Why did you decide to try SSiW?

As part of our continuing attempts to spread the word further, we’re trying to understand what encourages people to give SSiW a go when they first find it…

If you can think back to when you first discovered SSiW (for me, it was seven years ago, sitting on a wickerwork sofa with Catrin…;-)), can you remember what the most important thing was that made you want to give it a try?

Diolch - the more detail you can give, the clearer picture we’ll get of how we can help more people find out about it… :sunny:

@Deborah-SSi - next week, if we’re too late for this week?! :star: :star2:


Honest answer - the person I’m seeing is a first language welsh speaker. I had learnt Welsh for three years in secondary school then made a half hearted attempt at speaking it twenty five years ago without any success. In work a few months ago a colleague who was brought up in North Wales asked me “Siarad cymraeg?” and embarrasingly I said no. Then after going on holiday to Norway my son declared he was going to learn Norwegian - so I thought if he can then I can learn Welsh.


That’s really useful insight into the emotions - diolch, Peter! Can you remember what in particular made you try SSiW, rather than going a different route? :sunny: :star2:

That’s easy - I was looking around the internet at free resources - most were frankly rubbish - so I thought I could try a class or even a residential course - I stumbled across SSIW and thought I’d give it a go - it was the first time I’d tried a course where I felt I was succeeding almost from day one.


So - were you trying all the free resources that you found, and you still just had enough rubbish-resistance to give SSiw a go as well, or did anything seem different about SSiW before you even started listening? :sunny:

This stuff is hugely, hugely helpful for us, so please forgive all the extra questions! :star: :star2:

1 Like

From memory I think I read something somewhere about SSIW - and I did a little bit of research on the method you use - forgive me but I cannot remember what it is called. I listened to the lessons and I found them really good.

I have a genuine fear of speaking languages - although amazingly I got asked a question in french at the airport a couple of days ago - and had no fear of replying in french - something to do with the confidence SSIW has given me I think.

Hey, I bumped into SSi back in January. I also had been looking around for free online resources for some time but these things stood out for me:

  • it caters to adults: a lot of online resources for beginners online are meant for kids or I find them quite infantile
  • it focuses mainly on listening and speaking; I actually rely a lot on written material but I prefer to use books for reference. And although at first I found half an hour quite tough to follow I’m finding it the perfect amount of time to actually practice speaking
  • it’s not complicated to use in the sense that you only basically listen to the track, you don’t need to write or click to play slideshows, video, etc, which means that I can do other things while I study.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY for me anyway it didn’t start from the usual topics beginner courses usually start from (greetings, colours, numbers etc…) which meant that I was actually learning something new. I have attempted to study Welsh several times and I always have to start from the usual greetings, etc. and I just get bored…

Although I haven’t kept at it as regularly as I would have liked, I keep coming back to it and I can see myself improving.


That’s really interesting, Peter - thank you! Diolch! The method is one I’ve developed - it’s got points in common with a number of other approaches out there, but also some stuff that I’ve not seen being done anywhere else yet - if you happen to remember what sort of stuff you read about the method (and any particular names you ended up looking at) it’d be really interesting to see the kind of connections it triggered for you… but this has been very helpful indeed, so diolch yn fawr iawn!

And great to hear that about your French - I think there may even be neurological functions that get strengthened by speaking in a non-native language, and roll over into all other non-native languages - I’ve definitely had experiences like that myself… :sunny:


Brilliant - diolch, Alice, some really interesting stuff in there - I can already tell this is going to help us a huge amount in terms of knowing what to highlight when we’re trying to spread the word - diolch yn fawr iawn! :star: :star2:

There was a debate somewhere online between you and someone who was rubbishing your work. He was going on about the fact that you had no formal qualifications or something like that - I found his criticism of you to be very harsh and thought that if the technique had worked for others it could work for me.

Its on your wordpress blog I think

1 Like

I had attempted to learn Welsh a few times, many years (or even decades) ago, but it was mostly through books and other written materials. The only audio I had then were the “Catchphrase” broadcasts, which in those pre-internet days I could only get on MW radio here in England. Reception wasn’t great and the times of the broadcasts wasn’t very convenient, so although it was good, I wasn’t able to listen to it consistently enough. And although there were repeats, there was no equivalent of “iPlayer” to re-listen when you felt like it.

Fast-forward a few decades: I cannot now remember what was the impulse to try again to learn Welsh, but anyway, I just started googling. The first thing I found that looked quite interesting was actually another BBC production, this time web-based, and there was even both southern and nothern versions (I chose northern). It was actually quite good (if a little on the “happy clappy” side - perhaps aimed at a slightly younger audience than me…), but something made me keep looking…
…and the next thing I found was SSiW.

What was it about SSiW that hooked me? I think the main thing was that it de-mystified the whole process. Whenever I had attempted to look at Welsh grammar in the past (and of course, in traditional courses, grammar is usually the first thing they throw at you), I just ended up completely baffled.

SSiW cleverly managed to get round all of that. There is no doubt a bit of “grammar” lurking somewhere deep within SSiW, but it’s simply something you don’t have to worry about. If, once you are well advanced, you feel the urge to peek into a grammar book, all well and good, but it’s not essential, or even necessary.

It’s the nearest thing to learning to speak as a child that I can imagine.

I had, by the time I discovered SSiW, already done the Michel Thomas courses in two other languages, and I liked them. It seemed to me that SSiW had all the positive features of the Michel Thomas course, but then it went a lot further and did it a lot better.

Add to that the forum and the chance to interact with the course creators and other learners, and the possibilities of “Bootcamps”…well, it’s the best thing since sliced bara brith!


Found it


Hi Aran,
These are the main the reasons I chose SSiW (in order of importance) :

• Extensive free materials (this got my attention).
• Read the FAQ and was intrigued with the methodology. In fact, I was already sold on input-based learning (i.e. native input, no grammar).
• Excellent quality of learning materials, including friendly, clear and encouraging presentation. Before Lesson 1 was half-over, I decided to join.
• Subscription levels reasonably priced / very good packages
• Site team responsive and friendly (thanks, guys!)
• Friendly learner’s forum
• Excellent resources : events news, articles, Bootcamp and plans for future projects
• Site easy to navigate.

Why I’m staying-- all of the above reasons + the SSiW method works!


Ah, right - that sounds like our long term ‘fan’ Mr Gunn - I’m rather delighted that his comments helped inspire you to give it a shot!.. :star: :star2: :sunny:

Brilliant, Mike - diolch yn fawr iawn! Did that de-mystification start before you listened to Lesson 1, or was there something else that made you want to try it out?

That’s hugely helpful, Pwyll, diolch yn fawr iawn! Very interesting that our slightly haphazard FAQs helped (but great to have confirmation that the big bundle of free stuff is a useful driver - we sometimes worry that it makes us look as though we must be low value)… :sunny: :star2:

I came across SSIW eventually via google, but it took several months before I stumbled across the site. I had a daughter starting in Meithrin and for some reason felt that I would be able to resurrect some historic Welsh locked away in my distant memory. How wrong that idea was - I found that I had over time completely mashed up the meaning of lots of Welsh words and phrases and couldn’t string anything more meaningful together than the odd engrained questions or commands, things like beth ti moyn, eiste lawr, ga i disgled o de or dere ma.

I started thinking of doing classes, but there were 101 reasons why they wouldn’t work. the first was the actual times of the classes - I looked in Cardiff, Swansea and Neath-Port Talbot to try to find the most convenient times, but nothing suited my work and commute timescales - also I wanted to keep my evenings and weekend free.

Other problems with welsh for adults classes, were cost, duration and which level to go for - I didn’t want to start from scratch and learn the colours, days of the week and the alphabet etc, but I knew that most of the stuff I couldn’t recall was really basic conversational stuff and everyday vocabulary, that would make me fall flat in the higher levels. The adult course classes, tend to link you to the old BBC catchphrase level test, which I did and came out Rhugl, where it says proceed to reading and listening to BBC Cymru. I knew I wasn’t up to that and it wasn’t going to help me say anything. I wanted to relearn everything and reaquire some Welsh skills. I wanted to cover everything, but at a much quicker pace than via normal classes, because I was hoping it would fall back into place once I came across things etc.

There wasn’t an option on line to do that - all the options are so structured - beginner courses, to intermediate and advanced and you are meant to progress theorugh them - not what I needed or wanted.

I kept surfing and i downloaded lots of useless resources and I started watching S4C a lot and began picking stuff up. Eventually I think I was searching for things to do with dialects and colloquial Welsh - because I was listening to local people/parents and people on Radio Cymru and on the TV and I realised there was a type of Welsh I wanted to rediscover, although I wasn’t sure what it was.

Once I did find SSIW and it was by stumbling across the right search term on google one day, then I downloaded a few of the free lessons and read your notes, which really spoke volumes and I instantly thought that this could be what I am looking for. After a few lessons I wondered why I hadn’t ever been taught languages like that before - it seemed like such a natural way to do things and the language on the southern course was exactly what I was looking for, but never knew it.

I rattled through the three old courses in a few months - felt quite confident, but still to this day hardly ever try to speak to anyone - and if I do it is very basic simple things that I would have used or been exposed to as a five year old. You have created the routes to overcome that usage barrier, with Bootcamps and Skype groups etc, but I doubt I will ever do a Bootcamp unfortunately and I have never Skyped, so my next challenge is stumbling across a revolutionary fix for that one. A psychologist or a hypnotherapist maybe!. Once you start talking to people in English, it is really hard to switch to using Welsh - it just feels a little bit contrived and awkward.


P’nawn da. I’ve just signed up to the message board after seeing you ask this question on Facebook and I think it’s important to give feedback on things, good or bad.

I became curious about Welsh due to my girlfriend who is Welsh and a second language speaker. However, her nephews are being brought up as first language speakers so I thought I should make an effort to communicate with them in their language.

Like many, I have tried various different avenues with varying degrees of success. I was enjoying a podcast but the back catalogue was taken down just as I got going. I made some progress with Duolingo, but beyond the basics it became quite confusing and hard to take in (though I’d still recommend it as an additional resource).

On to yourselves then. I found you after reading about Isy Suttie learning the language. Your big selling point for me was your North or South option which my previous resources didn’t offer (Duolingo included both without saying which was which!). I was always being told off by my girlfriend for using South phrases! Your “speaking only” approach appealed as well, as it was something new compared to what I’d already tried. I feel like I have made considerable progress since using your app and look forward to continuing that.




It’s hard to remember precisely why / where / when now. The early lessons must have clinched it, but I was definitely drawn in before hearing them, by whatever I read on the site at that time…probably the FAQ and description of the methodology, as Pwyll says, and I think there were several articles separate from the FAQs on the website in its then form. It’s hard to remember now exactly, but it seems like it would have been towards the end of 2012. At this time, you could already download the lessons from the (then) main site - I think the first generation of SSiWers downloaded them from the old-old forum - that was before my time, although I could see it being talked about in old forum postings. It’s possible that I also read some of the forum before I got started, although I can’t be sure now. The forum was also definitely an added attraction whenever I discovered it.

I can’t deny that the “free stuff” and then the reasonable subscription were also attractions, but it was definitely more than that. I suppose the fact that it wasn’t expensive did mean that it was almost risk-free to try.

1 Like

Diolch o galon, Toffidil - difyr iawn! :sunny: :star2:

It is, absolutely - but with the stage you’re at, I’d recommend two things very strongly - one, go through what we have of the Levels available for the southern course - they’ll be a good workout for you, and add some extra stuff - and then the real key…

Find someone who can talk Welsh, even if you’re used to talking English with them, and commit to a two hour conversation where neither of you will use any English.

You’ll find it transformational, I promise. Do tell us how it goes! :sunny:

Sean, thank you so much - hugely appreciated! - and a very warm welcome to the forum… :sunny: :star2:

Really interesting input - I’ll have to tweet our thanks to Isy Suttie… :sunny:

Difyr iawn - diolch yn fawr, Mike - really appreciate the extra detail :star: :star2:

@aran - I feel like I could write a very long post about this, which would probably bore everyone, so I’ll try to stick to the salient points. The first time I ever came to Wales (1994 for all of two days but only one night) I was captivated by both the country and the language. It was sometime after that that I discovered that I had deep Welsh roots (but from waaay back), which only strengthened my desire to learn the language (and also everything else I could about Wales). I tried various methods for the language, and finally joined Côr Cymry Gogledd America (the North American Welsh Choir) in the hopes of learning that way. That helped, but in the process I became active on and eventually a moderator on “Forum Wales” which was devoted to talking about all things Welsh. Shortly after you guys started SSiW seven years ago, people on FW started mentioning this great new course that was available free. At first I thought what you feared - can it be that good if it is free? But people kept mentioning it and I finally went and tried it and was hooked from the first lesson of Course 1, because I could actually make sentences that meant something from the outset.

I may be somewhat desultory about my learning, but dw i’n dal siarad Cymraeg tipyn bach! And Lynn and I still chat with each other about once a week.

1 Like

That’s hugely interesting - diolch o galon, Sionned - so word-of-mouth getting through the free=bad conundrum - some important ideas in there, diolch yn fawr :sunny:

1 Like