Point at which S4C is understandable?

Hi pawb,

How much S4C do you watch, and how much of it can you understand?

I’m now on Course 2 of Lesson 10. I have also listened to the 12 south Welsh versions of the New Level 1 course (I didn’t listen to the remaining ones in North Welsh).

I watch a lot of S4C. As much as I can. A couple of months ago, when I started SSiW, it was just a wall of noise. Might as well have been Mandarin. I am now picking out multiple words. Occasionally I can make out a simple sentence. So I’ve come a long way.

My question is: is there a stage during SSiW when S4C really starts to click?

I have most success with Bob The Builder and Pob the Cat. I can decipher a fair few sentences per episode. Pobl Y Cwm is also throwing out a sentence or two I can understand. Other programs though are completely impenetrable for me. I can barely understand a word.


I’d say it depends :slight_smile: It is different for everybody, it it won’t be a click moment, in my experience, but a slow-ish up-and-down process. Dee explained really well ages ago, when she said that there will be moments when you don’t even realise that you have understood quite lengthy passages. I don’t watch S4C much, but listen to Radio Cymru and its podcasts pretty well every day, and I can understand most of it now, after having gone through a process similar to what you describe. But I can’t remember a specific ‘aha’ moment.

I agree it’s not a click moment and also depends What’s on, for me if it’s a children’s program with people from south wales especially llanelli\Carmarthenshire people I understand the majority, but when it’s someone from North Wales and not a children’s program like the news then I really struggle, it’s definitely getting easier, I really think ssiw should have a news/politics vocab lesson. At the moment I follow bbx cymru news on Twitter and try to learn and use a word a day, it’s seems to be helping, I felt I had more of a break through at the end of course two, I found reading children’s books to my 11 month old son is really helping to build up my vocab,

The scandalously low level of public funding which S4C is ‘granted’ is itself put into focus by the enormous sums being spent on fences, road closures and heaven knows what else to ‘protect’ politicians attending the NATO meetings in Newport and Cartdiff this coming week. I really feel for the people who work at S4C attempting to provide a national, comprehensive service on the proverbial diet of peanuts. Great to meet so many of them face-to-face at the Eisteddfod.

@Jason Williams:

It comes with time, but don’t worry if it’s taking longer than you would like. After around a year, I can now get through “Rownd a Rownd” without subtitles, and not miss any of the main points, but for a long time, I couldn’t. I usually find now that if I re-watch with Welsh subtitles, I usually then catch things that I’ve missed, and if I’m still puzzled about something, I’ll go back over it with the English subs (I’m watching via Clic). But that is fortunately less and less necessary now.

The same cannot be said for Pobol y Cwm (as I’m a learner of the northern version), and I still really need subtitles for that, but it’s getting better.

Radio Cymru is also getting a lot better for me, and that took a lot of time as well. Still a long way to go, but I can hear and feel the improvement, so it’s been worth persisting, even when most of it was going over my head.

You will probably find the new Level 1 (and later on, Course 3) very helpful because of the short-form verbs, which seem to crop up quite a lot, certainly in Rownd a Rownd. (Some interesting differences between north and south in the short forms, just to keep us awake and on our toes… :smile: ).

A lot will depend on the type of programme as well as the dialect. There was a wonderful series about a young northern couple building a garden (Gardd Pont y Twr) which I found easy to understand as they spoke clearly and the vocabulary was fairly straightforward, even though they were northerners (and I’m learning southern Welsh). Then I tried watching a programme about architecture and really got less than half of it as the vocabulary was much more specialised (and they used lots of long words for things!)

Sometimes, though, I get a glimpse of what it will be like when I finally understand most of it - there are odd moments when I realise that I’ve been watching and understanding but not translating. That’s very encouraging.

But don’t be disheartened. There are times when I’ll turn to my (mam-iaith) wife and ask ‘what did that mean?’ and she’ll reply ‘I don’t know - didn’t catch it’. So not understanding isn’t the preserve of us learners!

I find comprehension is something which ebbs and flows. There’ll be a day when I get a lot of S4C and the next I’ll only snatch the odd word. I think of it as a two step forward, one step back process (at least I hope it goes that way round).

I’ve recently been working through the Ysbyty Brynaber sound files that Stu has posted about recently and have found these really useful in the process of improving comprehension - they come with transcripts of the Welsh so you can check how familiar words sound in practice.

As for which programmes tend to be more comprehensible… I find sports to be easiest because the vocab range seems narrower and the grammar simpler (no reflection on sports commentators I’m sure). Other than that I tend to watch anything that comes with both English and Welsh subtitles. Reading the latter is a good way of speeding up reading comprehension, but I find I get more out of trying to understand the Welsh without subtitles and then going back over details with subtitles later (Mike has already posted about this).

Curiously, I find toddler-level childrenss programmes quite hard - I put it down to the voices rather than anything else.

As an aside, I generally find it easier to follow S4C than Radio Cymru because of the visual clues in the former. Having said that, a dose of Radio Cymru seems to tune the senses prior to an S4C session.

Good luck with the S4C experience.

I find comprehension is something which ebbs and flows.

I was going to add something to the same effect. In fact, after having a rather (over?) confident spell with “Rownd a Rownd”, I’ve found the last few episodes more difficult, and had to resort to the English subtitles eventually. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back in the other direction soon.

I agree the Ysbyty Brynaber sound files are great (lots of stars deserved by Stu there), and the transcripts are useful, and both are good for adding to vocabulary.