Year (and a bit) in review - Mihil

A year in review by Mihil
So this review is well overdue (its over 15 months now) but I think it would be good for me to put my thoughts across in the hope that it may help people starting out. To cut a longer story shorter I was inspired to start by going to Tafwyl in 2015 and by visiting a local Welsh shop.

Now science is a middle class profession ( I am a PhD student). The head researchers in my lab are from England so I didn’t exactly profess my enthusiasm for learning Welsh. Additionally some people I told, mostly Welsh couldn’t understand why I wanted to learn, but one lecturer in my building, whose wife is a Welsh teacher has been very supportive. On top of that there are always articles on Wales online and other right wing media bashing the language. I’m very proud of myself now, but in the first few months these things effectively made it a hidden hobby at least until I had the proficiency and counter arguments to defend myself.

But it was from November 2015 to February 2016 where my learning really accelerated and I became fully conversation, and I became confident in my learning. I burned through all the material I could on this site and always took chances to speak to people in Welsh, wherever I could.

I was in Falafel wales, Canton Cardiff and had only been learning proper folyr 4 months. There were two lads in their late twenties early 30’s sitting and talking in another language. I couldn’t figure out which language they were speaking so I pretended to have a closer look at the menu. Once I realized they were speaking Welsh I asked if I could join them and practice and they were very welcoming!
There was lady on the train with a leaflet from Llandaff Cathedral, but it said ‘Eglwys Gadeiriol Llandaff’ on the front aswell. I took a risk and wrote down ‘Siarad Cymraeg?’ on a piece of paper. She said she did and I spent the rest of my journey to Bristol bumbling away in Welsh with her.

Ever since my first encounter at Tafwyl 2015, I’ve always found speakers very happy to indulge in light conversation with me. Whenever I am in a queue and someone with the Cymraeg lanyard is in front or behind me, I can’t help but strike up a conversation with them. I never feel shy to speak or defend learning Welsh. Why should we?

As my Welsh improved I was able to take part in a lot more events in Cardiff. I’ve had the chance to see films, theatre and live music all in Welsh and at these events I was never made to feel uncomfortable or like an outsider. People were always willing to talk to me.

I also like doing outreach work and found myself at Tafwyl 2016- this time though I was volunteering at the science stand showing children how playdough can conduct electricity. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and I was pleased to see where I had come after a year. Approximately a year from starting I went to the Eisteddfod and had an amazing time.

I had to find new housemates in May, and I was determined to get a Welsh speaker in. So I trawled through profiles and was lucky to find someone who is doing a Masters in Welsh. We get along really well.

So there we go. The 15months have been fantastic and I am really proud to be a Welsh speaker. A lot can be achieved in a year, even with a job, studies and other hobbies. I have a new housemate is near fluent so he has been helping me too. To give myself a bit more motivation and purpose, I though a course book would help, so I’ve also began the Cwrs Canolradd lyfr (the lady suggested I skip Cwrs Sylfaen). Also I bought my first Welsh novels today, so things are going well. I still have trouble listening to Welsh, but I have noticed a difference as I listen to more radio Cymru.

Theres loads more I could’ve written about but this is long enough! If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know. Thanks to all of the SSIW team who have made this possible.



Ah … I’ve just clicked! We have met at the Hen Lyfrgell! (I’m studying on the Masters with your housemate.)

You’ve done so brilliantly with your Welsh - I’m sure this is going to be great inspiration for people more at the beginning of their journeys. Dal ati, and hope to see you soon.


What a fantastic story, Mihil - thank you so much for updating us, and HUGE congratulations on your huge level of success - you really show what a massive difference it makes to throw yourself in as enthusiastically as possible…:slight_smile:

And we all thank them, but you did the work. You ignored the unspoken or overt hostility, and sat there (or walked the dog, or went running, or whatever) and did the work. Well done!


Tell us more Sara.

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MA Astudiaethau Cymreig a Cheltaidd - diddorol dros ben.

Mihil very bravely came along to a Welsh Society poetry competition - I don’t know about him but I was more than slightly confused in places about what was going on!


Great story, @Mihil, you’ve done an amazing job!

I tried tagging you in the (relatively) new Yammer system about meetups in UHW and the university, but I’m not sure if PhDs have been added yet… Oh and I’ve moved to the main building now, so if you ever want to meet up for a chat, just drop me a line.

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What a wonderful story. Well done for seeing the value of the language and taking the plunge and for achieving so much. Wales is lucky to have you. :+1:

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Llongyfarchiadau MIhil - that’s truly inspiring. If the level of your science PhD is anything like your acquisition of Welsh you will be heading for a Nobel Prize one day!

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There are quite a few of us on here trying to show that not all scientists and engineers are incapable of learning languages - a notion which was probably more general when I was young! Many of my colleagues had trouble writing in the English which was their only language!

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Thanks for the encouraging responses. I do like to try. It does get frustrating just sitting in the intermediate band. I really want to make the jump to advanced, but I know these things aren’t overnight.