How can I get my partner to speak more Welsh with me?

Hi there!

I have been learning Welsh for about a year with the South Wales course - and I love it!

My partner is from south west Wales and comes from a Welsh speaking family, so I really wanted to be able to join in or at least contribute a phrase or two once in a while! I know from experience that the best way to improve and pick up a language is to speak it as often as possible, but I’m finding it hard to speak in Welsh with my partner.

My main problem is that although I’m almost at the end of course 1, I can’t understand most of what he’s saying. I don’t really mind, but I think he tends to just say things in English instead next time, as he has a bit of an on/off switch with Welsh - either he’s in flowing Welsh on the phone to his Mam or he’s speaking in English.

I do initiate conversations in Welsh, and he loves to hear what I’m learning, but with my limited vocabulary he can’t really reply to what I’m saying to him because I think he finds it a bit frustrating not being understood. Any tips for getting him to speak more Welsh with me?

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It’s always really tough to switch the language of a relationship… at the end of Course 1, I’d say that you’re aiming for this a little early in the process - you might be better off asking him to help you do some practice sessions which would mostly be you talking (to try and make up your own sentences with what you’ve covered) - and only aiming for 5 minutes a day or so at this stage.

Then, as you develop a wider range of things you can say and understand, aim for longer Welsh only sessions - as they gradually become less painful, you’ll be well placed to keep extending them - by the time you’re doing an hour a day, you’ll be ready to suggest a weekend without English - and when you’re ready, a week without English might well be all you need to establish Welsh as the new normal for you.

Good luck, and keep us posted on how it goes!


Aran’s advice is excellent (of course!)

I found it helpful to switch little things at first - like ‘t’eisiau panad?’ and ‘wyt ti’n barod i fynd?’ and so on. That gets over the initial hump of ‘Oh … this feels weird talking to each other in another language.’

It still does feel a bit weird 4 years on, to tell the truth (even though I’m now more or less fluent). It’ll be more likely to be me who initiates Welsh conversation and my partner who is the first to drop back into English. But we are speaking more and more Welsh at home.

Another thing that helped was going out with friends who are also Welsh speakers/learners. There are some friends that we never speak to in English unless it’s to accommodate an additional person who doesn’t speak Welsh. That got us more used to speaking to each other in Welsh as well.


I think that is a very good way. Try to use more and more simple expressions and questions.
@Helena-A, If there is one you do not know the Welsh for, ask your partner! Have a chat about ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Diolch comes totally naturally to me. In fact, if I am really, really grateful, I tend to say it to my bemused Scottish friends, naighbours, doctors, Bank employees… But ‘os gwelywch’n dda’ is cumbersome and uses ‘chi’! What would your partner use to say ‘please’ to his Mam? Use that! I have often been told that the best way to learn a language is in bed! :smile:

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…sounds like a rather risqué chat-up line to me …:smiling_imp:

NO I was not told by people seeking to teach me, but by those who had learned that way!

That’s probably more than enough of that particular line of conversation, thank you - we do have children in this community.


Thanks so much for this brilliant advice. I am reassured to read that at the moment I am doing near enough what you are suggesting, and that it’s okay to not be able to do too much more right now.

I will definitely keep extending the time we are speaking in Welsh as I learn more, and I’m looking forward to the day where no English needs to be said - sounds exciting!

Diolch yn fawr iawn for getting back to me and for the great advice!


That’s a great tip, it’s good to pick up on little things. He often replies in English but I suppose at this stage even me saying it in Welsh is good progress!

Haha! I’m in Scotland too, and I often wonder what language people think I’m speaking when I wander down the road doing the SSiW app out loud!


You’re very welcome! And it sounds as though you’re on exactly the right track…:slight_smile:

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Initially it’s tough, the understanding part takes time to build. (Tops for this: listen to the listening practices often, listen to the radio a lot, watch the TV without subs - basically embrace the wall of noise, you won’t understand much at all to begin with and then it’ll grow).

My next tip - don’t get frustrated that it’s only small bits. I used to, now I can have a conversation with my partner in Welsh. It’s just the way it starts.

Be prepared that with him, your default may always be English. This isn’t defeatist. Some relationships (even amongst first language speakers) stay in the language they started in.

Rest assured, as your confidence and understanding grows, you will speak more Welsh with his family.

Have you considered a bootcamp? Helped me more than you can imagine.


These are great tips, thanks! [quote=“AnthonyCusack, post:12, topic:8295”]
My next tip - don’t get frustrated that it’s only small bits. I used to, now I can have a conversation with my partner in Welsh. It’s just the way it starts.

This is also reassuring to know. Sounds like we are on the right track :+1:


I was also thinking that another advantage is that you will get used to the natural shift that happens in almost all Welsh speaking situations. Bootcamp and a couple of other situations, the only places I’ve been that don’t involve some drop back into English during a conversation. Listening to the radio, watching the telly, there’s almost always some English dropped in. The conversations and exchanges you’ll have with your partner will prepare your brain for these. It can be hard at times to concentrate on the two - at first my brain enjoyed the compartmental “Welsh” area and “English” area. Now, I feel I can think of a Welsh response even when the other person has switched to English. That’s greatly thanks to how often Emma does switch back to English (like you @sarapeacock it’s more often Emma than me who switches the language).


We started watching Pobol y cwm the other day and it was great! I didn’t understand much, but it’s good to get your ear used to it. And it’s so dramatic - I can now go around saying “popeth yn oreit?” with a severe look on my face!


It’s amazing how just being surrounded by the sound of the language will help!

I sometimes chat to a first language welsh speaker here in Australia (though not as often as I would like) and he said that it took him a little while to get used to speaking to someone else in welsh. This was especially so as he lives here in Australia and only used to speak to his family in Wales in welsh. He said it was weird speaking to someone in Australia in Welsh a bit like seeing someone someone you always only work with but in another setting outside of work if that makes sense.
With the understanding bit; I understand most of what he says to me when we chat (the welsh speaker here in Australia that is but when I listen to Radio cymru I find it very difficult to understand them if at all!! and I have been learning for about two years and listening to the podcasts regularly throughout the process from the very beginning (which I will continue to do).
I am always after skype partners if people are happy to do this on a casual basis due to my week home week away work schedule and three kids but even if you are in wales I am usually up pretty early here just PM me.
Any way sorry to ramble.
Again @aran thanks for the awesome course. I have just started SSISpanish up to lesson 6 and again amazed at how well the course works.
Diolch yn dda! Dw i’n edrych ymlaen allu siarad mwy iaith. Nowr mae rhaid i fi dyscu sut i ysgrifennu yn crmreag ac, siarad gwell!


Croeso mawr! And thank you so much for your lovely words… :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

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