Going to a group for learners

I’ve found a local group for learners that actually meets in-person, and I’m going to try to force myself to go tomorrow night.

I am absolutely terrified. I’ve been to one before elsewhere and kind of ran out of things to talk about after a bit and it was awkward.

It’s also in the posh part of town which makes it seem kind of intimidating! Plus, I’ve just started Lesson 25, Level 1 and it’s not going that well (have had to do it in three parts…) after giving up learning entirely for about two weeks.

Does anyone have any advice? I keep reading on the forum how people who have learnt through SSIW are so much better at speaking than people like me who started with a Dysgu Cymraeg course. Obviously I don’t know what background the other people will have but it’s playing on my mind a lot.

If you have time you might be able to prepare a topic, or two. Holidays? Hobbies? Work? The difficult thing is more likely to be understanding what other people say because it’s possible they have a wider, or just different vocabulary. It’s quite a skill running a group like this, one which I attempted to learn for a while. As a facilitator it’s easy to talk too much and not share the talking time around the group. I’d like to think that the first time will be the hardest and that on subsequent meet ups you will be meeting friends and just happen to be speaking to them in Welsh. Have you contacted the person leading the group? It might make it easier if they are expecting you, and you might be more likely to actually turn up.

Pob lwc. Let us know how it goes.


My advice would be to treat it as both a speaking and a listening opportunity and not to put yourself under pressure (easier said than done to begin with, admittedly). Remember, everyone there will be or will have been feeling exactly the same as you are at the moment, but just go with the flow and say what you can, and keep listening so that maybe you can pick up on what someone else has said and ask them about it if you’ve run out of things to say yourself. And don’t be embarrassed if you have to drop the odd English word in here and there - that’s perfectly normal (even for 1st language speakers! :wink: )


Thanks @margaretnock and @siaronjames

I only emailed the venue before, but I’ve done some more digging and it looks like they’re affiliated with a group called Menter Iaith, so I’ve emailed them too. It’s late notice on my part so if they don’t respond I’ll go anyway.

I tired to write the email in Welsh so hopefully they understand :crossed_fingers:

Yes, I think these groups must be very hard to moderate- I used to go to an online one with Dysgu Cymraeg and it was generally only one very chatty person talking. From the tutor’s point of view I can see how you’d be torn between giving the other people chance to speak and letting someone whose clearly enjoying themselves carry on! :slightly_smiling_face:

Also, let me know if this should go in the ‘quick questions’ thread instead, but I was wondering how you’d say ‘just’ as in ‘Do you mind if I just listen tonight?’

Oes ots gyda nhw os dw i… gwrando arnoch chi heno yn lle siarad? (?)

I know ‘dim ond’ is ‘only’ but I’m not sure how to fit it into a sentence.


gyda ti? gyda chi?

But, I would still try and speak ASAP. Otherwise you’re just putting off the scarey bit of the equation, the SAY bit of learning a language.

You can shorten ‘dim ond’ to “mond” and pop it in the gap - but I’ve made a couple of other tweaks too -
Oes ots gyda chi os dw i mond gwrando heno yn lle siarad?

When I used to run online show&tell sessions, I would sometimes get people who said this, and that of course was no problem, however, I’d always check in with them at various points to see if they did in fact fancy having a go at anything, or if they were coping ok with what was being said, so even if the leader doesn’t do this, remember that even though you’ve said it, it doesn’t mean you can’t jump in when the mood takes you! :wink:


Oh my God I can’t believe I put ‘nhw’. Sorry about that, I KNOW ‘chi’ is ‘you’. For reference I am very stressed today. Hate making stupid mistakes.

Thanks for correcting anyway.

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I just wanted to second what Siaron said about listening. Be upfront about how much you’ve learned and don’t put yourself under too much pressure. Questions people are likely to ask: Where do you live? (i.e. are you living locally or are you visiting on holiday?) Where do you come from originally? (if you’re not Welsh born and bred.) How long have you been learning? What job do you do? (Or did you do if you’re now retired.)

Yes, those are cliched questions, but I’ve found that that’s what we tend to ask new people who come to our informal chat group. So if you can work out answers in advance to those questions, you’ll be able to reply more confidently.


… or, indeed, if you are :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks everyone.

I am going to go to the group, but making stupid mistakes like writing nhw when I meant chi like above (which are happening more and more for me at the moment for some reason) make me think I ought to just listen for now.

I will let you know how it goes. I’m extremely nervous to be honest.

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I’m sure it will be fine, but how about saying something like Dw i’n nerfus iawn ond dw i’n moyn trio siarad tipyn bach when you arrive, so people will understand how you feel and be supportive.

Let us know how you got on, and where the group is. Perhaps other SSiWers would like to join in as well so you’d have company :slight_smile:


Pob lwc i chi! You’ll be fine, I’m sure of it - I’ve heard a lot of good things about Menter Iaith groups.

Well, I did go in the end. Unfortunately it didn’t go very well, but that’s not the group’s fault.

It turns out everyone else there was much, much better than me (either near-fluent or first-language speakers, I think). People had to speak slower for me which was disheartening, and I had to say “Sori, dw i ddim yn deall” twice in a row. Sometimes they had to resort to English to speak to me.

I was using the occasional English/Wenglish word in a sentence when I didn’t know what it was and I don’t think it went down very well. Always hard to tell if people don’t mind that kind of thing or not.

I’m incredibly embarrassed and really put-off, to be honest. I left after an hour and a half and apologised for my lack of skills. I’ve been learning since January 2020- shouldn’t I be better by now? I have nearly finished Sylfaen 2 through Dysgu Cymraeg and I feel like I’ve been going at this for ages now. I do wonder if my accent is bad too- I come from a part of England with a ‘recognisable’ accent and it must come over when I speak Welsh since people kept asking me where I am from and how long I’ve been learning.

I didn’t think my listening skills were that bad- I usually do the SSiW listening challenges once a day. I’ve slipped with my listening to Radio Cymru, but when I’m stealth-eavesdropping on Welsh conversations at work and in town I can understand a surprising amount… But when I was at this group I just freeze and my mind goes blank. I don’t understand why. Grammar and vocabulary just leaves my head. Simple stuff I could easily say if I was on my own :frowning:

Feel like I’ve let everyone down to be honest. I know almost ALL of my posts here on SSiW are negative, and I apologise for that, but I just can’t seem to enjoy learning like so many others do.

I’ve decided to carry on with my Dysgu Cymraeg course and SSiW and to send the organiser of the group an email to apologise. I will try again with a speaking group when I’ve learnt more. I just don’t understand what I’m doing wrong!

I suspect you’re being really hard on yourself. It’s a new and stressful situation, which you chose to put yourself in. Of course you are tongue tied and words disappear from your mind. Any Menter group would prefer you to use Wenglish than not to speak at all.

The asking how long you’ve been learning and where you come from are just questions that Welsh people ask. It’s a way of breaking the ice.

For all you know, because you can’t read people’s minds, they thought you were doing very well for the stage of learning you’re at, that covid has interrupted your learning, that you’re very nervous. There might have been people there who berated themselves for exactly the same things that you are. Fluency is an ‘end of the rainbow’ sort of thing and all you can ask of yourself is to be a bit better than last week, not that you’ve arrived at some imaginary destination. And even if you don’t feel that you are better this week than last it’s not a moral failing, it’s called being human. Tonight was not a disaster, but maybe was a hiccup.

Be kind to yourself.

End of sermon.


Thank you @margaretnock

It’s so hard battling the anxiety. Most of my brain power is going towards stopping myself having a panic attack in public and it doesn’t leave a lot for producing sentences in Welsh.

It just seems like I’m listing excuses now, but I’ve always struggled with hearing what people are saying. My hearing just isn’t very good- never has been in situations where there are multiple conversations going on at once.

