I originally wanted to learn it because I have no contact with family and my siblings and I were never really taught any family history - and since as far as I know, our main ancestry is Welsh, I figured learning it would be the best way to actually feel some kind of connection to the past.
The reason I’ve stuck with it is that the language is just so beautiful and fun to learn, and also because the way that SSIW teaches the course just works so much better for me than other language learning things I’ve tried. Ever since I was a kid, I would spend pocket money on books to learn all kinds of languages - Latin, German, French, Russian. I listned to Pimsleur audiobooks, and someone gave me a copy of some old Rosetta Stone software. But something about SSIW is just so effective for my brain, keeps it fun and interesting.
Five months ago something must’ve happened. I can’t remember what but I started learning Welsh on Duolingo. I live two hundred miles from Wales. I’ve no Welsh-speaking relatives. I didn’t know anyone here who spoke Welsh. I haven’t learned a language since French at school yonks ago.
So I surprised myself to find, after a couple of weeks, I was enjoying the experience and, to be honest, a little bit interested to discover how much of this seemingly bizarre language I could learn.
I’d been totally seduced by the suave and subtle Duolingo challenge. It was an online game I could justify playing because it would boost my brain and delay senility.
I realised I’d become a Cymraeg addict. The app toyed with me, prompting ever more complex responses while promising ever greater virtual rewards.
But I began to feel unclean.
I could shuffle keywords around on screen, tap characters to form grammatically correct nonsense (Spoiler alert: “The dragon is eating Celyn’s parsnips”). I could get a quick hit by quickly hitting matching word pairs against the clock. Yet, afterwards I was left with a sense of, er, ennui.
There was something missing. I needed to hear, to speak, to converse. That would give me the rush I’d experienced months ago, I told myself.
I started watching S4C with English subtitles. I attended a handful of online conversation gatherings. I met a Welsh neighbour’s Anglo-Welsh friend and we exchanged polite greetings in unconfident Welsh but chatted in English. I booked an online course of spoken Welsh with a college but it was cancelled due to lack of interest.
I wanted to talk the talk but couldn’t find where to walk the walk.
That’s why I’m here. Lost in Lloegr, wanting Welsh. Is this the right place?
But if you think there may be other Welsh speakers/learners in your area, feel free to start a New Topic in the Meetups/Events section mentioning whereabouts you live and asking if others would like to meet up. Tag me @Deborah-SSi in the post and I’ll include it in the following week’s newsletter - here to opt in if you don’t receive it already.
I was hoping to buy a beautiful farmhouse in SW Wales (moving from England) and should be living there now with my young family - but the sale fell through Anyway I gad decided to learn Welsh since it would be our new home, and I’m carrying on, even though we are not going (yet!)
Hi Caitlin, I couldn’t work out how to post in the forum and that’s coming from an ex ICT teacher who can’t remember much of it anymore!
My husband is from South Wales and never learned to speak Welsh. We moved to Carmarthenshire in 2020 just before lockdown.
I took early retirement from Teaching and my aim was to volunteer in our village school. Our village school is Welsh speaking so for me it is impossible to help out there unless I can speak Welsh.
I have met a lovely group of ladies from our village who are fluent Welsh speakers and would love to join in with their Welsh conversation, though they speak English when I am present, I don’t believe they should have to!
I find learning new things very difficult since having a stroke a few years back but am going to try my best.
I fell in love with Wales while visiting from Southern California as a teenager. I stayed with a lovely host family in a small village near Cardiff while my parents were off doing something on their own.
Over tea in the afternoons the Grandad would tell me about Welsh History, mining, colonization, and everything he thought necessary to connect me to my heritage in some way.
When I went back home, it was the 90s and learning Welsh wasn’t an easy thing to do in the States.
Only in the last year did I discover an online program, which I threw myself into. Then I found a local Welsh Society in Minneapolis, where I live now, and they have a group that meets for classes and conversations. I started buying Children’s books to translate and listening to music in Welsh.
At a convention over the weekend I met a Welsh author, and after exhausting my pitiful well of conversational Welsh, he told me I’m not a new learner, but a new speaker, and encouraged me to download SSiW (which has been challenging and delightful!).
My joy in learning this language will be the same no matter how many words I do or do not have. Each one feels like a little gift. I don’t know how often I’ll get to use it. But it’s like having a piece of Wales with me all the time.
I’m curious as to who the author was! It’s very considerate of him to point you to SSiW!
Did you know there is an open Slack group called Welsh Speaking Practice where you can chat with others in Welsh online? There is a channel there specifically for those in north American time zones. If you’d like an invitation, send an email to email@example.com with WSP as the subject.
The author was Kristoffer Hughes. I’m reading three of his books at the moment. He writes about Welsh and Celtic mythology.
Thank you so much for another resource. I don’t know how much I have to practice with yet (maybe I’ll surprise myself) but even being around other people chatting is good exposure and gives me another opportunity for learning.
I almost didn’t. A friend messaged me to ask me if I had a copy of the Mabinogion (obviously) and when I asked why, she told me he was at a convention here in Minneapolis. She told me I should really get a day pass and come and meet him, but I was so excited, I thought I might be a bit much. I’m genuinely glad I went. He was so lovely and generous with his time. And now I have a new tool to improve my Welsh for when I come and visit again.
It has been a lifetime ambition for me to learn welsh - I am now in my 60’s. All my ancestors spoke welsh on both sides - from Caernarvon on my Nains side and Rhosllannerchrugog on my Taids. My Dad was Welsh speaking until he went into the RAF in 1940. He married a Yorkshire girl and went into the police in Yorkshire and didnt speak Welsh from then on. I was born in 1960 by which time it was too late to bring me up
bi lingual. I used to be really annoyed that he didnt but understood as I got older. We visited Wales often and I feel a great emotional and physical connection (far more than to Yorkshire). My cousins all speak/understand welsh. I discovered SSIW while doing the taster and entry level courses with Nant Gwrtheyrn. Finding that i could do Cymraeg Gogledd was a lifechanger as I always assumed everything would be south welsh based and it wouldnt connect me with my north welsh roots. Now at challenge 12 of Level 1 and loving it. Do it every day while walking the dog (at least once). The downside is that I live in Suffolk and fear i will get to a stage where i need to get the confidence to speak with others and wont have the opportunity.
One question - I really dont understand what 'slack ’ is or how to access it !
Slack is an online platform where you can have audio and/or video chats either one-to-one or in groups. We have two groups on there - the 6/6 group is for people following the 6 minutes a day course (in which case they get an email containing an invite to join the group) and we have the WSP (Welsh speaking practice) group which anyone can join - to get access to that, just email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for an invite.
My mother left the Cynon Valley for the Midlands in the late 1950’s (not her choice) and married an Englishman (definitely her choice!) and I came along shortly afterwards. I’ve alays considered my Welwh heritage as central to my lif and, now that I’m retired, I have the time to spend learning the language skills that my mother was denied as a child.