In need of encouragement

I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t post anything negative on the forum anymore but as I don’t know anyone else who is learning Welsh I don’t really have an outlet for my frustrations, so I hope no one minds.

I seem to be going through a difficult patch with learning that started a week or two ago. I’ve started mutating where it isn’t needed (e.g. after wedi), confusing nhw and ni and today I did lesson 17 of the Old Course Level 2 and I think I got every single instance wrong of whether to use i before a verb or not, even though I used to not struggle with this.

I have been getting a lot better at understanding the radio, even picking out words I don’t understand so I can look them up. But I don’t understand the meaning of what’s being said, only the general topic and the individual words.

I work in a customer-service type job and I do have to speak Welsh to people there (and some colleagues who I asked to speak Welsh with me in a fleeting moment of confidence last year) but I rarely understand what they say and I stumble and pause for a long time trying to construct the correct sentence in my head before responding, and apologise a lot for being bad at it. I always freeze instead of using one the SSiW phrases I’ve learned to ‘stall’ for time.

I try to speak Welsh to myself out loud at home and that was going well until recently when I’ve become really hesitant to say things for fear of getting them wrong (I live alone! Who is going to tell me off?!). I also do a daily diary entry in Welsh and read Lingo Newydd. Those two things are still going really well.

Although I have re-downloaded Slack and have been looking at speaking groups in Cardiff I haven’t managed to get the courage to actually attend. I always find reasons not to- I went to a group in Chapter Arts twice but everyone seemed very advanced, and had know each other for a long time, so I didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t grow up in Wales and I’m not Welsh, which is something I feel self-conscious about. Where I live the main Welsh-speaking areas (huge over-generalisation incoming…) tend to be posher areas and I feel ashamed of having grown up on a council estate, as well as what I do for a living, when I’ve spoken to Welsh speakers here in the past.

As you all know by now, I also feel like I ought to be better by now- I started my first Dysgu Cymraeg course in January 2019!

Has anyone else felt this way? I’m sorry again for being a bit negative- you all must despair with me but I’d love to know how you all get over perfectionism and making mistakes and how you carry on anyway, and if it’s something I can learn how to do too.

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It sounds like you’re being resourceful and smart in how you learn Welsh and you’re doing really well, even if you think you aren’t. You may not be the kind of person who finds it easy to stop and give themselves a pat on the back, but you really should.

Cut yourself a bit of slack – you’re learning a language as an adult. Things going wrong all the time is normal.

It’s normal to forget things and have times when you think you’re going backwards and you feel like you’re getting everything wrong, even things that you were doing right in the past. It’s really frustrating. If you (like me) are prone to perfectionism and self-criticism, it’s worse than frustrating. It can be deeply demoralising.

I guess what I do is remind myself that those feelings aren’t helpful and try to distract myself and nudge my mind round to something more constructive, ideally unrelated to whatever triggered the spiral.

Re: not being Welsh. This can sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable. I know in one class I was in, the tutor seemed to have gone to the same school (at a different period) to half the students, knew a load of people’s relations, some of their pets, and knew all the pubs by name. Over time I gradually adjusted – I just imagine that he/the students are my personal tour guides who can share all the local knowledge and gossip that I otherwise wouldn’t have access to. They don’t seem to mind! People like having a fresh audience.

Re: not being posh and council estate background. The people who’d hold this against you aren’t worth knowing. I like to think that there are less people like that in South Wales than elsewhere because of the history of support for socialism and radicalism, but that could be my idealism talking. More realistically, it’s safe to say that most people once adult life hits tend to be much more immersed in the details and worries of their own lives than in trying to fit someone else into a pigeonhole.

Re: meet-ups. Have you tried posting a message in the meet-up forum about starting a new group for intermediates? Don’t know if anyone will bite, but it’s worth a try.

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Oh maaan, I overmutate too. At one point I thought I’d got such a great instinct for mutations and that they seemed to have clicked for me so quickly, and then I started doing exactly that and mutating after wedi and all sorts of other places where I know I don’t need to. I think it must just be part of the process.