I think I might have offended a couple of people there as they were selling tickets to a Welsh-language gig. I’d already made the point that live music isn’t my thing, and was tired and fed up by that stage.

I might go back to that group next month, but until then I’ll look at the list that Menter Iaith sent me and ask more questions of the organiser before going re. necessary level of competence.

As Margaret said, it’s quite possible that people were impressed with the amount of Welsh that you could speak, but also with the fact that you were willing to get out and use your Welsh.

I’m learning Basque as that’s where I live now and I’m in exactly your situation. I go along to conversation groups and everyone is better than me. I often can’t understand them when they speak, especially in a noisy environment, and I feel embarrassed that I have to ask them to repeat things, then I still can’t understand. I thought they must all think that I don’t belong in the group because I struggle so much, but when I expressed that to one of the members as we were walking home afterwards, she was astonished and said they all think I’m doing really well and they admire my persistence.

So don’t give up! Keep at it, and perhaps at the beginning ask “Could I just say in English that I’m still finding it hard to understand spoken Welsh and to think of what to say, but I’m determined to improve, so please bear with me”, then stick to as much Welsh as possible.

Menter Iaith exists to help Welsh speakers of all levels, so take a look at their website, register in their emailing list to receive news, then go along to as many of their events as you can. Immerse yourself in the language and it will come. All of those in the group that have learnt Welsh and are now speaking easily were once in your position. Dal ati! Keep it up!


As others have said, I think you’re being too hard on yourself. This type of experience is commonly not about “not enough Welsh”, it’s about “not enough confidence”.

Whilst I’d say I’m a sociable person, I generally dread social situations, and over the years I’ve found that psychology sticks it’s oar in a lot when I know I have a ‘social’ coming up. (and that’s in English situations, let alone Welsh!)
I’ve worked very hard to get out of the “everyone will be more chatty than me / everyone will dress better than me / everyone will know more than me / etc” mindset (even though I still find myself there sometimes) because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy - your mind can convince you that all these things came true even when they didn’t, because you are only seeing things from one side, and as Margaret and Deborah said, the view from the other side could be entirely different.
Welsh in face-to-face meetings is always going to be different to Welsh in any type of lesson or listening practice, because in those you are in control. I think it’s that feeling of not being able to be in so much control that may be the source of anxiety (certainly in my case, I think). So instead of assuming that I’m going to be the ‘odd one out’ and thus starting the vicious circle, I try and focus on positives that I tell myself I am controlling e.g. I’m putting myself out there (no one is forcing me), I’m deciding how much I have to say (no one is making me do a whole speech), and, crucially, I’m not going to let this get to me (no one is out to get me!)!
Like I said, I get this way in English meet-ups, and although my Welsh is fine now, it still always adds another layer of “what ifs”, and it’s definitely hard work overcoming that, but - and here’s the killer - the ONLY way to get better at it is to keep doing it, to keep making yourself go through all that awful anxiety, because if you do that, your confidence will grow, and even if you don’t think you’ve got very far, one day YOU’ll be the person that someone else thinks is far more fluent than they are - I promise!
You’ve taken the most difficult first steps, and certainly it can seem like a long, steep path ahead, but I’ve every faith in you - you’re not doing anything wrong, you HAVE got this. :slight_smile:


Thank you @margaretnock @Deborah-SSi and @siaronjames I really appreciate the encouragement.

I think I will give it a few weeks and try to go again. I’m sure someone would have told me if they don’t want me there/think it’s too advanced for me. It’s frustrating because I’m the only one from my Sylfaen course who tries these chat sessions, meaning that the average level of the people attending is always so much higher. If they’d just go along to some I’d hope it would encourage other people like me who aren’t yet fluent.

This month is a stressful time for me anyway (moving house) and so in hindsight it wasn’t a good time to try something new. I was doing SSiW every day (albeit just half a lesson) and I tried to dive back into in by doing Lesson 25 instead of going back to earlier material- and it had a similar effect as going to the chat session after speaking almost no Welsh for a fortnight!

Thanks again for the support.