Why Welsh? Why SSiW? What's your story?

I can imagine the conversation (in Welsh, obviously) amongst local residents:
“Now, wait, does 5 cause Milltir to treiglo? And what about 4?”
“Dont ask me, I was never any good at grammar. Mrs Jones used to tear her hair out.”
“What are we going to do, then?”
“I think I have a plan…”


Hi everyone. I was born and raised in Saundersfoot. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Little England and all that. AND my parents were English. But I have always regarded Wales as home and regard myself as Welsh. I’ve lived in England for most of my life (almost always close to the border and a very frequent returner) and I hope, very soon, to move back to Cymru, although it will be just across the border near Chepstow. Sadly (for now) I cannot persuade my English other half to move with me back to Pembrokeshire, which I regard as the most beautiful place on Earth when it’s not raining!


Its not too late @jason-art . Especially as you are clearly a proficient German speaker. I started with SSin Welsh two and a half years before my 70th. I now attend a welsh chat group most weeks, but there are lots of opportunity to chat online, as SSin Welshes from Canada, America and Europe will confirm.


Thank you, Christine, for your kind reply and encouraging words. I neglected to mention that I am very hard of hearing. Holding conversations with anyone, in any language, in public spaces is getting increasingly difficult. Very frustrating. But I still set myself Welsh homework to do every day and feel I am making pretty good progress. Even if the end result will be having to hold conversations with myself! Well done to you on your own language-learning journey. Best wishes. Cofion cynnes. Jason


I was born and brought up in Liverpool. Encouraged by a Welsh friend, my parents bought a condemned quarry workers cottage in Llanberis in 1966 and we would visit most weekends and holidays, firstly whilst we renovated it and then for breaks. I had many Welsh friends, starting with the girl a couple of doors down that I played with as a child. (I remember wearing the backside out of my jeans on a slate “slide” we found on the hill behind our gardens). Moving on eventually to teenagers where we used to spend hours hanging out in Wendy’s cafe or travelling across the border into Denbighshire on a Sunday night to get to the nearest open pub!

All my friends spoke only Welsh until they went to school at 5 when it was beaten out of them - quite literally in some cases, so although they spoke Welsh to each other, they very kindly spoke English for me and other than some rude phrases and swear words they didn’t teach me any Welsh.

All my family gradually moved to North Wales and my nieces speak Welsh, and one even teaches in Wales. However, I live in deepest Hampshire where my neighbours are completely baffled by my desire to learn Welsh, being of the nature and generation that see Welsh as an obscure and dying language of a country that would be nice to visit if it weren’t for the inhabitants!

I knew my Grandmother was Welsh (although she died 30 years before I was born). Having done my Ancestry DNA lately I find unsurprisingly that I am almost entirely half Welsh, half Irish. The language just feels very familiar and I almost feel I should be able to switch into speaking Welsh - whilst at the same time being on the verge of telling myself I have no facility for learning languages and I will never get anywhere. I have to keep putting that voice of doubt into a metaphorical box and shutting the lid. I love the way SSIW teaches with such positive and encouraging phrases. It really helps inspire me to keep going.

My only worry is that I will be too old to use my learning (and I am only at the very start of my journey) and that I won’t have the chance to immerse myself in the language, although I am also terrified of speaking to anyone else at this stage. So I am doing it on the basis of - well why not? Just enjoy the challenge for itself and take one day at a time.


why Welsh. I come from Liverpool born and bred. My dads mum family were Welsh and come from Betws-y-coed area and I may still have family there. Coming from Liverpool we get a lot if “Irish” stuff and a lot of “Scottish” stuff yet even though there was a large Welsh speaking community and quite a few Welsh speaking churches the Welsh community was not a high profile. But as I have recently discovered to my joy, before the Irish there were the Scots and before the Scots there were the Welsh and yma o hyd. I want to support my the Welsh speaking community and be part of that and to do that i need to learn Welsh, it will help on regular trips into Mon and surrounding areas as well. Started with duo-lingo and have lots of words but this site is better for putting them together . It will be a long journey but i will enjoy every minute of it


Shwmae Catrin,
Thank you for the invitation. I am not used to using chat rooms so this is a new venture for me.
Two things have prompted me to learn welsh… after a very busy working life + family life, I have recently retired and feel that I now have more time to try and learn welsh. My granddaughter (aged 3) has just started welsh medium nursery and I really want to be speak some welsh with her as she learns the language over the years. Like lots of people, I tried duolingo which introduced me to lots of welsh vocabularly, but really I was left with little clue of how to say the words. SSi appeals to me because its about speaking welsh, first and foremost. I’m very much a beginner and find it takes time for the welsh words to register, because the pronunciation is so different to English. But I can see repetition is the only way to go. I’m excited to be on this journey.



