Speaking vs. Understanding

Phew, I just finished Level 2 Lesson 6 and I feel like I ran a mental marathon!

Since moving to Level 2, I find it hard to follow Catrin’s model recitation. She speaks much faster than in Level 1! I do catch it with Aran’s secondary recitation. Which brings me to these considerations

  1. is there an expected delay between speaking and understanding/listening? Should I be concerned?
  2. is there a reason why there are no more listening exercises after Level 1?

As long as you listen to as much radio Cymru , watch s4c and get in to as many conversations as possible then your listening skills will come on just fine . Be warned though it is a very up and down process and you will need to get used to not understanding a lot of what people say to you at first .
I think that your speaking skills accelerate at a faster rate at first with SSIW but it does level itself out in the end.
I think I remember Aran saying that there are more listening exercises on the way for level 2


I have noticed something a bit odd since trying to learn Welsh. I wasn’t really aware of those moments in English where I wasn’t really understanding what was being said - the what did they just say sort of moments.

I heard a song yesterday in English and I didn’t understand a word of the lyrics. In English we are accustomed to our brain filling in the gaps - often we don’t hear everything, but our brain has an expectation of patterns and what might have been said. I think in Welsh listening very acutely isn’t always goint to work and getting the gist is usually more than good enough.


very true - we have a few builders around the place having their radio on outside loud enough for me to hear it - sometimes I swear someone is singing or talking Welsh, and I then need to concentrate on what really is going on - and we are in Uralla, NSW, Australia :slight_smile:


I have experienced this as I’m sure have many more learners. I don’t really have opportunities to speak Welsh to real live people and I am currently doing pretty much all my learning on-line.
A few months ago I tried listening to BBC Radio Cymru Pigion - podcasts on various topics aimed at Welsh learners. I was hardly able to understand a thing. I tried a new tactic: I went to the SSiW sped-up listening exercises from Level 1 and spent about 10 minutes or more a day listening to them for about 6 weeks. I then went back to the Pigion and noticed a tremendous improvement in how much I could understand: it was striking to be honest. I came to the conclusion that I personally needed to work on my listening skills much more than my speaking skills and I have since given priority to listening. There’s only so much one can do in the time available and I chose to work on my weak point.
Maybe that could help you @christiericardo? Like to hear how you deal with improving your listening. Pob lwc to you!


Yes (will come back to this)

No definitely not!

We have much more conscious control over speaking (output) than we do over understanding (input). The output side of things our mind is focused and cooperative. On the input, we have a tendency to think about understanding, or something like this:

I’m hearing Welsh. OK, now I have to try and understand. Right. OK…that word was meddwl it meant thinking, so someone is thinking. Right now what are they saying?

(In the meantime the conversation has moved on). As has been said above, just have radio Cymru on around you. Let it wash over you (you won’t understand it, but feel reassured that that is normal and not a bad thing). The more you subconsciously get used to hearing Welsh the easier it will be in a conversation. A conversation is in front of you, you have context and some control over it. It will make more sense to you than two people talking about green energy laws in Westminster (or some other news bulletin).

Does that help? :slight_smile:


Yes, that helps a ton, thank you!

Diolch pawb!


That puts it very well, @AnthonyCusack.
The time lag for understanding can be quite long.

Owner of Cafe: “something something something sandwich.”
Me (thinks): He’s asking if I want a sandwich. It’s a bit soon after breakfast.
Me: “Perhaps.”
Owner of cafe looks puzzled and a bit upset.
An hour later on the way home I realise - he was probably asking if the sandwich I bought last week was OK.
I wonder if I should attempt to apologise this week, or would I just dig myself into a deeper hole.



As a follow-up to what I wrote above, I’ve just been listening to an old Radio Cymru podcast. Stopped, to look up the meaning of a word in my dictionary, replayed the podcast and noticed that I had heard the mutated form of the word (minus its initial ‘g’) but looked up the non-mutated form without even being aware of it.