In my opinion you can try to understand all the individual words, or to understand the meaning. I don’t think you can have both. I certainly can’t. Even in English if I try to listen too actively I end up losing the thread. In Welsh, if I’m listening to the radio or a podcast I’m always listening for gist, in other words I want to know what it is about rather than the details of how it was said.

I’m also a perfectionist, and I don’t consider it a good thing. I lie awake at night thinking about my mistakes (all of them, not just linguistic ones). But regretting missed opportunities keeps me awake so much more, so I try not to give myself chance to think about things in case I chicken out. I think two things help me:

  1. I used to teach English as a foreign language, I’ve heard the progress people have been making when they think they’re standing still, so I assume I am doing the same.
  2. Welsh isn’t the first language I’m learning as an adult. I went through the same doubts and despair when I was learning German. I’m still not perfect at German. I take solace knowing my imperfections probably drive my mother-in-law nuts.

When I read your posts it always seems you’re doing really well. I think you are too hard on yourself. But I’m not sure hearing that really helps if you doubt it yourself? Keep going!

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To me it sounds like you’re doing pretty well. You can recognise some of the words you hear on Radio Cymru, you’re reading Lingo Newydd and are keeping a diary. That sounds pretty good to me, and you say you’re making progress with the radio so you’re going in the right direction.
Even if sometimes it feels like you’ve gone a bit backwards, I definitely have that feeling too at times. It probably means that now you know more, and can recognise mistakes you didn’t spot before - great progress!

I think the getting words confused and mutating wrongly are a right of passage that all Welsh learners must go through (whether they like it or not!), and one day I hope to make it to the other side! :rofl:

The important thing to remember is; mistakes don’t matter, you’re going in the right direction, and if you can get the rough intent of your message across you’re doing amazingly well.

Also take a moment to think of all the people who’s first language is English but don’t talk perfectly correctly. They’re still talking English aren’t they? And you’re still talking Welsh. Dal ati - keep at it

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Thank you. It is actually very helpful for me to hear that not everyone on here is zooming ahead and talking fluently in a year or two.

I like the idea of asking on here if anyone else would like to meet up for a small intermediates group.

Thanks for your supportive message. I get exasperated with myself at how I can manage just fine with the high-speed listening exercises but just now at work couldn’t understand anything but the general gist of what someone said to me!

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Thank you, this is useful. Today just now at work I understood most of the words someone said to me, but not the overall meaning at all! So maybe I am listening too actively.

… And my workplace is a loud, echo-y stone building, which doesn’t help clear communication!

Ah, learning another language or teaching one definitely helps with empathy. I think for me I find people who speak English not as a first language easy to understand because I grew up around many people for whom English was a second, third or even fourth language!

I think if I could just quiet my internal monologue and worry about being “told off” I could happily chat away.

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Thank you for your message. It’s actually helpful just to know that not everyone else here is sailing through it easily.

You’re right… I’m from Dudley… I wouldn’t know ‘correct English’ if it came up and slapped me in the face to be honest! :rofl:

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This is 100% normal and most people go through it. I’ve even heard it called “treigladitis” with “treiglad” being the Welsh word for “mutation” :rofl: but don’t worry. It will settle down in time, and remember that not even first language speakers ALWAYS get the mutations right and it doesn’t stop them communicating.

Remember that the listening exercises are carefully constructed to contain 99% just words and phrases you’ve already practised, so your brain is only having to recall them from wherever they’re stored in your memory. In a conversation with other people they’re bound to use words you haven’t come across before, which makes your brain go into a “Hang on, do I know that word? Have I heard it before?” process, so it does mean it will be initially harder for you, but the more you can have genuine conversations in context so you can guess some of the meanings, that will help you.

Mind you, you won’t always guess right! I’ve assumed I understand the other person lots of times in my life and said something in reply, only to be met with a blank or puzzled stare as I’ve obviously misinterpreted something. It’s all part of the process, and just something you come to laugh about and put down to another learning experience.

Hang in there! Even if you feel you’re learning at a snail’s pace, you’re still moving forward and that’s what counts. I hope you can make it to Sain Ffagan on August 3rd. It should be a chance for you to meet a few other SSiWers.

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That’s reassuring to know a lot of people go through this phase with using mutations where they shouldn’t be used.

I do hope so. Right now I haven’t seen any progress for months, it feels like. Has anyone else felt like this, and yet they kept trying to speak and it got better eventually?

I would definitely love to come to this. Is it for people of all abilities?

Small world. I’m from the Black Country.

Absolutely! It’s just a friendly, social, drop in when you can, stay as long as you like, and use as much Welsh as you can manage with no pressure!

OK well in that case I will put it in my calendar, thank you! :slight_smile:

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Aha, another Yam-Yam! One of the things about coming from the Blackcountry is being already familiar with sounds like ew, wy, yw etc. when you try to learn Welsh! :grin:

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This isn’t going to be helpful, it’s more a “thanks for sharing!” thing.
I’m not so far along as you, but I’m already finding that the more I’ve learned, the more tongue-tied I get in the video chats and even my own private practising.
Right now I’m trying to come up with some 5 sentence stories. (I did a few challenges in one short burst, and skipped ahead in the emails. Now I have to come up with two more little stories, and record them, before I’m caught up with the tasks. Oops?) The first one was easy and fun - I even tweaked it with a few "and"s and "because"s so that I could be smug about saying lots of things. Now? My brain is so blank. I know I know how to say many things, but… I have nothing to say? Surely anything I think of will be wrong/stupid/childish? Maybe I can cheat and chop my first one up smaller, using what I’ve cut to pad out the new ones? (Nope. Not gonna give in to that impulse.)
I keep telling my doubts to shut up, but it doesn’t help a whole heap. So, I look on the forum and see that people ahead of me in the course also feel or have felt this way. It helps me think that even if right now I feel stuck, somehow there must be a way through. I look forward to seeing you come through the other side - many others have done it, so that means you, and I, can too. Right? Right!
Pob lwc!!!

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One thing you need to remember is that some people speak more clearly than others. That’s probably true of any language and it’s certainly true with both English and Welsh. I apologise in advance to the men reading this thread, but in general I find that women generally speak more clearly than some (but not all!) men. I don’t know why men have more of a tendency to mumble than women, but here’s an example of what I mean. Simon (the chap making the video) speaks really clearly, but the first time I watched, I couldn’t make head nor tail of the farmer’s reply and had to rely on the subtitles. Listening again, I can make it out better.

I find it also helps to be relaxed, and the workplace that might not be the best place because there may be time pressure and stress and of course the necessity to get things exactly right. Basically I think you’re doing really well and just haven’t yet found the right people to practise with so you can build your confidence.

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That’s farmers for you! They have a language of their own! :rofl:

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I’m a man and I 100% agree from my experience! I’m hoping that working with the general public where you need to speak clearly will ensure I don’t start to mumble like my Dad does :laughing:

Yes, that’s true. Thank you. When I think about it I know I ought to be proud of what I’ve done, because there are a lot of learners at my workplace (and first language speakers) who purposely don’t wear their Cymraeg/Dysgwr lanyards, or make themselves speak Welsh. It’s just making myself believe that that is hard! :slight_smile:

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My teenage son used to drive me crazy with his mumbling. He spoke really clearly as a primary-aged child, so I couldn’t understand it. Then one day I called his workplace and he answered the phone not knowing it was me. He spoke really clearly and confidently, and from that day on whenever he mumbled at home, I told him, “No, no! Use your work voice”. It became a huge joke, and after a while he spoke more clearly all the time :joy:

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Hello, I agree with everything that’s been said. Do you still live in Dudley? I live in Enville, only 6 miles away We could meet up and practice if you’d like.We coould mutate wrongly together !! I’m on holiday atm ( in Wales), but am travelling back next Wednesday

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Ah, sorry no I’ve been living in Wales for about 4 years now, but so let me know if you come to Cardiff :slight_smile: Enville’s lovely, been ages since I’ve been