London Welsh Centre St David's Day Half Day Course

Although I have been working from home in Yorkshire for over a year now, my workplace is in London in the same street as the London Welsh Centre. I have often passed the Centre but never entered it or indeed had any dealings with it until last week. To celebrate St David’s day, the Centre offered a number of half-day courses over Zoom

As I don’t live anywhere near a Welsh speaker and the few Welsh speakers I do know are busy people who want to finish a transaction and get on with something else rather than suffer my mutilating their language, Having never actually conducted a dialogue in Welsh (except for ordering tea and a torta galesa and buying a local handicraft from a surly Argentine waitress at a cafe in Dolavon who affected not to understand my Spanish many years ago) I signed up.

Courses were available for various levels from absolute beginner to “advanced”. Because I felt that I must have learnt some Welsh from SSIW and watching film clips of Gareth yr Orangutan I chose the first level above “absolute beginner”. With the benefit of hindsight that may have been a bit too ambitious because many if not all the other students on the course were married to Welsh speakers or had some other regular exposure to the language and were, therefore, a lot more fluent than me. I stumbled over pronunciation and grammar.

Nevertheless, I had a good time and learnt a lot. We had a very patient teacher who took the trouble to email each of us in Welsh after the course. Each of us received a resources pack that included the recipe for Welsh cakes, the life of St David and lots of other information. The teacher also wrote every new word that we learnt in the chat channel which I copied, translated and am committing to memory.

Through that exercise, I learnt the Welsh for leek and daffodil and reflected on the possible association of the very different plant species. While trimming the stems of a bunch of daffodils the other day I noticed their sinuous fibrosity bore a vague resemblance to the vegetable but to call one of the loveliest flowers in nature “Peter leeks” seemed atypical of a people who renowned for their prowess in verse and song. The French on the other hand call the flowers, trompettes d’or**emphasized text (“golden trumpets”) which is much more lyrical.

It was a very valuable 3 hours and I hope to take a slightly more difficult course next year.


Well da iawn for your half day course, and for telling us about it. I think you chose well the level you did. If everything had been easy, what was the point of doing it? And you don’t know really what was going on in the minds of the group you were with either. They may have felt as though they were fumbling around in the dark as well. And don’t get me started on the myth of fluency, that every receding mirage at the end of the rainbow… It’s more often in the ear of the listener than the mind of the learner. And is not to be confused with accuracy… Dal ati. Keep up the good work. :slightly_smiling_face::slightly_smiling_face:

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That sounds a great experience! I used to work not far away from the LWC too, and once lockdown is over, I would really recommend you popping into their learners’ chat nights once they restart. These used to be on Thursday nights just after the male voice choir practice, so you’d get the benefit of hearing the choir as you arrived for the chat night! Really friendly people there, mostly 2nd generation Welsh speakers as well as learners, and happy to have me there as the honorary ‘Gog’ :heart_eyes:

Thank you Margaretnock

I think I could have prepared for the class better and I will have plenty of opportunities to improve my command of the language once the pandemic is tamed as Anglesey and Gwynedd are less than a 2 hours drive away. I also anticipate numerous visits to Newport for work and pleasure, I will try to speak in Welsh as often as possible.

Many thanks for your response and kind suggestions, Stine.

I am on the Centre’s mailing list and I shall be glad to participate in the conversation classes when I visit London for work.

If as a student of the Welsh language and culture, I qualify for membership without being a native or resident of Wales I shall apply to join the Centre. If not I will support it in any other way that may be appropriate.

You should ask to be put on their mailing list, to hear of all the events that they organise. I live 80 miles from London but I’ve been there a couple of times to watch rugby matches, once to hear a choir and, memorably, to take part in a Mari Lwyd around some of the nearby pubs, ending up in the centre. During the first lockdown they held Friday night quizzes on Zoom, open to non-members but donations invited. These were all in English, but great fun nevertheless. Another nearby event I went to was a Cymanfa Ganu at the Jewin Chapel, held to mark the tercentenary of the birth of William Williams Pantycelyn. In normal times they hold regular Sunday services there.

Thank you so much for your response and kind suggestion, jounmorganjones.

I am on the Centre’s email list. That is how I learnt about its half-day courses. I have also shared the video on the 100th anniversary of dances at the Centre. I hope to participate in many other activities online and in-person when that becomes possible.

I have also been notified of the 6 nations matches. I don’t think I would be very comfortable watching any of those matches except when Wales plays France or Italy.

I am a friend of Wales and an admirer of Welsh culture which is why I am learning Welsh but I identify with and am loyal to a different nation. I am partisan in matches when Wales plays my nation and neutral in matches between Wales and other home nations.

that’s sort of where I fit too! I’m not sure I’d pass the ‘Tebbit test’ here in Wales for all sporting fixtures :rofl:

I’m not aware that there is any residency or nationality clause for membership of the LWC so you should be fine. I will freely admit to some ‘hiraeth’ on a Thursday evening after a long week away from home, walking into the bar there and hearing Welsh accents. Btw, the Queen’s Head on Acton St, further up from the LWC towards King’s Cross, serves Purple Moose, (Porthmadog-based brewery), just as a general point of info for anyone who might be interested…

Thank you for the tip. I sometimes stay at one of the nearby Travelodges so I will have walked past the pub many times. I am not the world’s biggest beer drinker but I shall try the brew other in Porthmadog or London. We brew several excellent craft beers here in Holmfirth.

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