Looking for reading tips

Hello there,

I’m working my way through the courses and am starting to feel the urge to read. Since I’m living on the continent its a bit difficult to get exposure to spoken Welsh so I’m hoping that some books can help me plunge a little further into this beautiful language.

But knowing that written Welsh can be quite different to spoken Welsh are there any tips on places to start? Ideally I’m looking for short fun stories which can be approached in little chunks and where I’m not going to be blindsided by some wonderful but very confusing (and slightly frustrating) structures. In Dutch they have Jip en Janneke and in French they Le petit Nicolas… What is the Welsh equivalent?

Diolch yn fawr for any tips!


Hi Martin,

I’ve read a few “beginners” books recently:

“Cant y Cant” which is a 100 x 100 word Welsh essays on different subjects (food, people, bridges, disasters etc). Not exactly fun, but they all have helpful vocabulary at the bottom of each page.

“eFfrindiau” which is made up of a series of emails between two Welsh learners - one in Wales, the other in Austraila. Again with helpful vocab on each page.

“Blodwen Jones” - a diary of a Welsh learner who thinks she’s in love with her tutor. (Funnier than it sounds). Also with vocabulary.

I’ve been learning seriously for about a year now and found all of these to be pretty accessible. I bought them all through Amazon.

Alternatively, you could dive into some children’s books where the pictures offer a bit of a guide as to the content.

Have fun…


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Shwmae, Martin – The good news is that there are a number of materials written specifically for adults who are learning Welsh. Some examples are below. I highly recommend buying books through www.gwales.com, which only charges actual shipping costs and packs everything well.

Lingo Newydd: Well-produced magazine for learners, with articles color-coded for three levels of difficulty, and vocab at the bottom of each page. Subscriptions available outside the UK. [Lingo Newydd subscription page] (http://www.golwg360.com/cylchgronau-cwmni-golwg).

Nofelau Nawr series of books: Short novels with vocab at the bottom of each page. Most are comparable to the middle & upper level in difficulty in Lingo Newydd. (Edit: The Blodwen Jones book – actually, a trilogy of books – are in this series. E-Ffrindiau isn’t, but I’m glad Steve remembered to mention it, as it’s a particularly good starter novel, because it follows the correspondence between two learners of Welsh and so the language gets more sophisticated as the book goes along.)

Cant y Cant: book of 100 essays of 100 words each on nonfiction topics, with vocab at the bottom of each page. My single favorite early-reading resource.

Depending on where you are in SSIW, you may find you need to supplement with a more-traditional text before you can get too far with reading, since most books use some short-form past tense verbs that don’t show up until SSIW Course 3. I used the Cwrs Mynediad coursebook, which comes in southern & northern editions. I’m sure other people have their own favorites.

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As someone who’s a bit rubbish at the whole Welsh thing, I think eFfrindiau is great.

There is the Ar Ben Ffordd series which are good and have useful vocab. There two books at Level 1 (Mynediad) ‘Camus Ymlaen’ and ‘Ling-di-Long. At Level 2 (Sylvaen), it’s ‘Mynd Amdani’ and ‘Nerth dy Drae’. And there’s two at level 3’ Canolradd. Some of the stories are a bit melancholy but there’s also jokes and puzzles. I like them.

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If you find its time to move on from the great suggestions above, I am currently reading books aimed at young people. Available in Welsh are the following for example:

  • The first 4 books in the Alex Rider series (a 14 year old becomes an MI6 spy, complete with James Bond-type gadgets). These are by Anthony Horowitz.
  • Several books in the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer series are available, but I only have the first, called Artemis Gwarth
  • The first Harri Potter book is also available



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Translations of books you’re already familiar with are great (I think most of Roald Dahl’s children’s books are available in Welsh, for example) because you can usually follow along even if you have no idea what you’re reading, sort of thing :slight_smile:

Also, keep google translate handy - sooo much easier than flicking through a dictionary and it will automatically keep track of the words you’re learning (though you may want to double check a dictionary later!)

The Stori Sydyn books are very good too. There are lots of subjects to choose from, they include both fact and fiction, and from what I’ve read (e.g. this), they’re written in a fairly easy to follow style. Probably best to read something like Cant y Cant or one of the Ar Ben Ffordd books first, though.

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I started off with the “Cadw Swn” stories, which come with audio recordings and parallel text. I found it a good introduction, as it helps to directly associate the text with the sound. It’s not to everyone’s taste though - each episode is read 3 times, once on its own, once over a track of classical music and once over a track of baroque music. There are also “relaxation” tracks - I think the idea is to hypnotise the Welsh into you! It is also read extremely slowly, and I have to admit that after a while, I ended up ignoring the music tracks and speeding up the speaking tracks to make them less boring.