Thank you all so very much for all your latest contributions to this thread! I get so much pleasure from reading your stories and appreciate every one! Diolch! :smiley:


Why Welsh?
Why not!? Years ago I was fascinated by the big fat sign HEDDLU on the building we saw whenever I had to drive into Newport as well as the bilingual road signs etc. So, when I detected signs of a mushy brain, I looked for a mental challenge. What better way to find one than on SSiW, the site a lovely linguist recommended. I started at the beginning of September and so far haven’t missed a day.

Apart from my mother tongue I’ve never learnt anything phonetically requiring immediate production. This is so alien! I get embarrassed by making a mistake when I’m alone and here I’m being asked to produce sentences and speak aloud very nearly from the very beginning. Help! I can’t possibly do that, anxiety is rocketing, despondency is lurking (I do know it sounds a tad over the top.)
But then there comes Aran with his tips and wonderfully calming voice, offering a restful island in the choppy waves of brain soup! (I had withdrawal symptoms when these nuggets of reassurance and encouragement no longer came up on AutoMagic. Could we please have some more, please?

All my foreign languages were learnt strictly through textbooks and focus on grammar, although this didn’t work well for me at school. I never built up a connection to English, French or Latin. This changed after school when I was in charge of my own learning. My goal has always been to be able to read novels in the original. Ingrained expectation of perfectionism coupled with an abject fear of failure made speaking a challenge I wasn’t prepared to take. When I married a Brit, I had to change, most reluctantly, because his German was outstanding.
Now I seem to have gone mad: I have no idea whether the following is correct and I don’t care:
Dwi mwynhau siarad yn’r Gymraeg rwan.
Dwi Sanne, hen dynas, 78 blwydd oed, sydd dod o’r Almaen a sydd isio dysgu Cymraeg!


That brought tears to my eyes! How wonderful! :heart_eyes:

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I come from Caerphilly, but I now live in Pontypridd. Dw i’n dod o Caerfilli, ond dw i’n byw yn Bontypridd.

Although Welsh is a part of the national curriculum up until GCSE level, it never really clicked with me. I was able to scrape by with a B in Welsh at GCSE, but that was more due to the assessment structure allowing me to write something and remember it parrot-fashion!

Fast forward a decade, having had a brief stay in Leicester for university, I’m now back in Cymru where I belong. I felt a bit guilty for not knowing Welsh, so as a start I decided to just spend a couple of minutes a day on the app-that-must-not-be-named so that I was doing something. I’ve been doing that for just over a year now.

But something about my recent move to Ponty has lit a fire under me, and now I’m now taking my Welsh learning much more seriously and enjoying it much more so as a result. Picking up SSiW is my latest step. A few nights ago I even went to Clwb y Bont and spoke to some people fluent in the language. They were very friendly and encouraging and it made me want to learn all the more.

Right now I’m finding two things particularly challenging. Number 1 is mutations - the bane of my Welsh learning experience at school and continuing to haunt me now. The second is the differences in dialects. I’m on the South Welsh course, and how SSiW pronounces things like Sut and Ma eisiau i fi is different from how I learnt at school or that other app. I’ve also only seem Dw i’n whilst at school we used Rydw i’n.

Currently, I am pausing after most of the english sentences (my short term memory is sbwriel) so my brain has time to catch up and translate. The 30 minute lessons take me an hour! But it is time well spent.

Falch i gwrdd a chi! (Pleased to meet you!)


You’re going to be well ahead of the game by the time the National Eisteddfod comes to Ponty next year! And you can’t go wrong with Clwb y Bont - the people there are very supportive and friendly :slight_smile:

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Diolch to all of you for your recent contributions - they are greatly appreciated!

We are having so much fun reading through them all and getting to know this community a little better.

Just so that you don’t have to scroll back up to the top of this thread, I thought I’d include a little reminder here of what this is all about and why we are asking you to share:

SSi’s new website has a Learner’s Stories page and we’d like to fill it with stories of your learning journeys -


So If you are currently learning Welsh with SaySomethinginWelsh, please tell us why are you learning Welsh, what bought you to SSiW and how is your learning journey going?


Diolch to you all! :blush:


At the age of four and a half, I had the incredibly good fortune to be adopted by a couple from Anglesey, where I went on to spend most of my childhood and adolescence in their lovely home, although I was, unfortunately as it turned out, sent away to school in England.

Those times will never be forgotten. The stunning views across Afon Menai to the Carneddau range and, beyond, to Yr Wyddfa, and sweeping all the way round to the Great Orme; the seemingly long road journey to Amlwch to visit Nain; the days spent swimming off the pebble beach in the shadow of Trywn Du lighthouse (before the bell was silenced!!) and the occasional trip across to the mainland.

Memories of Bangor station in the age of steam trains linger on in the back of my mind, as I recall tearful farewells upon heading off to school or joyful reunions when stepping down off the Emerald Isle Express after the return journey at the end of term.

Then there was the wonderful little railway station in Amlwch, where the young anorak paid faithful homage to the little steam locomotives that brought the short trains from Bangor/Gaerwen and where delicious homemade scones were enjoyed, with a paned, at The Copper Kettle cafe, after the train had set off puffing its way back to Gaerwen or Bangor.

As for Nain, the formidable family matriarch, what an impression that astonishing lady made. Her kindness knew no bounds, but she was not a lady to be taken lightly. She was truly lovely and will always feature strongly in my recollections. I am sure that none of the ladies present during lengthy, sometimes quite heated, conversations in Cymraeg realised that I did pick up a few words, even then, although it was to be a few years later before my love of languages began to flourish.

One of the most striking memories I have of those days, strangely enough, was my response as a child to national anthems. I used to listen, standing when it was appropriate, to ‘God save the Queen’, even joined in some times, but the reaction was nothing like my response to ‘Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’ from the very first time I heard it. It had passion and rhythm and it was deeply moving to hear those words sung with such fervour.

As a non-Welsh speaking pupil at school in Anglesey after education in England had lost its gloss, life could be quite difficult in a very Cymraeg-speaking community. Despite the fact that my mother could have talked anyone there under the table in fluent Amlwch Cymraeg, I was considered to be one of the ‘Saes’ and this brought its own problems in those troubled times.

Now that I have learned more of the history of Wales, my thinking about those times has undergone something of a U-turn and I can see far more clearly now why attitudes were as they were and why there was such strong support for Plaid Cymru.

In the past five years, as I have sought to find out something about my genetic roots, I discovered that 51% of my genetic makeup is ‘Celt’. This confirmed a suspicion that I had been harbouring for quite a while and it was partly this that shook me out of my half-hearted attempts at learning Cymraeg (usually just before the annual visit to a wonderful guest house near Llanerchymedd). Whilst ‘Celt’ may point to Welsh, Irish, Scottish, even Cornish/Breton ancestry, it was evidence of where I belong and it explains why I always feel ‘gartref’ as soon as I pass the sign at Hawarden that reads ‘Croeso i Gymru’.

That has been a significant finding and has led to my ultimately arriving at SSiW, after hearing of the results that some learners had achieved. I am always extremely hesitant about showing myself up, but confidence is growing and SSiW has been given glowing reports as a medium for overcoming lack of confidence. I am optimistic!


Oh wow, Nick!

Thank you so much for sharing your story, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. What a journey you’ve been on and it’s so beautifully told. Diolch! :slight_smile:

Croeso, Catrine. Dw i’n hapus iawn am fod yma rŵan.

Sorry I didn’t see this before, @MathiasDonoso - how are you doing now, following the excellent advice Sara and Siaron gave you?

If you’d like a practice session (or perhaps an intercambio!) I’d probably be able to help work out how you could get through to better levels of understanding. Drop me a DM if you’d like :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi Aran, I’m doing very well thanks. Just went for a walk around Llanberis and did 4 SSIW lessons back to back :muscle:

Thanks to @siaronjames and @sara-peacock-1 for their feedback and help.

So bit of an update since august :slight_smile:

  • now closing to the 365 day strike on duolinguo
  • 1h SSIW/day often while hiking or doing fitness, now on level 2 course 10
  • started a dysgucymraeg mynediad 2 class end of August (I read somewhere that SSiW was available for free if you were a dysgu cymraeg student is that right?)
  • becoming a Rwnd a Rwnd follower
  • bought a few books, doing ok with Sylfaen level but not ready for canolrad yet.

So progress is steady and it’s going somewhere. As with other things I like, I’m not the best nor the brightest nor the fastest but I make up for that by being bloody pig headed :smirk_cat: So I’ll become a fluent Welsh speaker and that’s it :wales:


That sounds as though you’re doing superbly - I wouldn’t expect many people to be finding it easy to understand locals in Caernarfon at this point in the journey!

Duo, for all its strengths, isn’t focused on listening work - have you been doing our listening exercises? If you keep them up, and move onto the advanced listening by the time you’re at the end of Level 3, and get yourself into at least an hour a week of one-on-one conversations, you’ll find it will all come together :slightly_smiling_face:

I’ve lived in the South Wales Valleys all my life, but struggled to learn Welsh in school. I know the basics (counting, colours, and a couple of other things), but due to being neurodivergent, I struggled in school and got moved between schools a lot and ended up in a SEN school that didn’t actually teach Welsh (although the art teacher did do what were listed as Welsh lessons, but it was mostly telling Welsh folk tales (in English) and getting us to draw an element of the story). I did at one school learn to say Llanfarpwllgwyngychgogerychwyrndrobyllllantysiliogogogoch (I may have spelt that wrong). I heard of SSiW in 2010 after having a free CD from someone at the SSiW stall at the 2010 Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale, during the time I was attending the special school, but I’m learning now because I’d like to encourage more learning and use of Welsh at my workplace, and it was available through the trade union I recently became a rep for. I’m just starting week 3 of the 6 month course this week.