Writing a booklet about the SSi Method - looking for your experiences

I started from nothing, living in Cornwall and wouldn’t have known Welsh if it hit me. Didn’t know about S4C or radio cymru either. My husband was recommended SSiW by a colleague at Haverfordwest College and I started on the old lessons.
I was able to get through lessons after about 2 or 3 attempts but was astounded I could make my own sentences so quickly. When I discovered the new lessons I found them even quicker and only paused and repeated lessons on sticky ones. Find some of old lessons just too fast and I really struggle with lessons 6 all parts and future tense now.
Listening exercises when I finally had internet access were brilliant and would like more.
I do try and talk with my neighbor but not really doing this enough. Not regular and only five minutes occasionally.
After 18 months I can recognise the strange Northern accent and understand it. What I don’t understand is how you make those sounds!!
I have not attempted reading until the last two months while waiting for the level three lessons. Bought both Colin jones books hard copy and him reading them. Just read most of first half of Cwm Gwrachod this afternoon with much looking up. Online dictionary very good. Also practise Duolingo everyday for about half an hour.
Don’t worry about different words at all.
Found grammar explanations in old course good but after practicing new lessons.
Do get annoyed with plateaux but try to swap old to new or do more to get over stuck lessons.
Love using all the Welsh sounds, rolled r’s hissing geese etc but find I can’t understand them when I hear them, though I can use them.
All in all really amazed at my progress and can actually understand most of several toddler’s TV programs now.

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I started using the “old” version (South) over a year ago, finished around Christmas (I think) and am now going through the bonus lessons again. My main problems (full disclosure: I’m Swedish):

  • inspiration comes and goes - some weeks I’ve not done anything, and as I have no Welsh speakers nearby it’s completely up to me to motivate myself!
  • I need to see words to really grasp how they sound, and I don’t like not knowing if an /i/ sound is spelt i, u or y - it simply doesn’t stick as well if I can’t visualise the word. Plus I can’t always tell two similar sounds apart (like dd and f) in normal speech, so I need to look them up to be sure.
  • I cannot for the life of me make a proper Ll sound… and I’ve asked about that before. And I can’t work out if it’s better to replace it with L or Sh or Th … Or Fl, as in Floyd?
  • OTOH I have no problems with R or Ch!
  • I love grammar, so I had already read up on most aspects of Welsh grammar before I even started SSiW.
  • On the other hand I never use the pause button, I just carry on if I can’t keep up (and I repeated one or two lessons where I felt this had happened more often than normal). However this is partly due to the fact that I usually listen to SSiW while washing up…
  • I also don’t have a problem in general with different (syntactical / grammatical) ways of saying the same thing, every language has that. Having said that, I don’t like learning two versions of the same word and not knowing which of them represent the majority of speakers, or just particular regional accents - just as I wouldn’t want to mix RP and Texan English… (I started a thread about this a while back, but didn’t really get my point across. Probably because it’s too nitpicky and unimportant!)

I really like the concept of SSiW, and I will press on - although I’m not sure what happens when I finish these bonus lessons again…

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Interesting point - diolch, Dai!

Diolch o galon! :star2:

Always considering, always flagging up options… :slight_smile: Diolch o galon!

This is my new favourite word… :slight_smile: Thank you so much for all that detail, hugely interesting.

That’s so fascinating, Jo - what made you want to give it a try?

Thanks so much for your input, David, really interesting. When you say ‘bonus lessons’, do you mean the vocab units, or something else? It might be a good idea for you to move on to the Levels… :slight_smile:

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Firstly I actually read Cwm Grachod with out looking up much!

I wanted to learn Welsh because we were moving to Wales. We try and learn a few words if we go on holiday abroad and it seems impolite not to try especially if you’re living somewhere.

Secondly, they have really interesting programs on S4C about Wales and its history and wildlife. I’m really frustrated in not understanding and subtitles mean I miss watching the program while I’m reading. I am interested in learning about Wales.

Also, I want to learn Welsh for all the reasons the English tried to discourage it. I like individuality and variations and different. The English are lazy and they find it inconvenient if you speak another language. I greatly admire the tenacity to hold on to the individuality to keep the language but also variations. Learning has really brought home how recent Wales as a single nation is. I do think that school Welsh, S4C and Radio Cymru may affect those regional differences. Talking to people locally there is an awful lot of “we say this but it’s not what you will be taught.” My local accent was individual to the town and was how we spoke in the playground and with our grandparents but is disappearing rapidly. Sorry running on again.

Hope this is what you wanted.

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Yes, you’re right: I did of course mean Vocab lessons. I realised after I posted that I’d used the wrong term, but couldn’t be bothered to go back and edit. I figured you’d work out what I meant! Mae’n ddrwg 'da fi :slight_smile:

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Terrific, thank you so much - ah, yes, the moving to Wales bit is a good reason! Well done you for having such a positive attitude… :star2:

Just a quick comment from me as I had tried to learn Welsh on and off via the usual methods ( short/ longer courses, residential, evening classes, books, etc) for many years even when living in Wales BUT it was only through doing SSiW that I finally found the confidence to speak Welsh and after Boot camp finally feeling a proper Cymraes Cymraeg. Thank you Aran Catrin, Iestin and Cat.


:star: :star2: :dizzy:

Can you remember off the top of your head how long it took you to go through our stuff? :slight_smile:

I’ve tried to answer without keeping too much of what others have written in mind - hope I’m not repeating too much. Here goes…

went through most of our material in about a year
I had a bit of a slow start but once I had the app I went through lessons quite quickly. I’ve moved between Old Course and New Course a bit. Probably been more like 18 months and I’m now on Lesson 8 of Level 3.

go through the lessons without repeating any
I will repeat a lesson if I’ve only done some of it because I find I get much more out of it by doing the whole lesson in one go. Probably repeat 1 in 5 immediately if there’s anything particularly tongue tying (eg Bydda i’n gofyn iddi hi beth ydy ei henw hi heno!! Thanks @aran and @CatrinLliarJones !!) or structures I’m unfamiliar with. But sometimes go back a long way (10 lessons or so) just to remind myself how much I’ve learned…

not use the pause button
Used it v rarely and then stopped altogether

do the listening exercises
Have been doing more of this since bwtcamp - those chipmunks mess with your brain but in a good way

get a conversation partner
Not easy in Norfolk but am making every visit to Wales a personal bwtcamp, heb siarad Saesneg

understand different accents
Sometimes struggle with De accent as all I’ve ever heard are full-on Gogs

put off reading
No - like reading and have 3 Welsh books on the go, slightly different levels. Trying to remember that @Novem says she never tries to translate but just goes with the flow. And we all know how good her Cymraeg is!

accept all the different ways of saying the same thing
I used to get in a pickle about this and first instinct was to panic because it’s difficult enough learning one way of saying something but am much more relaxed about this now. I think this shows huge leaps forward because now I recognise that the two are the same. Before I was just confused…:confused:

avoid worrying about grammar
No, stopped that quite early on with SSIW because I soon learned that I would pick it up and things would start to fall into place.

avoid worrying about plateaux
As above, but bwtcamp definitely shoved me off the plateau, up a hill and onto the next level

getting used to saying R
getting used to saying Ll
getting used to saying Ch
Didn’t have trouble with these as I was quite geeky about learning how to pronounce Welsh friends’ names and local villages about 30 years ago because I didn’t want to mangle them. But of course those who’ve heard me speak might have a different opinion



Started 6 March; just about finished Course 3 Northern today, having done Level 1, Course 1 (bits), Level 2, Level 3 1-6, Course 2 & start of 3; Level 3 5-10; Course 3 to end. Plus one or two bits of the Course 1 Vocabs in between. Like others, I’ve found it easier to concentrate or to find time to do all this by doing other things at the same time: photographing pages of a book on the old Romani dialect of Wales (repetitive in the extreme); washing up and kneading bread (makes housework so much more palatable); driving (gives me something to keep my concentration levels and alertness up when I might otherwise get sleepy at the wheel, so a contribution to road safety); and walking to or from work, which takes almost exactly one Challenge to do.

At first, I was repeating the Challenges – up until about no. 3 of Level 1, I think, I tended to do one in the evening with some Romani and then repeat it in the morning on the way to work. I stopped as soon as I got the email telling me to stop, although I have repeated the odd one here and there – especially the end of Course-ish ones, such as Course 3 Lesson 24, which revised a load of vocabulary that I had somehow missed when skipping bits of the courses. (In fact, I’m going to have to revisit that one again – but maybe I should go through all the Vocab units before I do.)

That was OK, although I did have to cheat on longer sentences – mostly in Level 2, I think – where if I wanted to avoid talking across Catrin while figuring out something along the lines of “I went out to the pub last night with a few friends and I met a young woman who said that she works with your brother” I would have to start off by talking across @aran instead :slight_smile: Walking into work busily muttering “Es i allan neithiwr” while still listening out with half an ear to find out who I was supposed to have met and what they were supposed to have done![quote]
do the listening exercises[/quote]
Not religiously, but I’m still having the occasional go at the chipmunks. It helps that I’ve been told I have some sort of minor eye complaint that involves me sitting around in the morning with hot teabags on my eyes for just about 5 minutes…[quote]
get a conversation partner[/quote]
Haven’t done this – in Oxford, and have so far only made one café meetup. Considering Skype lessons…[quote]
understand different accents[/quote]
Have stuck with Gog mostly, although I’m listening to some Radio Cymru as well as watching Rownd a Rownd. Some characters – I’m thinking maybe Teri, Kelv, and Meical – still sound like they’re speaking Welsh with a Scouse accent, mind you…[quote]
deal with words being different from what you remember in school[/quote]
Not applicable – no school Welsh.[quote]
put off reading[/quote]
Didn’t try to read anything till at least the end of Level 1. I was tempted, but I had more than enough to do with the speaking and listening on the Challenges. I have now read the Alun Ifans Mabinogi i Ddysgwyr, about 20% (so far) of Bywyd Blodwen wossname, and about a third (so far) of Tintin - Mwg Drwg y Pharo![quote]
accept all the different ways of saying the same thing[/quote]
This still sometimes bothers me – mostly in that if I hear something I’m not really expecting, if it’s a structure I’m not wholly confident on, I’ll wind up second-guessing myself as to whether it’s different but OK or if I’ve actually got it wrong. Maybe a tiny few more “Of course, you could also say…” comments from time to time?[quote]
avoid worrying about grammar[/quote]
I have avoided worrying, but I have also missed it. Sorry. I’m like that :)[quote]
avoid worrying about plateaus[/quote]
My worry is that I might be getting moderately good at SSiW without actually putting it into practice talking…[quote]
getting used to saying R
getting used to saying Ll
getting used to saying Ch[/quote]
My R – more tapped than trilled – is as good as it’s ever likely to get, but it’s pretty much the same R I’d use for various other languages anyway. Ll and Ch were likewise OK anyway: I went to school in Trefynwy/Monmouth, and there was a lad there who was a Cymro di-Gymraeg from Haverfordwest. He could deal with placenames, though, and tried to get us to say LlanfairPG – I was the only one who more or less managed it (although I did think it was -pwllgwyngych- and -wyndrobwll-). I think a bigger deal for me is probably prosody – getting the music/intonation right, getting the right degree (but not too much) of bounce in the right places: I haven’t tried recording myself, but I suspect that I still sound terribly, terribly English.


Aargh. Replying to myself with afterthoughts.

Beyond the specific questions asked, the things I wanted to say were:

  1. I’m interested in languages, I’m generally good at learning bits and bobs of languages from books, especially up to the point of “I can read X”, but that usually doesn’t easily translate into “I can speak X”. Er bo’ fi ddim wedi siarad Cymraeg efo rhywun hyd yn hyn, mi fedra i wir credu fod o’n bosib. (I hope that means that although I haven’t reall spoken Wlesh with anyone yet, I can really believe in the possibility…) In other words, for me, as someone who likes learning languages and considers themself (and is thought by others) to be good at learning languages – this is better.

  2. In terms of writing it up to promote it, the lack of explicit grammar might seem a limitation to some people, might make it seem less rigorous. As far as that goes, I feel that if it is a trade-off, it’s one well worth making. I know it’s not really a trade-off, that the lack of explicit grammar is intended as a feature, not a bug, but in terms of rigour – after each of the first few challenges I honestly felt like I’d had a work-out. The last time I had that same feeling – that the two hemispheres of my brain were basically wrestling with each other – was when I was struggling to get my head round some arguments against falsificationism for a Philosophy of Science essay, a long time ago! And it was actually quite exhilarating :slight_smile:


Wild guess 2 years?

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I apologise in advance if I’m asking/telling you stuff that’s been said, and tried, and hasn’t worked before, but I’m just wondering how you say the English word ‘little’? (This is what was used to teach me to make the Icelandic lateral click that they also spell ‘ll’! :slight_smile: ) For me, as a native speaker – and I’m aware that regional accents and second-language accents may not do the same – the ‘tl’ cluster blends into one sound: the tip of the tongue is on the ridge behind the upper teeth (the normal place for a ‘t’ as in ‘stop’ – slightly further back than an initial ‘t-’), and the sides are making contact with the inner surface of my upper molars. When you continue the word the tongue narrows slightly, allowing air to pass at either side with an audible ‘click’ (‘cl’ makes nearly the same noise, and some accents, e.g. Jamaican English, don’t differentiate between ‘tl’ and ‘cl’, so ‘cl’ might be a good substitute in some Welsh words if you’re still trying to find a good work-around); the Icelandic sound is the same as the English one, but unvoiced (whispered) rather than voiced.

Anyway: if you can’t/don’t make a lateral click this is all probably unhelpful – except perhaps the ‘cl’ suggestion – but if you can, then the Welsh ‘ll’ is really just a case of keeping your tongue in that click position and breathing through it – turning it from a click into a more continuous sound.

Right: if you’ve been trying for ages, I doubt that has helped – but I couldn’t resist saying it, in case it does actually prove useful :slight_smile:

ETA: Actually, I wonder if ‘ch+l’ doesn’t come out as a better approximation?

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Thanks - I’ll try that. Sometimes when I’m trying to just make the sound on its own, I think I’ve got it - but then I can’t make the same sound as part of a word / sentence, partly because I have to completely concentrate on making that one sound… But if I can at least find something that makes it clear that that’s what I mean, that’s always something!

(And by ch+l, I assume you mean English ch… :slight_smile: )

No, no, I meant a Welsh ‘ch’ followed by ‘l’ – the start of “Chlywais i ddim” sounds and feels to me like you might get away with it as a substitute for the start of “llygoden”. Sorry for not making myself clearer!

As is often the case, the questions don’t exactly fit my situation but here is a summary of my own experience.

you went through most of our material in about a year

I went through all three levels of the old course (South) pretty soon after each lesson was published. Depending on other commitments, I averaged about three lessons a week. This would clorrespond to covering the material in less than a year.

Since I don’t want to compromise the purity of my Hwntw dialect, I have decided to wait for the (imminent) publication of Challenge 3 South.

go through the lessons without repeating any

I often repeated lessons but usually after a batch of 5 or so.

not use the pause button

I used to plough straight through the lessons even before it was offically approved.

do the listening exercises

I’m not very conscientious here and acknowledge that it would improve my progress if I were. I do, however, have plenty of opportunity of chatting locally, albeit in Cardi Cymraeg

get a conversation partner

I’ve enjoyed skyping with two people, but see my previous answer

understand different accents

Dim prob (with the obvious exception of Aran’s :wink: )

deal with words being different from what you remember in school

I wasn’t schooled in Welsh, but my sumnmer holidays were spent in Llangadog, Sir Gar, and there are many differences between my recollection of that time (60+ years) and what I’m learning now.

put off reading

I’m still struggling a page at a time through Daniel Owen by Rhys Lewis (or is ot vice versa?). I adopted completely the SSiW guidance about not relying on the written word while going through the lessons.

accept all the different ways of saying the same thing

I acknowledge them, I accept them, I embrace them. :wink:

avoid worrying about grammar

I don’t worry about it, I love it, I nurture it, I crave more of it. :smile:

avoid worrying about plateaus

My learning curve is full of plateaus but they don’t dicourage me

getting used to saying R, Ll, Ch

I’m a natural mimic and have a good ear and an athletic tongue, so these don’t trouble me. I confess to being lazy when I say words like Rhymney or Rhyl, though. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell my "r"s from my elbow. :smiley:


OK; to my ear an English ch + l sounds very similar to your -ttl- (not the same, but close). I’ll experiment a bit (in solitude!) and see what sounds I end up making…

Diolch o galon i ti, Jenny - help mawr iawn! :star: :star2:

:smiley: Thank you so much for such a detailed response - really brilliant stuff there, diolch! :star: :star2:

Diolch o galon i ti, Huw - gwerthfawrogi yn arw iawn :star: :star2:

AS you get older, picking up a new language becomes, of course, a little harder. This is especially so if you already use a second language to a high level, in my case German to Interpreter level. For several years after I ceased using German very regularly I found it difficult to remember words in Welsh and immediately recalled the German words, which caused much amusement at Lampeter when I went there for my first short colloquial Welsh courses! However, now, after 4 years slogging away at a Lampeter distant learning course and SSi, at last the Welsh word is becoming first in my struggles. Eureka! It is only through repetition of the SSi Welsh Challenges up to Level 3 that this can be achieved at my age (81!). Thanks Aran! Incidentally I do find your voice easier to understand than a female one!

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Incidentally I do find your voice easier to understand than a female one!

Yeah, but Catrin’s voice is sooooooo lovely. :smile:

this can be achieved at my age (81!)

Chware Teg, @Nefyn. Llongyfarchiadau!

By the way did you encounter my friend Zoe Pettinger at Lampeter? She started learning Welsh seriously when I did at an Wlpan Awst in Aber and now she’s teaching it! :open_mouth:

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