SSi - how's it going? A long overdue update

Hi everyone!

It feels like forever since I’ve had time to be on the forum, and I can’t even remember when I last did an update - very sorry about that, and please let me blame that rotten virus… :wink:

With Catrin having made a commitment to dive back into things, it feels like the right time for me to make the same effort… and what better place to begin than with an update?!

So much has changed.

It was pretty tough at times during the pandemic, in a lot of different ways. At the darkest points, I felt like packing it all in - and there was one particularly horrible day when I thought I’d made my mind up, and I told Catrin I was going to do exactly that - and she talked me back from the edge :heart:

We’ve had to learn a lot of new skills, personally and professionally - Angharad is home-schooling now to deal with her anxiety issues, and that’s been deep water for us - both Catrin and I have been following (slightly different) paths into Buddhism - and we’ve gone through some real, life-changing growth.

And now, it feels as though we’re back into calmer waters.

We got through the pandemic (or the first part of it, at least!) without having to cut anyone’s hours or lay anyone off - we’ve been able to keep to our aim of giving people decent salaries for lower than usual hours - we’ve got 12 members of staff now and a professional Chair of the Board - we’ve reached a new level of partnership with the National Centre for Learning Welsh, and will be providing the first 10 hours of our Welsh course through the medium of Arabic, Dari and Pashto by late autumn (with a possible launch in the Senedd) - we’ve got a pilot project starting in 7 Welsh schools/colleges this September, an education pilot project with our English course starting to take shape in Sri Lanka, and we’re in discussions with an education company in Shanghai about testing our English course there as well.

It’s our current understanding that we’re going to be part of the future for Iaith ar Daith, and we’re in discussions with several other organisations about setting up a Centre of Excellence for Accelerated Welsh. We’ve got a new website being launched in the next month or two, and we’re going to be rolling out our new ‘AutoMagic’ streaming approach to learning for the education pilot project - you can do as long or as little as you want, and it’s got levels of difficulty settings, which I think is going to make an absolutely gigantic difference to how many people achieve success with the course. It’s also, in the not-too-distant future, going to have visual AI tutors - we’ve already got that technology working, and it’s just a matter of rolling it out now - it’ll definitely be available by January.

We haven’t done so well on new languages - we’ve been doing some test work with Italian, Arabic, Scottish and Irish Gaelic, Basque and German - and it’s become clear that we’ve still got a bit to do to improve the speed/flow of the course creation software, so that’s going to be our main focus once we’ve cracked the AI tutors. I think it’s likely that we’ll be able to publish some initial material for those 5 or 6 languages by spring next year, and our speed of publishing new material should then gradually increase - but we’re going to need to hold off on starting development on new languages until we’ve got the cashflow to do it.

So that’s where we’re at! We’re an increasingly stable organisation, we’ve got through what some business courses call ‘the Valley of Death’, we’ve got several exciting pilot projects coming up, plus a big improvement to our delivery method, and we’ve got a good idea of what we need to do to start to build more languages. Our focus over the next couple of years is going to be consolidating our financial position by achieving success with the pilot projects, and getting into new markets for English. If we can keep our heads down and get all that to work, then we should be able to think in terms of increasing our rate of new course production for the couple of years after that. :slight_smile:

Any questions, fire away! :slight_smile:


Good to hear from you both after so long - and best wishes to your daughter. I look forward to both Italian and Arabic whenever they come out.


Thank you, Baruch! Lovely to ‘see’ you - and yes, I’m really looking forward to those two as well, can’t wait to revisit both of them :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the update. I will be on the lookout for Gaelic :black_flag:󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿:evergreen_tree:


Massive well done, Aran. I cannot wait to see myself as an avatar haha. The schools project is something I feel is so important! Thanks for all of your hard work to keep our language alive.


I’m pretty excited for those two as well - so far, Scottish is moving faster than Irish, but maybe they’ll even out next year!


Diolch o galon, Angharad! It’s a big old team effort we’ve got going now - your contribution as an avatar is going to be super valuable, and there’s so much tech and support work going on behind the scenes - I completely agree, I think the schools project is an opportunity to drive change on a scale we’ve never even come close to previously :crossed_fingers: :slight_smile:

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All the best to Angharad - Alys loved doing the Bedtime Welsh with her & Beuno, and the ‘Gwersi Angharad’ zoom calls of course!

Great to hear about all the new initiatives and other languages, good luck with those. I hope we get to see level 4 and level 5 Cymraeg appear one day as well!


