Struggling

I am on to lesson 20 now and can read a lot of written Welsh but just freeze when it comes to conversation and my mind just goes blank. So despite the fact I definitely know a lot of words I just cannot hold a conversation.

I am starting to despair but don’t want to give up can anyone help???

Diolch yn fawr Jeff

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Imagine we are talking about learning to swim. You’ve read books about swimming and how to swim, you’ve watched swimming on tv, but when you get into the water you can’t remember any of it and can’t actually swim - so what do you do? You keep getting in the water and start swimming - very awkwardly, slowly, a few mouthfuls of water now and then, but if you keep at it, especially in the company of a patient instructor, you get better, faster, and more confident.

The only way to get better at speaking is to keep speaking. It doesn’t matter if there are long pauses, it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, it doesn’t matter if it’s slow, it doesn’t matter if you have to throw in chunks of English - as long as you try and say as much in Welsh as and when you can - and it doesn’t have to be long conversations, or even interesting ones! It’s a matter of confidence - you’ve said yourself you know lots of Welsh, so it’s not lack of that, it’s down to confidence.

There are plenty of very friendly and patient people on our Slack group who are well used to coaxing conversations from nervous learners, so I would say certainly give that a go.
Another thing that may help is to read aloud - getting used to hearing yourself speak Welsh really helps.

And the biggest thing to remember is you are not alone! Lots of learners find themselves feeling this way and it’s perfectly normal, and it can be overcome! :slight_smile:

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Hi Siaron. Thanks for taking the time to reply I haven’t tried slack yet? Mainly because I am not sure how and when it is available. I have two jobs so finding time can be a problem although I try to spend half hour per day learning or listening to Welsh. I work in a school where there are a number of Welsh speakers but due to the structure of lessons rarely get time when I see them to speak to them!

I always greet any Welsh speakers with Bore da or prynhawn da, I also wished a colleague penblwyd hapus today so I suppose that is a start.

Diolch yn fawr Jeff

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What @siaronjames says is so true @jeff-2 - even if it doesn’t feel like it. Further on in the course you’ll find yourself saying - in Welsh of course - ‘I used to think that making mistakes was bad, but I was wrong’

We’ve all been there - or most of us anyway!! - and it really does get easier with doing. Just doesn’t feel like it when you have the dreaded brain freeze, even if it’s something you know you should know how to say!!

I don’t know whether you’re doing one of the structured courses, but they give some ‘sentence starters’ at different points for you to practice making your own sentences with each day (starters as in ‘include in the sentence’ not the sentence has to start with them). It’s a really good way of getting yourself using the Welsh you know for your own sentences - using words/patterns you’ve learned in the lessons, but also including any other words you know. You don’t have the pressure of talking to someone else, but you’re getting used to making up your own sentences. If you learn a new word that’s giving you hassle, perhaps try and sneak that into your sentences until it sticks.

If you look at Old Course1 lesson 6, it’s divided into 3 parts, and the third part - ‘lesson 6 bonus’ or ‘6c’, depending on where you’re looking at it - has a range of useful bits to practice for having conversations. Including escape phrases!!
I can’t remember how to say…/ I’m not sure how to say… in Welsh’ can also be very useful… :slight_smile:

Slack is a good source of friendly speaking partners - you can even specify whether you’re doing northern/southern course and where you’re up to before chatting; don’t be afraid to say you’re nervous. But most important is that you chat - and when you haven’t got a human, go for plan B… my dog (English Springer) now responds better to Welsh than English :joy:
Talk to yourself in Welsh about what you’re doing - if you need blobs of English, that’s maybe giving you a clue to new words that you want to learn. I remember being so chuffed the first time I could switch from telling Otto (my dog) that I wanted to go quickly, instead of I didn’t want to go slowly. Dip that toe in, as Siaron says - and before long you’ll be jumping in!

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Definitely a start @jeff-2 :slight_smile:
You may find Old Course1 6c/ 6-bonus will help develop those greetings a bit further. Dal ati! Keep at it!

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It’s online and free (there is a paid-for upgrade, but it’s not needed), and it is always available (and because there are learners and speakers from all over the world in different timezones, even weird times are possible!). If you’re doing the structured course (i.e. getting the emails with extra tasks etc), there should be details in one of those emails about the 6/6 slack group. This is extra support for those doing the structured course, but there is also a group open to anyone called WSP (Welsh Speaking Practice) that you can join (or join both!). To join WSP, just ask for an invite from admin@saysomethingin.com

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@jeff-2 I found what helped me was to print out a copy of the timetable of group video sessions and then add them all to the calendar on my phone, which now means I get a reminder, and helps me to see how they can fit into my available free time. I also had a look at a couple of the recordings of Q&A sessions on the Group Video Recordings channel on Slack - that made me feel a bit reassured about diving in too. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming. Sometimes I hardly manage to get any Cymraeg out at all, other times I feel great because I’ve said a whole sentence!

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@jeff-2 I went all the way through the challenges to the end of level 2 in SSiW without having a single conversation - and the first time I tried, it was painful and demoralising as all the stuff in my head wouldn’t come out at all. And understanding what someone else was saying in Welsh was just as difficult. So I had to play catch-up, by having more and more conversations which I still found excruciatingly awkward! But it DOES start to get better the more you do it, honest. I still feel way behind many others who started SSiW around the same time as I did, but I’ve stopped worrying about it and just do my own thing in my own time. And you can do the same. You just have to keep having those conversations as regularly as you can. It’s the only way, I think. Pob lwc!

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@jeff-2, just echoing what everyone else has said - you are not alone! There’s nothing like that feeling when you’ve practised a Welsh sentence over and over in your head, you say it out loud…and the person either doesn’t understand you or comes out with a reply you don’t understand :grin: we’ve all been there, honest.

I found that practising aloud to myself when walking the dog or pottering around the house & garden really helped, because it got me used to speaking Welsh in a non-challenge setting, if that makes sense. [Though there’s a woman in Hertfordshire probably still traumatised by being spoken Welsh to unexpectedly some years back, ha ha ha] And do just practise, practise, practise. It’s like learning to drive. The first time you sit behind the wheel you stall the car over and over, yet eventually it becomes second nature.

Keep at it, and it will come. You are already so much further on than you were!

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@jeff-2 definitely what others have said above - practice, practice and more practice. Mistakes don’t matter (well they help actually), how much you say doesn’t matter so much, just being there and talking and/or listening, with pauses, tongue-tied moments and throwing in missing words in English is fine … actually here in the area around Caernarfon, it is totally normal for 100% fluent native Welsh-speakers to use a liberal dose of borrowed English words to help conversations flow smoothly - and it certainly doesn’t make the actual language of communication count as anything less than 100% Welsh.

As you are in a school with Welsh speakers, I take it that you are at least here in Wales. Which is a good start, though admittedly these Coronavirus times make casual meetups a little harder than of normal. When I started with SSiW, I was living in Greater Manchester and had to travel 50 miles each way on Monday nights to get regular weekly conversation practice (in Wrexham). I also branched out and sometimes travelled 60 miles plus, to Prestatyn - where I still have friends in the “Sgwrs a Diod” group on a Wednesday (as do I also in Wrexham at the Saith Seren community pub).

In these Covid-19 times, lots of groups are meeting online, including Sgwrs a Diod Prestatyn - we meet on Zoom on Wednesdays from 8:30 pm onwards. You don’t have to be actually in Prestatyn to join us, but you can expect we will be conversing in varying shades of Northern Welsh. If you are interested, send me a private message and I’ll give you the login details. All levels are most welcome, from beginner to fluent and everything in between. No obligation to speak - you can just listen in and get a feel for the conversation flow first … but equally you are welcome to speak and can also ask us to explain anything you heard but did not understand …

Good luck and keep going (Dal Ati!)

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@jeff-2 I relate with your comments. All of the advice here has been great too. Every few months I struggle with why am I doing this. I am in America. I don’t have many opportunities to speak . I am listening to the Advanced now and only understand some of it.
But anytime I struggle I reach out to others and get encouraged to keep going and realize that what I am experiencing is not odd.
With this or anything I commit my life to I have to remember why I started in the first place.
I still have friends in Wales that we consider as family. And every time we email back and forth in Welsh it is wonderful. That hasn’t changed. Caring about others is a great motivator to continue.

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