I simply don't enjoy learning Welsh

There, I said it.

I occasionally felt good if I’d succeeded in having a talk with someone and understood them and didn’t make mistakes, but that hasn’t happened for a long time.

Some reasons I can think of:

-I’m not Welsh, so it feels like the language and culture aren’t for me

-to be 100% honest, I find Radio Cymru and S4C to be very, very dull! Oh another programme about how a celebrity learns Welsh fluently in one week and is a million times better than me after 1 day, well doesn’t that make me feel fantastic! :frowning: And don’t even get me started on the music: ‘What?! You want us to play any of the excellent, modern Welsh music?! NO NO NO! Here, have this ballad about farming from 1783 instead, sung in archaic dialect’

-I have lost all my confidence

-I don’t have any friends or family who speak Welsh (and I don’t have any friends or family in Wales full-stop, to be honest)

-SSiW just honestly depresses me as I seem to be the only one struggling or feeling negative about it. Everyone else is full of joy and confidence

-my Dysgu Cymraeg course is so slow and boring (endless revision and pointless topics) and the other learners speak English when the tutor isn’t there. It’s also online-only still

-I’m constantly battling against poor mental health and social anxiety too. It’s an uphill struggle that I’m losing

Rant over! I know my posts are always so negative, and I apologise for that, but I think it’s time to be honest with myself.


Why are you trying to learn it?

What are your goals?

Were you enjoying it at one point?

How far along SSiW are you?

I am a massive cheerleader for SSiW, but I’ve been frustrated at it, too, and overwhelmed. I think I have some helpful advice and some things you might find genuinely encouraging, but I am curious if you can answer these few questions.

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I’ve seen many people succeed with the SSiW method and yet it took me three attempts over several years to get it to work for me and I already knew a lot of Welsh. So no, the method isn’t for everyone, but usually if people don’t get on with it, they just give up and don’t post here any more, so naturally those who remain are those who were successful and are therefore enthusiastic.

I do wonder why you’re trying to learn Welsh when you don’t seem to have a reason for doing it. Have you been told by your workplace that you must learn?

Perhaps you should just give up the Welsh and learn a language that you do feel motivated to learn? Or do something entirely different, like learn to play a musical instrument?

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OK, I’ve answered as best I can!

Well, when I was little we used to go on holiday to mainly Welsh-Speaking areas a lot, and I also believe the language should be supported and encouraged. I also moved here from England and feel like it earns you more respect from people. An extreme example, but one guy in a running group I used to be part of would not speak to me at all or even acknowledge me until he heard I was learning, then suddenly was chatty and friendly with me!

I think my goal is just to become ‘fluent’ (as much as you can for a second language) as in, be able to have a conversation and understand TV etc.

I used to enjoy it when I started. It was new and exciting!

I’m up to Lesson 10, Level 2. I was doing half a lesson every day, but last two days I’ve stopped. Also went to Dysgu Cymraeg lessons once a week for 2 hrs (just finished Sylfaen). I used to enjoy that too, but everyone (including me) on my course seems tired and weary of it.

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Just to be clear, I’m not saying the SSiW method is bad AT ALL. I think it works great… For people with more brains and confidence than me (most people).

On one hand I feel excited to try a different language, since I’ve always wanted to learn to speak a language, but on the other hand I’m really disappointied about the thought of giving up, since I feel I’ve put so much time and effort into it. It’s strange

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I do think finding a good group makes all the difference. I remember attending Welsh classes where the other participants would lapse into English at every opportunity. But then I found a course that worked better for me (based in the college where I was working at the time) and the group just gelled. Later I joined a class more locally and that too turned out to be a good group and though most of us have given up the formal lessons, we meet every Wednesday morning in the cafe for a chat.

I wish I knew how to guarantee finding a bunch of compatible people, but it’s been chance as far as I can see. Having said that, the higher up the lessons you go, the more focused the people are. Welsh for Adults classes are like a pyramid with lots of beginners but the numbers dwindle as you get more advanced.


Okay, so it’s certainly not that you don’t have enough brains. It might be partially due to confidence.

Did you know that if you say positive things about yourself before, for instance, lifting a weight, that you can lift weight? There are a lot of other factors at play but as a generality if you can get kids to express positive things about their ability to do math, they’ll learn a new concept better than kids who said something negative about learning math.

Your brain is amazing and can change your body like this without you knowing and does all the time, and that same brain absolutely can learn a language.

If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed in other situations, or if you are avoiding other activities you normally enjoy, it’s probably not really to do with Welsh.

