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

As one of the people giving out CDs on that stand at the Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale, I’m thrilled to hear it gave a boost to your Welsh and eventually brought you here :heart_eyes:

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There are a lot of reasons I’m here. I’m your typical American of Northern European descent, long parted from any of my ancestors and any languages that they spoke and I do feel the poorer for it. I’ve never managed to successfully learn more than a few words of any of them mainly because I have no one to talk to. I went to Ireland a decade ago and ended up in Wales, at an experiential camp run by the Anglesey Druid Order. Several things came out of subsequent trips back there, including a very magical day spent on Anglesey with a native Welsh speaker. He kept on running into his community, as you do, and the conversations were mainly in Welsh. I couldn’t of course understand a word, but still felt welcome and included–and the language was pure music to me.

I’m now taking the order’s course, and the phrases and poems of the language in the course that we’re learning have really gotten under my skin. I want to understand them with my heart as well as my head. I heard about SSiW from them, and decided to give it a try. This course is fantastic! It is hard work, but as soon as I let it wash over me, like the language did that day on Anglesey, and had the freedom to just say what I was asked to say, no matter how badly I did it at first, it amazed me how quickly it began to stick in my head–and my mouth! I am a traditional singer, and this course is very similar to the way I began learning songs off recordings. You sing along and not only the lyrics stick in your head, all the tunes, ornamentation, and cadence come with it. As I was once told, languages are not spoken, they are sung.

This course is so convenient too. I always have my phone, after all, and I walk a lot. People are always walking as they talk to the air, and really, what’s the difference between taking a call or taking a challenge? My commute has become my classroom, and I have some hope that this time I’ll actually succeed in learning to speak. The words I know are coming into my mind even as I type. My goal is, next time I’m in Anglesey, I may not yet have the words down yet, but I will at least be able to follow the conversation and even have enough confidence someday to join in!

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I am an American without any familial connection to Wales whatsoever, but I’ve always found Welsh a very interesting language in both writing and speaking, as well as always fostering a deep admiration for Wales and her people for continuing to keep their language and culture alive under the pressure of English colonialism. I tried learning it on the app that shall not be named in 2019 but gave up after a few days because I felt I was not learning well with the app and also had nobody to talk to in Welsh. Cut to 2023, I’m dating a Welshman fluent in the language. Hearing him talk in Welsh lit the fire under me again and so I went looking for resources to learn, spurred on by his enthusiasm for my own enthusiasm for his country and culture. On Google, I found SSiW and subscribed instantly when I heard how well-regarded it was amongst those who have used it.

My key reason for sticking with SSiW is its great approach to teaching Welsh. Whereas the app that shall not be named has a gamified approach that penalizes any mistakes you make, SSiW acknowledges that mistakes can and will happen, and in fact encourages you to make them so you will understand how to correct them in the future. As someone who has had a lifelong desire to be perfect, this method really helps me relax and understand I’m not going to be perfect at everything I say in Welsh on my first try, nor should I be. Specifically, I became convinced that my inability to roll my “R” would be an insurmountable, front-and-center speech impediment in learning languages, but seeing the bit in the AutoMagic ad where it says even some first-language speakers can’t do it convinced me to take a breath and jump into learning Welsh. I am now on Level 1, Challenge 5 and absolutely loving every single minute of it even if my brain feels like it’s been dunked in acid by the end of a challenge on my first go-around.

Also, Aran’s voice is a big draw for me. He has one of those voices where he could read the entire Wikipedia article for turnips and I would be captivated the whole time. Combined with the praise given for completing challenges, I truly feel like I’m making giant steps in my learning, a feeling which my partner has corroborated by being extremely shocked by how much I can say after just four challenges. Diolch yn fawr, Aran, Catrin, and the rest of the SSiW team for giving me and many others the confidence and opportunity to learn this beautiful language. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I’m originally from Newport, Mon. (Casnewydd) although I’ve actually lived in Plymouth for many years. As some of you will know, the south east corner of Wales is predominantly English speaking and we weren’t taught Welsh at school yet I always fancied learning at least something. This is my 2024 resolution. To learn some of my own language.

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As an American in a community with a lot of pride in it’s Welsh history, I have been around the language for all of my eighteen years:) My mamgu is from Ceredigion, and it has always been very important for that side of the family to preserve our ties to the language and culture of Cymru.
That being said, I have had only the very most basic Cymraeg in my vocabulary for most of my life, and in the last couple of years I have decided to do what I can to remedy that. I love the language, and I’ve felt a greater connection to that side of my family as I have become more knowledgeable about the language and culture of our traditional home. My short term goal is to use more Welsh with those who understand it on this side of the pond, and then again when I go to visit my relatives back in Wales. In the long term, I would love to pass on the language to future generations one day, as it is a beautiful part of our family’s history. Diolch yn fawr iawn i SSiW!

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Listening to a “Songs of Praise” on BBC when I was about 10 ( in Stockport); Mother said the Welsh were the best singers. !0 years later at UCNW, I had go at learning Welsh but didn’t get far. I did go to some Welsh services and union sing songs and so learnt some pronunciation.50 years later my wife( half Welsh) and I moved to the Conwy Valley and began lessons with Popeth Cymraeg, then with WLPAN series and then found out about SSiW which I’m still with. I did some work experience - listening to children read in Welsh and in English in Eglwysbach Primary School for three years, before Covid struck and then we returned to Devon. I value the SSi method and am now using Say Something in Cornish because the method is so good.

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Jan dw i. Dw i bwy yn Lancaster. Dw i eisiau dysgu siarad Cymraeg.
I spend a lot of my time in North Wales. I’m retired and recently had to have a reverse shoulder replacement after an accident and, looking for something new to do, I decided to learn Welsh. I’m using duolingo for vocabulary and also the Dysgu Cymraeg site and I am going to a Welsh immersion course at Nant Gwytheyrn in June. I was a teacher.

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Well, learning languages has been something of a lifelong hobby of mine. I actually picked ul a copy if Teach Yourself Welsh when I left school 60 years ago, but there was no audio available and no Welsh speakers in my town, so I didn’t get very far. But now, with a Welsh speaking sister in Caerleon, and the internet, I have no excuse. Apart from my general interest in language, and my family connections, I want to learn Welsh for historical reasons, it being directly descended from the earliest British language of which we have knowledge. And I met my first Welsh speaker down here on the beach on Bruny Island yesterday, a Punjabi man from Swansea (Wales, not Tasmania!). I think that might be a unique experience!

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I have to confess - I had to Google where Bruny Island is before I realised what a special experience that was!

Quite! Elephant seals are a more regular occurence here than Welsh speaking Punjabis … and Elephant seals are rare!

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I am a Pagan Druid studying Welsh Druidry, and want to be able to say prayers to the Gods and Spirits of Wales in Welsh.

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There’s a thing about growing up white in America. The philosophy of American whiteness, in addition to causing a great many more overt problems, sort of flattens culture, removes all modifiers of identity down to one simple word: “white.” And if you’re pale enough, you’re white, and that’s all that need be said. So for as long as I’ve had the ability to understand the concept of a “home culture” I felt… generic. A mutt, coming from no particular place, and belonging to no particular breed. Rootless. Out of necessity, convenience, or lack of care, my family lost every aspect of their root culture(s) over the generations, leaving me feeling all my life as if the only legacy to which I had any right to call myself an heir… was whiteness: a legacy of cruelty and colonialism.

And that kinda just… sucks.

I was speaking to my great grandfather, here at the end of his life. He can no longer remember who I am, nor indeed most things, and frequently mistakes me for his late sister when he is able to speak rationally at all, but sometimes he’ll tell long stories about his youth. That’s how I first learned that my family actually comes out of Wales, long ago. Ever since hearing that, I haven’t been able to let it go. Wales used to seem almost fictional, in my mind, something I’d read about in old fairy tale books as the place of origin for robin hood style legends and magical creatures. Of course, Wales is very real, whether or not there are any fairies there, and with a more rich and fascinating history than I might have dreamed. No education is ever complete.

So I’m looking for somewhere to look back to, even if only a little. I thought, well, here’s a place to start, something and someplace worth knowing, and being proud of. Initial things first, then: to seek out and understand, to listen, and to speak. I want to learn to speak to my past, and if I’m going to, it ought to be in the proper tongue. When the first phrase Say Something in Welsh taught me was “Dwi isio dysgu siarad Cymraeg,” I honestly had to stop and try again the next day, I was so overwhelmed by the emotion.

