Need some help/advice, please - Course 1 Gwers 25

This is mostly meant for @aran and @Iestyn , and I apologize for it being so long…

I’ve reached the end of the Course 1 Lessons, but I don’t feel like I can say I’m finished, and I need some help to know what to do now. I was so excited to reach Gwers 25, and I thought I was ready for it, but I’m really discouraged at this point. I can get it about 85% right if I use the pause button so I have time to think, but I cannot do very much of it without the pause button. I have a tendency to hear “he” and immediately go to “mae”, when I should be using “dyw” or “yw”. I use the present instead of the past or future sometimes because while I’m processing which person it is I miss the tense. I get mutations wrong, both ways, but I’m not really concerned about that so much. So knowing my weak points, I went back and redid several previous lessons for reinforcement. I can do them fine without the pause button, because they are like drills, the same pattern repeated. It’s when it’s all mixed together that I struggle. So then I tried Gwers 25 again. I tried not to pause, made mistake after mistake, and my brain was frying by about halfway through. I ended up giving up before the lesson ended because it felt like such a disaster. I want to feel like I “passed with flying colors”, as Iestyn says at the end, but right now I don’t feel like I’ve passed at all.

To give some other data on where I am with my Welsh: I have been doing the speaking and listening practices for Lessons 1-6. I can understand some of the listening practices without translating, and the rest I can mostly translate in my head at speed as I hear it. I can do the speaking practices pretty well; I don’t use the pause button with these. I’m never 100% correct, but I’m satisfied with what I produce. This week I tried do do a full course listening and speaking practice. I can’t understand much of the listening; it’s much faster and there’s only one repetition. I can’t do the speaking without total use of the pause button and lots of time to think. These are lightyears more difficult than the 1-6 practices. I’ve been watching lots of Eisteddfod coverage this week (instead of listening to Radio Cymru like I usually do). I can only pick out the very occasional word here and there, but it’s fascinating to watch. (I had no idea there were so many different kinds of competitions, and the talent of the participants is amazing.)

Yesterday I started working on the first Vocab unit to see what it was like. My plan had been to do the vocab units, and then do Level 1 before I go to Course 2. But I’m not convinced I should be moving forward when I’m not really “done” with Course 1. I don’t want to be digging a deeper and deeper hole for myself. So what should I do at this point to get myself to produce faster, so that I can say the sentences before Cat?

Diolch yn fawr for any thoughts/advice.

Move on, AnnaC, move on!

Actually, leave out the vocab units for now, because if your confidence has taken a knock (which it sounds like to me), you don’t want to do the vocab units for a short while, just because they work slightly differently (and not as well) as the main lessons.

However, the rest of the experience sounds just about right to me. I suspect the worst thing about your lesson 25 experience is that we didn’t explain quite how lesson 25 works. Lessons 1 - 24 follow a pattern, a bit like a real conversation does, where you have an inkling of what may be coming next, and where you have a bit of fore-warning about what tense you are in.

Lesson 25, on the other hand, is almost totally random, which means that we just fire sentences at you. If you were able to complete lesson 25 without the pause button the first time through, especially if you got most of it right, then you would make most other SSiWers extremely jealous!

I think you should be prety chuffed with an 85% hit rate with the pause button. You obviously know the material, and now just need to work on the speed thing!

This is where it gets a bit more difficult, because there is a big step between where you are and where you want to be. It’s a step that is easy to make, but will need a lot of faith and bloody-mindedness on your part.

Here’s the thing. You can get addicted to getting stuff right. We are programmed from an early age to try to get everything right to avoid ridicule / tellings off and all the negatives that come from being wrong. But you need to get used to getting stuff “wrong” and not caring to be able to speak at speed. That’s how I speak (and, regrettably, type) English and Welsh.

So, here’s what you need to do.

Relax. Look at what you know. You have done an exceptional job of learning the Welsh, as proven by the fact taht you get it right if you have a chance to think. So now, push your limits. Just like a child learning to walk, you will fall over (a lot), you will spend most of your time off balance and struggling, and after a surprisingly short time, you will find that you don’t remember not being able to walk.

In other words, when you go back to lesson 25, go with a slightly different goal. Set a time limit if you want, or a “correct sentence” limit, or any other distraction that you want. Then go through the lesson with the aim not of getting it “right” (whatever that is), but of saying something in Welsh in every pause. Try and make it relevant to the English you’re hearing, but don’t worry about it being a faithful translation. Say something, anything, in every gap, and if you get a sentence “right” (mutations don’t count, “wrong” yes or no doesn’t count, tense is optional) give yourself a huge pat on your back. Dont pause! If you get to the end of your time / the lesson / whatever limit you’ve set, and have said somethingin every pause, especially if some of it has been close, then you’re getting there.

Now, move on to course 2, do a lesson or 2, and come back to lesson 25 for another crack.

I hope that makes sense. It’s difficult to accept, I know, but the fact is that if you speak a lot of bad Welsh, you will come to speak good Welsh very quickly. Try too hard to speak good Welsh without doing the bad Weslh first, and you will more than likely end up a frustrated never-quite-managed-it ex learner.

