Short brutal intensive course for beginners or near-beginners

Hilary, thank you so much for this hugely detailed and enormously valuable piece of feedback and inspiration… :star: :star2:

Thank you also for your courage, your determination, your consistently cheerful friendliness, and ALL your hard word - you really have inspired me, and it was an absolute privilege to watch you take on a tougher language learning challenge than I have ever witnessed.

Diolch o galon - you’ve not only achieved a huge amount, you’ve also taught me a huge amount about what is possible… :slight_smile:


From memory i found 2.05 and 2.06 hard and then 2.15 onwards felt impossible at times. Thats when i did 6 in row on a flight. I can only marvel at those who managed more that every day for 5 days.


Hi henddraig - love the name!

To be honest, I wouldn’t be able to say which challenges I found the hardest - it was just a matter of working through them, without making any conscious note of which was which. Having said that, in a general sense, I found the ones with the very long sentences, or trickier constructions, quite difficult to work through, you know the sort of thing, " Last night, I met someone in the pub, who told me, to tell you, that he works with your sister"… For those challenges I didn’t try to speak the sentences in Welsh - I just let the words wash over me again and again. I found that trying to speak words just got in the way of listening and absorbing. So, although I wasn’t practising the phrases, as such, I found that my brain was quietly getting on with the job of absorbing the blocks, for example, ‘Last night’, ‘I met someone in the pub’, ‘who told me’, ‘to tell you’ etc, so after hearing those types of blocks being said over and over again, when I needed to recall them to make up that type of sentence, the blocks were available, even though I hadn’t been repeating them vocally, or consciously practising them!

Regarding being stuck, I would say that if using the pause button isn’t proving beneficial to you, then just have faith that you should move on past that point, and accept that although it doesn’t currently make sense, or you can’t remember it, it will make more sense to you later on. That’s certainly what I found.

I would suggest you only use to pause button to make sure you’ve heard a word correctly, or just want to re-hear the way a sentence is constructed. You could also use it, now and again, to give yourself more time to vocalise your response, when you roughly know the answer, but just need time to physically say it (some of the gaps are a bit short). If you’re using the pause button to force yourself to keep trying to remember or practice a particular phrase then I would recommend moving on :slight_smile:

Hope that’s helped. Apologies for the verbose response :grin:


I was also on the course and here are my thoughts and general ramblings:

I came to the course knowing very little Welsh: I had managed to get through the first couple of sessions of the older SSIW material before, learned (and forgotten) a few nouns from a language challenge I did last year where you had to learn some numbers, colours, countries, basic phrases - really not very much from a different language each month) , what I have picked up from road signs in the 2 months I’ve been living in Wales, some incidental Welsh (bendigedig!, Ffantastig!, Da Iawn, Ty bach, Bore da, barod, etc…) that I’ve learned in the 3 weeks I’ve been working in an English medium primary school in Cardiff, and the ability to sing most of the national anthem at the rugby and the nursery rhyme Gee Cefl Bach.

Day 1, I found the first three sessions fine - I was keeping up with the Welsh and felt OK. Then at sessions 4 and 5 I began to seriously want to repeat the sessions because I didn’t feel like I had got to grips with anything. We weren’t allowed to do that, so I had little choice but to press on. To be honest, I found day one really hard - couldn’t talk to anyone, the house was VERY quiet and I didn’t feel like I was really learning very much. I did manage to string a few words together during the speaking session at the end of the day though, so that was a little encouraging.

Day 2: By lunch time I was thinking “This is ridiculous and stupid and I’m not learning ANYTHING!”. You really do need to be determined to get through one of these courses, because I’m not one to give up on a challenge, so I was going to finish it if it killed me. I also had a phone call to say that my son needed picking up from school so had to speak English to school and then my husband. This was supposed to be forbidden and Aran thought that if we spoke English it would harm our Welsh, but actually I found that having a 10 minute conversion actually made me feel better emotionally, which I think actually aided the process for the rest of the week

Day 3 Now this is interesting. By day 3 (doing the latter stages of course 1 by this point), I discovered that there were great swathes of material that I had NO IDEA about. Huge long sentences where I was lucky if I could get one or two words out. Things like: ‘I met someone in the pub who said that he worked with your brother’ where I said "pub…brother’. HOWEVER, also realised that some of the things I couldn’t get and wanted to repeat sessions to learn on Monday were now no problem. This gave me the confidence not to worry about what I wasn’t learning and press on anyway.

Day 4 By now I was an SSIW machine. I wasn’t sleeping well, so started at about 7am and packed in as many sessions as possible. I took a drive to get out of the house and did a session as I drove around (cabin fever was setting in). In the evening I discovered that I was able to understand most of what Aran was saying and even what Catrin said when she popped in briefly and could also communicate (if in a rather limited way) in Welsh.

Day 5: Finished course 2 by lunchtime. Yay!

I wouldn’t say that I was really able to speak that much Welsh, but I do feel that I have enough of a basis to start having conversations. I DEFINITELY need to go back and look at the he/she/we/they stuff because although I can talk about myself and to one other person reasonably comfortably, I find it incredibly hard to find the words if talking about someone else!

My general thoughts and tips on doing an intensive course:

  • You really need to be comfortable with your own company because you will, essentially be on your own for 10/11 hours a day, and when you are with others you won’t really be able to communicate, so it IS very isolating
  • Understand that there WILL be lots that you don’t get, but keep going.
  • Recognise that even if you don’t get it now, you may well do so in a few days time.
  • Occasionally, you will get a section in the middle of a lesson that is nice and easy - enjoy those bits!
  • I took some crochet with me that I could do whilst learning or during down time. Personally, I found having a sort of displacement activity helped me to concentrate (because I can do the crochet without thinking - maybe something like an adult colouring book would work, or something else that doesn’t need thought. Might not work for everyone, but seemed to work for me.

I hope that is helpful to anyone thinking of doing two courses in a week (you mad fools, you)!


@hilary @OlwenR Thanks so much to both of you for posting your experiences - they are really interesting to read! Da iawn to both of you - I’m not sure I’d be a good candidate for that kind of experience! Hearing your insights is very helpful. Be sure to come back on the forum and let us know how your Welsh journeys are progressing :slight_smile:


Will do, @AnnaC :slight_smile:


Firstly, yn gyntaf, do not apologise for verbosity! Everything was hugely helpful, I will carry on without repeat or pause button! I suspect your experiences help many of us. You did what we do, but in an accelerated way! Diolch to you and @OlwenR!


Croeso! I’d love to know how you get on :slight_smile:

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First of all Croeso ar y fforwm @hilary and @OlwenR (hopefully you remain and contribute to the whole forum in time).

Then on …

I admire you both! (and the third participant of this intensive journey who didn’t appear on here yet). You did such amount of work that I can’t even imagine I’d possibly be able to do in such a short time. Now that I know quite some Welsh (which is understandable due to how long I’m learning here already) I don’t fear I wouldn’t understand anything but rather wouldn’t I be too tired to cope with listening exercises. I’m notorious about sleeping when I’m tired and I have to listen to something (sometimes even when I’m doing mentally something like SSiW lessons for example) I tend to get into a half sleep stage and miss the whole parts … this wouldn’t be useful at all (I’m living proof of that).

I never used pause buttons but did other stupid things like measuring my progress … - haha! (I better forget about that) for which hapily on such intensive course you don’t have the time to do.

You are apologizing for verbosity @hilary ? Then you didn’t read my (way too long sometimes) posts on here yet … :smile: :smile: :smile: Your posts from both of you are really helpful and I think many of us here can determine if we’d be able to go through such intensive course or not much more easily than we could without such insights.

Good job to both of you. I hope you come back and tell us how your further Welsh jouirney goes. The path is set now all you need is to go for it.

Dal ati!
Tatjana :slight_smile:


Hi @tatjana. Nice to ‘forum meet’ you :smile:

Simon says he will post his experiences when he gets chance :slight_smile:

[quote=“tatjana, post:29, topic:6518, full:false”]You are apologizing for verbosity

It’s interesting because I’m not normally verbose :slight_smile: I think the experience of learning another language has helped me to access some of my Englsih which I don’t use very often! :laughing:

Try and stop me :grin:



So last night was interesting. For one, I actually slept well for the first time in a week :thumbsup:

The other thing was that I didn’t do any conscious learning of Welsh yesterday, but it didn’t seem to matter as I dreamt that I was learning and speaking in Welsh! At one point, there was such a strong ‘POW’ moment, as my brain remembered/worked out a word it needed, that it woke me up :laughing: and then the actual contents of the dream eluded me :confused:

This definitely felt like my first actual dream in Welsh :thumbsup:, as opposed to last week when I was more awake and my brain was just processing the information it had been exposed to.


I slept well last night too, @hilary. I am hoping to say a few words to my welsh speaking friends at church this morning (if I don’t wimp out!).

@tatjana I will admit to zoning out a few (several) times during the week and not even hearing entire sentences, but that tended to be when I wasn’t crocheting at the same time - maybe doing something with your hands at the same time, or perhaps going for a walk, would help?

Do also bear in mind that although we have done a week and got through the material, I wouldn’t necessarily expect us to be better Welsh speakers than people who are doing it more slowly. We are, by no means, experts! Still a long way and lots of practise to go!


Italy v Wales heddiw. Never normally watch rugby, but I’ll be following it today - yn y Gymraeg, wrth cwrs :slight_smile:


It is I, the third man, still decompressing (excuse the pun) and trying to digest all that has taken place over the last week. I have undertaken many courses of various types over the years but none compare to this. The high intensity is still quite a shock, even though we knew what will take place. Hillary and Olwen have described more eloquently than I ever could the trials and tribulations; whereas Hillary could sit in her rooms for hours at a time I was bouncing off the walls after day two so on day three I undertook an 8 mile walk whilst listening to the lessons and I think I took in more that day than the previous two. Thereafter every morning was spent outside.
When we played lego in the evening, constructing sentences, Aran was wonderful in dragging out of us the language we didn`t even know had settled into our brain
I think the language is still settling in and I know there are some big grammatical gaps that I need to fill in asap that will allow me to go out there and speak confidently.


It’s a shame Jiffy won’t be commenting on S4C.

Mae rhaid iddyn nhw fynd i’r chwith

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For all the money of this world I’d not do that! :slight_smile: Croeso! :slight_smile:

I’d watch it too and sing the anthem along with chaps, but … lucky you! I don’t live in UK so I’d have to search for live stream (oh, not search really as I use the same link over and over again during all these years) ad have no choice will it be in Cymraeg or Saesneg …But I’ll be (mentally) there with the boys. Hope our neighbours wouldn’t prepare us as big surprise as Scotland did yesterday over Ireland. I love my neighbours but I love Wales more. :smile: :smile: :smile:

Yes, you’re right. But, of course, I have to bear in mind one more thing: I’m getting up very early in the morning (around 4:30) and usually get in bed very early in the morning :smile: (around 1:00 or 2:00 am) so if I once say I went to bed at midnight for example, they usually ask me if I’m ill or something. :smile:

HEY! HELO! CROESO YMA! :slight_smile:

Techy person? :slight_smile:

O, yes. I know that part thanks to ceratin circumstances and his will to talk to me over Skype! :slight_smile: Diolch o galon un waith mwy, Aran.

No, he’s always on BBC 1 if he’s there. I love his comments to the bits! His analisys of the actions, how he laughs if something tends to be really funny and gets a bit upset when it doesn’t everything go right way or the way he’d do things. I often say he’s my third eye as I dont’ see the game too well even on TV/computer screen.

Oh, by the way, not to go too far off this particular Intensive learning topic, we should maybe discuss 6 Nations here as we have separate topic for that.

All in all … Hwyl i chi bawb. :slight_smile:


I remember when it was very fashionable to learn things in ones sleep! There was a theory that, if you played an audio lesson during the night, you would learn it in your sleep. I shall Google it to find out whether the notion was debunked or ???
Testing seems to have debunked it, so the Brave New World method will not work. However, learning as one is waking or dropping off may happen, which might mean you, @tatjana recall what you heard as you were trying to stay awake, and @hilary too!
Oh, and @hilary henddraig is just an accurate description of a 75 year old crotchety Welsh female with bad lungs! I didn’t have to put any effort into coining it! When I was still working, I am fairly sure my progress around various buildings was marked by whispered warnings, “The dragon’s coming!”


Commercial diver!


Well, first conversion in Welsh outside of the SSIW prison, I mean cottage, done! (With a friend of mine who is a second langauge welsh speaker and Welsh teacher at secondary school). So now that scary bit is over it will hopefully become more natural to speak a bit of Welsh each time I see her.