Stuck between Level 3 and Advanced Content: Vocab problems

A while ago I completed the 6-Month course and finished Level 3 of the lessons. I think that I mastered them well enough, and I have recently turned to the Advanced Content lessons with the weekly recording in Welsh.
Trouble is, I don’t think that I’m improving here. I have been approaching these sessions as recommended. I listen to the recording, read the transcripts in Welsh and in English, repeat, and repeat, and feel stuck.
I don’t think that listening is my problem. For well over a year I have been listening to both Radio Cymru highlights (Pigion) and to the sped-up recordings in Level 2, and the effort has paid off. I seem to have no problem hearing Beca’s programs in the advanced content. In fact, it sounds clearer to me than ever, and I pick up those words I know with ever-increasing ease. Trouble is, I don’t understand most of the words. I tried learning a bit from the transcripts with personalised word lists, and it was simply a drag, with little to show for the effort.
I’m not feeling disheartened. On the contrary, I’m delighted with what I’ve achieved living in a totally non-Welsh part of the world. But I’m not sure how to tackle what seems to be a vocabulary gap between the 6-Month course and the levels on the one hand, and the Advanced Content programme on the other.
Any suggestions please? And have other SSiWers had similar experiences?


The key word here is ‘recently’… :slight_smile: The advanced content can never be an ‘overnight’ kind of thing - it will take time and consistency before your brain has had enough exposure to the most common ‘unknown’ patterns, and started to provide them for you.

To put it into context, it took me about a year of listening to Radio Cymru for an hour every morning and afternoon (on the way to and from work) before it really started to sink in - and I was getting plenty of exposure to conversational Welsh at the same time.

The advanced content - if you do the listen->read transcript->listen->read translation process - will be much faster than listening to Radio Cymru, but you’re not going to notice much change from month to month - you’ll just have occasional moments of thinking ‘Oh, hang on, I got quite a bit there’ until eventually the puzzles are consistently less than the rest of it.

It’s worth bearing in mind that you’re on the final ascent of Everest here.

You’ve learnt the language - you can express yourself in Welsh, and understand people talking to you - but you want it running on full automatic pilot, so you just understand everything in Beca’s content and on the radio. It’s a good aim (I’ve got to take it on as a challenge for my Spanish and French one of these days) - but you’ll benefit from being aware that it really is the pinnacle, and that there is inevitably going to be a long period where it just feels like slog…:slight_smile:

But to the best of my knowledge, there is no faster way forward with this than listening to advanced content and then double-checking the transcript and the translation. I’ve got a plan to build a stage by stage dialogue for the first 4000 words, but it’s a monstrous task, so we’re probably going to need to reach the point where we can take someone on full time to do it. Even that, though, I strongly suspect will only lead to marginal gains for this stage of the journey.

Be of good heart. You’re doing the right things. The effort will eventually pay off… :heart:


Thanks for such a kind (and prompt!) reply! I think that I was expecting to turn to the Advanced transmissions and understand them on the spot, I suppose.
I have to admit that I put full faith in the SSiW system when I started to listen to the “chipmunk” sped-up Level 2 listening exercises: I only reaped the benefit after months of it, but yes, I got there. Same with the Radio Cymru Pigion listening, where I can now hear clearly, but not understand much. [By the way, when I first moved to Israel, I forced myself to read, listen and talk in Hebrew. At first, I noticed no improvement, but gradually it worked brilliantly.]
I hadn’t realised that the Advanced content program can also be used in the same approach. Thanks very much for the encouragement!


I think it’s normal on any mountain climb to have moments when you think ‘Seriously, where the hell is the top of this thing?’…:wink: :smiley:

Let’s revisit this in July and see how you’re feeling then… :star2:


…Which is just how I felt the first time that I climbed Yr Swyddfa. I’ll try to remember to update in July!


…Mount which, by the way, thanks to Beca I found out being named after a Welsh man! :open_mouth:

Well, more seriously, this thread is very interesting and I can very much relate to many things that Baruch is saying.

Considering that I haven’t even finished Level 3 I’m not complaining at all about my results - mind you - I’m actually really amazed by all the things I’ve learned in such a short time!

However when earlier this year I tried to set new goals, I noticed those about understanding the language are the most nebulous.

Because I find it also very hard to measure results. I mean, of course it was easy to notice how in the beginning I could understand nothing at all, in Welsh.
Then a few scattered words, but not the topic, yet.
Then the topic, almost every time, and a few chunks of sentences, and maybe even a full sentence or two.
And this is all great!

But now…it’s very hard to notice any improvement.

So alright, I understand the keyword is patience. :roll_eyes::grin:
But still…any hints about setting goals related to listening and understanding, for example?


That’s an excellent question, because having clear goals is always a HUGE help - but they are very, very difficult to figure out for listening.

At your stage, I’d be inclined to measure what I got done - so I’d have an aim for 5 minutes accelerated listening every day, and maybe 10 minutes Radio Cymru or advanced listening once you get Level 3 done…

At Baruch’s stage, same thing - a time-based target so I know if I’m hitting it or not.

