Personal Challenge - looking for advice and support

I think this may be the first time I have posted in the forum despite occasional ‘lurking’. I have been learning Welsh with SSIW for the last few years and have slowly plodded my way through the old Course One and Two (with lots of breaks). Currently slowly working through Course Three. Due to the nature of my job (shift work as a doctor with a long daily commute) and life (young children with lots of activities and parties) I have never been able to attend a bootcamp or any formal lessons. However, I am now having a few weeks off before starting my next post. I see this as a brilliant one-off opportunity to spend a decent amount of time blitzing my Welsh learning!
I have just read Aran’s book and am feeling very inspired so have decided to try and spend a week speaking only Welsh. My plan would be to work through Course Three and the Levels (haven’t done any) during the day, only watch S4C, listen to Radio Cymru and read books for Welsh learners interspersed with coffee or lunch dates with Welsh-speaking friends. I am lucky enough to live in a pocket of Cardiff full of Welsh speakers and my children go to Welsh school so I reckon it should be possible to avoid English. My husband is also learning so we may end up having rather slow and stilted conversations with each other!
I am posting this to ask if anyone has done anything similar and if they have any advice? Also, I think if I make my challenge public (put it on Twitter, Facebook, tell all my friends) it will mean I can’t give up part-way through.
Normally when I have good intentions to speak Welsh with friends and neighbours, my brain starts to get tired about 5 minutes into a conversation and I lapse back into English. I need to get through this barrier and persist with the Welsh or I will never progress.
Any advice or encouragement would be very welcome, I am varying between wild enthusiasm for this challenge and blind fear!


The website has totally changed since I last went on it and I’ve just been navigating round and found the Bobsled Run! Definitely going to do the 5 day one!

A similar idea in Irish schools today - so it does seem a good idea to try speaking only Welsh for a day at work, home, etc, to see how you’d be able to manage!

1 Like

This is brilliant thanks, funnily enough I am originally from Ireland and went to primary school there. Thought my Irish was all forgotten but bits come back unexpectedly when I’m learning Welsh words! Perhaps I should try a day first then rather than jumping into a week?


This is an excellent idea - it makes a genuine, measurable difference - hugely worth doing.

Good luck! It’ll be fascinating to hear how it goes for you. If you’re letting the pain barrier jolt you out of conversations now, you’ll find that the very first time you commit to spending two hours without any English, it will make an enormous difference… :slight_smile: :star2:

Embrace your fear! It’s a sign that you’ve chosen to do something which will be a REAL challenge - and with language learning (perhaps as in life in general) it’s the REAL challenges that make the REAL difference… :thumbsup:


I think this sounds fantastic! Good for you for coming up with this and figuring out how to make living in Welsh a reality. Just think of it as going overseas and being immersed in a new language - but without having to leave home. I suspect it will end up being much like a bootcamp. Just be sure to let friends, family, and colleagues know beforehand so that they know to speak Welsh and can help support your effort.


Very much looking forward to your report of how it went! I would LOVE to do something like that but have to get to Wales on my own (German husband doesn’t speak Welsh) to do it properly. Best of luck!!!


What a great idea, Ceri. I’ve RT’ed your tweet, so nearly 9000 around the world know that you’re doing it. Absolutely no pressure :angel:

But do let us know how it went. Possibly more importantly, le us know how it’s going, warts an’ all, so that a) we can give you moral support and varyingly useful advice (!), and b) so that other people can see what works for you, what “mistakes” you make along the way, what challenges you overcome, and how other people can follow your example.

And really, although I can’t over-emphasise my admiration for you doing this, you need to remember that all you’re going to do is meet people and talk to them. The fact that it’s in Welsh, and that your Welsh isn’t as good as your English, is sort of irrelevant - you will be talking and listening and having fun, and while the result will be astounding, the process itself is quite mundane. What makes it a challenge is our own mental baggage around “making mistakes” and “making a fool of ourselves” and “what if x (a highly unlikely thing) happens…”.

So good luck, enjoy, form new relationships (they may be with the same people, but changing the language will change the relationship!), and find a new Welsh speaking you.

And just imagine the difference a Welsh speaking mam will make to the kids as they go through Welsh school, and a Welsh speaking wife will make to your husband’s efforts. Wow!


Wow Iestyn, I feel a bit starstruck that you have messaged me, as I have been listening to your voice for the last few years on the Southern course!
Thanks loads for the advice. I have posted now on Facebook and Twitter and told all my friends locally. I have received great support and encouragement so far (except for one person who thinks Welsh is a waste of time and said I’d be better off learning Chinese! I told her I’d learn Chinese if I lived in China but I live in Wales)
The result of telling so many people, as planned, is that I am now committed to living next week in Welsh and I don’t mind admitting that I’m now feeling rather nervous about it!
My 8 year old is having fun making rules for me (‘allowed to speak English to people who don’t speak Welsh’ …) and my 6 year old is going to make me a ‘Cymraeg yn Unig’ badge to wear for the week!
After learning purely through SSIW, I want to start reading and writing Welsh a bit more, to help with homework etc. so I have got my husband’s learning materials from his Welsh lessons and will aim to do a bit of that each day, a bit of SSIW and a bit of Duolingo, interspersed with meet-ups for coffee or lunch with Welsh-speaking friends. I am lucky enough to have two friends who teach adult Welsh, although unfortunately due my usual crazy working pattern I have never managed to attend their lessons. However, I am going to do some stuff with them during the week too. It will be brutally challenging and my brain will hurt but it will be worth it!
I will record everything, triumphs and failures, warts and all and post here, Facebook and Twitter. Hopefully more in Welsh towards the end of the week!
Diolch eto am y cefnogaith.


Helo Ceri, I am trying to learn a bit more cymraeg as well now I have a wee break between number one starting derbynfa and number two arriving.
Not quite as brave as you with going welsh only (hubby does not want to learn) but would love to meet up during your welsh week. I am in north cardiff


I haven’t done anything nearly as brave as this, Ceri - good luck. I think you’re brilliant.

I just wanted to add: I have found that people I meet through Welsh remain friends in Welsh - there are some people I just would never speak to in English as it would feel wrong. (And a couple of them really surprised me with their accents in English when I eventually heard them speaking the language, as I’d no idea that’s how they spoke!) I have found changing relationships that were originally in English harder, but I’m working on it…


Hi Jenny, sounds lovely. Swnio’n hyfryd. Dw i’n byw yn Nghogledd Caerdydd hefyd. I live in North Cardiff too. In Pentyrch. Would love to meet. Where and when would suit you? Coffee shop somewhere? Or you’re welcome here, ti’n croeso yma. Dyleni rhoi rhifau ffon? Should we give phone numbers or make friends on facebook so we can communicate more easily about meeting up?
Edrych ymlaen at ymarfer Cymraeg gyda ti. Looking forward to practising Welsh with you. My first friend purely through the medium of Welsh! Gyffrous iawn! Very excited!


This is fascinating. Look forward to experiencing it myself!

1 Like

Gwych! Dw i’n byw yn Eglwys Newydd felly dim bell. Dw i’n meddwl bod dw i’n chwilio i chi. I live in Whitchurch so not far. I tihnk that I have found you on fb.
cyffrous iawn eto :slight_smile:


That reminds me of an article I read recently about the indigenous languages of the British Isles. It included this comment:

"To say there is no worth in learning a language that isn’t economically useful is like saying there’s no point in being friends with somebody unless they’re going to help you get a better job. It’s a spectacular, cynical miss of the point."

I agree. Even if you didn’t live in Wales, even if there were only one other Welsh-speaking person on the entire planet to converse with, it still wouldn’t be a waste of time. I don’t care how few speakers there are - it is always worthwhile to learn another language. In fact, even if every last speaker has long since died, and you had to do all your engaging with the language via books, it still wouldn’t be a waste of time.

@Iestyn said: “Changing the language will change the relationship.” He’s right. Speaking in another language is like opening up another window into the world. It may be the same world, but you’ll view it slightly differently.

I read another article years ago that suggested we should all try to learn at least two languages apart from our mother tongue. The first of these two should be chosen for utilitarian reasons, so it should be a language that is spoken in many places by lots of speakers - Spanish, say, or French, or Mandarin, or Arabic, or English if that isn’t your native language. Any of the official UN languages would be a good choice in this first category.

