I listened to Radio Cymru this morning

…and understood almost nothing!

I could pick out odd words. The first news article was about Prifconstable Heddlu Gogledd Cymru, but that was as much as I got. There was an article about netball and another about horses and children (from which was the only complete sentence I understood: “mae’r plant yn hoffi’r ceffyl, a’r ceffyl yn hoffi’r plant”), and there were a few uses of “ar hen o bryd”, but that was as good as it got. Interestingly, although I only listened for about 20 minutes in total, I did feel I was “tuning in” a bit better towards the end. I found the woman speaking much clearer than the man.

I have it as a preset in my car now, so I’ll make an effort to listen more, but they all talk so fast! I watched the start of Pobl Y Cwm and the only sentence I understood there was “Mae’r tegell newydd ferwi” (Still, that’s a pretty important sentence, obviously!)

Realistically, how much should I be able to understand at this stage? I’ve just finished challenge 18 at level 1.


I can’t really give you a good estimate, but I just wanted to say that it’s important not to imagine you should be understanding more than you are. Radio is notoriously difficult to ‘get’ when you’re learning because a) unlike real life or even tv, you don’t get any visual clues and b) you come across a wide variety of accents, speeds and speaking patterns rather than the regular steady voices of Aran & Catrin or Iestyn & Cat that you have been used to.

Let the amount you understand (however little it seems) give you a boost and don’t let the amount you don’t understand (however much it seems) get you down - just keep exposing your ears to it and gradually the ratio will swing towards the understanding side, I guarantee it!


Well I was chuffed with my horses and children sentence!


I think it is about how much you understand and not about the bits you don’t. Things like the sport, weather and traffic become more familiar over time, but I get totally lost by some stories - there was one this morning which started with a bit of joking about the Welsh name for grasshoppers - sboncyn y gwair versus Jac y neidr. Once the story started I got lost and didn’t really get the gist of the story at all.

Soon after it switched back to the sport and I was happy as Larry again. It takes time and maybe focus on things like the weather, traffic and sport etc and stories where you can pretty much guess what they’re about to say, because you’ve heard about the story already - some stories about medical conditions, drug abuse or really serious things might use lots of new vocabulary and it’s easy to get lost.


Don’t worry about it, Stephen. It sounds a good start to me. I think the vocabulary they use makes a big difference, too, depending on the subject they are discussing. I listen every morning and some days I can understand hardly anything, and some days I pick up quite a lot. And at least you’ve got your priorities right! As long as you know when the kettle has boiled it’s not a problem, is it?! haha


That doesn’t seem too bad, to me! :wink:

I tried to listen a bit of Radio Cymru for the first time a few days ago.
In the first 10 minutes of Tudor Owen (apart from music) all I guess I caught was:

helo, croeso, dydd Gwener, text, penhuyffnos (I don’t even remember how to write it…sigh), Twitter, eto, gweithio, possib, Scottish soldier, popeth, tywydd, goffi (that I suppose might be the mutated version of coffi).

:no_mouth: :confused:

Well…maybe it’s not such a fast process as I could hope, but it can’t get much worse! :grinning:

By the way, I was wondering if Tudor Owen accent could be consider a sort of standard BBC Welsh - just like we were told about standard BBC English?


i’m a big fan of tudur owen, he’s funny, and if you go on the listen again part of his catch up page, they’ve uploaded ‘bron meirion’, which is a 2 minute soap opera about a supposedly ordinary welsh family, but they’re like a welsh version of ‘shameless’ really funny, so that kept me listening.
i’d say just keep at it @stephenbranley, it will get better! if you’re in the north, i’d suggest tudur owen, aled hughes and byd huw stevens are all worth listening too, with clear, easy to understand accents. aled hughes tends to do a lot of features, and it’s always worth reading the blurb about what’s on the show, before it starts, gives you a head start. i reguarly download all these programmes now, and they really do reinforce new words i’ve recently learnt.


I’m in Somerset and doing the Southern course, but I won’t let that put me off. Clear, easy to understand accents are more important than dialect.

Good advice, thanks! I’ll do that.

It’s really an Anglesey/Ynys Mon accent and he does sometimes speak quite quickly so well done catching so many words! :slight_smile:

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Oh, one sure thing is that I don’t have the slightest idea of how to recognize accents. :grinning:

However, considering that I’ve done the South course, it’s an even more stunning result ! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Cool, happy to help if I can, was speaking Welsh in a group on a night out over the weekend and a friend suddenly said, you know we’ve got to stop introducing deb as learner, she’s well past that now. I was so grateful, but listening to the radio has made a huge improvement, essential too in your location, pob lwc!

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Yes Id say about right.
It has taken me about two years to get to the point when I can understand most of it. Saying that theres a lot of jargon on English speaking radio that I struggle with. Its great when it clicks though.
Dont worry too much about every word on Pobl…theres a Friday evening prog, Geth a Ger I think, when they play some impenetrable Pobl clips for a laugh and try to suss out what they are actually saying, and thats first language Welsh presenters. :confused:


www yeah, i forgot about geth a ger, they’re really good too.

I strongly recommend using iPlayer radio for listening to Radio Cymru, since you can listen to the same piece over and over again (if you want). (That’s in “listen on demand” mode, rather than listening live, although you can also use it to listen live, if you want to).

If you only have a limited about of time to devote to radio, then it is probably more worthwhile listening to a relatively short excerpt several times, than listening to one long piece once.

To answer the “how much…” “how long…” type questions, it probably took me at least a year to make any kind of sense to it. Little and often is good. Also find programmes / presenters you like, and listen to them on a regular basis. (iPlayer radio makes this a bit easier). You will get used to their quirks and the phrases they tend to come out with, and it will eventually all sound very familiar and recognisable.

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Lol! Well that’s reassuring! Perhaps Pobl’s not the place to start then. Trouble with S4C Clic is that it only has programmes from the last however many days.

It’s important and beneficial to have Welsh talk radio burbling on in the background as much as possible, even when you’re not really listening or paying attention - because parts of your brain certainly are! Gathering data and sorting it out, and working out how the system works.

I always used to tell my students to have Radio Cymru on in the house at all possible times.


Glad I’m not the only one!

I’m at roughly the same position at Challenge 19 and have been listening to Radio Cymru most mornings in the car to work.

They do talk very fast and I always seem to pick on the phone ins which it makes it even more difficult but I work on the basis that hearing Welsh “live” when I’m far removed from it helps tune my ear.

I think you should be proud of picking up a whole sentence, it’s brilliant to do that in such a short space of time.

Try Ifan Evans usually on afternoons around 2pm for a southern flavoured accent and lots of fast chat.


Sorry, Im not saying anything is wrong with Pobl y Cwm. Just the opposite. Its a great resource. Its just that you shouldnt expect to understand it all.

Pobol y Cwm is the mainstay of my learning. I use the Welsh sub-titles and I understand about 90% but probably understand only 20% of what is said (and they are almost the same thing). However, I know several people who I have only spoken Welsh to and, one friend who had a problem with his house drainage, came around for some advice and we chatted in Welsh for two hours on the topic. If you can be ‘in charge’ of a conversation then it is not the same as trying to listen to words on the radio. Anyway, I watch PyC on ClicS4C which allows me to turn on the ‘sain disgrifio’ which, presumably for the blind, tells them what is happening between conversations. The language used is very clear and the explanations use simple Welsh eg ‘Gethin turned around and hugged Sioned’s mum’. I assume that this functionality is also available on other programmes.