Think… skinny jeans and T-shirt, but imaginary sequinned top and matching frilly bell-bottom pants, bopping to Abba’s Mama Mia… coffee brewing, Welsh cakes cooking on the griddle… Yeh, it’s Canada Day, and what better way to celebrate our multi-cultural society than after a month of R&R from all things heady I am revving-up, ready to resume Welsh practice.
Actually, I began yesterday, 1st July as I had promised myself when I took a deliberate break as a reward for passing my university Welsh course with flying colours (thanks to SSiW) and wonder of wonders, I really have retained a LOT, la la, la la la la la la. I’m not perfect–nowhere near, but that’s part of the fun, knowing there is plenty of room for improvement and more to learn. That keeps you young–along with the bopping… ouch, my back, better stick to the Welsh!
If this seems light-hearted, that’s how I feel, so wanted to share the notion that this can be FUN to encourage anyone reading this who is struggling. Yes, it can be fun and effective despite any frustrations! Believe me–I’ve been there, and any on this Forum who remembers the amazing patience others here offered to help me over the added hurdles as someone who started out as deaf/hard-of-hearing trying to make out what the various sounds were–maybe you will appreciate my bopping about at the thought of getting stuck in again.
I am prompted to write this because l realize there are folk struggling to find the best strategy to achieve whatever goal they set themselves–whether it is the confidence to speak to others in a shop, enjoy conversations with other Welsh-speakers, fluency… whatever. Having a goal has helped me, but I am still a long way off from my ultimate goal and that’s good, giving me something to aim for. However, the trick for me has been to have lots of little milestones to celebrate and after really pushing it lately, I allowed myself a month’s holiday. But that month is up, and it feels so good to hear the introductory music to the SSiW again.
Strategies… SSiW offers several different approaches now, having come a long way from when I began. Well done!!! But we all need to know ourselves and what makes us tick–or not, what we find encouraging and pleasurable–or not. Personally, I have enjoyed experimenting…
When I began, I did both the Old and New Material back to back, lesson for lesson, and made my own vocabularies until I discovered they were available, though not attached to the lessons as they are now (if I remember correctly). Doing both simultaneously may sound crazy, but it allowed me to set up a competition between them–a horse-race which Tatjana illustrated.
About that time, I searched on line for a Welsh Society I could join–and found one right here in Vancouver where I have enjoyed many a social event and taken lessons that include a group approach to reading and translating a Welsh novel. I have often felt out of my depth, but our teacher has a great way to engage us all in sleuthing meaning by starting with what we do know, then breaking complicated words down into bite-sizes that we may recognize.
Envious of those attending the first SSiW bwtcamps, I created my own–dedicating whole weekends to almost nothing but Welsh, and providing myself with little rewards like bunches of daffodils, Welsh cakes and wine in the fridge.
Taking to the Forum, I asked for a conversation partner, and a lovely lady in N. Wales befriended me–someone who also had hearing difficulties, but was much further along with Welsh, so could help and refer me to books. Yes, I bought books about Welsh, and a dictionary, because I needed visual clues too and that supplementary information really helped, especially since ultimately I want to be able to read and write as well as speak Welsh. With that in mind, I now subscribe to a learners’ magazine (which has audio files) and have bought a novel aimed at learners. I also practice taking dictation from the lessons.
While I was doing the uni-course, SSiW gave me a huge head-start, but I also needed to adjust to the more formal expressions, so concentrated on that for a while to avoid any confusion. Course finally over, it’s time to get back into SSiW by way of revision, then I need to loosen up again. That’s just me–I know what makes me happy, so make up my own rules, yet I have only done that having entered into the spirit of whatever Aran suggested first–gradually finding out what worked best for me.
In summary, I began by ploughing straight through (with little repetition) and that certainly gave me a great grounding and real mental work-out. I have taken breaks after reaching intermediate goals (possibly not the best approach, but I pre-set dates for when I will resume and have no difficulty sticking to that). I have created a little black book to capture words or expressions I want to work on, as well as make notes from the pearls of wisdom Aran drops into the lessons, or others on the Forum have suggested.
My next challenge–to use the conversational platform. My dream–to attend a bwtcamp and Eisteddfod. My ultimate goal–to spend time in parts of Wales where Welsh is spoken (or link up with some of you good folk), so my husband and I can enjoy lively conversations over a pint or glass of wine after days spent hiking, painting, taking trips on trains, visiting museums… that’s my idea of heaven!
Well, the Welsh cakes are cooling (those I have not snaffled already), the first pot of coffee is demolished, and my Welsh corner beckons. “So here we go again…” (with thanks to SSiW). I would love to know some of your dream-goals and strategies in how to reach them. Do you have a Welsh corner, or special place where you can enjoy the process?
Best wishes to everyone as we journey together…