If you get the weekly email, you’ll have seen that Catrin’s been trying to find ways to help all our learners see where they can get involved, and share the lovely community spirit here while they’re on lockdown - explaining WSP and the forum and Nia’s postcard club and so on…
We’re also trying to think of ways to keep it fresh - neither of us feels that we can just carry on giving cheery ‘Hang on in there!’ messages without the risk of making people want to scream…
And it just occurred to me…
What about you?
What would you say to other Welsh learners who are going through lockdown and all the worries and uncertainties that go with it?
Maybe part of what the email can do right now is spread the loving support of this community a little wider, to people who don’t usually visit the forum.
So if you feel like saying something encouraging to your fellow learners - it doesn’t have to be a great speech or a TED talk or anything, just a few sincere words from your heart - tips or thoughts or how you’re feeling or what you’re looking forward to or anything positive - then post away in here, and Catrin will share your posts in the email…
I’d say… make your goals reachable. I’ll explain.
I like doing crafts, but usually I have so many ideas of what I want to make, I don’t know where to start and end up doing nothing. The lockdown and being on furlough means that, in theory, I have no excuse for being super productive and at last getting loads of projects done. BUT that’s actually putting myself under enormous pressure “I must make the most of this time!!!”. Sure, there will be people who can achieve loads - people who do anyway, lockdown or not! But I can be a champion procrastinator when I don’t have a deadline!
So I’ve decided that as long as I complete ONE project, that’s fine - if I end up doing more, bonus!, but I’m NOT going to feel guilty if I don’t have loads of completed projects by the end of this.
How does this relate to learning Welsh? Well I imagine that there will be more than a few learners who will feel that with all this home time that they will get lots of challenges done and nail learning the language at super speed. And I worry that some will feel that they’ve ‘failed’ if that is not the case, that they will feel guilty that they could have joined in more sessions on Slack WSP, that they could have finished that Welsh book they’ve been meaning to read, or that Welsh grammar would make sense by now . That if they haven’t been able to learn Welsh now, of all times, then they’ll never learn it.
So, my message - be it learning Welsh, crafting, or really just about anything else - is, “make your goals reachable”. These crazy times we’re going through are unprecedented, and they are bound to ‘mess with our heads’ to some degree or other and who knows how that will manifest itself in each individual. Now is not the time to feel guilty about ‘underachieving’, now is the time to take things a step at a time and set little goals that you CAN reach, that will make you feel that you HAVE used your time at home positively.
I hope that doesn’t sound too TED!
That’s a really good point! I’m very susceptible to putting pressure on myself to make use of any extra time, and I think we need to give ourselves permission not to.
My point follows on from what Siaron said really. Some people will find they have lots of extra time, however I’m finding that doing the online alternatives to my normal face-to-face meetings is more draining, even though the meetings are shorter. Changing my habits and having to be really organised to go shopping once a week instead of casually popping to the shops whenever I need something also feels more exhausting and stressful. There is the background stress generated by the news and, of course, worry about friends and family. So those who have more time, may feel they ought to be making huge progress with their Welsh, but may actually find they don’t seem to be able to focus. This is normal in the circumstances. Just do what you feel able to do.
Also disruption to routine can send study plans awry. For example If you’ve been used to using the time during your daily commute to do challenges, the habit of learning has been broken because you’re no longer travelling.
Of course many people will not have more free time. With kids off school for an extended period, precious alone time may have vanished. With everyone staying at home instead of being out at school or work, housework and cooking will have increased too.
Finally, if visiting Wales in the near future was part of your motivation to learn Welsh, then the lockdown will have put those plans on hold. Motivation may have taken a nosedive as a result. That’s certainly been my case with Spanish.
So basically, just do what you can. If doing more Welsh challenges works to take your mind off the current situation, then go for it, but don’t be hard on yourself if you are struggling with your learning.
Here in Italy first measures started on February 22nd and became stricter and stricter, until at some point we were only allowed to get out of the apartment to buy food and walk no further than 200 metres from home, and alone. And while being surrounded just by bad news.
The one thing that helped me more was stop thinking of all the things I wish I had, all the things I could have done if circumstances were different and all the things I was missing, and all the fears about the present and the future.
And focus on all the things I had and all the things I could do: a good health, a home, all the food I needed, a nice weather (most of the time), a phone and the Internet to chat with people I love all over the world, plenty of entertainment even without going out, no strict timetables, and even the chance to do enough exercise walking even if just around three blocks.
As for goals, I did manage to finish something - but I wasn’t able to be as focused as I would have liked, and to do all the things I thought I could do - like home maintenance and cleaning, study Welsh more, and about a thousand more things.
It may happen, cause it’s not so easy to keep a fresh mind…but oh well, better not add stress beating yourself up for all the things you didn’t do. That’s ok anyway! (and I would add see @siaronjames post for goals)
First things on top of my mind!
