Struggling to listen - just hear noise

Hi all,

I’m in my fourth year of studying welsh in Wrexham but I’m still struggling to listen to welsh.

I can read OK, I can say a lot of what I want to say, but if I listen to an audio exercise I don’t hear anything but noise, it’s just far too fast.

If I go out to speak to people I struggle, listen to the radio, watch S4C, all just noise. I don’t even get snippets of a topic it just flows over me an I don’t pick anything up.

I have an exam in eight weeks and I need to find a solution to this. I have some past papers but there are only five of them and, rather than gaining listening skills I think I’ll just improve my remembering skills.

I know about the new on-line chat forums and I’ve signed up but I need more focused practice on listening, something I can work on and go back to. (I live outside of Wrexham and Saith Seren is a bit of a trek when I’m busy I’m afraid although everyone has always been helpful there.)

Does anyone know of a resource I can use to improve this quite quickly?



Have you tried the SSiW listening exercises? :slight_smile:


I have but I would need to start from the beginning and I only have 8 weeks

I tried listening to them in the car but driving was too distracting and very exhausting

I might try them again in the summer break but until then I need something above basic level but that I can start up straight away … sounds almost impossible

I might take a look at episodes of Dal Ati because I can play them in very short steps - without subtitles, try and figure it out, and then play with the subtitles and try and play longer sections over time. Maybe if there is something else like that I could use as well . maybe I’ve answered my own question

I didn’t use the listening exercises as much as i should have done, but when i did they really do work if you stick at them.

Listening isn’t easy, it takes time and patience to find a way in.

What I did was watch television programmes for young children on S4C because the vocabulary is less and often words are repeated to teach to children, so they work really well for learners too.
My other suggestion would be to find radio programmes or recording about subjects you know well, so you can tune into the Welsh rather than worry about understanding everything that is being said. For me it’s about not getting frustrated and realise that picking out and understanding a single word is a great start. and the more you listen you start to pick out more words, until , after a long time, you can pick out whole sentences.

I’m sure people would be happy with people whom just want to listen to the group chats on the Slack forum


I’m definitely going to try the slack forum I just need something focused where others aren’t waiting for me

I like the idea of kids programmes, thanks

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I would, like Milla, recommend the listening practises. Some people on the forum tried them for about two weeks, doing every day about half an hour. They went from I heard just noise, to I can pick some words to I understand nearly everything and after about two weeks normal spoken Welsh seemed to be much more slowly. If you have 8 weeks, it could be worth a try. I wish you much luck for your exam


You probably don’t need to actually start doing the course if you’re short on time, just skip to the listening exercises. There are currently only 5, 4 of which are double speed. :slight_smile:


Maybe I misunderstood when @Novem mentioned listening exercises, I thought it meant the challenges in the courses.

Do you mean the ones under the Daily and Weekly practices? (

I agree with the others, the double speed listening exercises have really helped me. Or if you can find something else that you are familiar with and play that at double speed, perhaps material from your course?

It will sound like chipmunks to start with, but it really works. I listen to things at double speed before I go out to meetings and then everyone seems to be speaking more slowly!

Pob lwc!


Haha, no problem! You should be able to find them here:

They’re under challenges 5, 10, 15 and so on. You can probably skip the one under 5, and go straight to 10, 15, 20 and 25 :slight_smile:


Might be a good idea to start with 5, if you find listening tricky in general - it’ll give you a good baseline sense of where you are, and if you come back to it at the end of each week, it’ll show you clearly how things are progressing… :slight_smile:


Listening problems are not new and many of us experience just this. I have come to the conclusion that learning to listen is a language skill equally as important as talking and requiring as much effort. But most language courses don’t seem to place sufficient emphasis on it. If you think about it, when we are developing after birth we actually listen to those around us for a couple of years or so before we speak anything coherent. During that time we have no responsibilities (except perhaps to look cute) and we learn to listen! Expecting someone learning a second language to spend two years just listening (and abandoning all other activities) is obviously a bit of a tall order, but it does suggest that we should take such time as we can to develop this skill.

I don’t have a solution for you if you need to get to a certain level in 8 weeks, but from my experience, just listening makes a huge difference after a few weeks. I used the sped-up SSiW listening exercises (whilst doing housework and not looking at all cute), but whatever works for you is fine. Pob lwc!


Well I’ve been playing the listening exercises at the end of challenges 5 and 10 and they have definitely helped so thank you all for your input.

I’ve re-played the test I struggled to understand anything on and I got 50% of the answers which is a marked progression.

I’ve discovered that one of my problems is trying to translate what I hear rather than trying to understand what I hear. If I try and translate I miss the next 3 or 4 sentences and all context, etc. is long gone. If I just listen and then try and understand what I can then I hear almost every word of the two listening exercises

Observing other people who use English as a second language they don’t appear to translate what anyone says to them and thinking about it, I don’t translate English so I must just understand the words and that’s what I need to get to with Welsh.

I’m playing Radio Cymru in the car every morning on the way to work, some bits I get and some wash over me. To be honest I get the same effect with Radio 4 sometimes :wink:

I haven’t tried the kids programs yet but I have watched a couple of Dal Ati without sub-titles and I get some of that as well.

Once again, thanks for your advice. When I have a bit more confidence in the next weeks I might pop over to the Slack speaking forum and git it a go.

Diolch yn fawr pawb


I empathise with you here. I have had exactly the same problem. Learning how to go with the flow, avoiding translating and just listening definitely takes practice - stick with it and persist. You’ll get there!


Watching kids programs is a great way to improve your listening skills. They speak slower and they are very visual so I think you learn without realising it

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