But actually trying to notice the improvements - that’s where the biggest benefits are, and where it’s toughest with listening - I would probably suggest having one ‘marker’ piece of listening - so the first actual interview that Beca did, for example - and I’d revisit that once every six months, and then write a short paragraph describing my sense of how much of it I’d understood… and then compare those paragraphs over time…


Alright, thanks a lot. Just one detail: does it really matter what I listen in an accelerated version?
Because I have a bit of a hard time keeping my attention focused in general.
But it’s quite ok as long as my level of curiosity is high (read mostly: something new) or I feel some sort of challenge in the process.
While there’s no way to stop a little voice in my head going “oh nooooo, not again! That’s boring! I’m not going to listen to this! No way” and hear absolutely nothing of clips I’ve listened several times before like the Listening exercises.
But I’m pretty sure I’d get no complaints if I use a different clip every time -like 5 minutes of any advanced material, accelerated with VLC for example.
How about that?

p.s. for some mysterious reason the only things I can listen a million times and never get bored of are songs, but they’d be too weird in an accelerated version! :rofl:
p.p.s. Yes, comparing notes/descriptions after some time sounds like a great tip, too. But, but…once every…SIX months! :scream: It’s a whole lot of time! :laughing:


Yes, I also have a hard time with that. I still do the accelerated listening exercises from Level 2. There are 5 such exercises in Level 2, and multiply that by 2 if you listen to both North and South, and you get 10. There are also accelerated listening exercises in Level 1, not as fast. I normally listen to just one - any one - per day, and I do it most days. That’s only 5 minutes. I do them during housework, so it doesn’t cost me any time at all. I found that it took me several months to notice a real change. But I did. I still can’t make out everything in these exercises, but I hear more and more as time goes on. I suspect that it makes little difference what you listen to, just that you do it. It would appear that the subconscious really does absorb a huge amount whilst listening, and repetition can be important.


I did the listening exercises, while doing Level 1 and 2 challenges as from instructions.
It’s just now, it’s got kinda familiar since listening exercises only use the vocabulary from the challenges and it’s the same voices I learnt them from; I can recognize the words and the sentences so my mind just totally wanders away - not too sure subconscious is actually listening, do you think so? :thinking:

But…oh…I had never thought of listening the exercises from the Northern version. Thanks, good idea, I’m going to do that!


Hi @Baruch and everyone else using the advanced content, I am also listening and working hard on the advanced content.

I do feel that I am making progress on them but I find my understanding of them varies considerably from week to week…

There are quite a few variables aren’t there such as whether you happen to know the vocab on the topic(s) being discussed, ditto the dialect of the person, the strength of accent mixed with the speed and natural clarity with which the person speaks. Plus of course your starting point!

Interestingly if I ‘simply’ don’t know some words and I go through them, this can transform a Sgwrs and I can get a step up in understanding… there have been a couple recently where I’ve thought I had a big translation job on my hands but when I’ve looked at the transcript - I understand the words!

On these ones…the challenge is picking out what is said as it flies by at pace with an accent which is the challenge…and on these I’ve had to listen over, until my brain tunes into the accent and clipped pronunciation of the words…strangely harder.

However, I absolutely do detect progress.

I am really pleased that you have posted @Baruch because I had been thinking separately - and it has prompted me to do something - put simply, we’ve all been working hard - perhaps we should share!!?

Perhaps a topic whereby we posted how we have got on /are getting on?..a little bit like the ongoing ‘small questions in need of answer type thread’ although possibly more about the experience than having questions?

Apart from anything else it could be moral support! What do you think?



I’ve always felt that my brain has only so much capacity for new words, I love the word tosturiaethau but not sure how useful it is on a day to day basis. I did wonder if there was ever any chance of finding the first few thousand words that get used so that I could concentrate on them and reuse them in sentences to help them sink in. So, for one, I wait for this eagerly.


Hi Baruch, I think I could have written your post, as I have been feeling pretty much just the same as you. I finished level 3 and have been listening to some of the advanced content. I feel as though I’ve reached a plateau and was struggling to really understand as much of the conversations as I would have liked. If you are like me, you should have a go at listening to Nicky’s ‘mynd am beint’ podcast. I just listened to his 3rd one (in which he just talks about himself!), and found that I followed most of it, and because it’s nice and long, after a while, I found I was was just listening and understanding more than translating in my head all the time and getting lost. It probably helps that he has only recently learnt Welsh and that he sprays in a good few English words/expressions. Don’t give up on the rest of the stuff but if you want a boost, and realise that you probably CAN understand conversational spoken Welsh, try that.


Thanks very much for the feedback @rich! I’m also pleased to see that other people are in my situation.
As to your suggestion, perhaps the best thing would be simply to carry on this thread. The idea of moral support certainly appeals to me.
And on that note, after my original posting yesterday I listened again, for the first time in a week, to that first 10-minute podcast in the Advanced series by Beca - and I noticed an improvement in my understanding. Slight improvement, but significant. … Maybe @Aran is right and the system actually works?:wink:
I would love to hear other learners’ feedbacks and experience on this.


Thanks very much @PhilgJones for the suggestion, and good luck!

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@rich was quick, proceeding with the plan, and created this thread in the meantime!


Ha, ha…sometimes it’s easier to give something a go and tweak it or change it as you go along!

I was thinking of trying a post per Sgwrs because they are all different…again evolution will come into play as to whether it works - we will see.

Which one are you working on @Baruch?




As a first impression, I suspect one thread for each Sgwrs could end up a bit lost in this huge forum (and many people might not even notice them).

But at the same time it would allow to search for each thread and being able to read only the posts about one specific Sgwrs - that has other advantages, I believe.

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I agree. I have tried making personalised word lists when reading books. I have even tried putting them into Memrise. I never got round to going back and learning them though because, as you say, it was a drag. I am hoping that repeated exposure to words will do the trick in time. I do find that words pop into my mind unexpectedly, and I think “What on earth does that word mean?”

Currently I am re-reading books that I attempted about a year ago. They were difficult first time round, but now I can manage without a dictionary, guessing the unknown words from the context. That feels like progress. With luck the same thing will happen with Beca’s programmes.



Yes I feel exactly the same - upside and downside.

I think if there is one thread with everything jumbled and not much use to someone coming later…but that might not be an issue.

Probably ‘the thing’which is going to work will naturally rise to the surface…so I’m hoping if we start with something and just roll with it… it will work itself out…

:slight_smile: Rich

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