Presto! (How do you say that in Welsh?)


As you’d imagine, it doesn’t exactly translate, but Geiriadur yr Academi gives this:
hey presto! = a dyma chi! / am wyrth!

(i.e. “There you are!” / “What a miracle!” ) :smiley:


I’m still a new learner, but I am trying to listen to as much Radio Cymru and Welsh language music as possible. I’m lucky enough to be able to listen to it all day at work so feel like I’m improving in the listening dept quite quickly, even though I don’t know most of what is said yet. Also, the level 1 listening exercises are really really good!


I’ve found this thread very interesting. I’m learning Welsh via ssiw and am into level 2. I’m quite comfortable with saying what I want to say but get very despondent when I listen to s4c (I didn’t know there were radio Cymru podcasts) and pick up very little. I can relate very much to the comments above about meddwl, understanding the word, and then finding the speaker has moved on. In fact at times it’s made me so despondent I’ve almost concluded that I can’t do it and should give up. Mercifully I have not done so.


Presto looks Spanish or Italian. How do you say it in English?


Quite a few people say they have trouble picking out things when listening to S4C. The thing to bear in mind here is that when you watch S4C you are suddenly faced, not only with a huge amount of unfamiliar vocabulary, but with a multitude of accents too. Also, there are language guidelines that programme makers, especially for factual/news programming, have to adhere to and these tend to steer away from the more colloquial language we are used to hearing.
Although you might feel a bit daft doing it, the absolute best programmes to watch to begin with are the childrens ones. Then build up to the ‘magazine’ type programmes (e.g. Heno) - because these are made up of shorter items, it’s easier to concentrate on one one item at a time without losing sense of the plot. Let the dramas, soaps, news and documentaries wash over you for a while (have them on, but don’t pay too much attention). Eventually - and it often comes as a complete surprise when it happens - you will find you are picking up bigger and bigger chunks, until :bulb: you’ll have watched and understood a whole programme before you realise it :slight_smile:


I realised this first with French! It definitely works with Welsh and some programmes for children are very good! And… well… educational! I have learned more about life in the seas from Octonots than I ever knew before. OK, that is translated, but use of programmes made in English and dubbed and subtitled in Welsh is no bad thing! And S4C programmes are sold elsewhere and dubbed in English! (same with other languages, I am sure!).

In language leaning being surrounded by the language is the best way to ‘tune in’ and being forced to use the language to actually communicate and ask for things is the best way of practicing.
However not possible with Welsh - even Cardiff, unless you live in a totally Welsh speaking environment. The advice about listening to Radio Cymru and S4C is great. Yes, children’s programms like, “Sam Tan” are good. Some of the other S4C programmes have a lot of idiomatic phrases. I have Radio Cymru on in my kitchen all the time. That helps.
There a mag called “Lingo Newydd” that I get and that helps increase reading, there is also an app as well (can’t use it though because I have a dinosaur instead of a modern mobile phone!)
I visit an old lady to practice once a week and occasionally (when not visiting my friend) a cafe in Cardiff to practice speaking. There are pubs and music groups too to practice speaking and listening if you are in Wales. I talk to myself in Welsh (a bit limited but useful) when I go around the house and on the bus - don’t make it obvious - you will look mad!

You will find that you will plateau in language learning and for some time feel you make no progress at all and tear your hair out. Keep at it because you will get over the plateau. That is quite normal in language learning.

Good luck.


Giving up is not an option…onward!



I know the words and haven’t questioned it before but the “I” troubles me here, why isn’t it “yr hen iaith parhau”? I don’t want to be cruel, but @siaronjames, I wonder if you know the answer?

I think it’s to do with the form “bydded” which seems to be always followed by an “i” - although I couldn’t tell you the grammatical reason why, I’m afraid. It’s an older construction that you come across a fair bit in the Bible e.g.
bydded i mi ddywedyd o leiaf gydag Eli hynaws
bydded i hob gwr ei wraig ei hun