I used to be a very keen SSiW user and was quite active on this forum but I stalled about 9 months ago, in the face of a pretty torrid time in my personal life. But that rotten chapter is drawing to a close and I’m looking forward to kick starting my learning some time in December.
So, what should I do? I’d like your views.
Here’s what I did before the fall:
A few basic courses at Nant Gwrtheyrn (what a place)
The SSiW levels (and a dabble with the courses)
Some sessions with tutors (all lovely)
A bootcamp (phew! Was I out of my depth!)
Read tonnes of books (well 30 novels or so)
And here’s where I got to:
I can read pretty well (and I love the experience)
I can follow basic conversations (and sometimes more)
I got to really enjoy this wonderful, challenging, gorgeous language
And here’s what I can’t do and what I have to crack when I get down to learning again:
Speaking. (Yes, I know, SSiW is all about speaking, but those nerves are VERY engrained and I never managed to crack them).
So, what’s my game plan for when I’m back on-line? All suggestions welcome, although I’d rather not hear about approaching strangers in the street – I tend not to do that in English, let alone Welsh It’s a massive mountain I have to scale, but come December I hope to be in the mood for a good climb.
How about another bootcamp? It sounds like a holiday would be good for you (sorry if that is an assumption) and it would be a good place to aim for. Maybe aim for May? Then use the next 5 months to refresh a level and complete level 3 (that’s brewing).
One thing I will suggest, is if you live near a group who meet to chat in Welsh, go along! It’s a great way to practice, you’ll be around other learners of varying levels, and getting into conversation will be at a pace you’re comfortable with, using what you know, and picking up new stuff along the way.
If you don’t have a Welsh meet near to you, you could use Skype. There are many learners here offering or asking for Skype partners to practice with.
If speaking is the only thing you need to work on, then this really is the way forward now. Just a matter of turning up, break the ice and enjoy it, or ask for a Skype chat. Of course, there’s always stopping random people in the street! Who knows, one might know of a Welsh meet nearby! But over time the confidence will improve, as will your Welsh!
Good luck whatever you decide to do though.
EDIT TO ADD…after seeing @margaretnock s post - do you live in Cardiff?? If so, why not come along to to our meet at Y Mochyn Du?? First Monday evening of the month we meet. Our next one is the 5th December and some of us will be having Cinio Nadolig (but up to you if you want the same!). Be good to see you though!
It sounds like you’ve already done quite a lot there. I also understand the difficulty of doing more speaking - particularly if you are not an extrovert (my situation!). However, I also think you’ve started to answer your own question. As Margaret and Gav note, joining some kind of a regular discussion group is probably going to be the best thing to help your speaking. And, of course, the addition of some liquid courage in a pub setting can do wonders for helping to make conversation flow more easily in any language!
Another bootcamp would be great Anthony. The first one was a big challenge for me but I met lovely people and definitely came away a better speaker. I agree it’s a good idea to plan ahead as well.
Yup, I know you’re right about the scariest thing being the best thing. I’ve got a few scareys in mind already, and I’ve picked up a lovely offer of skyping this evening so I’ve added that to my to-do list.
I’ll pop it in the diary, and if I’ve cleared the decks by then, then I’ll come along. Failing that, next one in January?
Alcohol just makes me sleepy… then it makes me sick Agree with everything else youve said though! It’s always good to get a bit of reinforcement from other people though. The forum’s always been good for moral support.
I would just like to say that I don’t think you were at all out of your depth at Bootcamp (well … no more than the rest of us!) - you managed to explain to us the various theories of how the stones at Stonehenge might have got there in Welsh. I think that’s enormously impressive! (And I still can’t tell the difference between a boncath and a barcud…)
But if you’re gearing yourself up for socialising yn y Gymraeg, I will aim to let you know about events that you might find interesting when they crop up. Are you on the Menter Caerdydd mailing list? They’re forever sending emails about things that are coming up. They’re not all music and drinking - there are scientific talks and the like as well.
As well as the SSiW meet there is a meet in Chapter on a Monday night. I haven’t been for ages (as there’s been a lot going on in my own life too), but I’d be happy to make a plan to go if you’d like to be sure of a familiar face there. Just let me know.
You were definitely not out of your depth at bootcamp (although I think you were misled by me a couple of times! Not intentionally I hasten to add. I still get gwiwer and gwiber confused).
As other people have said, follow up any opportunities for chats. One thing that I find useful before going to somewhere for a chat or a meeting in Welsh, is to play the double speed listening sessions in Level 1, before you go out. I play Yr Antur Fawr story from the Popeth Cymraeg course we went on at double speed too. I’ve downloaded some children’s audio books - Mog the forgetful cat, Three Little Pigs, The Tiger who came to Tea - and sometimes play those at double speed. All of that helps in understanding what other people are saying.
One time (of many) when I was lacking the confidence to talk, @Aran suggested that I shouldn’t stop talking in Welsh until I had made at least five mistakes (and that’s only the ones you know about, of course). So, since that’s ‘the elephant in the room’, I printed out an outline of an elephant and coloured in pink spots for every mistake - just a bit of fun.
Nice to see you back, Steve! Reading that, you really have done all of the hard work already! I think you just need to build some regular Welsh activities into your life and enjoy - the rest will take care of itself!
Thanks Sara, I’ll look out the Menter Caerdydd details. The idea of things that arean’t “music and drinking” sounds great! I know a “tame” welsh speaker or two who I could convince to come along to fill in the blanks for the bits I can’t follow. As for Chapter and your own kind offer, I’ll add it to my list of things to do when I resurface in December. Thanks again.
OMG, it never crossed my mind that i might know more than someone else! (You have confirmed what I suspected on bootcamp - that you are indeed a very wise man ).
I haven’t heard that one before. Will bear it in mind. I used to be in the happy habit of watching S4C every evening which I found very useful for tuning my ear, but I let that drift; I’ll have to get back into it. Not sure I’ve still got Yr Antur Fawr - that was a very long time ago wasn’t it!
Perhaps you’re right. I tend to get focused on the bits I can’t do rather than the bits that I can. But I’m developing a plan and, when I’ve got a bit more headspace, I’m looking forward to putting it into action.