If you’ve been going for a while, what has helped you to keep going?
The forum, definitely the forum! I’m in the US, where I don’t know anyone who knows anything about Welsh - no one to talk to here, no Welsh classes if I wanted to do that, no support at all. Without the ability to ask questions on the forum, I would not have stuck with it. But more than that, it’s the community of the forum - I feel like I have Welsh-speaking “friends”, and the support and encouragement have been vital for me. And I agree with @isata - having Aran and Iestyn accessible on the forum is great.
What has made you want to give up?
I’ve never wanted to give up. The course is fantastic. I did get really discouraged when I did the last lesson of Course 1 and felt liked I’d “failed” when I was expecting to do much better with that review lesson than I did. But when I wrote about my experience on the forum, Iestyn wrote me a long and encouraging post which really helped, and other people were very kind to share their experiences and support me. I’ve been moving forward ever since.
Did you find the most useful things early on in the course? If so, how? If not, what lead to your discovery?
I can only speak to the old Courses here, because I haven’t done the Levels yet. (I’ve finished Course 1 plus vocabs, Course 2 lessons, and I am now doing Course 2 vocabs.) The most useful thing I found early on in the course was that it was fun! The way the course is put together so that you have success right away is very satisfying - right away in the first lessons you can put together real sentences. And it isn’t stupid “where is the train station?” stuff (did that with another language in college, and it was boring, and I don’t remember any of it). And the sense of humor and encouragement made SSiW fun, too. And I came onto the Forum pretty early on (are you sensing a theme here yet?)
How could we help people more to get the most out of the courses?
Encourage people to come to the forum, whether or not they want to post anything. There is so much additional information and support that people can read even if they have no desire to participate. I feel like there is so much about SSiW that someone would miss if all they ever did was use the website or the app.
Obviously bwtcamp is a fantastic way to get more out of the courses, but I am one of those who will likely never be able to attend one. It would be nice to have some kind of SSiW-sponsored activities online. Some kind of online-bwtcamp, or other activites where people can use the language would be nice.
How important is the social contact - the forum and the weekly email - to you?
Social contact via the forum is critical, as I mentioned above. The weekly email is helpful, too, to highlight what’s been going on recently, and for those who are looking to attend meet-ups, I think it’s great to have that information available every week.
What is missing that you think might help?
As others have said, better ways to find speaking/Skype partners. I was lucky to get someone great when I first asked on the forum, but I need to find more people to talk with and it’s a bit scary to just say "Who wants to talk with me? when you have no idea who might respond and if you have anything in common with them. I like @netmouse’s idea of “instant chat”, too.
Diolch yn fawr iawn to the whole SSiW team for all the hard work and thought and constant looking to improve that makes SSiW the fantastic resource that it is!