Studying Welsh as a native-level language

I’ll start off by saying I’m aware this is a crazy idea and that there is no way it will ever happen.

But, in our school we have been thinking about which six subjects we are going to choose for the IB program next year. I’m pretty sure about most of my choices, but I really don’t want to study Finnish literature (there is no way I’m doing it) and I don’t think I would have the motivation to teach myself Italian literature (so self-taught) . Since we have to study two languages, one being English, my only choices left for the second one are either Welsh as a self-taught language or Italian as a self-taught language.

The problem is that self-taught languages have to be studied at native-level, so I would be studying literature. I would have to be able to write good essays about books in Welsh. I would have to be able to analyse Welsh literature in Welsh.

But then again… Italian literature would be difficult for me as well. I’m a pretty slow reader in Italian and I would not enjoy it as much as Welsh. I’m not very good at writing in Italian. I would have way less motivation if I chose it. I’m not excited about Italian.

There are also many people in our mothertongue Finnish class who are not native speakers.

(there is absolutely no way I’m choosing Finnish literature)

All I need, really, is to read more books in Welsh to expand my vocabulary, practice writing, watch more TV and speak more. I learned English pretty quickly this way and I’m doing better in English Literature than some native speakers in our class at the moment. I don’t think having learned English as a second language is affecting my performance.

And even if next autumn I realise that my Welsh is not good enough to choose it, I will have learned so much that trying will still have been a good thing.

So, does anyone have any advice on effective ways to widen vocabulary? Or know about any Welsh literature tutors (in case I end up doing it)? Or just advice in general? I’ll also appreciate anyone telling me why I should or shouldn’t do it if you come up with something I haven’t written here.

I guess I would have to find someone to send my practice essays to for checking grammar and things. I imagine this would be the most difficult part of the whole thing. :sweat_smile:

I will probably end up having to choose Italian, I know, but maybe it’s not completely impossible?

Sorry for the long post. I’m very thankful for any help :heart:

(I feel like I might regret posting this)


The crazy ideas are the best ideas. Absolutely you should go for it.

@sarapeacock might be able to help.

There are on line and distance grammar courses, some better than others.

What are you writing at present? What are you reading at present?

Were I in your position at present I would email the Welsh departments of the Welsh universities (probably in Welsh) and ask their advice.

Crazy ideas are the best. Just look at SSIW.


It might be worth trying to get hold of some Welsh GCSE or A level text books. I have just had a quick look on eBay and there are a lot of Welsh GCSE 2nd language text books on there but couldn’t see any 1st language or A level ones


Actually, you might ask if you could Skype them as well. Your spoken Welsh might be much better than your written Welsh.


Thank you @margaretnock and @Sam84!

I’ve been writing a daily “diary”(can’t think of anything better to call it) entry in Welsh for a few months now - haven’t really had any other ideas until now. I guess I should start writing about books I read! Book-wise I’ve been reading children’s books (Roald Dahl) and they’ve felt pretty easy. Haven’t had to look up any words so reading has been fast. I’ve also been reading news articles and things like that online which has also not been that difficult (took a lot more looking up of words in the beginning but now I don’t need to do that so often anymore) :slight_smile:

Good idea, but scary :smile: I’ll try!

I’ll check them out! :slight_smile:

Even scarier! Okay, actually I tend to stress more about writing (because I reread my message many times even after sending it and see the mistakes) so this might actually be better for me. Hmm…


Remember that some Welsh literature will have been translated into English and some will have been abridged and possibly simplified for learners. It doesn’t have to be totally scarey. Perhaps you could start a Skype or online Welsh literature book club.

Edited to add: Some (not enough!) are also available as audio books. This might also affect what books you choose.

For the Uwch level exam here students are given a list of books to study, but we can also ask if we can study books outside that list. I studied one from the list and one from outside the list. Maybe you would be able to do that.


Who gets to choose the books and who will mark your assignments?