@Siaron, you feel my pain! My Welsh class has gone online, and I feel like crying when I open an e-mail with 30 practice sentences, knowing that if by luck I get the mutations in the right place, there will be irregular verb stems, completely mad plurals, things that clearly should be feminine but for no reason at all are masculine, and plenty of opportunities to commit capital offences like putting ‘mae’ after ‘bod’. The aim seems to be to prove that you will indeed never learn Welsh.
Which is why it’s such a relief to turn back to SSiW’s relaxed ‘Go for it’ approach, where mistakes are useful, and you’re encouraged to use your Welsh as early and often as possible. It was lovely to hear Ruth Jones on ‘Heno’ speaking with such bubbly confidence, and being completely intelligible, despite making mistakes.
So what I’d say to other learners is: Be as easy on yourself as you would be on a friend who was taking on the challenge of learning a new language. Have fun with it - if lessons are getting you down, or you’re still on chapter 1 of that book you had set yourself to read, how about lip synching, singing (it worked for Ruth Jones), quizzing or playing games? Try to find a little space in your week to practise speaking Welsh in a way that makes you happy and builds your confidence.
Wales will still be here when this is all over, and I’m looking forward to talking to lots of you face-to-face before too long!
Shwmai! Dw i’n teimlo falch ohono fi da hunan! I’m not sure if I spelt that correctly, but I’ve been learning Welsh with SSIW for about a year now and I’m feeling very proud of myself. I’ve just had my longest conversation in Welsh with a lady from Blaenau Ffestiniog - about 30 minutes!!! - and she said I did really well. I can’t believe it! Although I usually cope quite well with translating Aran’s and Catrin’s sentences, it’s taken me a lot of courage to have a proper conversation, but now there’s nothing holding me back! Hooray! If you are new to this, keep trying a little every day, and you’ll soon have it. Play it in the bath, or to/from work (when not in lock down), or in the back garden. And don’t worry if you make mistakes. If anything, with SSIW we are encouraged to make mistakes… and to drink lots of wine! Just enjoy it. Have fun! Mary x
I love everything everyone has written here. I guess my thought is similar to what’s already been said, but my advice is to be extra kind to yourself. The simplest things are really stressful and exhausting in this crazy world, and we just need to do what we can and not feel bad about the rest. I find that I just can’t focus on learning Welsh at the moment. I enjoy listening to music and watching S4C but I can’t bring myself to do any SSiW lessons, advanced content, reading or WSP. At first I felt guilty, since there’s nothing but time on my hands right now, but then I realized this isn’t the time to push or pressure myself. Reminding myself that I just need to be extra kind to myself (and others!) helps.
I’m always grateful for this community that keeps me connected to Wales from across the sea, but especially now. Thank you, Aran and Catrin, for your care and kindness. (My family is not so grateful for the jokes I tell them from the “light and fluffy” thread but I think they’re great )
This is me! I was in a great routine with at least 60 minutes of listening to challenges in the car Monday to Friday but that’s gone for the last two months. I’ve also been so busy working from home that I haven’t been able to join any of the 10am or 4pm hangouts, although I’ve been on a few 7pm ones during that time. So I’ve found the lack of usual routine a struggle. However I do manage to get a couple of challenges in a week whilst going for a run, although goodness knows what I must look like puffing and panting and mumbling Welsh as I go!
Dw i newydd wylio iaith a daith gyda Ruth. Dw wedi bod yn hapus iawn achos deallais hi lawer.
Dw i’n meddwl dod hi’n series wych!
Hwyl Gareth M
I’m still working until the end of the month when my contract ends. Tricky times ahead. The good thing about this lock down is that when I do my walk in the evening i get the chance to listen to two challenges. One on the way out and one on return. The thing I’m really struggling with is finding time to converse with the person who should be my regular speaking partner or to join in with some of Nia’s on-line events. I feel very guilty and feel I’m letting lots of people down. Pressures from work should ease next month so I’m making it my goal to do something about all that in June. I hope I don’t find in just putting it off.
O diar, @gareth-mitchell, please re-read the threads above and stop feeling guilty at once! We’re all doing the best we can through a difficult time.
Diolch yn fawr @BronwenLewis. Dw i ddim yn teimlo sorry for myself. Just beating myself up. I’m fine really though.
In terms of Welsh, I would say to trust the method and try to forget about anything you have been told in the past about languages being hard, or not being good at languages. This is not like learning a language at school! Also, the point that @aran makes frequently about mistakes is so true!
More generally, I would echo what others have said about being nice to yourself. Personally, I know I am less focused and productive than usual, and refuse to be made to feel bad about that. Also, I think that keeping up hobbies and a (potentially online) social life are incredibly important.
I know I am less engaged with SSIW than I have been because of work and home pressures, but the online community is fantastic and special, especially at a time like this!