New user: Assumptions as to current best practice


I started doing the Level 1 (“New”) Northern Course about 3 weeks ago and have really been enjoying it. My background is Modern Languages (40 years ago, mind) and I’m a confirmed grammar nerd, but I’ve been enjoying the purely conversational approach and have so far resisted the temptation to glance at the vocab until after I’ve done the challenge. I’m up to Challenge 15 and it’s been fun. Thanks to all concerned!

The reason for posting is that for a new user, it’s really quite difficult to get a handle on what the canonical approach is supposed to be for some aspects of the course and learning process. E.g. There appears to be no place on the website which lays down definitively what is in each course, or how fast one should approach the challenges. (The links in the FAQ, e.g. #3 Learn Welsh the SSIW way are dead, for example).

I’ve done a lot of (enjoyable) reading on this forum and I’ve pieced together what I think is the current advice. The question on how fast to repeat has been asked several times, but it gets slightly different answers over the years in the forum and on the blogs and some of them date back to 2015 and beyond. The upshot is that I’m not totally sure that I’ve understood the latest definitive position.

It would be really helpful if I could post my assumptions so that they can be confirmed (or roundly mocked…) and I can carry on with the learning knowing I’m doing it most effectively.

So, as far as I understand it:

  1. (Of lesser importance as I’ll probably stick with the Challenges now) The Challenges are the same as the Structured course (and they’re both included in the £10pcm) but the Structured course has weekly class video sessions in addition. The Structure course can come in small daily, or a larger weekly chunk, while the Challenges are done to the student’s own rhythm.

  2. The advice given several times in the Level 1 Challenges (repeat each Challenge until you can get roughly 80% of the sentences right within the gap, without using the pause button) has now been superseded.

  3. Instead you should do each Challenge as best you can and move on to the next, knowing that each subsequent lesson will reinforce what you’ve missed. You can go back and repeat the last 5 lessons or so in a block if it helps, but the main idea is to crack on to new Challenges as soon as you can.

  4. You should also listen every day to the relevant Aron on Helium Accelerated Listening exercise as this quickly builds up exposure to the sounds and rhythms of spoken Welsh, as well as promoting the essential ability to break streams of speech into individual words.

Are those assumptions about right, or have I misunderstood something?

(BTW, High Intensity Language training is mentioned a lot up to about 2015, but seems to have been dropped in the last couple of years as a term at least on these forums. I’ve bought the book tonight – it was a whole 99p – but does it still reflect today’s understanding of the science?)

FWIW, I did the first three challenges repeatedly, then read one of Aran’s posts from 2015-ish recommending the process in 3 above and that’s what I’ve done since. and so far I’m pleased with the way this is working[^Footnote 1].

But it would be good to know if I’m on the right track – and also to put a plea in for a summary of the most recent recommendations to be made very prominent on all the initial web landing pages.

Sorry for all the questions in a first post, and many thanks to everybody involved in producing the courses, and to the helpful people on this forum!


[^Footnote 1]: I can’t say I haven’t found it a bit challenging at times, partly because my tongue has been defiantly saes for 60-odd years and refuses to accept that sound combinations such as Ddudodd o fod o’n dallt are physically possible to say in less than a minute, and partly because by the time I get half way through “I know an old woman who met a young man in a pub last night who said that his sister worked for about a month with the young man who said his brother started to try to learn Welsh with your sister who swallowed a fly”, I’ve forgotten how the English ends, never mind the Welsh…

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Hello David, a great first post!

Yes, the assumptions you’ve listed are right and you are on the right track - and well done for doing so much work looking back through older posts (no easy task on a forum this size!).

You’re right that things have been tweaked over the years and that sometimes advice has been altered to reflect this. In general, this course is pretty flexible because obviously everyone’s learning needs differ, which is why there are lots of posts offering support and encouragement to those who don’t feel they can stick to the optimum plan (and of course that’s fine - better to adapt and become a Welsh speaker than to throw the towel in!)

I’m tagging @aran and @Kinetic in regard to the points you make in the quotes above so that they’ll see this quicker and be able to consider them.

To reassure you, everything happening in your footnote is very familiar to the majority who do this course so you’re in excellent company - just compare the path to speaking Welsh to a path in the countryside; you often come across rivers or walls which frustrate the journey, but eventually you’ll find the stepping stones, the fords, the stiles and the gates and you can put them behind you and enjoy the walk again!

And lastly, whilst browsing the forum, you may have spotted that there are quite a few fellow grammar nerds hanging out here :wink: . Whilst we encourage people not to get tied up in the grammar (because that interferes with the speaking process which subsequently can affect confidence), that’s not to say that we discourage posts with grammar questions when they are burning a hole in your tongue! So until that happens, enjoy the conversational approach as you have been, and when it does happen don’t feel guilty about popping in here to ask :nerd_face:

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Thanks very much for the informative and welcoming reply, Siaron!

I confess I have already searched the forums a few times for various grammar points and been enlightened, even if the answer is often ‘because that’s the way it is…’

One final question, if I may – I was wondering about the status of the High Intensity Language concept. Has the concept itself been superseded / developed, or is it just that the term isn’t used much any more while the ideas are still current?

Many thanks again!

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You’re welcome David :slight_smile:

To be honest, I don’t know too much about the high intensity side of things, I think @aran is the best placed to answer about that, so I’ll leave that to him.

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The concept is still central to everything we do (thanks for the tag, Siaron! :star2:) - it’s kind of split into two directions - the first has been the work going into our new AutoMagic delivery system, and the second has been the work we’ve been doing for the Iaith ar Daith TV series…

We’re also now in discussions about setting up a Centre of Excellence for accelerated Welsh, which will be based entirely on the high intensity concept - so yes, it’s mostly just that we haven’t been using the term itself all that much (although it will definitely be front and centre in the explanatory material for the Centre of Excellence) :slight_smile:

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Thanks very much for the information – that makes sense!

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We are currently in the process of designing a new website, which will hopefully address the issues you raise. For that reason we’re not putting time into updating the FAQ at present as it will soon be superseded, but I’ll tag @CatrinLliarJones who is helping with web content so she can see the points you’ve mentioned. Diolch @David_B!


Thank you for the update!

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3 weeks and you’re on Challenge 15!!!

My understanding is that one challenge = 1 week.

You are a miracle!

Well done to you.

(I now feel even more depressed about my own lack of progress).

But it’s great to see somebody succeed like this. :+1:t3::+1:t3::+1:t3:

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Well, you haven’t heard the Welsh it’s produced! But I’m retired so am lucky enough to have the time to spend (except this weekend when we have a visitation of grandkids… :blush:)

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Don’t compare yourself to other people, there will always be some going faster and some going more slowly - it’s not important - the only thing that matters is that you keep travelling… :slight_smile:

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