How to be more comfy making mistakes

I’m looking for advice on how to be better at making mistakes.

As you all know, I’m prone to being negative and very hard on myself. When I used to be part of an course, I liked the people I was with and found that when I’m relaxed I am not THAT bad at Welsh.

Today, I emailed my local Menter Iaith organisation in Welsh. I thought I’d done a good job, but when the response came back, I realised how many errors I’d made:
-saying addas i ddysgwyr instead of ar gyfer…
-using yw to start a question instead of ydy
-not using formal language (I said Fyddech chi’n gallu… instead of Allech chi…(?)

I am always mortified by these mistakes, and all the ones I make doing SSiW. Even though I live alone, I’ve started being very hesitant to speak the answers out loud when I’m not 100% sure what I said is correct. I’d rather not speak at all than speak incorrectly (literally the OPPOSITE of the whole ethos of SSiW!)

This week at work someone asked me Sut wyt ti? and I responded Byddai’n well gyda fi bod tu allan (it was sunny weather). I’m still cringing now that I missed the mutation of bod and that I am still not sure if that is how you say I’d prefer to be outside (not sure if tu allan needs an yn y and/or an i before it).

Does anyone here have an advice? Did you used to be like me (or maybe not as extreme) and managed to get better? My attempts at making myself speak to Welsh speakers have been a bit too ‘in at the deep end’ (I used to greet visitors to my workplace bilinguallly until recently and when they respond I have to try to answer in formal, correct Welsh as well as being welcoming, polite and actually knowing the answer to their question!). Most of my colleagues who I asked to speak Welsh to me have recently stopped, as I think they can see how uncomfy it makes me!

As you said, you’re much too hard on yourself and you really aren’t that bad at Welsh, but I hear your struggle and frustration.

none of these should keep you awake at night. They are perfectly natural errors which will iron themselves out eventually - the sense of what you were saying was not affected, so that’s a positive thing.

Again, nothing wrong with that - some people put the bod mutation in, some don’t. It’s acceptable to be more flexible in speech.

I still make mistakes when speaking, lots of them - mostly because my brain is working too fast for my mouth to keep up, which is pretty impossible for me to rectify - but there’s no other answer than to carry on and not let the inward cringe get to me.
It’s really, REALLY difficult when you don’t like making mistakes, and let’s face it, we’ve all generally been well ‘programmed’ to dislike mistakes. But the thing to remember is that not all mistakes are equal - sometimes getting an important word wrong might be awkward, but grammatical mistakes are far less noticeable than you think.
So the advice I’ve followed is a) not to ‘stew’ over tiny mistakes - yes, acknowledge them and try to make a mental note for next time, but don’t overthink it - the person you were speaking to probably didn’t think twice about it, and it’s more important to say what you can than to not say anything, and b) very few people speak without ‘mistakes’, whether it’s their 1st language or a learnt one - i.e. natural speech always cuts corners - so sometimes little mistakes can actually help you sound more natural.
I’m afraid there’s no real shortcut - it’s just the holy trinity of learning any new skill: time, practise and confidence. And whilst all three can be soooo frustrating because they can be such slow processes, they are the true keys.


I’m quite a lot like this, and always have been. I think possibly school did make it worse… or just a couple of teachers really. C’est la vie.
I think the only real answer is to remind yourself (constantly! It’s exhausting!) to relax. Remember that no-one is waiting to tear you down… or if anyone is, that’s 100% their problem. Just try to do things a bit outside your comfort zone, where there’s a chance of making mistakes… but only a little outside it, and only minor mistakes, otherwise you just get stressed and discouraged.
It seems like what you’re worried about here isn’t really a huge deal, so you probably shouldn’t retreat too far back into your shell. Just a little, just for a bit, so you can relax again and realise it’s not that bad. Don’t keep pushing on if it’s making you more and more stressed, but don’t concede every gain you’ve made either.


One thing that I’d add to the great advice above is that generally learners notice their own mistakes, not other peoples. So;

  • while you’ve noticed a mistake you’ve made and are annoyed by it, the learner you’re talking to probably hasn’t noticed and is too busy trying to translate

  • you’re probably not noticing every mistake other learners are making when they talk, therefore you’re assuming that they speak to a higher standard than yourself which may not be true

  • if you’re noticing mistakes this is a good sign and much better than not noticing them. Rather than viewing a mistake as a failure, try to see it as a learning opportunity. Perhaps using your example with mutating bod, think of some example sentences where you can use it and try to use them next time you write or talk.
    For me it often takes multiple goes to cement a pattern in my head, so don’t worry if you try agan and get it wrong again, just keep trying. It will eventually stick

  • if you’re talking to a fluent speaker, they’re most likely very happy and excited that somebody new wants to share in their language. If they ever do correct a mistake they are most likely trying to help (even if thats not what you need at that point) so try not to take it as a criticism


I think you’re right- I can see now I definitely went in at the deep end with who/where I tried to speak Welsh, especially after a six-month break in learning! I have fired off a couple of emails to the Menter Iaith to see if they know of any groups got learners specifically, which might be a better way for me to go about it. In Cardiff there always seems to be this huge void between fluent first language speakers and everyone else.

Thank you for your advice :slight_smile:

Thank you. I think this was what happened when I got the emails back from Menter Iaith and Lingo Newydd (who I also emailed). I think they were trying to ‘model’ the correct way of writing, which is more Northern dialect, and because there is no body language or tone of voice with written communication, I couldn’t tell if they were annoyed or not.

When I am speaking with other learners, I generally feel really at-ease and can chat away happily. I think I need to try again and find other learners. There are plenty of people at work, but most of them don’t seem that keen to speak it. Maybe they’ve had the same experience as me!

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Ah, that’s good. I went back to an earlier lesson of the Southern version of SSiW’s Old Course and I’m sure that yw was taught to start a question too, so maybe that is OK too in speech.

I’m hoping that if I’m able to put in the same amount of effort that I always put into chastising myself for making mistakes, surely I can redirect that into reminding myself not to when I start being hard on myself! :slight_smile:


Yes, I always start those kinds of questions with yw rather than ydy unless I’m trying to speak, or write, a little more formally.