Listening - an idea

I’m not too bad at speaking the welsh I know, but I’m much further behind in listening and understanding the same welsh. It’s like I have some fairly well-worn paths in my brain going from the English words to the Welsh, but they’re largely one-way, so frequently I come to a screaming halt thinking “I know that word, but I don’t know what it means”.

I have started using the listening practices more, and often putting on Radio Cymru, just hoping to exercise my brain without it noticing, and I have a suggestion for a supplemental listening practice.

What if the normal lessons were rearranged so that instead of “English->Welsh” they went “Welsh->English”? So we hear the Welsh, and the challenge is to translate it into English. I would suggest it comes after doing the lesson the normal way around, so all the explanations could be dropped, making it possibly significantly shorter than the English->Welsh(Welsh). It could either use both welsh speakers, or perhaps alternate between the two.

I feel this would be a massive boon to me, but I don’t know if my struggles with the listening side are a problem many others share or not.

I’m assuming you (at SSIW HQ) have all the different audio clips arranged in a way that this could be put together easily :slight_smile: .

Level 1 and the complete and accelerated listening exercises are our answer to this :slight_smile:

What you suggest would have value, but (as is true of listening to the radio) it would be a very time-hungry process.

The accelerated listening exercises, each of which uses everything you’ve covered in Level 1 up to that point, will give you the improvement in understanding you’re looking for far more quickly :slight_smile:


I will keep going with the listening practices as they are.

Letting a stream of it wash over me doesn’t seem as effective as the “translate this into English” would be, but I will keep going.

Once for a change ( :slight_smile: ) I go with @aran here. You’ll listen to the listening practice once, twice, third … endless time and at one point you’ll just become aware you can understand things not even noticing that. That double speed listening practice sonds like a song to me despite I otherwise have endless ampunt of problems with Level 1 and am moaning all the time. Listening practices are well designed (from my experience, not from what SSi HQ “company” says) to accelerate brains not only in listening and understanding but also in thinking rather fast …

Radio Cymru and whatever you find Welsh is only happy and valuable addition to what SSi offers me thinks and … remember (I don’t know for you though) that I’m not native English speaker and my language isn’t too similar to English either.

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S’mae Dave?

Our aim here is not to have to translate into English at all, but to understand the Welsh naturally without resort to English.



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Our aim here is not to have to translate into English at all, but to understand the Welsh naturally without resort to English.

nods I know that’s where we’re supposed to end up, but listening while learning I find that I go

“Welsh->English->internal understanding”.

Does no-one else do that? Is everyone else just learning with “Welsh->internal understanding”? I thought the translation step was natural while learning until one gets proficient enough that it naturally drops away.

I thought if I could make my brain actively think about understanding what I’m hearing then it would help.

As far as concerns me I never translate. It’s simply one word means this for me and that’s all. It’s a bit harder when talking to make sentences for me especially when they’re long but I never consciously translate being Welsh-English or English-Welsh (or better Slovene-Welsh or Welsh-Slovene in my case). And besides, cnotext of what’s said is very important and is not always to be translated word by word in any language not just Welsh.

Maybe I expressed this in an unfortunate way. I suppose, thinking about it, “translate this into English” isn’t quite what I mean (which is unfortunate, because it’s what I said). I suppose I mean, rather “understand this sentence that is said in Welsh”. If someone has to go via English while learning (which is what I am doing when I’m listening, because that’s how I understand, and if I’m doing it “wrong” then there’s no hope for me) or if they’re fortunate enough to go straight to a deep and Chomskyish understanding, then that’s the understanding I mean.

I wasn’t intending to suggest for a moment any kind of word for word or context-free understanding of the language, or some kind of “act as a translator”. Reaching the understanding was always my point.

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There’s always hope (even I can say this). Hope dies last so keep on doing what you do if it helps you.

I’m in desperate need of knowing to write, read, what’s somehow not aim of SSiW at this point either but as I see it helps me in a way I keep striving to see how something is written. (Not doing it much though but only when I feel I really need to.)

This is certainly not the case Dave! But there is a process to be worked through, and I can promise that the accelerated listening practices are the way forward. Sure, they are painful at first, but you will reap rich rewards from sticking with them, and getting into as many conversations as you possibly can :sunny:



Hi Dave, I have the same problem in that I can put my welsh together ok to say something to someone but I find it so much harder to understand what is said to me.
I am just hoping it improves at some point!

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If it comforts you, I have oposite problem. I can understand quite some things (on my level of knowledge of course) perfectly and can do quite most of exercises but when comming to speach … words are flowing away waving goodbye. :slight_smile: Hopefully (well not hopefully but I’m ceratin) we’ll pass those problems one way or another. :slight_smile:

Pob lwc to both of you.

I’ve completed about 40-45% of Course One and am using the daily speaking and listening practices.

I’ve found the speaking practices really brilliant from the start. But with the listening practices, I must admit that at first I thought to myself “what on earth’s the point of all this? - you HAVE to translate what’s being said otherwise you don’t understand anything!”

But I’ve persisted, and I must say that it’s now all starting to make sense. I do the listening practices whilst I’m busy with the post-dinner washing up each evening, and I focus on the chore and let the language just wash over me. I’ve found that to my surprise, I’m now translating virtually nothing, and yet I can somehow take in most of what’s being said. It’s almost as though the listening is being processed by a different part of my brain to the speaking.

I’m even looking forward to the more challenging listening exercises as my learning progresses!


That’s exactly what I thought. :slight_smile:

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I think you have put your finger on it Gavin. The “no translating” thing is not something you can force on yourself. It comes naturally and gradually when you are ready.


Hello, Dave

I am nearing the end of Course 2 and have found myself in the same situation as you. I agree with Jenny, too, that it is so much harder to understand what is said to me than to express myself in Welsh.

In order to help go directly into Welsh and not through English I have collected lots of pictures of everyday things. It is not too difficult, eg pictures of fruit and vegetables can be collected from a seed catalogue and then you can see raspberries and think ‘mafon’ without thinking in English. This leads on to changing ‘I have bread but I don’t have cheese’ to ‘I have raspberries but I don’t have strawberries’.

You still have to come back to thinking in English in order to do the next lesson but it does give you a break.

I hope the idea helps you, too.


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I have a pair of Bose earphones which have an on/off switch on them. The other day I forgot to put the switch to on at first and so found myself in the middle of a Welsh sentence in Course 2 before I knew it.

So you could use the same technique and switch the earphones off on the English phrases and you would be left with the Welsh to translate.

You could mouse back to the English if you need to check your translation. It’s a little clumsy but it works.

Little things like making shopping lists (or “to do” lists) can help.

So with my regular-ish shopping list I now write down the Welsh word, visualising the object, and not thinking of the English word at all. Occasionally I even have a mental block on the English word if I do try to think of it.

First time around you have to look up new words of course, but hopefully after a few times they stick.

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I would say that this is a standard part of the process - there’s a huge amount of discussion in the academic world about how exactly we store/use multiple languages - but in my experience, the more you listen to the target language (especially in situations where you don’t have time to translate consciously) the easier it becomes to understand without having to think about it.

The accelerated exercises may not feel as though they’re providing what you want, but if you stick with them you’ll find that you’re getting the results :sunny:

I’ve found that… I think of it as being in a state of “no-mindness” where my thoughts just flow and I’m merely an observer. I’ve really been impressed by how much I’ve learnt without much effort on my part. In fact, the less mental effort the more - perhaps paradoxically - I’ve moved forward: If that makes sense?