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I can see a Dysgwr y Flwyddyn here.


This may be worth a try, I did something like this years ago when I moved to Australia, and it helped my English quite a lot: research, write and present a regular mini-lecture in Welsh for your class (assuming that this is possible for you, and your fellow students have an interest) - that will improve your writing, reading and speaking skills, including vocabulary, quite fast. And once you’ve done a few, please post them to YouTube so we can all enjoy them!

Re the Finnish literature, I was chatting with my Finnish mate Jussi/John last night, and he is reading the Kalevala at the moment - but in English, his Finnish is not good enough he said, what a pity


Yeah, I guess the scariest part would be writing an essay in the finals (without access to anyone who could check my grammar). And writing essays in general. :sweat_smile:

I would get a book list from which I could choose the ones I like most. I’m not sure about this, but from what I remember, my assignments would be sent to someone (a teacher in an IB school or someone like that) in Wales.

Ooh, nice, thank you! I’ll see what I can do with this :slight_smile:

Hmmmm, won’t promise anything :smile:

I have to read Kalevala some day… :slight_smile: Does he speak Finnish as a first or second language? I feel like Kalevala might be too difficult for first language speakers :flushed:


…until he started school here…

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Could not agree more, and just wish i could be useful in helping this young ladies dream along.
Maybe the skype sessions will be a good chance to teach us about welsh literature.

Cheers J.P (currently working on his latest crazy idea)!!


After Skyping with you in Welsh, there’s no question in my mind that you could do this! Although it might be difficult, it would probably be the best thing for your Welsh studies; as I have a feeling that children’s books are likely too easy for you. You need to put yourself out of your comfort zone to really progress.

I did something similar (although not as difficult) in high school in Canada. I had to convince the principal of the school to allow me to use Welsh as a second language as a course credit. He gave me permission if I could find a textbook and a local tutor. The textbook was easy, but finding a tutor in the middle of Canada wasn’t. :wink: I did manage it, though, and was really glad that I did.

I’m so excited to hear what you decide!


I second Margaret’s suggestion to contact the Welsh departments at universities - perhaps one of the postgraduates would be willing to tutor you via Skype etc.? (Not me! My own Welsh isn’t good enough yet!)

Another thought that occurred to me is to contact the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol ( Their remit is to support Welsh-speaking students in further education here in Wales, so they might not be able to help directly. But they might have some useful suggestions.

As far as what to read is concerned, perhaps you could try books aimed at teenagers. See for example the list published by y Lolfa at

Good luck!


It’s a big choice to make, but if anyone can do it, you can @Novem !

Gomer print novels for adult learners, so maybe they could provide a good bridge between children’s books and full-on Welsh literature.

Lolfa also do lots (scroll down past the ‘learn Welsh’ section to the ‘books in Welsh’ bit on this page:

Checking out what is available on Kindle too could save a few pennies in postage!

To practice reading generally, find some websites and blogs in Welsh if you don’t already - and practice writing short reviews of those too. It will all help.

Pob lwc!


That is so totally crazy and awesome idea, that you have to do it!


If you have this opportunity, by all means, do it. It would be like a dream come true:)
When you really love what you are studying, nothing is impossible. Especially if you have the support of such people as the SSIW community here:)
I do have some things that work for me when I’m trying to broaden my vocabulary, if you want I can post them in this thread later.


Well to echo somebody else - if anybody can, you can! :slight_smile:

I wonder if there might be any budget for occasional coaching sessions with a native speaker? Likely to be the simplest way to smooth out questions that come up.


I’m sure you know it already but there’s a good link to some poetry and novel learner guides for Llenyddiaeth Gymraeg subject. And there are resources for other subjects in Welsh there too.

P.S. I think CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) is actually the future of language learning and teaching - so I’m so happy for you that you have this opportunity)


All I can say is that I admire you and am sure you’ll succeed!! Dal ati! Lwd dda!