Level of fluency

I love this program yet am moving through it rather slowly.

Regardless , I have decided I want to complete all levels…I think…and once finished with the first level and challenges pay for the next levels. But my question is, if I do this what can I reasonably expect? What level of fluency will the full program , all levels take me to?

Thank you,
George Fear

It’s different person to person. It depends how much people speak around the lessons etc. In a passive way, the course will still take you quite far down the road to being able to hold conversations and use Welsh meaningfully…it depends on how you want to use it to what level of fluency - for example; being a nurse working through Welsh will have a higher demand than some other pursuits.

You’ll be able to form sentences, hold conversations, and survive in Welsh :smile:


Fluency is a weird concept, because I think fluency is dependable on what you need to do with the language.

There’s a video on YouTube which I used to give to people who’d ask about fluency and for the life of me I can’t quite find it now, but the guy does a couple of things.

  1. He reads the first page of a very, very, very technical book on something to do with how car engines run. The idea being that even though most people who watch it are fluent English speakers, he goes on to say that unless you have a very good knowledge of auto mechanics - the vast majority of it will not make sense to most fluent speakers.

  2. He then gives the following example.

Take a person who has studied for a PHD in automechanics in a foreign language. They know the language well enough to detail extremely technical documents - but say for instance this guy doesn’t know the word in his target language for “Supermarket”, “Ice cube” or say… “Pie” and outside of his course he rarely speaks to native speakers.

Take another person who has just been travelling through a country for a few months, picking up colloquial language along the way, surviving by learning the language as they go. This person cannot write technical documents, but they know the words for “Supermarket”, “Ice cube” and “pie” because they come across them every day when they are out mixing with the locals.

Who is more fluent?

A lot of what we consider fluency really equates to “How much of my life can I live in my new language?”

I consider myself “almost” fluent (if fluent is such a thing). What I mean by this is that I have a great deal of friends now that I only speak to in my new language, I have a whole social circle to whom to speak to in English would feel incredibly weird. I can go on nights out and spend whole days with people without muttering a word of English. I’ve been able to give presentations in work in Welsh, because I’m talking about a subject that I am familiar with.

Could I go to a Welsh mechanic and explain to him that I think my alternator is not kicking out the right voltage because I find my car stalling sometimes half way through a journey? No way!!!

I blabber on (you’ll get used to that!)

Bottom Line: I’ve done all of the lessons currently available to me as a South learner and I can get by in every day life in Welsh without a hitch or problem. I’ve worked hard at it, but my achievements are not “special” shall we say?

If you do the course and live a life similar to mine, then you should be able to go whole weeks at a time without using English (ironically my biggest use of English at the moment is on this very forum!!) but if you are looking to have enough Welsh where you can use it in a job as a nurse or an insurance salesman - you may need some extra work on the side :smiley:


My ideas about fluency have changed dramatically since starting SSIW. Fluency has always been some far off dream - never a word you apply to yourself, only a word you use for others who are better than you. Pretty quickly, it becomes clear that that sort of fluency means nothing if you want to use it as a measure of personal progress, because it’s an ever moving goal.
I read somewhere that someone considered themselves fluent if they could expand their current knowledge of their learnt language, by only using that language. To be capable of learning more Welsh, but only through using Welsh. That has stayed with me, and made my ideas of fluency more realistic. It’s a rough measure, though, and open to fine tuning!
I have gained so much through SSIW - the confidence to speak, to use what I know, to stop worrying about why things are the way they are, and, most importantly, that mistakes are the way forward! More than all that, it has given me the deep desire to hear and speak Welsh every single day.
I hope SSIW brings the same to you. :relaxed:


We all have our own ideas about what ‘fluent’ means, don’t we? I take the etymology of the word from ‘fluid’ to give me the understanding ‘able to speak in a fluid way’. I could speak like this after perhaps a year of living in Wales (I had just finished the course when we moved here).

I think the thing to stress is that the course on its own will not do all the work. There are lots of tips from Aran in the introductory material about other things to do, but (as with any course) the learner needs to do a lot of their own work as well. There are loads of suggestions among the forums as well - including things like Radio Cymru, S4C, Skype conversations for practice and so on. We all of us, as well, have different vocabulary needs (I never want to have to discuss football, for example, so there is no point in my wasting time learning the Welsh for ‘offside’, just as I’m sure most other people don’t want to learn the Welsh for ‘intersectionality’ or ‘impact assessment’).

1 Like

Hope this works. This is the sort of ‘fluency’ that I think I have:


Camsefyll. Croeso. :wink:

If you finish all our material, you’ll be capable of holding confident conversations in Welsh - but to turn that ability into reality - to have those conversations - you’ll need to notch up good few hours of live conversation on top of your work with the SSiW materials… :slight_smile:


Like others have said, it’s all about what you expect ‘fluency’ to mean. I’ve done all of the South lessons and most of the North ones, but I wouldn’t consider myself a very good speaker per se, mostly because I haven’t had much practice on that front. I live in the US, so not many Welsh speakers here, and on my recent trip to Wales, I think I said maybe three words total in Welsh because I just froze anytime someone spoke to me in Welsh. (But that’s more due to my own confidence issues than a measure of what I’ve learned with SSiW!) I still also have a lot of trouble understanding spoken Welsh because of the speed, but that improves the more you expose yourself to spoken Welsh (luckily I can access Radio Cymru and some S4C programs even over here so there’s no shortage of listening practice). However, I know these lessons have been successful regardless of the above difficulties. I may not have developed great speaking skills yet, but I have seen the progress in my ability to read in Welsh. By this point I’ve been able to finish multiple books of varying difficulty levels in Welsh over the past few months with the foundations I learned here, some extra grammar help from Gareth King’s Modern Welsh, and a healthy amount of Radio Cymru or music by Cymraeg bands everyday. I still have to look lots of words up in the dictionary when reading but that’s just part of learning and my vocab base grows everyday because of it. All in all, no course can teach you everything about a language, but SSiW does an amazing job of giving you the essential tools to take it to whatever level you want to reach. I can read and understand Welsh better after 10 months of learning than I ever understood Spanish despite taking traditional courses on that for nearly 5 years in school.



I agree – I think it’s very important to distinguish between ‘fluency’ and ‘ability’. They are of course interrelated (the more you learn, the more you’re able to say in a conversation), but fluency can also be regarded to a certain extent as almost a separate skill. It’s possible to have a very basic conversation with limited vocabulary, but still speak fluently – in the sense of not overly struggling for words and getting the meaning across that you intended in a spontaneous manner.

I think SSiW is great for this, because it imprints ‘building blocks’ in your brain that after a while just roll off the tongue automatically – which frees your brain up to think about the next part. A basic example of this would be “dw i wedi bod yn dysgu” from the first few challenges. If you’d learnt that out of a grammar book by learning each element individually and then putting them together, it would take a lot longer for your brain to switch from having to ‘construct’ it each time to it becoming natural (if that makes sense…) :slight_smile:


Very good points. Another thing which I think SSiW has taught me is the importance of rhythm in speech. It’s probably as important in speech as in music. As well as helping recognition in listening, it also actually helps us (somehow) in remembering these key building blocks.

In fact, in (at least the northern) the newer Level 1, the above phrase is taught using the more colloquial form “dw i 'di bod yn dysgu”. Having started with the older Course 1, which taught the more “correct” form, using “wedi”, I found this hard to take on board at first, but after a while, I got used to it, and found I liked the rhythm of it, and was hearing this usage all the time on S4C and Radio Cymru.


That’s very true! I like to think that you can build up your own sets of preferred rhythms and phrases so that everyone has their own ‘style’ of saying the same thing (all equally correct). To use your comparison to music: I guess it’s like how a piece of music will be performed differently by every player. :slight_smile: This seems to be particularly true with spoken Welsh – I’m only halfway through the first level and already there are a load of variations to choose from!

1 Like