Tips and advice needed!

This weekend I found 2 good opportunities to practice my Welsh!

First was with a family of 1st language welsh speakers - This was very useful in relaxing me regarding my Welsh because sometimes all 3 of my friends had a different way to say something that I had said in Welsh (mostly because of the areas they grew up in!). I used to worry about that but realised that I was still understood and most importantly that there isn’t necessarily one ‘correct way’ so why worry!? I feel that having almost completed level 1 that I am able to say quite a lot of things however this experience also taught me that there is a difference in being able to say something and having a conversation! The thing I struggled with most wasn’t saying the words in Welsh; it was figuring out what to say in the first place! Once I decided what to say they all commented that my Welsh was good so I’m after some advice please: how do you all deal with this? - do you plan ahead? Do you just say something once the opportunity arises??

The other experience was at a Bore coffi arranged by Mentor Iaith Sir DDinbych that I found out about very last minute and thought… why not!?
I had less problem with the above as everyone was a learner or teacher so the conversations tended to be more about your learning so fitted very nicely into the vocabulary I have so far. I tried to branch out from this whenever I got the chance but found that saying something and listening and reponding are two very different things - I use the listening exercises religiously and try to listen to radio etc but I think part of the problem is hearing what is coming back properly and part is that I don’t have the vocabulary to answer in the way I would usually. I have been reluctant to use Slack partly because Ive got no clue how to make it work and the times I have looked to try, the conversations were planned about certain topics (such as holidays) which I don’t have any vocabulary for just now. Any thoughts/tips on this side of things gratefully received too??

However, all that said, I did feel a real sense of achievement from this weekend, in that I know what to work on and I got myself out there more.



Well done for jumping in and using your Welsh Mark, even though you feel your vocabulary is lacking (perfectly normal feeling!), getting into conversations is such an important step.

Some of the tips I can offer at this stage - obviously try to stick to as much welsh as you can, but do remember that there’s nothing to be ashamed about if you have to resort to English at times. The most important thing if you do, though, is to make sure you turn back to Welsh as soon as you possibly can - don’t let the conversation switch permanently to English (and if the Welsh speaker you’re talking to tries to keep to English to ‘help’ you, kindly direct them back to Welsh!).
You will pick up more vocab as you progress, obviously, but don’t fall into the temptation of waiting until you know more words before tackling a subject you haven’t come across in Welsh yet - new words sometimes stick better when you’ve come across them in real situations.
With Slack, have you joined the WSP (Welsh Speaking Practice) group, or are you just signed up to the course group? In WSP you can arrange one-to-one chats where there is no set ‘topic’ at all, or join group hangouts which don’t necessarily involve a ‘topic’ either - the conversation just meanders where it will!

Having said that, it sounds to me like you’re well on your way and doing fine - there are plenty more chances out there to add to that sense of achievement, and I have no doubt you’re going to find them! :slight_smile:


Hi Mark. Sounds great. The good thing with the hangouts is that they are subjects to interest people. If you get chance to join Siaron’s hangout you show an object of your choice, and practice saying a few sentences so obviously you can pick it around your own interest and vocab. Bote coffee meets ate great because everyone appreciates that we are new speakers.

Slack is great, but I accept that it is at the mercy of a signal. I’d be happy to chat with you sometime if you get the chance.

With your first language friends, Id say its the same as conversations in English, but again in a way more forgiving as they want to help you with your progression as a speaker - so perhaps let them worry about how the conversation goes and you just join in. Ive found it helpful not to talk too much about learning as it won’t be their favourite topic so perhaps talk about kids, dogs, sports, work or the like?

Pib lwc

1 Like

Thanks John,

I will make more of an effort with Slack then and hope to catch up with you on there once I’ve figured it out!


1 Like

I can completely relate to this. I’ve had a chat on Slack and an opportunity to speak some Welsh in a shop, nerves and not knowing what to say is also my problem. More conversation practice needed I guess but not always much opportunity

1 Like

Hi Jen - thanks for your reply. I don’t really feel nervous about trying to speak Welsh - I think it may be that I’m not sure what I want to say rather than I don’t know how to say it if I did know what I wanted to say (if that makes sense??) :slight_smile:

More practice needed for sure!!

