Garry Owen Show: Correcting Learners? How much is too much?

I’m about to be on the Garry Owen show at about 13.40 discussing the matter of correcting learners, how much is too much - in relation to an incident where a learner on Twitter complained that she found that people were correcting her all of the time and it had a really negative effect on her.

So if anyone has any strong points/thoughts on the matter, get tuned into Radio Cymru now! Would love to hear your views too, give Garry a call!


It’s hard to say. Perhaps it depends on the level of the learner and the nature of the correction? If I’m saying something nonsensical or something that sounds very odd to Welsh ears, then I want to know about it. On the other hand, if I’m in a conversation I probably don’t want to be picked up on the finer points of grammar that even some first-language speakers might get wrong.

And it depends on the way the mistake is corrected. Gently suggesting there’s a better, more appropriate word for something is different to insisting that someone say something a certain way.


Bonus… a certain Iestyn ap Dafydd shows up as well, talking total sense :smiley:


Extra Bonus… Dee McCarney shows up as well… talking more total sense!

…and a text from Nia Llewellyn.

SSIW out in full force this lunchtime!


That’s a great opportunity! Thanks for sharing, Nicky. For those of us in the US who are now seeing this for the first time, is there a way to catch a re-broadcast or a podcast? Ifan Evans yn chwarae rwân.



Yeah usually an hour or so after the show it becomes available for catch up.

I will upload a link shortly :slight_smile:


I agree with what you have said here. If you and I were having a casual conversation and you were to say something that would be along the same lines as “I food to eat” or something like that - sure it’s not technically correct, but I can make sense of what you are saying, so there’s no need to correct it (unless you have specifically asked to be corrected whenever something isn’t perfect). Since you are learning, and I understand what you are saying, no big deal - no correction required. But if you were to say “I food to throw” that might make less sense. I guess the correct thing to do in this example would be to ask you "did you mean to say that you intend to throw food? In which case you’d probably say that’s not what you intended. Then I could offer you the correct way to say what you are saying.


Hope this helps, ironically - please excuse any mistakes as I did the translation while taking part in a conference call in work!


Garry: Prynhawn Da Nicky!
Garry: Good Afternoon Nicky!

Nicky: Shwmae, shwmae!
Nicky: How are you, How are you?

Garry: Oeddech chi’n clywed Sofy yn siarad i fi fan hwnna, dych chi wedi cael y brofiad 'na? a sut dych chi’n ymateb os rhywun wedi codi gyda chi lle mae rhywun wedi ddweud “Hey Nicky na, dyw hwnna ddim yn iawn”?
Garry: You were listening to Sofy speaking to me then, have you had that experience? And how do you respond if someone points out to you and says “Hey Nicky, no - that isn’t correct”?

Nicky: Welais i 'mo sylwadau gan Sofy tan bore ma, a rhaid i fi ddweud bo fi’n adnabod yn llwyr y broblemau mae hi’n son am.
Nicky: I didn’t see Sofy’s comments until this morning, and I have to say that I recognise completely the problems she is discussing.

Nawr i fi, mae’n rili rili dibynnu ar y context wrth cwrs. Os ydych chi’n son am y gweith-lle, lle byddech chi angen siarad gyda’r cyhoed yn gyffredinol - mae’r safonau’r iaith yn bwysig iawn - felly, yn sefydliadau fel hyn, fi’n hollol deall pan bydd rhywun yn ddweud pethau fel 'na - achos sydd angen.
Now to me, it really really depends on the context of course. If you’re talking about the workplace, where you’ll need to speak with the general public - the standards of the language are very important - so in situations like this, I completely understand why someone would say things like that - because there’s a need.

Ond, dw i’n deall y broblem hefyd, mas o’r gweith-le, mas y swyddfa - pan ti’n cael pobl sy’n meddwl mae nhw’n helpu ond yn ffaith yr unig peth mae nhw’n gwneud ydy brifo…
But I also understand the problem, out of the workplace, out of the office - when you get people that think they are helping but in fact, the only thing they are doing is hurting…

’sdim ots 'da fi pan mae bobl cywiro fi i ddweud y gwir, ond fi’n gallu gweld llawer o ddysgwyr edrych at sylwadau fel hyn a jyst feddwl “Nah, I can’t be bothered anymore, not doing it!”.
It doesn’t matter to me when people correct me to tell the truth, but I can see lots of learners looking at comments like this and just thinking “Nah I can’t be bothered anymore, not doing it!”

Garry: Ie, achos dyna’r peth ife? Dych chi’n credu bydd pobl yn rhoi lan Nicky? Achos dyna beth mae Nia yn ddweud fan hyn ond yw e, dw i jyst yn ddiddordeb fan hyn - llinell denau/thin lines, medda hi sy’n rhoi lan a pharhau i ddysgu, mae’n gallu gwneud mae hyn i gyd yn y gwneud ar cefnogaeth mae dysgwyr yn ei gael. Pa mor denau yw’r llinell 'ma rhwng cario ymlaen a rhoi’r gorau iddo hi?
Garry: Yeah, because that’s the thing isn’t it? Do you believe that people are giving up Nicky? Because thats what Nia says here isn’t it, I’m just interested here - thin lines, she says, giving up and continuing to learn, it can make the support the learners get. How thin is the line between carrying on and stopping?

Nicky: (Dy)na’r y peth a shwmae i Nia, achos fi’n nabod Nia yn bywyd go-iawn a mae hi’n ferch hyfryd.
Nicky: That’s a thing and hi to Nia, because I know Nia in real life and she’s a lovely girl.

Fyddwn ni ddim yn denu pobl i rhoi cyfle i’r iaith taswn ni gweiddu rheolau grammadeg iddo nhw bob munud y diwrnod.
We will not attract people to give the language a go if we shout grammar rules at them every minute of the day.

Mae yna amser a mae yna lle i cywiro rhywun - a mae’n bwysig i ni gyd i syweddoli hwn. Os ti’n siarad gyda rhywun, a mae nhw wedi gwneud cangymeriadau ond ti’n dal yn deall beth mae nhw’n golygu - symudwch ymlaen!! byddwn nhw’n dysgu lawr y ffordd rhywbryd - jyst gad i fe fod. Yr unig pethau bydde ti’n gwneud ydy jyst llad eu hyder nhw, neu rhywbeth fel 'na. Mae’n mwy bwysig bod pobl yn siarad yr iaith, nage bod pobl siarad yr iaith cant y cant cywir bob dydd trwy’r dydd.
There’s a time and a place to correct someone - and it’s important that we all recognise that. If you speak with someone and they have made mistakes but you still understand what they mean - move on!! They will learn down the road at some point - just let it be. The only thing you will do is just kill their confidence, or something like that. It’s more improtant that people speak the language, not that people speak the language 100% correct all day, every day.


Actually, if I could just correct one or two things there… :wink:


I missed your section Nicky, but I’ll catch up with it later, so thanks for the transcript. But I did hear @Iestyn and @Deborah-SSi just as I drove back from Machynlleth. The points they made really chimed with me.

It reminded me of a time when I got to the point I was just not opening my mouth for fear of making mistakes and appearing to be an idiot - a particular problem for perfectionists like me. Aran suggested that I shouldn’t stop talking until I had made at least 5 mistakes (that I knew about). There was some talk about knocking spots off pink elephants, and I remember downloading the outline of an elephant, drawing circles on it and then colouring them in when I went to SSiW meetups! Serves the same purpose as the dried peas in the pot at bootcamp. If I can find them, may be I’ll bring them to the next Clonc-edigion. :wink:

(PS They have to be the mistakes that I recognise myself - I don’t want everyone else pointing out that I need to get my crayons out!)


Thank you Nicky for the transcript I missed you all.
This is something I struggle with with my daughter. She corrects my pronunciation which I find fine and slightly amusing ( in sense well done her that she can do that). However school don’t appear to teach a word pre mutation so if I say a word like cath and she says gath we both think the other is wrong depending on context which creates a challenge.
When out in the world talking to others it’s an internal challenge between wanting to get it right and not wanting to feel dumb. When actually it doesn’t matter as long as what you say makes sufficient sense for the conversation to flow all is well. I just need to remember that at the time.


