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

Oh Sally, sending you a big cwtsh. He would have been so very proud of you and I think it’s wonderful that you have continued to learn and have continued the family tradition of visiting cousins in Wales for Welsh conversations. :heart:


Thank you all for continuing to contribute to this thread. These wonderful stories are so full of emotion and inspiration. They truly are a joy to read. Diolch mawr. :heart:

Hi Catrin!

I started being interested in Wales because of family legend that we had Welsh ancestry. We discovered that we did, in fact, have Welsh ancestors during a genealogy project with my daughter … and at that point I started reading everything I could about Wales. Then in 2006, I started writing novels, and the story of the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last Welsh Prince of Wales, was so resonant with me that I decided to write a novel–where I changed what happened. I now have written 50 books (and sold over a million) set in medieval Wales.

I had tried to learn Welsh for years, but never managed to commit the time that it needed. A year ago in May, I decided to give SSiW another try. I’ve since finished all three levels of the new course and have started on the old course. In May of this year we were able to travel to Wales and I discovered I could actually have conversations and be understood in Welsh! Though I took French and Spanish in school, I have never learned either even close to as well as Welsh. I think it has changed the way my brain works. It has certainly changed my life!


That’s music to my ears! :star2:

Thank you so much to everyone for sharing their stories - I’m really loving reading this thread :heart:


Thanks Aran!
I just keeping thinking about where I was in April 2021. Deciding to try again with Welsh was a whim. I thought I just didn’t have the capacity to do it. So glad I didn’t let that stop me!


A variety of reasons…

  1. I’ve been going on holiday to Wales for fifty years, and I’ve always thought it would be good to learn Welsh. It seems rude not to try to understand something so important in the life, history and tradition of the country. I’ve had a couple of goes over the years, but RealLife™ got in the way.

  2. I’m intrigued at the theory behind the course and wanted to give it a go.

  3. I want to understand Jonathan Davies commentate on the rygbi. As an aside, I was a little surprised to see that Level 1 ignored the rygbi in favour of something called ‘ball-foot’. I trust that Level 2 will soon talking about sgrymiau and yr blaenasgellwr ochr dywyll.

In truth: the first and second are the main reasons.

I think I’ll have succeeded when I can do number 3 comfortably. It will make up for the pain of England losing.


Shwmae Catrin

I’m German and as far as I’m aware don’t have any welsh ancestry or relations.
Years ago a friend of mine introduced me to BBC’s “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood” series. I got hooked, watched the series and purchased some of the novels.
I enjoyed the stories, but the idea of starting to learn Welsh didn’t even cross my mind back then. And being up to the nose in my studies certainly didn’t help. After I passed my exams I was actually at a bit of a loss - how should I pass all these free hours I suddenly had?
Well, reading books is always an option, so I read one of the “Torchwood” novels again. And there they were: A few lines of Welsh, but no translation anywhere.
You didn’t have to understand the Welsh in order to follow the plot, but it was clear that it was somehow important and I was curious and frustrated at the same time.
I really wanted to know what this short message in Welsh said!
Online dictionaries didn’t help, so I simply decided that I’d have to learn at least enough Welsh to decipher the meaning of the message.

Having rather unsuccessfully tried to learn japanese and italian before, I looked for a free online course and found Duolingo.
I started the course and found myself unable to stop. Please forgive me for sounding soppy, but it comes down to this: I fell in love with Welsh. It felt right to learn it. It felt like coming home.
I never had this kind of experience with any other language I learnt or tried to learn before.

Although I did find SSi quite early on my search for online courses I still hesitated to sign in. I couldn’t yet tell whether I’d stick with Welsh or loose interest in it after all, despite how I felt about it.
Well, as you can see, I did stick with it.
It helped me through two more really tough and time-consuming years of education and after I finished those, I finally decided to join SSi.
Definitely one of the best choices of my life and my only regret at the moment is, that I can’t participate in the chats on Slack as often as I’d like to and am not able to go to actual meetups or events in Wales.

