Tried to Speak Welsh in Anglesey - mixed reception -

Hi at the end of June Him indoors (Phil - Saes - no Welsh but no issues) and I spent 6 days in Anglesey. Lovely place. Lovely weather!

First the positives - on the way there, we stopped at Tesco Caernarfon - and the lady on the check out was happy to talk to me in Welsh - despite us being shattered from our trip from Cardiff over the mountains, and my Cardiff learners accent. Gold star to Tesco Caernarvon!
Second - we went to Portmeirion one day and had a really nice lunch at Castell Deudreuth - so I asked the young but fluent Welsh speaking waiter about the cheeses in the Cheese option - he was great, spoke slowly and understood I was a learner.
Third - where we we staying - Henllys near Beaumaris - Cor Meibion Bangor a Chaergybi - came over one evening for a concert. I spoke to some of them in Welsh and they were happy to chat to me in Welsh.

However, in lots of the small villages, around Anglesey, where the locals were speaking Welsh to the shop or market stall people, when I spoke in Welsh to them, they understood what I had said but answered in English. Pretty demoralising.

So- on balance - young Welsh speakers and those in big corps are good at helping learners - the problem is in the villages and small organisations where there is no policy in place to recognise learners and to help them. As I reckon I am almost fluent (despite my Cardiff/S E England Estuary accent) , what chance do other learners have?


Don’t be disheartened - it’s not policy, it’s because many first language speakers honestly think they are being polite and helpful by replying in English. The best thing to do is to explain that it helps you much more if they stick to Welsh. It really is just a misconception on their part because they often don’t even do it on purpose - believe it or not, it’s a natural reaction (I’m a second language speaker who’s lived in Gwynedd for 16 years and it still happens to me too!)

But well done for all the conversations you did achieve - it sounds like you had a lovely time :slight_smile:


I don’t think its a regional thing. Is there any chance that it could just have been for an unconnected reason? I suppose we all have busy or off days. I know a few 1st language speakers who generally are happy to talk Welsh with me, but just occasionally, say on a noisy, busy night shift, I totally understand when English is so much easier for them to be understood.


They probably thought they were being helpful. I experienced the same thing when I moved to Belgium and started to speak Dutch—people would automatically go into English; same thing again when I went to live in Spain and started speaking Castellano—many would try to reply in English. The thing to do is simply to explain that you are a learner and want to speak the language in order to improve your knowledge of it.


When communicate with native speakers of a different language I try to remember what I do when people try to speak Italian to me.

Of course I’m happy they want to learn it, and I do appreciate their efforts. But sometimes I realize I just switch to English because…i don’t really think about it… I guess it’s just an automatic reflex to go with what seems the easiest way to communicate with each other!
There’s no judgement in the other person ability, they’re often good enough or even very skilled speakers.

Then I have to admit there are also times when I just can’t understand anything, but I don’t want to tell them “Sorry, you’re Italian is so bad that I have no idea of what you’re saying” :laughing:
Or I’m just in a hurry or busy and I just can’t wait for them to figure out the whole thing. :grimacing:
So what can you do?

And hey it’s not just a Welsh or Italian thing, I’m sure this happened to a lot of first language English speakers, when us learners of English tried to talk to you! :wink: