Visual vs audio learners

I’ve listened to the first units of both the level and the course and I’m very impressed by what you’ve produced. I’ll follow your instructions about not writing things down, since that’s the way the lessons are intended to be done. But I’m a very visual person; when I heard the Welsh words, I had to struggle to stop myself thinking “Now how’s that written?” at each new word. I like to use maps, diagrams and the written word when I’m studying anything, and that’s worked well with other subjects. I’m willing to try the “audio” approach of SSIW, but can anyone advise me how more visual learners like me can make the best of the audio style SSIW uses (at least for beginners)?

I work in much the same way, but worked through the lessons to the end of level 2 before trying to write anything down. I am sure that helped for a number of reasons. (a) I had learned the letter sounds in English not Welsh, so seeing them written down would have left me with a very strange pronunciation. (b) I found it easier to go through the course while doing something else like walking the dog or gardening rather than sitting down at a desk. © It was much easier to cope with written Welsh after I had acquired an ear for the language and how it is built up. I have finished the three levels and now try to keep a daily diary in Welsh as well as making notes of new vocabulary and phrases which I try to use when speaking in Wales or recording what I have done. It seems to be working for me and I enjoy the challenge. (d) The forum is also a great way to develop an understanding of the written language. Keep going and good luck.


I think that SSi courses redefines what a visual learner is since I’m pretty sure that SSi way has worked just fine for all of us thinking ourselves as visual learners.


One thing you can do, to help help yourself remember the phonetics of the Welsh you’re hearing, is to write down a list of the words you’re hearing as you hear them. Of course, this won’t help you to see how the words look when written in Welsh, but it may help you to retain what you’re learning.
But I would try to break away from this method as soon as possible and keep with the no writing rule.

Since the Welsh alphabet uses some letters that sound very different to how they would in English, beginners of the language will try to pronounce Welsh words as they see it written, using how the letters will sound in English, which is why the reading element is discouraged early in the course. As for the writing, the method I mentioned before may help with the phonetic side of what you are hearing, but may throw some confusion with how the words are actually spelt in Welsh once you come to reading it.

To avoid all this confusion, the best way really is to trust the method, and use some of the suggestions already mentioned, like do the lessons while going for a walk. Once you have completed a few lessons and have found that you are retaining the words, you might want to look at the course guides that can be found on the FAQ pages so you can see how they are written.
Again, I would stress that you don’t rely on these course guides for pronounciation as you will naturally try to pronounce the words as the English alphabet would in the early stages of the course, and I would only use the course guide to check the words after listening to the lesson.

The main advice though is to trust the method, as it will make you sound a more natural speaker.

Good luck with the course


I use images for the words as they crop up. Anything works so long as it aids your recall. I’m still very early in the course (lesson 16) and trying Aran’s NPNR (No pause, No repeat) challenge. That means I have to be really quick off the mark when a new word is introduced. Sometimes the mental image ‘seems’ to have nothing to do with the word I heard but, surprisingly, it still works. As you become more fluent with the word then the image fades. Sometimes though nothing ‘appears’ for a new word and then I struggle with conscious recall but, as the word gets repeated in later lessons, it usually sinks in (eventually).
The only time this hasn’t worked is for all the he/she does/doesn’t will/won’t etc. as they ‘still’ all sound the same to me :grinning:
Good luck


This is 100% correct. For a long time I felt like Caledonian, but SSI taught me that I was wrong about the whole concept of being a visual learner. Trust the method, it will work for you no matter which sytle of learner you think you are from previous experiences.



Eventually you will be seeing words written in Welsh as you can’t avoid some of them. They are in TV subtitles, direction signs, names of streets and on buildings. I generally try to get the sound of the word before the written form even going as far as asking someone in the street how to pronounce a word like ‘cigydd’. These people have always been very pleasant about it and it is all part of the experience. Go for it; you meet lots of nice people that way!


If you try to read the lesson guides without any knowledge of the Welsh alphabet, they will undoubtedly lead you into pronouncing words incorrectly.

In most courses, the Welsh alphabet is one of the first things taught, with the idea that this will lead to less confusion on the matter.

It worked for me, but might well not work for everybody, or indeed be the form liked and enjoyed by other people (which is very important).

In a typical course, with a good teacher, you get a grounding in the alphabet, along with how words are pronounced locally, and a combination of visual and audio learning.
With a good teacher. (something you can be guaranteed to have with SSiW!)
Along with SSiW (the most important phrase!) it worked for me.