The second language should be one that is spoken by your close neighbours - no matter who they are, no matter how few people speak that language. In your case, that would be Welsh; in mine, one of the many Australian Aboriginal languages. The reason for that? To forge relationships between close neighbours, so that we can walk around in each others’ shoes and understand each other a little better.


Fab to meet you today Ceri.
I hope that the rest of the challenge goes well.
Maybe see you for cinio nadolig at the mochyn du x

1 Like

An interesting idea. So perhaps Welsh people should learn Irish, and vice versa.
(And of course, English people should learn Welsh (but I have almost always believed that ( - maybe Scottish Gaelic as well; maybe Cornish for some of us)).


That’s exactly right, Mike. And the more endangered the language and/or the more historically persecuted the speakers of it, the more important it is to choose it if it’s the language of one of your neighbours.

Even if you never attain fluency, the mere act of choosing to study that language says to the speakers: your history matters to me. Your culture matters to me. You matter to me.

That’s why I’m astounded by what Ceri was told (that learning Welsh is a waste of time). It’s not only an ignorant and inaccurate thing to say to a person who lives in Wales and has plenty of Welsh speakers to converse with, it’s also a slap in the face to every Welsh speaker. Thank goodness it was only one person who said that!


I totally agree with what you’re saying. I would definitely like to learn more languages once I’ve got to grips with Welsh but really feel strongly that I need to be able to speak this language since I live here. I am sad to say that although only one Facebook friend was negative about my challenge, I have encountered many other people living in Wales who share the opinion that it is a waste of time learning the language. I had an argument with a colleague who felt his tax money was being wasted on printing council literature etc in two languages and funding Welsh cultural initiatives and school events (after I told him I was learning Welsh and my children are in Welsh school and were attending the Tafwyl in Cardiff - not sure if it is taxpayer-funded or not). The way I deal with these people is just to quietly state my opinion then carry on doing what I was doing. I must say that I have encountered nothing but positivity amongst the local Welsh speaking community despite our family being ‘outsiders’ to the village, and everyone has been incredibly encouraging and patient with out efforts to speak Welsh.


Hi Ceri
Nice to hear from you. There will always be naysayers. I’m reminded of a quote by Mahatma Ghandi
‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win’. Indeed I’ve had my fair share of constructive debates, with non Welsh speakers. Unfortunately the seed of colonialism is always planted deep. Now the harshest criticism comes from this side of the border, who would turn a blind eye to cultural. A similar thing has/is happening in India, where anything Anglo-American is automatically seen as progressive, but rather than ranting about cultural fratricide, here are some specific tips that helped me learn fairly quickly and may help you and your husband.

  1. I listen to radio Cymru in the morning for 10-15min whilst in the shower. You can find a time in the day where you do it routinely, eg whilst walking to work etc.
  2. Buy a dictionary. You can get second hand ones in charity shop or online. Personally I use Ap Geriaduron on my phone. Its probably my most used app.
  3. Try reading the Welsh signs around town and you will pick up vocab and phrases
  4. Have you tried going to Clonc yn y cwtch at Chapter? You can practice with other speakers/learners from 7 onwards
  5. Try some Welsh language events. Have a look at whats on at Clwb ifor Bach, Sherman Theatre, Coleg Brenhinol Cerdd a Drama, etc. You can meet lots of Welsh speakers there. But importantly these things help make the jump from just Welsh being something you learn, to something you live, and adds a totally different layer to your recreation time. I read you went to Tafwyl? You may have spoken to me if you went to the science stand!
  6. Carry a small notepad around with you. I have one about the size of the palm of my hand which fits in my back pocket. Write down phrases which you see. This is important- phrases NOT words. This is why Duolingo didn’t work for me. I first i thought it was amazing, then I quickly realized without putting the words in context, they are easily forgotten. I did duolingo intensely for 3 weeks and can barely remember 20 words it. So for example I was reading a magazine and wrote down ‘dwi’ wrth fy modd i creu, dychmygu a chynllunio’, not just dychmygu as i know I would have forgotten it.
  7. You could put post it notes on to objects to help with vocab on verbs. E.g I have one next to my light switch with the words ‘cynnau’ and ‘diffodd’.
  8. Listen to the podcast ‘Pigion’ from Radio Cymru. It’s 15min of excerpts from the previous week.
    Hope these help