Is it bad to learn how to read/write from Level1, Challenge 1? (or in any SSI course)

I’m not sure it is, in terms of L2 learners - if you’re already literate, once you can speak a new language, exposure to texts will get you there pretty quickly (plus a little extra stumbling block in Welsh with the differences between spoken and literary language)…

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“Aberystwyth” is a tricky one. My wife (of English origin) spent 5 or 6 formative years in Wales, and certainly learned Welsh pronunciation, and probably a fair amount of the language, and has a particular view on how “Aberystwyth” should be pronounced. However, many (most?) Welsh people I come across, including Welsh speakers don’t quite say it as the supposed “rules” might suggest.

I had an interesting discussion (in halting Welsh…well, mine was halting) with Iestyn about this on a bootcamp, and he explained it to me, but I’m not sure I 100% understood what he was getting at. (to do with two words being combined, I think). I’ll say no more, but just keep listening to Welsh people (Welsh speakers or not) saying it, and (at least in their presence :slight_smile: ) say it the same way as them. :slight_smile:

It’s certainly that, but also in giving a lot of attention to listening, which I think does not happen so much on a traditional course. (Aran has covered all this, and more in a post after yours, but I just want to emphasise this point).

However, as @henddraig also says, those with hearing impairments (I’m another) may need extra help, and then having some text available can come in handy. But one has to be careful not to get into the habit of depending on the text. It’s easy to fall into, and forget to listen, or not be listening properly. With things like S4C on Clic, one has the luxury (if one has the additional luxury of time) to watch/listen to things first without subtitles, and then again with (for some programmes) Welsh subtitles, and then if all else fails :slight_smile: with English subtitles. (Does take up quite a lot of time though…).

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I’m pretty sure that’s right. I don’t have much opportunity to hear live, spoken Welsh but there are recordings available such as those intended to accompany children’s story books. Once you know how the words are pronounced it’s fun to read simple Welsh.
Maybe I should have grown out of Wcw a while ago but I like it too much and I do have paperback books intended for Welsh children as well.

On the other hand I’m sure Sara is right. too. We aren’t children so we aren’t in a child’s world. We see written Welsh all around in Wales and there’s too much to be able to avoid it all. Also, it is helpful if we understand it. It labels the building we are looking for, points us in the direction we want to go, tells us where we can park, etc.
But we can imitate children. We can ask how to say words, we can be prepared to make mistakes, we can listen and recognise words we have already come across.

So I think it is possible to extend your vocabulary fairly safely from books if you are aware of the dangers.


Just a quick note to say I have really noticed that words I have picked up from reading, I can now tell my pronunciation is ‘off’ compared to when I learn them from welsh speakers or from the Challenges. I am going to carry on mostly avoiding reading until I feel my spoken welsh is more solid. (Level 1 Ch 18 South).


Have you used the books which have a downloadable recording to accompany them? They would introduce the written and spoken word both at the same time and remove any uncertainty about pronunciation.
Maybe you don’t want your vocabulary to include wolves, porridge, straw houses and bears but there are lots of other words there, too!


No, and I’ll look into that when I get to reading, thank you. For now I am going to concentrate on my speaking and listening.

You don’t have to have the books; they are available for download and make good listening exercises.



Thanks, I will look into that.

One possible resource for you to pick up new words in an “authentic” way would be the Pigeon podcast for learners, on Radio Cymru:

“Pigeon” is actually a selection of extracts from normal Radio Cymru programmes which have been chosen as being possibly useful for learners. (The programmes themselves have not been made specially for learners, so this is real, authentic Welsh, not "learner’s Welsh! :slight_smile: ).

There is then a tab labelled “Geirfa’r Podlediad”:

This consists of links to vocab for the various programmes. The vocab lists seem to remain on the website a lot longer than the actual programmes/podcasts. At the time of writing this, there are 4 podcasts available.

With the vocab list, there is also a brief written extract from the podcast, but it’s nowhere near a full transcript. So, you aren’t exactly spoonfed, but it is still potentially a great help.

Pob lwc! :slight_smile:

(Edit: Perhaps I should add that, in the true spirit of SSiW, it would be good to listen to each podcast before looking at the vocab list. Then maybe listen again after looking at the vocab list, and see how many of “their” words you spotted (or heard, rather)).


I’m currently watching Rownd a Rownd twice, with the Welsh subtitles on first and then with the English (I haven’t yet dared to try without any, although I should really throw that into the mix soon, too).

The other night I watched the first half with my partner with the Welsh subtitles on, and got the gist of most of it – I turned to her half-way through, and said something like “I don’t know how much of that you caught,” and she looked back at me with the kind of face I’d have made if you’d sat me down to watch a Hungarian soap and then asked me how much I understood :slight_smile: – so then we went back and watched it with the English on!

The thing I noticed, though, was that I actually caught more of the spoken Welsh when I had the English subtitles on. Partly, it may just be that it was the second time of hearing, and partly, no doubt that I had already therefore understood the story and knew what to anticipate; but I think, also, that I could take in the English subtitles at a glance, whereas the Welsh take an effort to read. The Welsh subtitles were a support and a help, but they clearly did distract me from listening rather more than the English ones did.

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This is definitely true for me, when I’ve watched it previously with no subtitles. Somehow seeing the English subtitles (which I can process instantaneously) helps me hear the Welsh words as words instead of what was just a fast blur of speech that I didn’t catch. I might not understand a phrase, but when it’s a phrase I know, and the English is in front of me, I can suddenly hear each of the Welsh words.

So true! I can’t quite read the Welsh fast enough to both process that and listen at the same time. At the moment, I find it more useful to watch with no subtitles, then use the English. If I have time, then I go back again and use the Welsh subtitles.

The fun part is seeing my comprehension get better over time :slight_smile:

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@aran Do I recall correctly that SSi is writing a new ‘guide’ that covers learning any language as opposed to just Welsh? (in reference to the learning Welsh guide)

I’m almost certain I remember reading, years ago, that starting to read Welsh after challenge ~6 is OKAY. I’d be keen to see an update on this piece of advice.

I just love readingggg

Yeah, I’ve started work on this - kind of got a bit side-tracked with intensive weeks and stuff, but hoping to get back to it fairly soon…:slight_smile:

On the reading - I’m probably going to stick to ‘end of Level 1’ as when I’d suggest going for it - and encourage anyone who loves reading to get through Level 1 nice and quickly…:wink:


This is a very important point.

Apart from the accent thing (which is really important, but some people can get away with) and the danger of getting sucked in to “I can read so I have learnt” that so many learners get stuck at, and never move on to speaking properly, there is another, more universal consideration:

If you are reading to increase your vocabulary (a great way of doing it) or to increase your exposure to different grammar structures and get a feel for the culture (again, a really good reason to read), then great. But. If you don’t have the basic structures of the language ready to use yet, then you don;t really need those things yet.

In other words, if you have time to read, then you have time to do another lesson which will get you speaking far more quickly than reading will, and therefore gice you more momentum, and more feeling of achievement. Then, once you’ve got the basic structures, and you’re starting to find that you are short of vocabulary as you try to speak (to yourself or to others), then is the time to start branching out to broader learning as well as the SSiW lessons.

Remember, level1 is 25 lessons long, and teaches you a huge amount of useful Welsh that will really enable you to speak about a lot of subjects. Even if you do each lesson twice, that’s only 25 hours of learning, How many books - even simple ones - could you read in 25 hours? Realisitcally, how much vocab would you learn in that time?

So, get level 1 out of the way. Prioritise the speaking for 25 hours, then start reading as part of your learning routine when you have a far better xchance of being able to use the new words that you learn as soon as you’ve learnt them.


Yes, I can understand that. You take in the English sentence at a glance, before hearing most of the Welsh sentence, so you know the sense of it as the characters are speaking.

What I always used to try to do was watch it 3 times in this order: 1. no subtitles, 2. Welsh subtitles 3. English subtitles.

I’m retired, so in theory, I had plenty of time to do this. (In reality, life gets in the way of course).
After a while I tried more and more to drop the 3rd stage, and eventually the 2nd stage.

Nowadays I try not to use subtitles at all unless 1) there is some subtlety in the storyline that I don’t understand, and want to (when I turn on the English ones), or 2) I’m just not catching some of the Welsh words and want to know what they are really saying, then I turn on the Welsh ones (although then of course you sometimes run into the problem that the subtitles aren’t 100% what the character said).

(I almost wrote “actor” there, but as we know, these are real people, not actors … :wink: )


Oh Mike, I am far too impatient to struggle with no subtitles and anyway, I record on Sky so as to fast forward through the adverts, but I sometimes end up giggling because I think the English on recorded S4C programs must be computer generated or something, because sometimes it is way off, but you can tell it is a translation of something that sounds like the original Welsh!