So I had the chance to speak Welsh, and I froze. Help?

Hello all!

So, while out and about on the Friday, I ran into a fluent Welsh speaker at an event. I’d mentioned to someone I know there that I was learning Welsh, and her response was ‘wait, you two have to meet’ and then she introduced me to someone who speaks Welsh fluently.

I was -so- excited to meet someone else who spoke Welsh. . . and then my brain absolutely froze, and I couldn’t remember anything. I stammered out something about “dysgu Cymraeg”, but that was all I could manage. It was honestly rather embarrassing!

Thing is, I’m on challenge 5, and I’ve been doing some Welsh vocabulary through Duolingo as well. So I know there’s at least a little more Welsh in my brain somewhere! Also, I don’t freeze up like this when I encounter a French or German speaker (both of which I’m also (re)learning). So I’m really wondering what happened, and if anyone has any thoughts/suggestions.

2 Likes

Don’t worry Sarah, it’s not just you, I’ve certainly been in similar situations as I’m sure many of us have been - it can still happen to me even after speaking welsh day-in-day-out for many years. I put it down to the adrenaline rush of the excitement clogging up the neural pathways somehow, but I haven’t found a way to conquer it yet!

6 Likes

Could that perhaps be one of the reasons? Maybe when we’re really excited it’s difficult to order thoughts systematically - synapses firing all over the place etc? And maybe, also, when you come across a French or German speaker there’s not the same excitement so it’s easier?
Anyway I’m sure the more Welsh speakers you meet the easier you’ll find it, so dal ati!

3 Likes

You folks could easily be right, it could have just been the sheer excitement of finding someone who spoke Welsh. It was still embarrassing, though. :blush:

And now that I think about it, French, at least, is relatively common. Since it’s an official federal language you hear and see it on official announcements and such, even if English is predominant here in Toronto. So yes, there’s not nearly as much excitement for me with French, because I do hear/see it often enough. :slight_smile:

Well, there’s a Welsh-speaking church somewhat near to me, and I’m going to brave the Welsh language service this coming Sunday morning. Even if I don’t follow that much, I’m hoping to have some recognition and a chance to try speaking again (and singing, too!) Plus, the woman I got introduced to mentioned she’s sometimes there, so maybe I’ll get a chance to properly talk to her!

And on a side-note, I think the challenges do get somewhat easier the further along you get. Challenge 6 (which I did this morning) didn’t seem nearly as hard as the last few. Things are definitely starting to stick!

6 Likes

In other words, you’ve done about 2 and a half hours of content - and you haven’t yet practised using any of your brand new Welsh - so you put yourself in about the most difficult position possible - to use a language you haven’t started using yet, that you’ve only just started using, in public, with someone you don’t know…!

And then you feel bad about yourself!

Most courses are delighted if they can get a learner to use their Welsh outside of the classroom in the first couple of YEARS… :slight_smile:

So your willingness to throw yourself in is absolutely brilliant - and will stand you in VERY good stead - but now give yourself a pat on the back for having a go, and trust that the more you do it, the easier you will get - but do bear in mind that if most people could have conversations after a couple of hours of learning, everyone would be multilingual…:wink:

Oh, and find a language partner - someone you can get to know, who is willing to spend 30 minutes a week giving you the chance to say some Welsh sentences and hear some Welsh sentences… :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Oh yes, definitely do this. If nothing else, the singing should be good!

1 Like

I don’t think this is unusual. _I have completed both the SSIW welsh courses but everyday conversation is a problem. I have to translate things in my mind before I speak. _I meet up once a month with welsh speakers but we do not always have the same interests. One chap loves gardening but it is a subject I cant discuss at length in welsh. But I keep going each month .
Brian

2 Likes

My guess is that the service will be in a traditional form of Welsh, but it will be a good experience. You will be bound to have a chat in conversational Welsh before you leave.
Edit: sorry I replied to the wrong person :weary:

I happens to us all. You just try speaking Welsh to people you find attractive, getting any words of Welsh out at all is an achievement.

3 Likes

I’ve done this in English and Welsh! Sheer excitement clearly turns me into a blithering fool! The only difference is that in English if I got excited and gabbled nonsense, I just felt embarrassed for the kind of impression I made. In Welsh I had the added ‘Oh no! My Welsh was rubbish!’ on top of the 'Oh no! I was rubbish! (in both).
The single thing that massively increased my preparedness for actually speaking to people in Welsh, was finding other learners (or second language speakers) to talk to. They know where you’re coming from, and they have been through the same emotional roller-coaster. You won’t mind if they can’t think of the word, and nor will they. :blush:

4 Likes

I think one of our Ministers went `there, but it was so long ago I’ve forgotten his name! He was quite right to leave our monoglot English Circuit to use his naturel mother-tongue Cymraeg in Canada

Very much could be – according to my research, it’s the only Welsh-speaking church in Canada (and one of only a few in North America).

Despite everything, I am excited to go. :slight_smile:

4 Likes

I’m actually trained as a singer, so I always love the chance to sing in any language!

That’s part of why I know some French and German (and a very small amount of Italian), since we had to be able to sing arias and operas in different languages. So I’m really looking forward to trying to sing in Welsh!

2 Likes

That’s the other thing I’m hoping. Even if I only do get a few words in, it will let me hear it spoken, and give me a chance to speak ‘in the world.’

It’s going to be an interesting day for languages, though, because after the service, I’m going to an art and coffee meetup at a local cafe, which is all done in French! I’m hoping my brain will make the switch and my French won’t have too much Welsh mixed in. :smiley: And I got curious and had to look up what ‘Welsh/Welsh Language’ is in French, which, according to the internet, is « gallois ».

Edit: And it’s only after posting the three replies that I realized I can reply to different people in one post. Sorry about that!

1 Like

paid a phoeni (neu becso) (as they say hereabouts… :slight_smile: )

2 Likes

I think the fact that there are Welsh speaking church services in America is absolutely brilliant :wedding:

1 Like

I do hope the church is as Welsh speaking as you hope! Many years ago, when my ‘Auntie’ was still living on Gower and I was staying with her whenever I could, I arrived to find her not at all well. (I think bad cold and voice gone, but forget the details).“You are not preaching, are you?” It transpired she had agreed a while back to take a service at a Welsh speaking church in Penclawdd - not the big, famous one on the hill, but a little Baptist one down below. As she did not speak Welsh, I asked and she explained that they didn’t mind sermons in English, they picked hymns and prayers in Welsh. I had to use her subject as she had told them that. Her brother drove me there and they were lovely, lovely people! I apologised profusely for my lack of Welsh. When I announced the first hymn, giving the number and reading the first line, huge smiles spread over the faces of the Deacons below me! At the end, they assured me that, if I had preached in Welsh, many would not have understood, but liked to sing in Welsh and it was lovely to have a preacher who could read it!
p.s. Yes, I could sight read Welsh back then!! Backwards is my direction!

A lovely story. Have you ever seen the film “A Month in the Country” (or read the book)?
I think you could relate closely to part of it. (no Welsh connection though).

Never read it, i believe! I have read so many books that i cannot swear to it!

I’ll have to go and find out, I think. It also houses Welsh lessons and the local branch of the St. David’s Society – it’s sort of the Welsh Cultural Centre in the city, it seems. Their website and their e-mail newsletter are completely bilingual (which made for a fun read, and lots of referencing the dictionary!) So there clearly is a good chunk of Welsh speakers/readers there.

I’m not sure if everything will be in Welsh, but even if not, I’m hoping it will be a good chance to chatter (badly) at people. :smiley: