successful work that is happening before that point.

So you get exposed to a word/structure again - a little more water goes into your sink, but all you know is that your sink isn’t full yet. More exposure, more water - but it still feels as if nothing’s happening. Eventually, you’ve almost filled the sink - but it STILL feels as though you’re not making any progress. It’s naturally frustrating.

But the fact that you’ve been repeating 1 and 2, and feel that you’ve ‘learned’ the first half of 1, suggests to me that the process is working for you.

I’d recommend that you abandon your scruples, work straight through to Challenge 10 without any repetition, in 10 minute blocks if that’s all you can bear, and then see how you feel about 2… :slight_smile:


Well, I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help, but I’m not iTechy person for I don’t know why actually but I am reluctant to use any iDevice. Maybe due to the price of all this stuff what gives me a feeling of prstige, and prestige is not something for me …

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Me too, I am only supposed to use the iPad for work as it is theirs… ssshhhhhhh, don’t tell! Wouldn’t pay for one myself!

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Hello @tatjana,

Thank you for taking the time to help me. I have started to go through your progress report, and I did give me some encouragement to keep on trying. It will take me some time to go through it all 'though.

Cheers, Michael

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Hello @aran,

It’s not that I want full control, but I would have liked the feeling of progress. In the more traditional systems of learning a language you see lots of progress early on and thus are motivated to continue.

Anyway, I will do as you suggest and continue on with the challenges. I am not yet convinced that this is the best method for me, but I am willing to accept your authority on that. In addition, I am highly motivated to go on because I am very curious to see what will happen when I work straight through the challenges. Quite an interesting experiment. If anyone is interested, I can create a seperate thread in the forum to give periodic updates on my progress.

Cheers, Michael

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A lot of our learners report this sensation too - and it’s clear from the recording that you’re having a few more difficulties in the early stages than I would usually expect, so I think you’re wise to remain slightly sceptical as to whether or not this is the right way forward for you. I’d quite like to get you into an imaging device while you’re doing this, but unfortunately we don’t have the funds for that yet…:wink:

It would be great to have the same kind of input from your journey as we had from Tatjana - no need to start a separate thread for it, just here would be fine… :slight_smile:

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Panic not! Someone in their comments said - you don’t learn in a straight line - that is so true. For my part - I find it extremely useful - nay essential - to see the words written down - then I know what I’m aiming for, At the start of each new section, I work with the vocab for the section up on screen. Seeing the word makes it stick in my head. Actually writing it down - makes it stick even better.
But - I believe to start with …you have to learn…to learn. You will find your own pace and style. Soon you’ll do those two lessons and come on here and say…What was all the fuss about! But…relax and enjoy.


For other readers - we recommend NOT doing this.

Seeing the words ALWAYS feels easier… but the desirable difficulty of not being sure what you’ve heard, and focusing more on your listening as a result, has beneficial effects on your accent and also seems to be helpful with developing your understanding of the spoken language… :slight_smile:


Fair point, fair point. I just wanted to share what works for me and it really does work for me. But…we’re all different and learn in different ways. I like to see the physical shape of a word - like having a blackboard in my head! It also helps (me) with sentence structure. Having said that - aural teaching is very exciting. I’ve learned oodles of stuff from watching Pobl Y Cwm and have no idea how they’re written! :relaxed: