How to start again and become more confident

I have taken a long break from learning and speaking Welsh due to lack of enjoyment and other things going on in life.

How should I start back up again? I still have a subscription to the Lingo Newydd magazines, which are great because they are free of both politics and sport! :laughing:

I get on OK with reading and with listening to the radio, but it’s speaking and understanding I struggle with. If I was trying to make the sentences up on my own I’d be OK, but when I’m with another person I can’t remember anything and my brain goes blank when trying to understand what’s being said to me.

I got up to finishing Sylfaen level with Dysgu Cymraeg and about halfway through Level 2 of SSiW before I quit, but both became too difficult (too fast-paced and demoralising) for me at that stage.

I know groups for speakers are a good idea but I have to say (and this is more of a me problem than anything that they did) going to these groups where I was always the least-advanced speaker was a huge blow to my confidence. They were full of native speakers!

I’ve done Lesson 25 of Level 1 in two 15-minute chunks over the last two days (fitting learning around my full-time job is another obstacle) and mostly it was OK. I still have no clue about conditional tense-it just doesn’t stick at all.

Any advice appreciated, especially on how to build confidence in speaking when facing mistakes. Thanks

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How sensible of you: you’ve listened to your needs and downed tools for as long as it took. What about giving yourself a little play time?
The old courses are a delight for people who want a lot of reassurance. You work, or not, on them until you notice you actually know more and are better than you realised! As to the blank mind, I know it well, it’ll largely vanish over time. My English isn’t bad, but I can still clam up and desperately look for words in certain situations. We can’t all be top orators… Pob lwc!

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Croeso nôl @Snufkinsbf !

The way every individual handles mistakes depends a lot on their background and learning experiences growing up, whether they were castigated for making mistakes or made to feel embarrassed, so for some people it’s a lot harder to accept mistakes as part of the learning process than it is for others.

Personally, I went from turning scarlet and wishing the ground would open up and swallow me if I made the slightest mistake in school, to telling myself if I wanted to speak another language and use that to communicate with others I just had to get over that. I had to force myself to welcome mistakes and view them as learning opportunities. I certainly wasn’t easy, and initially I would still turn red and become tongue-tied when I realised I’d made a mistake, but the determination to succeed kept me going and I have now reached the point where I’m genuinely happy to push myself beyond my comfort zone, make mistakes and learn from them. It’s definitely not an easy thing but as someone who suffered immensely as a child and young adult and would avoid social situations rather than risk making a mistake, I can tell you that it is possible.

In terms of your Welsh learning though, have you tried AutoMagic? You might find that by going into Settings and adjusting it so that you are moving more slowly through the material, plus seeing it written, that could help you. If you click on ‘Learn’ up at the top to get to the main website, then ‘AutoMagic’ you can give it a try. From AutoMagic click on the ‘SSi’ at the top to return to the main website.

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Thank you. Do you think I should start the old course from the very beginning or go some way through it?

Yep, that was pretty much my life in a nutshell until I turned 18 and escaped from education forever!

I’m still a bit sceptical that I can change as I used to be quite confident in speaking Welsh but started going downhill and eventually stopped. I would push myself to talk to people and go to groups only to feel worse each time. I don’t know why.

Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask specific questions about AutoMagic but do you think I should start from the beginning or go to where I was in the normal course? Feels a bit like I’ve failed to have to go to a special course where it’s slower and written out for you, but I definitely learn better with the ‘little and often’ method instead of one huge chunk of 30 minutes.

Automagic is simply a variation of the course where the material is presented differently, because different approaches suit different people - there is no failing because no one single method is ever going to be the most effective for everyone, so trying a different method just to see if it suits you better is always worthwhile (because if it does - great, and if it doesn’t - well it was worth giving it a go to find out!)

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What would you like to do? You can do whatever is right for you. If you were to start with Lesson one, you’re bound to feel comfortable. If that’s too basic, try the next one. I tend to do around 10 minutes or so and supplement it with AutoMagic. Since they’ve added a kind of “contextual” skipping back and forth, you’re even more in control (in addition to the speed choices you’ll find under Settings). The most important point is something, I sometimes forget to apply to my own situation: “nobody forces, judges or punishes you on here”. Do let me know how you’re getting on at your own pace.

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I got part way through level 3 before starting again with the old course. Very early on it covers things that aren’t in the levels, so if you do decide to try the old course I’d say start from the beginning. For the first few lessons I downloaded the audio and played it back accelerated which helps with it feeling very basic and slow to start off with. I stopped doing that because of a bug with downloading the audio that means if sometimes only downloads part of it for some reason (missing either the beginning or the end) but before the end of course 1 it was quick-paced enough all by itself.

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Thanks, I had a go with AutoMagic today and firstly the language and pronunciation is a lot more similar to what I’m used to- I can say ‘dw i angen’ instead of struggling with ‘mae eisiau i fi’! :slight_smile: I don’t know how far to skip ahead so I’ll just leave it playing for now.

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Thank you, I think I worry a lot about not doing SSiW the ‘right’ way and if I ought to be writing notes and reading (both things that help me) or not at all.

I tried Lesson 25 of Level 1 of the old course and it was impossible, so I’ll go back to the beginning I think. I spent all this time trying to unlearn ‘dw i’n gallu’ and replace it with the new course’s ‘galla i’ just to hear ‘dw i’n gallu’ on the old course! Oh well!