Diolch Daniel! Alys did so well, she was such a lovely contributor to that group - Angharad has been thinking a bit recently about what she could do to help more children learn, but we haven’t quite got through to a clear plan yet :wink::rofl:

We should be able to add some new Welsh material to AutoMagic next year - it’s a streaming environment, so doesn’t work as ‘levels’, and it has a random walk when you’ve done all the new content, which should be good for keeping people on their toes - but we will keep on nagging you to focus on advanced listening and conversations, too…:wink:


Sounding positive on all fronts after such a horrendous time.
Da iawn team SSiW :slight_smile:

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@aran I am always happy to help if I can, be it with strategy or anything else. I owe SSiW a lot, and am incredibly fond you, Catrin and everyone else involved. Please email me if you like to have a chat.


Please send our love to Angharad! We enjoyed the bedtime Welsh classes during lockdown so much. Matilda says hi to her and Beuno too. Matilda’s been grappling with anxiety too. Schooling in the UK is not designed with sensitive kids in mind - too much shouting, and disruption, and common place bullying.

Your courses have been a breakthrough into speaking for someone like me who’s been learning on and off for blooming decades and recently managed to chat at the pub in Milton Keynes in Welsh for the best part of the afternoon. That was a buzz, I can tell you!

We’re going to spend a week in Harlech in the Summer hols so we can swim in the sea, explore, and I can try to use my Welsh in the real world.

Excited about the prospect of other languages becoming available on SSiW.

Hey, I was thrilled to see you were involved in “The Corn is Green” at The Nash too. So cool!

Much love to you and all the family, and to the SSiW team.

Rhi, Lee and Matilda xxxx


Oh, Rhi, lovely to hear from you and Matilda! So sorry to hear she’s been having a tough time - please tell her we send our love, she was an absolute warrior in lockdown.

Absolutely delighted to hear that you’ve done such a long conversation in Welsh, that’s real breakthrough territory - llongyfarchiadau mawr!

Do let us know if you come up north from Harlech at all - we’re just outside Caernarfon, it would be lovely to see you.

The Corn is Green was so much fun - I had virtually nothing to do, but they were all so lovely and positive, it was just a really joyful experience. Apparently Dominic, the director, is well-known for only working with genuinely nice people - it really showed. :slight_smile:

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Oh Aran, I am so sorry to hear that you felt like that. I am glad you were talked back from the edge :orange_heart: SSiW has utterly changed my life. I honestly cannot thank you enough. I am so thankful this course was created.

My language skills have developed from accidentally speaking Spanish in my Welsh GCSE oral exam (your guess is as good as mine:man_shrugging::man_facepalming::joy:) to using it all day long with my son, at work and with friends. My life has been enriched and I feel so much cynefin nawr. Diolch yn fawr iawn.


Great to hear from you Aran. If any business was designed to survive the pandemic yours was.
Deep sympathy with your children - I doubt many of us have come through unscathed in some way :disappointed_relieved:.
I wish you every success and health and happiness to you all.


I’ve been hoping we’d see you up in Caernarfon at some point! Pesky things, pandemics. I’d definitely love to pick your brains about strategy - I’ve been wanting to do that ever since I first saw your line of work!

Oh, Alexander, thank you so much for that - means the world to me. It’s wonderful to see people making such superb progress with their Welsh! :star2:

@robert-gee - thank you! Yes, we’ve all been through some tough times, haven’t we? - we were definitely lucky that we were already mainly online/distributed as a workforce, but it’s been difficult for everyone in a lot of different ways. But thank you! I think we’re all starting to see lighter days ahead… :slight_smile:

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I am sooo glad you didn’t and thank you @CatrinLliarJones for your input. SSIW has changed so many lives for the better and this has opened doors and a world of love and support.

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Amanda! How are you? Yes, I’m glad I didn’t, too, with hindsight!

I feel as if I haven’t managed to be active in the community very much the last few years, as we’ve been fully focused on trying to break through into wider markets so that we can invest more in supporting Welsh… but it feels as though we’re really close to that now, with the education projects, so fingers crossed we’re going to be able to do a lot of new stuff for Welsh in the next couple of years… :slight_smile:

I’m really well thank you. I haven’t been very active on the forum either but that is good because I haven’t had as much need so much. I am part of Merched y Wawr now (I remember you saying don’t do until you can manage not to use any English) and everyone has been fabulous and people locally speak to me in Welsh first so I feel part of the community. We have also started a very nano/pico brewery which is pushing me to use more and more Welsh as I am ensuring everything is bilingual and all the beers are named after local people or places. You cannot underestimate the contribution you are making to reaching the target of Welsh speakers. Thank you.