I’ve lived in Wales since 2000, working in Glangwili hospital in Carmarthen, where I heard a lot of Welsh, and being a member of a church where the prayer books were, are, bilingual, for 7 years before actually actively doing anything about learning Welsh. Once I joined the nurse bank and could be more in charge of my shift pattern I started by going to Mynediad 1 in the Botanic Gardens up the road, 2 hours a week . In the first summer I did Mynediad 2 over three weeks and a three day refresher course at the end of the summer before starting Sylfaen, 4 hours a week, but in one session. Instead of doing 60 sessions over the year we only did 40 and I didn’t feel confident to go onto Canolradd. At the three day refresher course that 2nd summer I heard about this new online course, Say Something in Welsh, and may even have registered for it, but I didn’t start to use it. So, my 3rd September (2009) I registered to do Sylfaen 2, the second half of the course we hadn’t really finished the previous summer, back to 2 hours a week.
And then, all change.
In December I broke my leg. 5 months off work No courses of any sort. But I could sit at home in front of a computer, which is where my SSIW journey started.
2010 was the first year of bwtcamp and I toddled off to Tresaith, (I can’t remember if I still had my crutch) where they were then held, for a week with several other learners and Aran. Revelation!
At some point I used Memrise a great deal and introduced it to my brother living in China who used it for learning Mandarin Chinese vocab.
And from September 2010 I started going to 2 conventional classes a week. One in the evening, one the next morning, so as still to be free to work my shifts. Back to Sylfaen 2, but also Canolradd 1. So I was revising something old and learning something new. This pattern continued for several years, taking the exams as they came along and going to bwtcamp 5 times over 6 years.
Alongside this was, is, listening to Radio Cymru, and starting a SSIW conversation group in Carmarthen, going to another conversation group in Llandeilo. This was put on hold in 2017, when I was abroad for several months, but even then I inflicted myself on several learners in Europe and a native speaker in Japan. 2017 was the last time I went to a conventional class, but in September 2018 I found a local Welsh tutor and we had a monthly date whereby I would write a fairly lengthy piece of work, email it to him, he would correct it and we would go over it together over a couple of hours in a cafe. Everything went to pot when I broke my wrist in January 2020, and Covid came.
But there’s a conversation group nearby which started just over a year ago so I go to that most weeks.
I’ve volunteered at 3 or 4 national Eisteddfods staying pretty much in Welsh the whole week.
I don’t think I ever did finish SSIW level 3, but I’ve found a level with which I’m comfortable. Not perfect, but good enough. When leading prayers in that same bilingual church, and we arrive at Gweddi’r Arglwydd, the Lord’s Prayer, I invite people to pray in the language of their heart (not choice, as some of my colleagues do) and I always say the Ein Tad version.