1 Like

Hi Mark, were you at the bore goffi in Llandyrnog? I went for the last half hour :slight_smile: Have you joined the Facebook group su’mae Dinbych? . The Menter Iaith Ruth set it up after I posted on a Denbigh site asking if any fellow learners wanted to meet up, and had tons of replies. The group has been up for a week or so ago, and when it hits 100 members she’s going to start setting up more meet ups and events. We have 93 members so far, so keep a look out!
There are also some meet ups in Ruthin
In the meantime I’m desperately trying to find every opportunity to practice my Welsh so if you’re near Denbigh or Ruthin and fancy a coffee and chat any time, I’m definitely interested.

1 Like

I’m not sure I understand what you mean with “figuring out what to say in the first place”.
I just say…the same things I would say in the same circumstances in Italian or English!
The problem for me is that when I start saying them, I often realize I don’t know the Welsh words to actually say them!
But I have the impression that this doesn’t answer to your questions… :thinking:

1 Like

@mark-hughes Llongyfarchiadau!

I think he means that lack of vocabulary isn’t a problem, it’s deciding on a topic of conversation.

1 Like

Well, the fact is that if I ignore the potential lack of vocabulary, I don’t understand in what choosing a topic for Welsh speaking is different from choosing a topic in my first language, or any other language. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

But I’m sorry, I don’t want to drag the thread off topic just because I don’t understand if it’s clear for everybody else!

However I can add a few details from my experience in case they may be useful somehow:
when I’ve been around Wales, and I see an opportunity to speak and convince myself to go for it, if it’s a restaurant, café or shop I just try to make my order and not necessarily go on for a chat.

Depending on the circumstances, however - like in a bookshop where I’ve been told they enjoy speaking to learners, or in a restaurant/café in a very quiet moment - I may start with something like “I’m learning Welsh, is it ok if we speak/I practice?”.
If they’re Welsh speakers, they usually say yes.

This usually tend to get the conversation to start from topics I pretty much have the vocabulary for like learning Welsh and learning languages in general, music, visiting Wales, Italy and food! :smiley:

They’re all topics I enjoy and at the moment the most important thing for me is just getting the basic structures and more useful vocabulary more natural and automatic - making my speech more fluent and effortless.

People tend to just answer in Welsh at normal speed, and at that point I use the LEARNER SURVIVAL TECHNIQUE I had learnt the first time in England, and actually still use for English (because when I find new accents, I don’t always understand what people tell me to be honest!) :sweat_smile:

If I’m almost completely at loss, I just ask to please repeat or make specific questions for the words I’ve missed and seem essential for understanding.

If I’m reasonably sure I’ve understood 50% or more, I just nod and answer back starting from something I’ve caught and just go from there. It usually works fine! :wink:

Pob lwc!


My interpretation of his comment is that speaking Welsh doesn’t come naturally yet, so before he says something he has to figure out in his mind how to say it, and if there’s any words he doesn’t know, how to say it in a way that the phrase doesn’t need that word. Of course I could have misinterpreted his comment, but that is the situation I find myself in on many occasions.


Thanks all for this encouraging advice. A couple of things that Ive found that will hopefully inspire-
It is normal for people in Wales to chat, more than say in SE England, so chatting with strangers isnt quite as daunting as it might sound. Pethaps a bit of a generalisation.
Also, perhaps just my perception, but I’ve found that members of the general public don’t tend to correct our mistakes. So there’s no need to feel nervous about practicing. However if you feel the need to ask how to say something, you will always find help.


Thanks Gisella, some others have understood what I’m trying to explain but your advice is also most helpful and appreciated - Diolch yn fawr iawn!


Thanks John - you’ve hot the nail on the head!

1 Like

Hi Joanne - exactly right - thanks for explaining it far better than I did!!

Great advice - thanks Gisella!!

1 Like

yup - you’ve got it!

Great advice - much appreciated Siaron!

1 Like