Generally, I like to be corrected as I’ve no idea if I speak rhubarb! However, my husband likes to correct my Welsh pronunciation but he doesn’t speak Welsh! I think it may just be that male thing where they know just how to improve how you are doing everything? It drives me mad!


Diolch yn fawr Nicky for the translation. I was able to understand about 70% of what you said and learned new words and phrases! It was very helpful for a learner like me. Very much appreciated.


Hi Nicky,
You’re spot in. Damaging someone’s confidence is potentially someone giving up on the language.
Personaly if I’m not making any sense, I don’t mind a gentle correction, but as you say if it’s pretty much understandable, let it be and let the scwrs flow.
Fortunately SSiW let’s us love our mistakes!
Today in Dosbarth Nos I received 4 A4 sheets just about mutations and the correct ones to use!! No wonder people give up faced with a barrage of rules that in reality make not a great deal of difference in conversational Welsh.


And the fact is that you’re never going to learn them from sheets of paper. The only way you’ll ever get to the stage where you’re getting them ‘mostly right’ (i.e. native speaker standard) is by conversing with other speakers, and the only way you’re going to be able to do that is through the kind of confidence that will only be gained by a) not worrying about it and b) not having conversations interrupted by constant pointless corrections.


Hate to say it but I find welsh speakers the worst for this. I spent 4 months working in Germany. I speak German reasonably well but definitely not fluent - don’t think I was ever corrected as long as they could understand what I was trying to say. In welsh as soon as I open my mouth most people will correct my pronunciation (and most of the time I can’t hear any difference…) I simply reply in English now whilst the conversation continues in cymraeg as they know I understand most of it and ask if I don’t.

Where in Wales are you? Just to be prepared if I decide to travel there. :wink:

By the way, I think it would be interesting to find out if the same people would do the same with English. Like, with a foreigner who doesn’t pronounce English words correctly.
Maybe it’s the guys, not the language.
Or yet another test, if they would do the same with a foreigner who’s trying to speak Welsh - rather than a Welsh adult trying to speak Welsh.
Just curious!

To be honest it’s been in most areas (north wales in areas where it’s common to speak Welsh as first language). Not many from abroad trying to speak English though I haven’t noticed them being corrected (they just usually aren’t understood). It’s usually fine, for example if I’m in work and trying to speak to kids/older adults - it’s usually more when I’m in the community and I suspect they’re trying to help, it just annoys me!

I’d be very surprised if any Welsh speaker would pick you up for sounding slightly “European”. Although you might go back home sounding slightly Welsh. In fairness, I’ve never ben corrected in the Swansea area. Most speakers seem to love the fact that I’m making an attempt and if anything seem amused if a little envious at my language and dialect mixing.

I have noticed other new speakers correcting themselves a lot though.

One thing that did used to happen, not so much now, was people correcting my pronunciation of place names. However as I live on a sort of dialect border its generally overlooked.

Digressing slightly, I have a friend who reckons that everyone from a different town to him is either not Welsh enough or too Welshy :grinning:


I’ve just listened to this and thought it was very intetesting, thanks for the link @Nicky (the section in question starts at 30:44 for anyone else to listen). A couple of really important bits for me … @Iestyn says, and then Neil (teacher in the NE area, and thoroughly nice bloke to boot) emphasises more, that if you hear someone making a mistake and you think it’s important enough to correct, the best way is to try work it into the conversation yourself but said correctly, thus hopefully easing the correct version into their mind without them directly knowing. I found this helped me immensely (and still does) when done for me and, unless asked directly, the only way I’d “correct” someone else.

Also, the thing mentioned by @Deborah-SSi about the jar of peas is genius. If you realise that you’ve made a mistake then you put a pea in the jar, that way confirming the you recognise your own mistakes and know either what to say instead or when to ask for help. Brilliant idea.