I suppose that means I’m on the right road. I hope I’ll meet you there.

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This has made my day. Thank you for sharing.

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I live in Gloucestershire and we can pick up BBC Radio Cymru easily. In May 2023 I was trying to find Radio 4 on my bathroom radio and happened upon Radio Cymru. There was some news report where the names of various chocolate bars were mentioned but I couldn’t understand the rest, obviously. It made me curious about the language so I decided to have a look. At this point I wasn’t intending to learn, but after picking up a couple of cheap books off eBay I found myself being drawn in.

I’d not had any language learning up to this point, didn’t do any at school, and I’d assumed that once you passed 50 you couldn’t really learn anything, or at least it wasn’t retained as easily. I had a fear it would be another fad. I’m so glad I had a go though because it’s become a firm part of my life. I do a little bit every day, listening to Welsh-language music or Radio Cymru, reading BBC Cymru Fyw, sitting at the kitchen table with some books trying to do a bit of writing, getting into grammar, and more recently building SSIW into that. The only thing I haven’t had a chance to do yet is converse with other Welsh speakers (other than an ill-fated attempt to join one of the Zoom groups a while back).

An old friend of mine lives in Carmarthenshire and has been learning for a few years. They’ve been really encouraging and we’re hoping to meet up soon. The chance to use Welsh in the real world is both a thrilling prospect and a scary one, I’m not sure if I’m up to it yet, only being 10 months in, but when is there a good time? Hopefully I can get some speaking practice in before then.

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No one feels they’re ready for it, ever! But the best time to start is always today, now. You’re unlikely to feel 100% successful, and people often beat themselves up, but if all you say is Bore Da and Diolch yn fawr, you’re still doing better than anyone who hasn’t opened their mouth. Pob Lwc.

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A little while ago I had an email from Aran, apologising because I wasn’t using SSinW any longer, and suggesting he must have failed in his efforts, as I’d stopped subscribing.
He then said if I’d stopped subscribing because I had learned some Welsh, he would be delighted.
I’d like to ressure him and sing the praises of SsinW because that’s exactly what happened. From the beginning of the first Lockdown, I’ve gone from no Cymraeg to being able to go to a group and chat a bit, speak to my baby granddaughter, listen to Radio Cymru and read and understand a fair bit.
I’m still learning of course as its an ongoing process. I’m having a go at Automagic some days, as I had a free trial, use Dysgu Cymraeg and a bit of Duolingo. One of the things I’ve noticed most on my learning journey, is how I’m more confident to speak than learners who only use duolingo and/or Dysgu Cymraeg. This is wholly because of the learning format of Say Something in Welsh. So Diolch yn Fawr Iawn and I thoroughly recommend it.

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Hi, I first downloaded the original lessons years ago, years and years, after seeing the course advertised when I was on holiday near Caernarfon. Can’t remember where I saw the flyer though.

I had a Welsh neighbour, he was in his 80’s, originally from near Llanwrst. As a family they spoke Welsh at home, but went to an English speaking school. His speech was very ‘guttural’, think that’s the word.

I used to take him to N Wakes through the summer, he was in a prize winning choir, so I’d take him to a religious meeting simply so he could sing

I moved to Telford so nearer to Wales, sadly ge passed away

I have other friends who live in Welshpool area, both English, but his wife used to teach Welsh at a school in Llanfair Caerinion. It would be nice to have a Welsh conversation with them.

Generally speaking, we used to visit Tywyn a few times a year, but have swapped to Porthmadog as we can drive on the beach!!

I started to learn the old course, and finished two or three lessons, but then my mother in law had a stroke so our time was diverted there. She sadly passed away, and I should have started again but didn’t

My parents are 89, my Dad has dementia, it won’t be long before he’s in a nursing home, it’s getting too much for my Mum

But if I don’t start again, I never will!! I know I’m going to have to spend more time at my parents, but learning Welsh could be an escape/cut off/doing something different that I could need (hope that doesn’t sound harsh on my parents, they don’t want to be a burden and are still quite independent)

Thus is a new phone, so I downloaded the app so I can grab time in my dinner hour to have a few mins. So new is the phone, I haven’t even got a photo of me, but I will send one!!!

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