I felt a bit bored with AutoMagic so I might try skipping ahead a little.

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Thanks everyone.

What I’ve come to realise is that my Welsh speaking and comprehension ability is very tied to how confident I feel about it at any given time.

For example, when I was doing the Dysgu Cymraeg course, we had a great group of people, and the tutor was so encouraging-that ‘hand-holding’ actually had the effect of making me more confident so that I felt comfy pushing my comfort zone and making mistakes, which made me improve quicker and enjoy learning. I suppose that’s just the way I’m wired, unfortunately.

I had been doing so well at SSiW and until I had a series of knocks to my confidence that happened close together and suddenly I was struggling with the material.

So the challenge for me is to try to be optimistic about my ability. I’m not sure how to do that yet!

I felt completely disillusioned about Welsh language for the last 6 months and like I wasn’t welcome as a non-Welsh learner who makes mistakes and gets nervous, but I want to prove to the ‘Heddlu’r Iaith’ that leaners are just as valid and that Welsh is for everyone in Wales if they want more people to speak it!

You’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s about how you feel and what you believe about yourself. What other people think is strictly their business (and we can never actually know). Only you can do your own learning, at a pace that suits you.You might surprise yourself!

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Sometimes you need to change direction a bit & find things that you can do at your own pace, level & time availability. I’ve been predominantly learning online with Dysgu Cymraeg since lockdown, with very little face-to-face interaction with people until fairly recently.

I use a number of different free websites / apps that I can dip into for five mins or so at a time when I’m in the mood: eg Automagic, Duolingo, Memrise (various Welsh courses & vocab), Clozemaster (filling in gaps in sentences), Wordwall (various games filling in words), Polygloss (describe a picture game), Lirica (song lyrics), Word Tango (fill in missing letters in words), Cwis Bob Dydd (S4C daily multiple choice quiz), Golingo (go round a town asking for things in shops etc), puzzle sites (eg hiriaith.cymru - gairglo (Wordle) & sgrabl, happyhere.co.uk - croesair (crosswords), Sporcle - search for Wales, Welsh etc) etc etc.

As you like reading, if you’re a member of a Welsh library you can borrow e-books & audio books using Borrowbox, which includes all the Amdani learners’ series (& most of their audio versions), interesting children’s books (eg illustrated dictionaries & encyclopedias) & other items to fit your interests & level. Libby has magazines & newspapers too.

On social media, there are interesting folk like Doctor Cymraeg, Sketchy Welsh, Tyfu Cymraeg, Sgwrs Dysgwyr Cymraeg (Sgwrs Dysgwyr Cymraeg | Welsh Learners Chat) & others who post regular vocab & learning tips. I also subscribe to a few general language-learning email lists for ideas, such as Dr Popkins (How To Get Fluent - Articles: the full list - How to get fluent, with Dr Popkins).

I have Radio Cymru on a lot in the background to passively hear speech & music (there are other stations you can choose) & watch a variety of stuff on S4C on demand (S4C Clic / Bbc iPlayer) - depending on the programmes I might use English subtitles, try English first & then watch again with the Welsh ones, or even try without any subtitles at all. There are a few threads in here about useful programmes; the beginners’ newsletter & the news site (where you can select news stories or the weather, with subtitles or transcripts).

If you want to try writing, Y Wennol is a free monthly mag with articles written by learners (gydangilydd.cymru) - Rob will correct anything you send him, so no need to worry about making mistakes. It’s often easier to write than speak, as you can take your time.

Hopefully you can ease yourself back into learning in an enjoyable way, using topics & things you enjoy doing to improve using your vocabulary without pressure, and this will improve your confidence when you start speaking with people or pick up more formal learning again. Ask if you want any more details or links. Pob lwc.

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I believe that this realization is key in any language-learning journey!

It was only during a trip around Wales last year that I noticed that, in everyday life situations, the times when somebody did not understand me or I didn’t understand them happened as often with English than with Welsh!

I realized that had always overlooked my troubles with British English because I never ever doubted my knowledge of the English language, my being fluent, and my ability to deal with any situation.

I guess because I had been through a lot of embarrassing situations, a lot of mistakes, a lot of challenges, a lot of failures using English before, since I was a kid.

And 90% of the times there wasn’t even a “backup language” to turn to: I just had to figure out a way to communicate, to make myself understood and to understand what others were saying.

Therefore I had developed an experience and a confidence that sure helped me being a bit bolder in general, but didn’t really prevent me to worry, overthink and self doubt almost every word when trying to speak Welsh.

The moment I realized that my confidence was not directly related to my actual mistakes or other people’s reactions but rather to my attitude and how I felt about it all…I just found made a big leap!

I can totally relate to this sentence. I wish I could just write down a few definite rules and tricks to do that but the truth is that I don’t know it myself!
All I can tell and share is that feeling alone, elusive as it is, makes a world of difference.

And that I think it is important to always find a way to enjoy the journey. Pob lwc!

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Thank you for all the ideas- I definitely struggled before to find things that made me feel like I had a ‘reason’ to learn. I’ll have a look at some of them when I’ve got a bit more time.

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