The are other courses available dealing in visual learning- books like Gareth King’s Colloquial Welsh are a good start (to me, GK’s is the best start for visual learning, but that’s just my opinion!)

To summarise, I found using visual and audio learning to be useful right from the start- but I don’t think I can say that is a “right” or “wrong” thing, just what I found for me!
It also depends of course, on how easy it is for you to access other learning materials!

But whatever you do, you will, I am one hundred per cent sure, find SSiW to be impressively useful.


I’ve come to believe that visual cues slow down the learning process if conversation is your initial goal. I really don’t know why that is. If the principle is ‘‘learn like a child learns to speak’’ a child has visual as well as audio cues don’t they.

I suspect that as an adult because we have already learned to write in our native language then we often convert visual cues into imagined writing.

It’s a great puzzle but my own experience, which I admit may be personal, is that audio alone method (well crafted dialogues per SSi) is the most efficient process for becoming rapidly conversational.

It’s a mystery, but it works!!



For words I can’t remember I see a picture/mneumonic- often funny- in my head which helps me to remember the word


I suppose the main thing is horses for courses. As many people have rightly said, all experiences are personal!

I started SSiW shortly after I started learning Welsh properly- with the aim of having conversations in Welsh with Welsh friends and relatives.

I have SSiW to thank for opening the floodgates tremendously on using the knowledge of Welsh I was gaining elsewhere- Nothing else can compare with it!

I do know that personally, my vocabulary and patterns in language were increased by using other sources, (along with my recognition and understanding of the words and patterns in SSiW)- and I would not have been as far along the road of having relaxed conversations with people on nights out as quickly without using those other sources.


So as to answer your question more directly about visual sources (something I realise I perhaps didn’t do explicitly!), my personal recommendations are as follows.

I would say that Gareth King’s book Colloquial Welsh is good.
Pocket Oxford Welsh dictionary is a good, instructive dictionary for people learning Welsh.

Many other Teach yourself books available, some good, some bad, but that’s probably the one to get if you are only going to buy one.

If you are in a position to go on a Welsh course, I would suggest giving it a try- but remember that if you find it boring (because of a bad teacher or any other reason) be prepared to give it up if you think it is putting you off- but if it isn’t I found them useful for improving conversation skills (with, as I say, a good teacher!)

Just a few things, and just my opinion, of course!

But whatever you do, continue with SSiW to take full advantage of whatever else you do :wink:


We are all slightly different I think. Although when learning languages as an adult in more traditional text-based courses, I came to regard myself as a visual learner, SSiW helped to teach me that either I wasn’t such a visual learner as I thought I was, or, that being able to learn visually did not necessarily preclude one from being able to learn equally well (or maybe better) aurally. This was a bit of a revelation.

But perhaps it shouldn’t have been.

I grew up listening to the radio - Listen with Mother, Children’s Hour, etc, and as my family was quite late getting a TV, this habit ( I mean radio, not Children’s Hour :slight_smile: ) continued into teenage years and into adulthood, and I still enjoy the radio more than TV. I’d sit quietly at home, and conjure up all sorts of pictures in my head.

So when SSiW came along, sitting quietly and listening with full concentration came perfectly naturally, and I’d be able to conjure up mental images and sometimes words again.
I did have the advantages of knowing the basics of Welsh phonetics before I started which I learned from my wife and also previous attempts to learn Welsh in more conventional ways.

I have found that for me, it’s best to listen to a lesson for the first time quietly at home, in order to make sure I hear the subtleties of pronunciation (and not mixing up “dd” with “F” for example).

However, for repeats and perhaps listening practice, outside and on the move is ok, since you basically know the stuff by then, and the aural cues are more of an aide-memoire than anything.


With my day job educational hat on I read a lot about “learning styles” and a lot of recent research actually doesn’t show any measurable performance improvement when people are given resources that “match” their prefered learning style.

This audio/visual/kinaesthetic notion has been largely debunked but hangs around because everyone loves a personality test!

In short, the evidence suggests that ‘liking’ a particular method does not make you any better at learning from them. Though it has a placebo-like effect on motivation which is argubaly useful in itself.


Reminds me of something Aran wrote in a blog post some while back, though I’m scratching my head to remember precisely what it was about. But I think it kind of backed up what you are saying here.

Or at least, that people should actually try methods that they think do not suit them, because it seems we are not always the best judge of how well we are learning. Or something like that.


I’m not sure if I’m a visual or auditory learner (or something else), but I do know I have a tendency to “picture” words in my head as I think or hear them. On the one hand, I’m quite good at spelling. On the other hand, this can get in the way when trying to learn a new language.

I think the SSiW method of only auditory input is actually really good for any type of learner, because for people who already know one language, our native language sort of “interferes” with new ones. So when reading, we try to read letters the way they are pronounced in our native language. Even if this only happens a little, or subconsciously, it can basically give us a foreign accent. So instead with SSiW we simply copy what we hear. This avoids these problems.

But for adults it’s sometimes hard even to hear sounds correctly in a new language. Our brains stop perceiving differences in pronunciation as well as children do. That’s where I think visual input is useful. I actually got to lesson 2 or 3 before I realized I was saying “ddim” wrong—I thought it was “vem.” So now I’ve gotten in the habit of taking a quick look at the word list in the lesson guides before (or in the middle of!) each new lesson. That way when I hear something new, if it’s not clear to me, I cross-reference it in my head. Hopefully I don’t screw myself up too much that way! This might be useful to you too. Although I still advise avoiding visual input for SSiW overall.


Thank you to all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts on learning techniques. Of course we all learn our native language by ear and repetition (a la SSIW) but I’ve had a bias towards the visual from an early age. One of my earliest memories (I couldn’t have been more than 5) is taking pencil and paper and making a whole page of squiggly lines, which was my attempt at writing which I wanted to learn; and when they did start on the 3 Rs I took to it like a duck to water and learned very quickly. I was also very good at drawing and I can do realistic sketches and portraits. I guess my hand is just apt at representing what the eyes and ears take in. Probably a good idea to be doing something else while listening to the lessons - just a something else that doesn’t involve writing.


Oh wow I did that too! I have a distinct memory of being about…seven? and having a rainy day at school, so at recess I got a bunch of paper and wrote “cursive” on all of it. Which was just squiggly lines, of course. Maybe this is more common than I realized. Like babbling, only written instead of spoken.

I think doodling or doing something else while listening is a great idea. This is making me wonder how looking at the words might be affecting my own learning. Maybe I’ll try looking at them after each lesson, instead, and see if it helps for the first input to be audio only.

1 Like

Yes, I spent most of course 1 saying ‘vim’ (fim) instead of ‘thim’ (ddim) and now look up a group of words after I have encountered them in a lesson. It’s not that I want a visual input but that I don’t have anyone to turn to to check the new words and I don’t want to waste more time having to go over things to relearn them.


Another former visual learner here! But once I abandoned myself to the SSiW system I started to come on in leaps and bounds. (Do we all sound a little bit like a cult?..) Once I started trying to read etc. I would come across words and think ‘what on earth is that?!’ then realise, once I sounded it out, that it was something like ‘benthyg’ that I’d already learned in the course.

My ‘something else’ while I was doing the lessons was something active and repetitive - ironing, cleaning, walking, etc. Simple knitting also worked well, but nothing involving complex stitch patterns - just plain squares or similar.

I started my first ‘traditional’ Welsh course on Friday, and I found it quite amusing that everyone else in the class who had been learning the ‘traditional’ way had little mnenomics for learning, say, that B goes to F in a soft mutation - I’ve never had to use those sorts of things because I’ve just done it by ear the SSiW way, and I’ve never had to think about it.


No, not really. I can’t remember the last time anyone made me a proper burnt offering.


Thanks to everyone for a very interesting discussion here, with loads of excellent points. I think Leia sums it up best - there is very little solid evidence for ‘learning styles’ having an impact on learning (there seems to be a general lack of data, in part because it’s pretty much impossible in the current school system to teach according to individual ‘learning styles’) - but motivation is a key part of learning, so it’s possible that going more slowly with something that makes you feel successful could be better for some people. [It’s fairly well understood that interleaving, for example, makes people feel as though they are learning less successfully, even when they do measurably better as a result of it!].

Here’s a piece I wrote a couple of years ago - if anything, the intensive work we’ve done since then has strengthened my opinion:

It seems to me by now that the key issue in terms of audio learning (at least with our approach) is the strength of your working memory.

One other brief comment - ‘visual’ learning often seems to get conflated with reading and writing - but there are models that specifically distinguish between the two. This is important, because we all remember certain kinds of visual information far better than pretty much anything else - which is why memory palace techniques are so effective. But there’s no clear research I’m aware of that suggests a link between our natural tendency to remembering pictures and the process of learning language - it is clearly possible that many people who think of themselves as ‘visual’ learners are just responding to having focused on reading and writing for their entire schooling…