Learning beyond SSIW

Hello :slight_smile:

I first had a go at an SSIW challenge last year, and little did I think I’d get hooked and end up ‘finishing’ (quotation marks definitely needed) about a year and a half later! The SSIW way really seems to work for me and I’ve found it hugely enjoyable, so thanks to Aran and Kat and everyone else involved in putting together such a great course :slight_smile:

I’ve worked my way through Levels 1-3 and now Courses 1-3 just for good measure. An obvious next step is repeating/revision, and I’ll definitely be doing that. Where next though? This is what I’m working on:

  • Going to meetups. I’ve started going to these (thanks @maynard !). Good fun! I understand more than I thought I would, which I guess is a good thing. It’s surprising, even in a friendly environment, how much more difficult it is to get the (right) words out in real time with real people. Much more practice needed!

  • Listening to Radio Cymru. I’m convinced everyone speaks Welsh twice as fast as English!

  • Reading simple books for learners.

Are there any good ways to replicate the success of the SSIW way when continuing learning, or is it just a case of slogging it out with a dictionary whenever you encounter new words and hoping they sink in eventually? Does anyone have any tips?


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That’s true, except that Garry Owen (Taro’r Post) speaks it four times as fast! :slight_smile:


Well done Greg :smiley:

Some people like to go through the levels & courses for the region they didn’t do (i.e. if they did the Northern ones, they then do the Southern and vice versa), so that could be one thing to try - it certainly helps become familiar with the differences where they exist.

Another thing I’d really recommend (if you haven’t done so already) is join the Welsh Speaking Practice group on Slack. You can get plenty of listening and speaking practice through that (as well as make friends with other learners all over the world!) by having one-to-one chats and group discussions in the hangouts.

There are a few threads existing on here that recommend reading material so have a browse through those, and of course listen/watch Welsh language radio, tv, podcasts, web videos, etc as much as possible!


Pretty much, although there are various ways of doing this.


  1. Read a chapter and underline each unknown or doubtful word in pencil.
    At the end of the chapter, go through with a dictionary(footnote 1), look them up and write them into a notebook(footnote 2). For nouns, write singular & plural but only write the gender if it’s feminine (since most are masculine). For verbs write down the dictionary head-word form (which is not an infinitive in Welsh), and if the dictionary gives it, the verb stem.

  2. Same as above, but write the words onto a card. I buy A4 card and cut it into 4. Each piece will fit into most books, and I use both as bookmark, and to write down the words. At the end of the chapter when you look up the words you can write the meaning on to the card, and eventually all the words into a permanent notebook, or you can just write words and meaning straight into a notebook.


  1. Dictionary: I almost always use an electronic dictionary these days. There are several good ones, including GPC and the one produced by Bangor University (PC and mobile versions).

  2. Notebook: Some people prefer to record their “new” words electronically in a computer or phone app. I prefer to write them by hand, as I think there is a value in doing this.
    I also absolutely do not use any of the programmes or apps for learning or revising words. They work for some people, but they are not for me. In fact, I make no effort to “learn” words whatsoever. I rely on the power of natural repetition and recognition. I feel this is in the spirit of SSiW.

Now there is a “system” of helping to consolidate vocabulary which is based on handwritten material. I have used it, although not as much as I intended to, and I’m not currently using it. I may go back to it when I can get myself organised (ho ho :slight_smile: ). It’s called “The Goldlist Method”. You can probably find references to it in this forum if you search, or it can be found quite easily by googling as well. However, I think you can do almost as well just writing them down plainly in a notebook. Just use a reasonable quality, hard-backed notebook, and write as neatly as possible. Those are two principles I’ve borrowed from “Goldlist” which are worth carrying over into any manual method based on handwriting.

I’m currently using A5 hardback notebooks. A6 notebooks are too small, and A4 can be a bit unmanageable (although it (or bigger) is recommended by the Goldlist inventor).

Congratulations on getting through all 3 courses and all 3 levels by the way. I’m sure you’ll go far with Welsh, and as ever, “pob lwc”! :slight_smile:

I absolutely think that after getting the basic structures down, which SSiW does for us so well, then the absolutely key thing in language is vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary. (And I wish mine was bigger). As you probably know, your passive vocabulary is probably always going to be a lot bigger than your active vocabulary, and probably after a few more years, you will be absolutely amazed at the number of words you recognise and know passively, even if you wouldn’t necessarily bring them into a conversation.

Oh, as well as meetups, don’t forget about online conversations, e.g. Skype. these can be extremely valuable.

And on books, don’t be too unambitious. Learner books are great, and I love them, but don’t be afraid to stretch yourself sometimes.

Oh yes: Check out the Parallel Cymru thread!!!


When I read learner books I try not to look words up and see how much meaning I can get from the context. If something comes up repeatedly and I can’t figure it out, then I might look it up.
I sometimes read children’s books that have been translated from English, eg Horrid Henry. I read the Welsh and English versions side by side. This can be quite interesting.
Then I am very slowly working through Harry Potter. Thus has tons of unfamiliar vocabulary. I am taking it one page at a time. In a notebook I write out all the words I don’t know and use an online dictionary to translate them. Sometimes I peek at the English text for meaning. Then I put all the words into Memrise and use that until all the words are familiar. Then I reread the page and see if anything else trips me up. So far this year I’ve made it to page 7. But I’m really enjoying the process and I’m coming across new constructions and ways of saying things. It’s really interesting to me. :slight_smile:


I’ve been doing this for a few years now and Harry Potter would be a step too far for me.

I find that if there’s a page where i have to look up more than about six words then it’s a book too far. I never remember the words an hour later and if I write them down I rarely if ever return to the list.

I now have a reasonably good vocabulary for rugby, football and the news, even though there are still plenty of new words I keep seeing.

The advantage of the news and sport is that you can read a lot of content on the BBC Wales website in English and can then often read the same story on Cymru Fyw and the same stories are then covered in Radio Cymru. It’s much easier in the beginning to understand a story in Welsh if you already know what it’s about and you can start to guess the meaning of the missing words. For me guessing the meaning of words is the best way to get them to stick and now when I hear a word like llawdriniaeth on the radio, I rarely think what is that in English, but have a mental picture of a surgeon doing surgery. If you can can get to that stage with a word then it’s sunk in for good.

Some words are impossible to learn from a dictionary, because the dictionary doesn’t encapsulate the full sense of the word. Another thread here mentioned the word “cynnal” and that is in a group of hard to remember words for me - i don’t get hung up on it, because eventually they will sink in, but constantly looking them up is useless for me and i just need to hear and read it more to contextualise it. Other words like “dwyn” are in the same bracket - some meanings of that word are straightforward - but then someone will use it in a way that doesn’t fit with what i expect and I’ll get thrown.

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I recommend a bootcamp. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in Cymraeg, and get some much needed speaking practice.


make sure you watch/listen/read things you enjoy - for me, i listen every week to tudur owen, he’s very funny, rownd a rownd, welsh soap opera, and manon stephan ros as an author, it should never be a chore! i did all 3 courses , started doing the above, going to a regular welsh conversational group, and also use gareth kings modern welsh with my own flash cards, and now i’m bordering on fluency…learning a language involves a LOT of active effort, but the rewards outweigh the effort by far…good luck ! :slight_smile:


Read stuff you enjoy, listen to the radio lots, spend time talking to other people - and it will all fall into place - you’ve done all the real learning work you need to, the rest will come via osmosis… :slight_smile:


Listening/reading/speaking to people etc. is never a chore – I find other words to describe it might be frustrating (nearly always), confusing (often), embarrassing too (fairly often), but enjoyable nevertheless.

Well, I’m now equipped with a new notebook to do some active learning, and if @aran is right hopefully some osmosis will happen too… Thanks to everyone for their suggestions :slight_smile:

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I had an interesting experience today… I saw a word on my daughters homework that I didn’t recognise and it turned out to be a very useful and basic word, that’s somehow passed me by and i feel like I should have known.

I asked my daughter what “plith” meant and she said that she didn’t know how to explain it in English. She then acted it out folding her arms, running to the window and put her hands over her head and then sitting down and twisting her hair. She then said something like " plith dy freichiau".

None the wiser I looked it up and it said plait - makes sense with the hair thing, but the crossing the arms etc also somehow now makes sense and the word is now something that I’ll never forget. I think there’s some compllicated things going on when we learn words, but when they’re picked up through context - listening to people or if you’re lucky enough getting someone to act out the word, they are much easier to remember than a sterile word list, where you are given an English equivalent .


The word I’ve always used with my daughter is “pleth” so I’ve always asked if she wants me to “plethu” her hair so I’ve looked it up … “pleth” is indeed a plait (as well as several other uses of twisting, intertwined, etc.). The word “plith” (pleeth) means amongst, amidst, etc. with some wonderful connections such as “plith dra chymysg” meaning “higgledy-piggledy, topsy-turvy, etc.” and “plith draphlith / plith tra phlith” meaning “confusion, disorder”.

So, inadvertently, you have taught me the word “plith” and it is wonderful, thank you. I hope you don’t feel like the rug has been pulled from under you. Corrections on here are always made with love. :heart_eyes:


Whoops, bois bach, ayyb.

Thinking about it the word was plethu, because it remined me of Plethyn the band, not plith and in no time at all ive just jumbled them up - somehow - weird how the brain works. This litle back and fore has hopefully unjumbled something that wasn’t jumbled up at all till yesterday, because i didn’t know either word - and there was i thinking what a great way it was to learn a word.


… and now we know two. :grinning:


interweaving words and getting them tangled like a bad plait makes it all feel a bit “cymhleth”

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Now that you know the word, listen out for “yn eu plith” on Radio Cymru. It means “amongst them” and I heard it fairly often when I first learnt the word. I don’t notice it now, but that’s problably because it has just become a word that I know :slight_smile:


I second this! Bwtcamp is a great experience and will definitely get you past the [quote=“gjpearce, post:10, topic:12750”]
frustrating (nearly always), confusing (often), embarrassing too (fairly often),
stage, as you will all be in the same boat, laughing and learning together.

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I’ve posted about “The Goldlist Method” once or thrice.

Well, I recently received an email from the author himself (nothing personal … I’m just on his mailing list), and here is the link to the article it referred to:

Definitely worth a look, at least for the nerds among us (in which I unreservedly count myself - I am perhaps only an amateur nerd, but nerd I am - Nerd ydw i :slight_smile: )

Thanks for posting about this - I’ve just read that article and the new description of the method he also links to. Very interesting (and nerdy, I approve of nerdy). I like that he emphasises that you need to start with an audio only course (which of course fits well with SSIW).

I also like the idea that the passive knowledge vocab might all somehow slot into place after three days immersion. I know my understanding and vocab have improved since I went to bwtcamp last year but haven’t felt that my talking has improved much. Another reason to do another bwtcamp next year!

I am going to try it, or at least use it as an excuse to go and buy a nice new notebook!

I like nerdy too! I doubt if he was aware of SSiW when he first wrote about it, and I think he used the example of Michel Thomas, or possibly Assimil. I did leave a message about SSiW, and he was kind enough to reply, and say he’d look into it, and I think consider it for his retirement (as he was thinking of retiring to Wales - his real first name is David, so he might possibly be of Welsh origin :slight_smile: ). I consider him a bit of an eccentric to be honest, but like nerdiness, it’s kind of endearing. :slight_smile:

Hooray! would love to hear how you get on.
And one of these days (ho ho!) I am really going to get myself organised, and tackle it properly. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: