New Learner: Experience So Far + What Next?

Shwmae i chi. Gareth ydw i. Dw i wedi bod yn dysgu siarad cymraeg am byty mis nawr a dw i wedi i hoffi fe yn fawr iawn.

Mae’n ddrwg da fi, mae eisiau i fi siarad yn Saesneg nawr!

First of all thank you very much for making this material available and particularly to Iestyn and Cat for their brilliant Southern recorded material. I come from Pembrokeshire, which has a mixed-to-sparse distribution of Welsh speakers - enough to always be aware of, but not necessarily involved with. I have always wanted to be able to speak Welsh, but having never actually needed to speak it, it just never came to be!

We were taught some Welsh in school but unfortunately not to a very usable standard. For instance everything I knew how to say was in the present tense and about school etc, so would be of no use whatsoever now! I do however have the little advantage of retaining a few vocab sets such as basic counting, days of the week and (after a little revision) the months of the year as well as the odd random word which might occasionally help me translate from fluent speakers.

I have completed (old) Course 1 (south), most of the vocab and am currently in the middle of lesson 3 of the (new) Level 1 course (south), so I thought I’d share my experience so far and ask a few questions which are beginning to form a grey cloud over me…

Course 1 was absolutely brilliant. There was a huge amount of content and due to the way it was delivered I absorbed the information much more simply than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong though, it was far from easy! I feel that someone who knew no Welsh at all would have found it a lot harder, but I was just familiar enough to make self-satisfyingly quick progress. Listening to the Introduction inspired my current learning ‘plan’ - which is as simple as, it takes me 20-30 mins to drive to work and the same home, so I use that time to get through a lesson or one and a bit every day. If I can keep that up then surely there’s no way I can not learn at least SOME Welsh every day!

One slight problem for me was that because I mostly use the Android App, I wasn’t aware of the existence of the lesson PDFs until I saw somebody on the forum mention it (then I discovered they are clearly listed with each course on the main site). Without these PDFs I sometimes missed the exact pronounciation of new words (or what the full version of a word is), which can completely ruin the flow of a lesson. Now that I have them I generally look ahead so that I won’t make that mistake, or if not I (pull the car over and) pause the lesson to look a word up as I fall over it!

I am unable to pause lessons while I am driving, so for better or for worse I have been forced to reel off the Welsh as quick as I possibly can from day one. This has worked for me, because I either get most of them, or I just go back over a section during the next journey.

Onto my questions:

  1. Returning to the fact that I did learn some basic welsh in school, looking at the North and South course materials, it seems I have actually been taught a few bits of both! I have literally just discovered this so I haven’t lost any sleep over it yet, but it begs the question - will I sound ridiculous if I mix and match? Related to this, should I adapt the way I speak depending on who I’m speaking to? e.g. if I hear a fluent speaker using Northern words should I attempt to use them too? It seems slightly rude not to!

  2. The thought of speaking Welsh to others in ‘real time’ scares the heck out of me at this point! I’ve been talking to myself like a ‘tree full of monkeys’ as advised for just over a month now so I’m getting good daily practice in of saying things that are relevant to my real life as they happen, but I’m not confident that I could actually converse with somebody in Welsh without lots of awkward mental-processing silence! Should I look to build this up by finding somebody who would be willing to exchange messages (e.g. emails) that you have time to think about and resort to help if I get stuck or should I just dive in and sign up for the ‘ffrinDiaith’ service?

Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi!


No, lots of people do, and there’s no neat dividing line anyway - so just go with what comes to mind first, and you’ll find yourself gradually sounding more and more like whoever you end up talking to most… :sunny:

As for starting to talk - it is scary, so that’s entirely normal. I’d recommend you go with something you know you can maintain - so if you can find a friend who speaks Welsh who’ll do five minutes practice with you per week as a starter, that would be ideal. Don’t bother with email for now, because that’s not going to help your speaking - if you can’t find a friend, then looking for someone on ffrinDiaith (or right here on the forum) is another way to find a regular five minutes per week :sunny:

And welcome to the forum, and congratulations on having got so far and done so well :thumbsup:

Hi Gareth, I learn in the car like you! Not being able to use the pause button is a definite plus.
Aran has already answered you questions, but just wanted to say Hi.

Also wanted to say that on Bootcamp last year my Welsh was a total mix out of necessity and people seemed to understand me.


Bendigedig! Thank you very much for your responses aran and a_jay, I really appreciate it and ‘Helo’ to you both. That is a big relief, I’m glad I asked the question before I started to worry about it too much! I’m sure that in time I’ll become familiar with many ways of saying the same thing, particularly once I pluck up the courage to start speaking to people hehe. This has been a helpful confidence booster though. I failed to mention in my post that I am now living very far away from Pembrokeshire - I now live in York, and am about to move house so my target is to learn as much as I possibly can by then, then sign up for the ‘ffrinDiaith’ service :smile:

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Wel, I learn “gog”, but on Bootcamp last week in Tresaith, by about half-way, with plenty of southern Welsh around me, I realised I was sometimes thinking in, and occasionally speaking in “de” (or a mixture). It’s exactly as Aran and Iestyn say quite often: given time, we’ll be speaking more and more like the people around us, which is entirely natural.

[And coming to the realisation that: now it’s me who’s “speaking funny” - is just the price we pay I suppose :slight_smile: ]


Join the club Gar!!! I strongly suspect there was some sort of plan among ‘educators’ to produce a ‘standard language’, like ‘BBC English’ but for Cymraeg!! Maybe I’m just too cynical and it was to help people understand & be understood if they moved, or was just because teachers moved!!!

Shwmae Gareth, a chroeso i’r fforwm!
I also learned through not using the pause button, although I did mine walking to work mainly. I found that if I was able to produce the Welsh before Cat (I was on the Southern course too), then I was making progress. The general idea was that if you could produce 80% of the Welsh before Cat or Catrin, you were ready for the next lesson. I raised that standard to 90% for myself!
As for mixing Northern and Southern dialects, I do that all the time! In some areas of Wales this is common anyway (Aberystwyth being one area). Just use what comes to mind for you. You’ll still be understood, and as Aran suggested, use what the person you speak most to uses - you can’t go far wrong!
If you need the course guide for the new level 1, I am currently compiling one as the new challenges become available (there’s only 2 more to go for this level). I am happy to forward a link to this for you if you would like a copy.
Best of luck with the rest of the course, and I’m sure I’ll see you about on the forum soon!


If you haven’t already, have a look at the introduction to Gareth King’s Modern Welsh - A Comprehensive Grammar, in which he talks about “Cymraeg Byw”, which was a well-intentioned experiment, but (probably) doomed to failure. To my surprise, I found on our shelves an old (60s? 70s?) “Cymraeg Byw” textbook (might have inherited it from my in-laws). It wasn’t too scary actually, and still useful for a lot of vocabulary. I mostly ignored the grammar.

@faithless78 - I’m glad to hear more people say they mix and match, it is starting to seem a little more natural just as I start to mix Course 1 and Level 1! I would be very interested in a Southern course guide for level 1 if you have it, please? I completely agree with you, I don’t like making any mistakes at all if I can help it, but (hopefully) everyone has that moment of blankness where you can’t remember a particular word from a few lessons ago until it has been said once, then you’re good for the rest of the lesson :smile:

I’ve got to say I’m finding it much less obvious what exactly is being said in the Level 1 course than the old Course 1 - I can’t deal with not being able to imagine how the words are spelled in my head as I say them (as bonkers as that sounds). A lot of the time I’m falling back to the ways used in old Course 1 just because they make more sense, and I don’t fully grasp what is being said - e.g. I’m still saying “Beth wnest ti dweud” instead of (something like) “D’wed est ti”? It’s good to hear how people might say things in every day Welsh but I do find it hard to follow if the full word isn’t told to us first (which of course it sometimes is).

@mikeellwood - thanks for that! Unfortunately it costs a bomb on Amazon but I’ll definitely keep my eyes open!

Does anybody have any PDFs for the vocab sessions? I’m happy to post a fresh topic to ask for that if need be! :smile:

Must admit, I found hearing those short forms challenging … trying to work out exactly what was being said. Subsequent repeated listening did help somewhat. And this seems to be an area where southern and northern dialects do differ, at least for some of the forms. I did find I was using at least some of them on the recent bootcamp, and (if you can think of them in time :slight_smile: ) they do (or can) actually make things simpler. Whether I was using them accurately or not is another story. :blush: :anguished: :cold_sweat:

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Haha, I guess as long as people get the gist it’s okay! It is slowly becoming clearer, and I have found myself using some of the shorter versions for that very reason - e.g. “Galla i” (not 100% on spelling) instead of “Dw i’n gallu”, must quicker to say! Though I’m glad to know both ways of saying it… :smile:

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@craigf Gwych, diolch yn fawr iawn!

I’d love to, but I suppose it isn’t on line?
I don’t think I need to read it, though, do I? You are telling me that ‘living Welsh’, which I now remember hearing, was actually a real theory and was taught. Not quite like the ghastly experimental teaching alphabet used in England or ‘look and say’, teaching English as if it was Chinese!! What was wrong with the ‘old fashioned’ way that worked for my generation and my father’s and his…???

I think there is an edition in Google Books, actually. Not sure if all of it is available though.

No, not at all. I find it interesting to dip into from time to time, but I try not to get too bogged down in grammar.

I only know what GK says in the first part of his “A Comprehensive Grammar”, where he is describing the main types of Welsh (which he lists as “Colloquial Welsh”, “Literary Welsh”, and “Cymraeg Byw”). What we learn here, and what 99% of his “A Comprehensive Grammar” is about is “Colloquial Welsh”. I think he is just mentioning “Cymraeg Byw” for completeness, and he says it was an attempt (with the best of intentions) of producing a standardised colloquial form of the language, which is (probably universally) now recognised to have failed, although it does seem like that’s what was being taught for a time.

I found this in Wikipedia:

In the 1970s, there was an attempt to standardise the language by teaching ‘Cymraeg Byw’ - a colloquially-based generic form of Welsh.[67] But the attempt largely failed because it did not encompass the regional differences used by native speakers of Welsh.


Oh, diolch yn fawr, Mike for doing my research for me!! I’m a lazy old biddy so I really am grateful!! I do see the difference between Cymraeg byw and teaching reading by the methods I quoted, It was more like “standard English” which was taught when I was at school. Any dialect words were pounced on and corrected. Any local grammatical variations were treated in the same way!! The English taught to plant Cymru cymraeg was ‘utra’ standard… ever so correct, such that ordinary English people often misunderstood completely!!

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These pdf guides seem to be for Course 1 southern.
Where are the guides for the new Level 1? (Southern)Does anyone know please?
I did have them once but cant find them after dealing with a computer problem.

I cant find the listening practices either. I will probably have to download those again. Not sure where I got the pdfs for Level 1 though :cry: any help will be greatly apprieciated!
Many thanks

Course Guide for Level 1 Southern (forum thread)

Hello again,
I’m sorry but an email did not arrive and…when I click on link in your post it just keeps bringing me back to this page.
please can you try agaim.
many thanks

Sorry Ann, the email was sent to just Aran as he wanted to publish the guide publicly on this site from the Level 1 page. It just makes it easier than sending the link out again individually to everyone who had it before, and makes it accessible to everyone who needs it.
However, If the guide isn’t made available on here by tomorrow, I will send you the link through PM.