So, go for it, forget the old “get it right” rules, trust the system, and move on. You are already doing exceptionally well, and you’ve only just got started on your Welsh adventure. You are about to have a whole load of fun!

Enjoy it!



YAY! @AnnaC you have finisned course 1!!!? I knew you’d rocket through the whole thingy. I bet you can develope HUGE (huger then me ever will be able to) amount of things to say. Da iawn ti!

Now to the next one!

(well, sorry I didn’t even read (yet) the post but the tittle made my day already so I’ll stop just here! :slight_smile:

But I read this:

I did vocabs after Course 1, pushed throught the whole 10 lessons but I now feel like I have to do all 3 courses before going back to vocabs. I then after vocabs started Level 1, but I felt lost in the middle of Challenges so turned back to old course. But since you are way more inovative, determined and motivated you’d do just fine whatever you choose and start to do. However I agree with @Iestyn here on this part. It helped me to do as he says (although no one gave me advise to do so).


Oh, @Iestyn, thank you…this makes me feel a whole lot better. You are right about two things - my confidence has taken a knock, and I definitely like to get things right. I thought that being up to speed was an important part of the process, but you are telling me I don’t need to care about that. Okay - that is a big relief! Having you tell me that 85% with the pause button is something to be happy about makes me feel like I didn’t fail after all. I do feel good about what I have learned, and I do trust the system, because if you told me when I started 3 months ago that I’d be able to speak as much Welsh as I can now (however slowly) I would never have believed it.

I will drop the vocabs for now as you say, and move on. Part of me wants to do Level 1 next because part of it will be review, and that feels safer, but you are saying to go on to Course 2. Okay, I will have faith and be bloody-minded! I will do the first couple of lessons in Course 2 and then try Lesson 25 again. I really like the idea of setting some kind of limit on Lesson 25, and just being happy with some Welsh in the spaces. I can do that! I do know the philosophy here is that it’s good and necessary to make mistakes, but somehow I lost sight of that and started putting a lot of pressure on myself without realizing it. Story of my life :slight_smile:

Thank you again, Iestyn, I really appreciate the thought, time and detail you put into replying to my post.



You are very kind…but you do know you are way ahead of me, don’t you? I see you post things in Welsh on the forum that I am nowhere near understanding yet. :slight_smile:

And “rocket” does not describe my Welsh :slight_smile: But I’m taking Iestyn’s advice and I’m not going to be upset about that now!

I’m not an expert here (except in failure and mumbling thingys :slight_smile: ) but I didn’t experience Level 1 as much of a revision of Course 1 (a bit yes but in general, no). When you do Course 2 however, I believe you’d take on Level 1 easier. Well, I didn’t try yet despite I’ve finished Course 2 (this is the only thing I’m ahead of you and not any more) and then took a break of 2 weeks just like @aran instructed me to do. This might be just my feeling though, but I believe (as I’ve done Level 1 to Challenge 15 and then stopped abruptly) that Level 1 covers quite a lot of material from Course 2 and structures seam quite different to me comparing to Course 1. So, I’d really do as @iestyn says and continue with Course 2 then if you’d feel like go to Level 1.

As far as concerns vocabs, I’ve done those after Course 1 but I decided not to bother with vocabs anymore untill I finish at least all material presented in old Courses and then decide should I continue with Levels or do vocabs first.

However, ask me on Monday if I’m still at such high level of confidence then I am now when i repeat those Lessons 24 and 25. … if you read my reports, you probably remember - 24 was 8 % and 25 was 12 % (with no pause button though) so hold as your 85 % with pause button as NO FAILURE please. You did great job here!

That’s interesting - not what I would have expected to hear.

I’m definitely going to do what Iestyn said - no point in asking for advice and then not following it! :slight_smile:

Pob lwc! :thumbsup:

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@AnnaC, your posting has been like a breath of fresh air! My experience almost exactly mirrors yours, but unlike you, I did not have the courage to share it on the Forum.

When I reached the end of Lesson 24 of Course One I was really pleased with all I’d learnt in a fairly short time, and bursting with enthusiasm about the SSi system. . And then…that horrendous Lesson 25. Probably one of the most depressing experiences of my life. I seemed to be struck almost dumb, my brain froze up, and my performance was absolutely hopeless. I tried running through it for a second time, but it was no better.

I know it sounds silly, but I had sort of regarded Lessons 1-24 as the “coursework” and Lesson 25 as the “final exam”, so by this measure, I “failed” pretty badly!

To rescue and restore my badly dented sense of self-worth, I took a somewhat drastic measure - I did the whole course again at top speed over the next three and a half days! - determined to not only say the Welsh before Cat came “on air”, but in the case of the simple and short sentences, to say it twice or even three times before Cat. It fried my brain, and I must have sounded like a supercharged auctioneer, but I did it, and I only started to flounder at Lesson 23.

