What a year.. diolch!

This post is going to be unorganised and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense - but I feel like I have to write something, just not sure what. So here goes.

One year ago today I was for some reason (just a general interest in linguistics) reading the wikipedia article on “Colloquial Welsh Morphology”, and I wondered if one could actually learn Welsh. A quick google search led me to SSiW and out of curiosity I downloaded the first challenge of level 1 – with no intention of actually learning the language. So I started listening – and then I just couldn’t stop again, until I reached the last available challenge, I think 14 (?) in level 3. So yeah, now I’m a Welsh speaker – hi!

I have to say I was very sceptical in the beginning, since I find grammar really fun and interesting and it just makes me happy when I understand structures and how things work – but I just went with the method and yeah, it works!
When learning other languages my experience was usually being rather good at understanding and even writing, because when writing I have time to think about the grammar, sentence structure and all the nice and complicated words I know – but that never helped when I actually had to talk to someone, so who needs grammar?
Well, to be honest here, I haven’t given up on it. There’s no better bed time story than a chapter of Gareth King’s “Modern Welsh: a comprehensive grammar”!

Anyway, in March last year I started listening to SSiW every time I cycled to Uni – or anywhere really - and I soon realised it made me really happy. It was an additional motivation to leave the house when it was raining and suddenly red traffic lights meant some nice extra time to finish a challenge. I almost felt sad when I reached the end of the course, but thanks to the listening exercises, to Radio Cymru and now also to Beca’s great sgyrsiau I found something to fill that hole in my life :wink:

So now I had actually learned a lot of Welsh (at least Iestyn’s voice kept telling me so) which meant the obvious next step was to use it in the wild. Unfortunately there aren’t that many Welsh speakers around here, so it meant finding strangers to talk to on Slack – terrifying.
I never thought I was very good at talking to people I don’t know very well in any language. I never know what to say and I’m terrible at smalltalk – I prefer to think everything through that comes out of my mouth (content- and language-wise) and that’s just not very helpful for having conversations – in any language.

But… the desire to speak some Welsh to someone other than myself was stronger and I took the first brave step and if I remember correctly, the first person I spoke to was Bronwen – thank you for enduring that – and even though during the call I forgot about everything I had learned previously, it still felt amazing that I had just had some sort of a conversation in Welsh! From then on it became easier to talk to people - but I guess the main reason for it working is, that everyone I talked to is so lovely, encouraging and positive about (learning) the language.

Then came the bwtcamp in September. What a week! I’ll make it short: amazing people, amazing Cymraeg, and on top of that: great weather. It was exhausting at first but so much fun and I learned so much. Definitely one of the best and most memorable weeks of my life.
This week (and maybe the couple of days after, in which I felt like a sponge, absorbing everything and just hoping that my brain would find some time to process everything) turned me into a Welsh speaker – a speaker with plenty to learn, but that’s quite exciting!

In retrospect I think this whole learning Welsh and especially the bwtcamp experience (i.e. pushing myself out of my comfort zone, reaching the point of not caring about making mistakes, just saying the words that come to mind, enjoying to make mistakes and being understood!) might also have helped me to be more relaxed when speaking other languages. On my last evening In Wales before I went home we had to speak English and I think I never felt so comfortable speaking English before either (after my brain finally realised that English sentences usually don’t start with “ond…”).

I remember sitting on the train from Cardiff to Birmingham the next day and it just felt wrong to leave Cymru. Usually when I come home from holidays I feel at least partly happy to be back home but this time I was just sad and the only thing I could motivate myself to do for a couple of days was talking to people on Slack. Oh, that and planning to come back to Wales this summer for a longer time (Brexit permitting…)!

The Welsh language has become a really important part of my life. I use Radio Cymru as my alarm clock because hearing someone speak Welsh is a great way to wake up and start my day. I love this community because it feels just so welcoming and encouraging and I love coming to the forum, and although I don’t post a lot myself, I spend a lot of time reading all the great success stories and other lovely posts.
When I need a break from mathematics or just from life, I turn on the radio or watch something on s4c because it’s a great way of relaxing for me. I sometimes have to force myself to look for someone to talk to on slack (because talking to people is still hard!) but I have never regretted doing so, and I always end the calls/hangouts with fresh energy and enthusiasm.
I can’t really tell you anymore what I used to do with the time I now spend on speaking/reading/listening to Welsh – I think there was something missing from my life and I am so glad I found the Welsh language, a way to learn it, and this wonderful community.

Diolch o waelod calon.


Not disorganized and totally makes sense! What a wonderful story! :heart: :slight_smile:


A wonderful, encouraging and ‘goosebumps’ post.
Diolch yn fawr iawn :hugs:


@garethrking :hushed:


@aran Another happiness incident… They are breaking out everywhere.
Cyprain, you aren’t alone with that feeling at all!

Great experience, thanks for sharing it with us, Cyprain. I loved reading it! :sparkles::sparkles::slight_smile:

And hey, there must be really something special in the Welsh-speaking experience making people from other countries feel Cymru-sick when they leave. I know! :wink: :orange_heart:

It’s also always great for me to hear how coincidences work their magic…like you making a generic search and then finding yourself learning Welsh, without having planned it at all!


Woa, thanks for sharing your story @Lea - very inspiring :+1: :+1: :+1:

It sound like you need a post in a Welsh university to me?! :wink:

Edit: or organise a collaboration with one so that you have to make regular visits to maximise productivity!??? :wink: :wink: :smile:

Rich :slight_smile:

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What a lovely, inspiring post @Lea! Well done!


Well I would never have guessed, Lea, as you always seem so natural and relaxed.
Great post, but I think you may have left out one thing - when Iestyn did his Shwmaeathon, I seem to remember you managed a half-Shwmaeathon! :wink: :rofl:

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