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

Hi there. I love that Herefordshire is so close to Wales. Its a lovely county too. It always makes me feel happy when i haven’t been driving long and i see the first road sign saying Croeso I Gymru. I am on week 10 of my Welsh speaking journey and my brain aches but I’m loving it. I hope its going well for you.


What a wonderful story Elizabeth!!! Thank you so much for sharing and all the very best with your learning journey. You already have the best start, having a Welsh boyfriend and a passion for Wales. Looking forward to hearing about your progress! :slight_smile:

@robert-phelps @tim-32 @huwedavies57 @anne-cave all the very, very best with your learning journeys! I’m really looking forward to hearing about your progress! :slight_smile:

S’mae Catrin, Dw i newydd gweld y neges 'ma. Sori (note to self…catch up on the forum more regularly). Byddwn i’n hapus i chi ddefnyddio fy stori ar y we.

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Well, I suppose technically I ought to be learning Cornish is that is where a big chunk of my family comes from but I am very unlikely to come across that language regularly . Surprisingly, as I live in Gloucestershire, I have regularly encountered the welsh language - I have welsh speaking friends and colleagues and growing up I even used to hear it spoken in the street as there was a large number of people from north wales brought to the area in the 1950s to work in the local factories. Historically of course Welsh used to be the language of parts of west Glos up to 18th/19th century so some of my ancestors would probably have been welsh speakers anyway - very distant ancestors certainly would have been. I became fascinated by the language at a very early age (7?) when we used to holiday yearly at Towyn.



Bore da Catrin

I was born and raised in Northern Ontario in a small mining village. Both of my parents were immigrants to Canada. My mother came from the Ukraine and my father from Wales. My dad was, shall we say, an enthusiastic storyteller, and he used to say that as a boy (born in 1903) he was beaten at school for speaking Welsh and beaten at home for speaking English. To be honest, I’m not sure if he actually spoke Welsh or not, but I do remember him teaching me numbers from 1 to 10, and how to pronounce ‘ll’ properly.

I never really though of my father as having a Welsh accent when he spoke English. However, once upon a time, while hitchhiking in Tasmania, I was picked up and given a bed for the night by a man who sounded so much like my dad that it literally brought me to tears.

So, my motive for learning Welsh.

  1. To honour my father’s memory, and, yes, I will be learning Ukrainian too.
  2. We are going to Argentina soon and I hope that we can get down to Trelew, Gaiman, or Trevelen, to meet and talk with a Welsh speaking Argentinian.
  3. I love learning how languages work and Welsh is especially cool and different.

Shw mae! I’m originally from Penhow (I currently live in Kent). It’s been a lifelong ambition of mine to learn welsh as it’s a big part of my family history. I just hope I don’t butcher this beautiful language too much with my clumsy tongue! :smile:


I think its very interesting to hear anyone who speaks their native tongue. Even if i don’t understand its lovely to hear


Hello. I’m new here and keen to learn Welsh - again. I spent my seven years of secondary education in Tywyn. I have an O-Level in Welsh (for English speakers) from 1973. A very long time ago. My ‘Welshness’ comes from my father’s side only. His family were from South Wales (Bridgend and Penarth), but I have no idea at all about relatives prior to my grandparents. I am trying to find out more. My father retired to live near Cardigan and I have aunts / uncles / cousins in the area around New Quay. Although I left Tywyn in 1975, I have been back frequently to Snowdonia / Eryri - walking, climbing, cycling, etc. I retired from full-time paid employment at age 66 last November 2022 and am now making a big effort to get reaquainted with my Welsh heritage. Learning the language (again) is part of that plan. I intend to sign up soon to a course with the Open University and have enrolled on a course run by Nant Gwrtheyrn - online right now, but I hope to attend some of their residential courses too in the future. I have also joined the Snowdonia Society / Cymdeithas Eryri and will be doing some volunteer work with them this year. Additionally, I have been fortunate to be accepted on to the Curlew LIFE Project and will be doing some volunteer work with them at Ysbyty Ifan and Hiraethog.
All-in-all, I am excited to be starting this journey towards a greater understanding of Wales and Welsh. I look forward to participating here. Best wishes to everyone. Bill Evans / Shropshire


Posted on behalf of @richard-bolton

I am a Scot, brought up in London. I am 74 years old. I have been fascinated by Wales and the Welsh language since boyhood. My only claim to “welshness” is that my father’s people are from south western Scotland, formerly the Welsh speaking kingdom of Rheged.

At the age of 24, I began to teach myself Welsh. I did this on a daily basis (4 to 6 hours a a day) for six years. I studied grammar, translated books - beginning with books for learners by a man called Ivor Owen, and ending by translating William Jones by T Rowland Hughes. This took me two years and was really tough: the first part of the book being in the tafodiaith of Gwynedd and the second part being set in Cwm Rhondda. All this gave me a very large vocabulary and a fair understanding of Welsh grammar, but no conversational skills.

I came across SSiW in a book by Stephen Rule. I checked out the website and decided to go for it. I have enjoyed it enormously and have learnt so much. I am on lesson 19 now. Unfortunately, my iPhone and iPad are old models and I cannot access Slack and the Forum is Read Only if you are below IOS 13. As I live in east London, finding someone to whom I can speak Welsh is tricky. Bethnal Green has many languages, but sadly, Cymraeg isn’t one of them! This means the Challenge introduced in C 19 is not one I can do. However, I am still very very happy with SSIW and hope to continue using it when my current course is completed.

Many thanks to Aran Jones and all his people for giving such a great gift to the people and language of Wales and to its friends in other lands.


Shwmae pawb! I’m at the very start of my Welsh journey (a New Years Resolution, sort of). I tried the first few lessons on Duolingo a few years ago but the practice habit didn’t stick at the time. I’m properly committing this time round and really loving it so far!

I’m English and live in the Midlands but have some Welsh heritage. My dad used to talk about spending time in South Wales with his grandmother, but I also found out recently that his dad was born in Newport, so the connection is more recent than I thought. Doing some rudimentary family research, my great grandmother’s family were all Monmouthshire-based for as far back as the census details will take me.

My granddad died very young so I never met him, and my dad also sadly died this year, so I don’t know very much about the Welsh side of my family. My dad chose to have his ashes scattered on Pen y Fal and one of his few memories of his dad was being taken camping in the Brecon Beacons just the two of them, so he clearly felt a strong pull to Cymru still. All these things have made me want to connect to my Welsh heritage a bit more. Learning the language and the history of it feels like a good way to start exploring and feeling closer to that side of my family - even little things like thinking of my granddad as my tad-cu make me feel a bit more connected already. I’m really enjoying this journey so far :slight_smile:


Prynhawn da! I’m from New York, USA, and I have a couple of reasons for learning Welsh.

When we met in 2013, my now-husband and I learned we share a love of weird sci-fi TV and movies, and one of the first we devoured together was a 1960s-era show called The Prisoner. If you’re not familiar, The Prisoner revolves around a British secret agent, played by Patrick McGoohan, who is kidnapped and held captive in a bizarre village by a shady group of folks trying to discover his secrets. The show mixes intrigue, style and sci-fi elements into a weird amalgam of storytelling, and the physical setting plays as much a character as the human actors do — seriously, the mash-up of Italianate buildings look like they were constructed by a child and painted with Technicolor. It adds so much depth to the dream-like qualities of the show. Imagine my surprise when I learned The Village was not a set, and instead was a real place: Portmeirion, Wales! I added it to my bucket list of places I wanted to visit someday.

Fast forward to 2022. Our planned wedding was canceled twice due to the pandemic, and we were quite honestly, over the idea of trying to plan it a third time. I also had a big monumental birthday during lockdown, with no fanfare, which was weird. When we learned one of our shared favorite bands, mclusky (from Cardiff!) was reuniting for a UK tour, we decided to use some of our wedding money to book tickets to Manchester for a show. (Our families thought we were nuts, but it wasn’t the first time, and won’t be the last.) Anyhow, we planned to continue into northern Wales to visit Eryri National Park, and Ynys Môn/Anglesey. My then-fiance proposed we elope in Portmeirion. So we did, on April 6th (Prisoner fans should realize why we chose the 6th! :smiling_face:)

All of this long-windedness to say that I wanted to learn Welsh before we went on our trip, so I enrolled in an online class through The National Centre for Learning Welsh. However, the ridiculous fun of planning a wedding in a different country during a pandemic caused me to have to abandon my studies. :grimacing:

The second reason (far less interesting, imho) is that I grew up hearing from both my geneology-loving gran and my great-aunt that my family has a considerable amount of Welsh heritage. I’ve since confirmed several ancestors from northern and eastern Wales using genealogy and DNA tools, which has been super fun!