Depression causes you to lose motivation but it doesn’t have to be as bad as that. I had a bit of an argument with my wife a few days ago and didn’t feel much like practicing Welsh even after we had made up. Your general emotional state has a lot to do with it. It could be that others are having an easier time because they’re dealing with fewer challenges in their personal lives.

I know you’re pretty far along, but I’d consider starting over from the beginning with the new automagic tool. I think you’ll find it rewarding. I was on unit 1 lesson 17 and I found it extremely rewarding to start over using the automagic tool. I found out about it right when I was starting to get frustrated and it helped me work from the beginning to further than I’ve ever been.

How often do you use SSIW? My recommendation is you start over with the automagic tool, but before you do it, read a bit about growth mindset and do a relaxing routine, listen to some calming music, make a tea or do something you enjoy. Say, out loud, something positive about yourself. Maybe even say it in English and Welsh. Dwi isio dysgu Cymraeg. Medrai i ddysgu Cymraeg. I want to learn Welsh, I can learn Welsh. Dwi’n mwynhau dysgu Cymraeg achos mae’n ddiddorol. I enjoy learning Welsh because it’s interesting.

I don’t know how often you are doing it, but see if you can do a relaxing routine, say some positive affirmations, and then do at least an hour a day, every day. If you can do that every day for a month, get in a genuinely positive mindset and then concentrate on nothing but practicing Welsh for an hour, and you don’t feel much better about learning Welsh, maybe you should take a break and try again in a while.

I hope this helps.


Thanks for writing this out, I appreciate it. I’ll try and hit every point but might miss some as having to type this on mobile.

I absolutely tell myself negative things about my ability in anything- it’s what I heard from others about myself growing up, so it’s sort of my default. When I’ve got less stuff going on in my life, I’m sometimes able to try and quiet it.

Once I get broadband (hopefully this weekend) I’ll try this Automagic Tool. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ll give it a go. It sounds nice to go back to the early lessons actually!

I was doing SSiW as well as vocab from the other course and 1 listening Exercise every day, but often I can only manage half a lesson due to frustration.

I read a bit about Growth Mindset and maybe it’s just how I feel but I felt it came across as ‘You’re just not trying hard enough! Lift more weights! Do yoga harder! Do mindfulness meditation harder!’. I’m not trashing your idea, and I do appreciate the effort you took to write the reply. I’ll try to say those things out loud and give SSiW a go with the Automagic Tool. Feels unnatural to me to say anything uplifting about myself but I can only try.

Do you think it would work if I just did half an hour, or even 20 minutes?

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I’m absolutely sure it would work if you did it consistently for twenty minutes or half an hour instead of an hour, but really do try to do more - if you can - because it works better if you do more and will likely net you more encouraging results, and if you’re encouraged, you’ll find it much easier to stay positive.

Growth mindset isn’t about you’re not doing enough, it’s much more about you can always improve if you believe you can improve and encourage yourself when you experience setbacks.

Setbacks are a totally normal part of learning any new skill; don’t assume a setback means you can’t do something or learn something. Learn to see it as a natural part of the process. Aran talks a lot about how mistakes are a part of the learning process, and it’s true. If you are making no mistakes, it’s because you’re doing something you already know how to do. Often that’s good practice to get better and faster at something you already know how to do, but it’s not learning something new.

Growth mindset is about seeing mistakes as a part of the path to getting better.


I would say do as much as you feel comfortable with. When I was doing SSiW and more recently Say Something in Spanish, I generally did about half a session at a time because that was as much as my brain could cope with. I have a very poor short term/working memory, so this way of learning was difficult for me.

In my view you’re better doing 10-15 minutes a day than doing an hour and then nothing for a few days. Also I found that occasionally taking a day without doing anything didn’t harm progress.

I will finally add that, speaking personally, positive affirmations feel totally alien to me and despite the claims, I remain sceptical. But it is true that if you expect to fail you will, so I suggest you try to approach the learning with a calm and open mind and avoid negativity.


The cool thing about positive affirmations before attempting to do or learn a task is that there’s data showing they can still work even if you’re skeptical.

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Thank you both @margarethall and @joshua-gardner

I’m also a bit sceptical about positive affirmations but it’s worth me giving them a go for at least a month.

I think I’ll set myself the target of doing 20 minutes, but if I feel aright after then ill carry on and do another 10 minutes.