I did Lesson 25 again at the end of this “personal bootcamp” and there was certainly an improvement. And having been able to go through the whole course again at breakneck speed in such a short time really proved to me that I hadn’t “failed”, and in fact had done pretty well. So I gave myself a good kick in the appropriate quarter and pushed on with the Vocab units. I’m now up to Vocab #5, and really enjoying them.

I’m doing the daily listening and speaking exercises for the whole course, and I STILL can’t produce the Welsh at twice the speed of sound. The short sentences are OK, but the long ones still floor me. But as @Iestyn advises, I’ve been pumping out some Welsh, any Welsh, before Cat, and have tried to stop being such a perfectionist.

I’ve come to accept that perhaps I will NEVER be “up to speed” (in a literal sense), but even If I’m not, I’m trying to celebrate my achievements and not dwell on my “failures”.

Pob lwc @AnnaC, and anyone else who may be experiencing similar problems!


Let me put in a word for the full-course-1 practices here. I went back to the old (old) SSIW forum, and found this that I wrote in February 2011:

*I started with SSIW on August 21st. Simultaneously, I worked through the Teach Yourself Welsh Conversation 2 CD set, and dipped a little into the main Teach Yourself set. I finished the intro course (southern) on Nov. 26th (Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.). I’m now in Lesson 5 in the intermed course

Practicing. I was zealous about doing the daily speaking & listening practices after the first 6 intro lessons. I’ve been less zealous with the full-course practice sessions. I can understand and produce just about every sentence, but not without hitting the pause button way, way too often. I’ve tried putting the laptop where I can’t reach it; all that achieved was making me irritated. Lots of improvement needed here.*

Notice that’s where I was two months after finishing Course 1 . . . and I promise, the full-course-1 practices stayed a huge struggle for months even after that. In other words, I think where you are is totally normal, and doesn’t at all mean that you haven’t learned the material. The practices did get easier, as I bashed my head against them over weeks and months, and I am convinced that they more than anything made me a confident, fluid Welsh speaker.


@gavinM Thank you so, so much for posting this! It made my day! I’m so glad to know someone else felt exactly like I did. We could be twins :slight_smile:

I redid about 4 lessons, the ones that I thought would help my weak spots, but I couldn’t face doing the whole thing again. Your determination to redo the whole course is impressive! I’m glad to know you found that it improved your next try at Lesson 25, and that was worth the effort you put into it. And I’m so happy that you realized that you had done well, because I totally understand how horrible the “failure” feeling is. I, too, have spent the last three months bursting with enthusiasm for SSIW, and after the Lesson 25 experience I felt so let down and sad and at a loss for what to do next. Hence my cry for help.

You have a great attitude, and I will do my best to share it. Pob lwc to you, too!

@tahl Thank you so much for sharing this. I took a look at your full post in the thread you linked, and it was really helpful, both about the practices and your other experiences. (I’m in the US, too.) Since I’ve just reached the end of Course 1, I’ve only done two full-course sets of practices so far, and I’m really blown away by how hard they are. I’m okay with just letting the listening practice wash over me. But I have been using the pause button for the speaking practices, even though I’m not sure I’m supposed to. There’s no way right now that I’m going to get even bad Welsh out without using it - the sentences go by so quickly that nothing comes out of my mouth at all if can’t pause. I am really grateful to know that you struggled for months with those practices - that will definitely help me not get discouraged.

This is hugely motivating. Thank you!

I think I will keep doing the 1-6 speaking practices for a while in addition, with no pause button, just to keep working on speed. And hopefully before too long, I can stop pausing the full course practices to see what bad Welsh I can get out before Cat speaks. :slight_smile: And someday it will be good Welsh!

To everyone: I’m so grateful for this community full of kind and helpful people willing to share their experiences and their knowledge. I’ve followed lots of different forums over the years, but I have never, ever posted anything in any of them. I thought for a long time before I actually put this post here yesterday, because it felt to me like a very different kind of post than the “just asking a question” ones I have posted previously. That I was able do so, and to receive such thoughtful replies, is a testament to SSiW- so diolch yn fawr iawn to each and every one of you.


@AnnaC besides of all other people here who have (had) patience to bear with me, you’ll never really know how much your posts motivated me to struggle on. Every single question you’ve posted, every single your reply to other posts (not just mine) helped me to go on … so keep up posting if even your difficulties and problems. I have no doubt here will always be soemeone to answer and help and there will always be someone finding the posts/trheads you post comming to their aid. :sunny:

Diolch yn FAWR IAWN i ti hefyd.


Posting questions, difficulties and other similar things is one of the best things about this forum. It helps other people get through the same difficulties and answers other people’s questions. So keep it up, everyone!


Thank you, @tahl, this is really encouraging. The long sentences in the full course-1 practices are still causing me problems - if only I had 3-5 seconds to THINK about them before having to belt out the Welsh…but of course, this would defeat the object of the exercise! Anyway, I’ll persist, and just hope that I get “up to speed” eventually!