So, here I am. I want to try again, help keep the language of my ancestors alive, and discover more about myself in the process. Diolch am ddarllen! :green_heart:

me 2022.JPG copy


Prynhawn da :slight_smile:

I am from the midlands with a Welsh mother (from the Llyn Peninsula) who speaks Welsh and until a few years ago, Welsh grandparents living on the Llyn who also spoke Welsh (and many ancestors from the Llyn going back hundreds of years). Unfortunately I was never taught how to speak Welsh, although I have always been fascinated by it and had a longing to learn it.

Fast forward to now and I have a house on the Llyn because I desperately needed to keep roots in the area after my grandparents passing and the more time I spend up there with my family, the more I feel I need to properly learn Welsh to honour my relatives and keep this wonderful language alive.

Why SSiW? Learning by speaking is clearly the best way to learn a language, especially when I will be speaking it myself 95-100% of the time. The course seems really well structured and I’ve amazed myself that I can reel off the long sentences already.

I’m looking forward to utilising my new found skills soon and pushing myself past the embarrassment of potentially getting it wrong and adding more than ‘diolch’ !


Thank you so much for these wonderful contributions! It’s such a pleasure reading your stories. Diolch for sharing! :pray:


Well Huw, I’m a Herefordian born, but have lived in Llangadog for over 25 years and I’m going through the ssiw lessons again so that I can chat to the villagers - trouble is they know me as a saisneg and chat to me in English!


Prynhawn da!
My journey toward Cymraeg began with music – though the music wasn’t Welsh. My parents have a CD with Irish songs which I got to listen to once, and I think that the memory of this influenced me when I decided to try to learn Irish on Duolingo after having lost my drive to learn Italian. (I had learned how to read Italian text for sound in classical singing lessons, then wanted to be able to also say and understand things, begun learning but plateaued at some point, and finally met and befriended an Italian person who hated their own language)
On Duolingo I unfortunately found that sound files for Irish text were basically nonexistent, so I began exploring other Celtic languages before circling back to Irish and starting to practice for real making extensive use of the webpage abair.ie – especially its phonetic transcription feature, for I often wasn’t able to pick up on the distinctions between similar consonants just from hearing and I didn’t trust in the normal Irish spelling after knowing that as common a word as “is” could be pronounced with a consonant different from the one it was spelled with.
Unfortunately the phonetic transcription feature was removed from abair.ie a while ago and I now don’t know where to get phonetics for the dialect I started learning. The audio situation on Duolingo has improved, but I still don’t trust my ears. And well, Cymraeg has the distinct advantage over both Gaelics that I can tell all its sounds apart. (At least I think I can)
Also, this course is just great.


Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus pawb! My name is Andrew and I started SSIW about a month ago. I grew up in Wales but moved to London a decade ago for work and can often be found at the London Welsh Centre on match day!

I learnt some Welsh in school but have had several short/failed attempts at learning using various books over the years mainly owing to a lack of discipline or regular practice. I am currently on an extended period of parental leave until May and as our little one largely refuses to let me put her down for a nap in her cot I am forced to put her in the carrier/pushchair and walk for hours every day! Perfect for listening to podcasts or - as it dawned on me last month - trying to learn Welsh again.

I really have surprised myself at how quickly I seem to have picked things up from the challenges so far. It has been hard going at times but I’ve trusted the system and been amazed when the right words come out of my mouth when a day or so earlier my mind was a blank. Having said that I did challenge 13 today and it really was a struggle. I made up for it by finishing the national anthem short course which I also found really useful. It would be great to have more like this. I’ve done the one for Calon Lan too.

However I’m very much aware that I need to be speaking with others in order to establish a deeper understanding and to improve more. So if there are any fellow learners in the Hammersmith/Chiswick/Shepherds Bush areas please shout!

Anyway, thanks for reading and I’m sure I’ll be posting some questions on here again soon!


You might find this thread useful, Andrew. Llon-dain - The Touring London Meet Up - #37 by peterallen


I was born and raised in Wales by an English Father and Irish mother they settled in Wales as it was in the middle of the two.
I learnt Welsh in school and wasn’t very good.
I now live n Ireland where I work as a tour guide, I have become very interested in the connection between Ireland and Wales in Ancient times and I have decided to try and learn the Celtic languages so that I can understand the cultures and history a bit better.
I am starting with Welsh as this is my first time trying to learn a language and it is more familiar to me than Irish.
Who knows I might learn Cornish and manx how as well :slight_smile:


Diolch yn fawr, Siaron! This is good to know!

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