Thanks for your advice and encouragement


OK: forgive me if this is over-long and too much about me, but here’s my personal take on this.
I, too, am instinctively a bit sceptical about the power of positive thinking™ - but I do believe in the power of negative thinking. My bugbear wasn’t languages - as a child, it was art, which I understood to be synonymous with "drawing things that look like real things. " I decided at about the age of 6 that I was rubbish at it, and that I hated it; and as soon as I was allowed to give it up, I did.
In my 30s I did a primary teacher training course, and for non-core subjects like art what they did was treat us like a class of children. I used to go along to the art and the PE classes pre-emptively hating and dreading them: the PE teacher was so good that I always emerged having thoroughly enjoyed them (even the one on dance, where I managed to sulk until fully half way through, before giving in and enjoying it after all). But the art? I used to go in feeling awful, and come out feeling so much worse. It was dreadful, and pointless, and everything made me feel worse about my skills and myself in general, and hate the subject even more.
So a few years later, I decided (having a number of friends who were quite talented comics artists) that it was silly for me to be quite so phobic about attempting to draw, and maybe I should try to overcome it. I got a good book to help me, and even though some of the exercises were the very same things the art teacher in college had made us do, I still worked my way through them - because the book explained why I was to do them, and what I was to get out of them, and anyway I was doing it because I had decided to, rather than been forced to.
I’m still not a natural artist, and I’m now very, very out of practice, but I did actually get quite a bit better. One of the things that the book had you do was four drawings before you started the course, and then re-do them some time later. As a maths teacher - whose students have often convinced themselves that they just can’t do maths and can’t learn to do it, I found it a useful reminder. Here are two pictures of my hand - one after thirty years of “I’m rubbish at art”, and the other after only about 3 or 4 weeks of adding “… but I can learn.”


What a wonderful way of explaining it @RichardBuck. My best friend, if asked if she could drive, never said no. Her answer was always, Not Yet. (Never had a driving lesson in her life).


If you carry on learning Welsh, which I hope you do, you could try joining the slack live chats, with Deborah and Nia, they’re super friendly and helpful, you could book a one on one chat with Nia then go onto newydd sessions also Deborah does a live q&a with practice speaking,
there’s people on SSiW who are learners or maybe not as quick learner who I really luck up to, and please try not to be negative about yourself because you are a lot better than that,


This is such a lovely story and I also love it because I didn’t believe in the power of positive thinking until someone taught me math in my 30s


I hope that your mental health and anxiety issues get better. It’s been a difficult few years for me, and it sounds if if it might have been for you as well.

Re: learning Welsh. You don’t have to do SSI or watch S4C (which, yes, can be very irritating. In my case, I like the old ballads from the eighteenth century more than the modern music, but I find a lot of the content very complacent and cautious and devoid of much analysis or social criticism. At points, I feel that I never need to hear Adam Jones from Garddio a Mwy talking about llysiau ffris hyfryd ever again.) Neither SSI nor S4C are compulsory.

I suggest asking yourself what you like to do and really makes you happy, then seeing if you can make space for the language in that. Some examples (and these will be wrong for you, I’m just throwing them out there for illustrative purposes): writing a story in Welsh, drawing a Welsh language comic, getting some WL cookbooks and following the recipes, Tweeting every day in Welsh…

It sounds as if you have come a long way with it, so it would be a shame to give up on it completely and switch to a brand new language. For me, the grass always tends to be greener on the other side of the fence. Everything is exciting and new for a while, but then the gripes creep in and the shine wears off. On the other side of the pit, I think things tend to balance out more; the old shine doesn’t come back, but there can be more of a sense of a depth of knowledge gained.

I don’t do positive thinking, and a lot of it makes me feel slightly queasy tbh.


Hi, I have been reading your thread and just wanted to share two things that have helped me to keep on learning welsh. The first one was something Iestyn said which I have taken to heart, not just for welsh but for life in general, and that is: don’t compare your learning to anyone else, your true measure or comparison is do I know more today than I did yesterday? I have found this so liberating that it allowed the joy of learning to flood back in.
And I would echo Margaret’s comments, it took me 3 tries before I found the right online class for me. I wouldn’t hesitate to swap classes until you find the right fit for you.
With best wishes


I think it’s ok to take a break sometimes.

I played the viola regularly many years ago but one day realised I wasn’t enjoying it. I promptly left my (amateur) orchestra and told myself I wouldn’t pick my viola up again until I felt I wanted to. It took six months (of reading books and enjoying time for other things) but my desire came back.

Stopping for a while doesn’t make you less of a learner, it just makes you someone who has other things going on too. Why not wait until you /want/ to do it?


I think you have given a well balanced answer here with some good advice.

I subscribed to SSiW months ago and get the weekly email. I have to admit, my enthusiasm dropped off after just two weeks and I haven’t gone back. There is always something else to do!

But reading your message I got to the Welsh sentences and actually understood 90% of what was being said. Shock, something did stick in the far darkness of my brain :grinning: As such, I may well strat from scratch again.