Pob hwyl


Several reasons including distant Welsh heritage and a childhood spent listening to male voice choirs, which made Welsh feel both very familiar while also utterly alien (as I was familiar enough with it to know I could make neither head nor tail!). However also a linguist’s curiosity, because not many languages put the verb first. That seemed very exotic and so I thought it would be interesting. Of course now it seems utterly natural!


These stories are a joy to read - DIOLCH! :heart:

1 Like

I was brought up in the industrial valley town of Ebbw Vale in the 1960s and 1970s. The only Welsh I ever heard was on programmes like Y Dydd, Newyddion etc on BBC Wales and HTV Wales, long before S4C. Welsh was seen as a dying language then, spoken by those living in the back of beyond. It wasn’t taught in school as part of my education, although I do recall that the year following mine starting learning it.

I would always have liked to have been able to speak Welsh but there was no real opportunity at that time in that place and as I wasn’t raised with it, it just didn’t happen.

Throughout my adolescent years and early adulthood I didn’t think about it much, I was young and had plenty going on in an English-speaking world. As I matured and especially when I left Wales in the 1990s I had a hankering to know more about the language, but this was pre-internet and there was still little opportunity. Besides, by now I was married, had children and a busy job, so time was very limited. I did pay it more attention through and started learning a few words here and there when I could.

My children are grown up now and just before the pandemic, following meeting a Welsh-speaker in California of all places, I took the plunge and had a look at a few Welsh-learning options. Since then I have been going through the SSIW lessons. I’ve still not done much in terms of speaking to others but that is something that I need to step up with. Reading and writing too needs some attention and I’m sure that would move things along.

I would say that my conversational skills are still very rudimentary but my knowledge of the language is a million times better than it was before I set off on my journey to discover this wonderful language. In the early days I got frustrated if progress was slow but I have learned. My goal now is simply to learn as much as I can and see where that takes me. Fluency? A dream, probably, unless I go to live in a Welsh-speaking area. Above all, I am just happy to enjoy learning every new word and phrase as I grow into it.


You know my story @CatrinLliarJones and it is written in short in the first paragraph of this post Me (or let some questions be answered) if it can be of any use.


In the early eighties I started working for a Stage and Studio lighting company and in '84 became their representative for the west / south-west (approx. bounded by a line from Aberystwyth to Birmingham to Bournemouth). On one of my forays into the Welsh part of the patch I called into Theatr Felinfach and met the Chief Electrician, David, who has since become a friend. While he is, of course, completely bilingual, Welsh is his first language. After having sat in on bits of rehearsals with David trying to translate, and then going to his Welsh chapel wedding where my wife and I were the only non-Welsh speakers I decided I wanted to try and learn a bit and bought a two-LP course set. Needless to say I didn’t get very far! Having retired at the end of 2019 I decided to have another go, particularly as I love the music of Calan. I enrolled on Duolingo and completed the course - still practising every day. Just need to have some actual conversation!


Yes! Diolch i ti! :heart:

Calling everyone who has been so kind as to add your wonderful SSi learning stories here!

We are looking forward very much to adding your stories to our new website, which should be ready very soon!

Would some of you be willing to have a picture of yourselves next to your story? If so, could you either add your picture to your post here or if you would prefer, you could send them to me privately via a message?

Diolch o waelod calon! :smiley:

1 Like

That’s SUCH a valuable lesson :slight_smile: :star2:

Mostly he just shouts ‘NUMBERS!’… :wink:

That’s our favourite reason :heart:

That’s the perfect attitude :star2:


Sh’mae but. I was born but not brought up in Beaufort. :grinning:

1 Like

Dim prob. I’ll send it privately soon. Will it be all right if I use Photoshop? :smile:


Mostly he just shouts NUMBERS!

Hah, yes, but there’s also GO WIDE, GO WIDE!

Also, I want to sit in the Principality and shout “[Come on] Lloegr” and understand the ‘helpful’ comments I’ll get from my neighbours in the cheap seats! (No one can afford the expensive seats…) :slight_smile:

Seriously, I’ll never really get the chance to speak Welsh daily, so being able to watch a rugby match and understand the commentary seems like a reasonable test of progress…


I would love a mini course on how to understand rugby commentary in welsh