In spite of all those caveats though, I was very pleased to have found it as a bridge from the listening only method. There is lots of useful vocab, which really seems to stick. And after that, I felt much better prepared to go on to Blodwen Jones.

There’s a thread on the old site about it http://www.saysomethingin.com/welsh/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=10689

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I’m so pleased you asked this question, Martin, as I’d really like to start reading as well. I’m going to print this page off!

In my opinion (as a former ESL/EFL teacher and a teacher of students with special needs) the books specifically written for learners are a good place to start. Ideally you want to find a book where you can understand most of what’s going on as you don’t want to be using a dictionary to look up every word you don’t know.

Children’s book generally aren’t good for learners. They tend to use words that adults don’t use, they contain lots of onomatopoeia and the stories aren’t always logical.

Translations of books you’re already familiar aren’t always a good choice either. One the one hand you already know the gist of the story, but that also means you’re apt to skip whole sections that are too difficult and since you already know how the story ends it can be easy to lose motivation partway through.

Science fiction books tend to have a lot of made-up words, which can cause confusion. (Think of all the made up words in Harry Potter)

Personally, I like books that have a side-by-side translation, which is really popular for Japanese/English books. I haven’t seen anything like that for Welsh though.

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Thank you everyone for the great tips! I’m going to go and start making some orders right away :slight_smile:

Following on from what others have said I have read Cant y cant and can recommend it thoroughly. It’s a great book to start with, very easy to read. I also have a few books from the Stori sydyn series and am reading Hunllef by Manon Steffan Ros at the moment. These books are only £1.99 so won’t break the bank.

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annie: Personally, I like books that have a side-by-side translation, which is really popular for Japanese/English books. I haven’t seen anything like that for Welsh though.

I believe that the Cadw Swn materials that Sonia mentioned above have parallel texts like you describe.

Beyond that, the few parallel-text books I’ve seen aren’t aimed at Welsh learners, but at non-Welsh-speakers. I have a parallel-text version of O! Tyn y Gorchudd and of a collection of contemporary poems. There’s also a book called Dysgu Cymraeg: Venturing Into Welsh that I disliked because one of the two authors is the kind who insists that Welsh be learned The Right Way From The Start. Anyhow, the Welsh in all of these is tough going, and (most important for learning purposes) the translations aren’t remotely literal.

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Ar Ben Ffordd is pretty decent too - it’s a series of six books; two for beginners, two for novices and two for intermediate learners. They’re designed for people on the Mynediad, Sylfaen and Canolfan courses, so they assume vocabulary that this site doesn’t teach (for instance, they use verb short forms liberally), but that just gives you a chance to learn more words.

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This thread has been quirt for a while, but I suspect it will be of continuing interest as SSiW learners gradually find themselves ready to move on to reading (and we are probably all different about how long it takes us to find that readiness).

I did manage to find two parallel text Welsh-English books:

“Si Hei Lwli” - "Twighlight song by Angharad Tomos (Gomer)
“Y Lôn Wen The White Lane” by Kate Roberts (also Gomer).

I believe they are both worthwhile books, but having said that, I’ve put them aside for when I’m a bit more advanced.

I found I was getting further (and having more fun) with the likes of “Blodwen Jones” in the “Nofelau Nawr” series (also Gomer). Even without the vocab at the bottom, a time-served SSiW learner, sorry, speaker, will probably understand at least 75% of it. With the added boost of the vocab, you can then pretty much get most of it, only having to look up the odd word (if it’s not obvious from context). It gives a nice sense of achievement. And the nice thing is that you are seeing the words used in context, which a straightforward dictionary lookup won’t necessarily give you. And you will see examples of mutations, and short-forms

Talking of which, I only recently realised that the BBC Learn Welsh dictionary (which was developed by Bangor University). is able to

  1. “de-mutate” words - i.e. you can type in the mutaded form, and it will look up the radical form.


  1. “de-conjugate” conjugated verbs, i.e. short-form verbs, i.e. you can type in the conjugated/inflected form, and it will look up the verb-noun form - really useful if the stem is not easily guessable from the verb-noun form.

Both of these are really useful when reading.

I believe that the free Ap Geiriaduron dictionary app (also developed by Bangor) will also do this, although I don’t have a device on which it can be used. I was thinking of buying their “Cygliad”, which is a package including dictionaries and a grammar-checker, and more), for use on my PC, but I’m still umm-ing ah-ing over that. :smile:




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Go to the Ebbw vale RFC website and click on the Cymraeg option. Plain grammar reading with some local history thrown in. Pob Lwc. Hwyl fawr mae Glynebwy hydref hyn