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Re: What helps you speak Welsh?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:16 pm
by leiafee
Elinnia wrote:I have just come back from my first lesson in Mynediad 2 and am feeling quite depressed. As I have spent quite a lot of time over the last few months learning Welsh with SSIW, (I am on Gwers 4 Intermediate lessons) plus going twice a week to Welsh coffee mornings I am embarassed to say this but I am probably more advanced than the rest of the group, who admitted they hadn't opened their welsh text books for 3 months.


Seconding (or thirding) the people who've said 'ask to be moved'. Speaking as an educator, everyone - you AND your tutors/providers will be happier -- and colleges etc WILL be accommodating because they know from experience that people on unsuitable courses are more likely to drop out and drag down those Estyn-adored 'retention' scores when they get inspected!

There's tons and tons and revision in the first few weeks of any course past Mynediad anyway so it's not like you'll have missed anything.

Re: What helps you speak Welsh?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:26 pm
by leiafee
SparkyCola wrote:I like it when, if I don't understand a word, people try and explain it a different way but still in Welsh.


That'd be my top one too.

Time pressure is my biggest deterrent - one of my repeatedly bottling out incidents is with a Welsh speaking reception at one of the schools I visit at work. I only need basic stuff, I know I've the Welsh, I know she speaks it because I'm a terrible eavesdropper for Welsh! But I'm usually on a clock and she always seems rushed and cross so I've never spoken a word to her in Welsh. School secretaries are scary!

Times I have piped up with a stranger are trains, bus and the assorted stops where I've overheard or seen a glimpse of Golwg or similar and pinched the opportunity to make some aimless remarks about the weather or the state of the timetable or any old thing. I suppose it's eased there by the low 'risk' -- even if you do embarrass yourself it's no one you'll ever have to see again in your life!

What helps as well is being in environment where it feels natural to speak Welsh -- otherwise you're sort of trying to overcome too scary things at once - using your new language AND risking being disappointed if the other person doesn't. I think someone described it as a "secret handshake" in another thread, but it is a barrier and it's one I suspect a number of first language speakers find as well - only speaking Welsh with people you already know.

Another thing which can be very hard is CHANGING the language you speak with someone. Through SSIW I've a number of friends who sound downright odd to my ears when they've speaking English! But it's usually the other way around and it can feel very awkward speaking with someone who you've always spoken English with before.

Re: What helps you speak Welsh?

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 8:01 pm
by Elinnia
Aran wrote:I'm afraid we need to apologise to you for that, Olivia - after getting the first few Course 2 lessons under your belt, there is very little doubt but that you are now too good to be in Mynediad 2. I can really sympathise with this, because I can remember being in a couple of Welsh classes when I was an uncomfortable amount better than the others, and it's a very difficult and frustrating situation.

If the tutor was unhelpful (which is definitely a sign of a not very good tutor), I strongly recommend that you talk to the course organisers and see if there is a higher group that you could move to. As an SSiW speaker who actually uses the language she's learnt, you'll survive even in the highest groups - and being stretched by having a more difficult group will be much better and more enjoyable for you than sticking in a group where you stay quiet so as not to offend.

Good luck - you're obviously going to end up a very confident and successful Welsh-speaker...:star:



I don't know why you feel you need to apologise! :wow: It really is quite amazing the difference SSiW has made to my ability to speak Welsh and it was only when I went to the class yesterday that I realised how much I actually had learned.Thank you very much. :smile:
I have been going to coffee mornings over the summer and everyone there has been learning welsh for at least three years longer than I have. Many of them said that they are surprised that I have only just completed Mynediad 1 and they have told me that I should join their class. I have told all of them it is because of SSiW!

The problem I have is that when I started Mynediad 1 last year, I persuaded 3 friends to enroll with me . Now If I move up a level without them then that would be really showing off!!!!!!
So I have decided to continue with Mynediad 2, keep my mouth shut in the lessons and continue to improve my Welsh with SSiW.

Re: What helps you speak Welsh?

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:46 pm
by Aran
It was a little bit tongue-in-cheek...:wink: It's wonderful to hear that you're doing so well...:D

Could you maybe persuade your friends to give SSiW a go as well? That way you could all move up a class together...:)

Re: What helps you speak Welsh?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:08 am
by Elinnia
Aran wrote:It was a little bit tongue-in-cheek...:wink: It's wonderful to hear that you're doing so well...:D

Could you maybe persuade your friends to give SSiW a go as well? That way you could all move up a class together...:)


I knew it was a "tongue in cheek" apology Aran, but there is something in me (I am convinced it is the Welsh ! ) that forced me to respond in a polite, grateful way! :wink: So if I have been "blessed" with the this trait that compels me to be warm and polite to everyone, why wasn't I also given the ability to speak the Welsh language in compensation for this ? :lol:

I have told my friends (I have told half of the world! ) about SSiW. Some of the people I have told are now using SSiW and are delighted with it. But as for my friends who came to Mynediad 1 with me , they fall into the category of people who attend Welsh language classes as something social to do during the week. :sad:

Re: What helps you speak Welsh?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:55 pm
by Aran
Elinnia wrote:but there is something in me (I am convinced it is the Welsh ! ) that forced me to respond in a polite, grateful way!


I suspect that may just be because you're a lovely person (it's a common pattern on SSiW!)...:wink:

Ah, yes, the social 'learners'. It makes it a very tricky call for you - but do remember that if you get bored to the point of tears, you could always set up a different social meet with them. Good luck with it all!...:)

Re: What helps you speak Welsh?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:44 pm
by youngblandford
Nearly everytime its been in a pub (which makes me sound like a drunk :oops: ). I think the mixture of a relaxed atmosphere, the chance to get to know someone through using welsh rather than more complex subjects like X-Factor or the economy, being able to see the person and watch their body language....and a little bit of dutch courage.

I've tried on the phone once, but failed completely...too fast and couldn't see the persons lips so struggled to pick out the words.

Re: What helps you speak Welsh?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:48 am
by warren_davies
What, in a situation, encourages you to speak Welsh?


When talking with people I know; direct encouragement from them and a refusal to speak English.
It helps if someone is wearing a, ‘Welsh speaker’ badge, or it otherwise obvious that they speak Welsh. The speaker badges are particularly good, because to me they imply that the person is passionate about the language and more likely to make concessions for a learner.

What things do people say or do, or what kind of atmosphere helps?


Either ignore my mistakes or make a joke about it at the end of the conversation (assuming I have been understood), nod or otherwise indicate that they understand what I am saying, perhaps by asking questions.

One not particularly patriotic Welsh speaking friend from Blaenau Ffestiniog (as Welsh speaking an area as it gets in my book!) once told me something along the lines of, “All Welsh speakers really appreciate it when someone tries hard to learn the language, and are always willing to help”. Blindly assuming that this is true (and I’m fairly sure it is true), has been a great boost to my confidence in starting up a conversations.

Could you give pointers to someone who wants to encourage learners to use Welsh with them?


Avoid showing signs of exasperation if having to repeat questions to a learner.
Avoid clarifying something said by a learner using English, try and do it in Welsh.
Start conversations in Welsh, and try and go beyond, the very basics, “how are you?” Etc.

And what switches you off? When you've spent hours plucking up the courage to try your Welsh, and then walk into a place and think "O, no, this isn’t quite the time for it"?


Busy situations; where appearing to dither would cause annoyance e.g. when at the front of a large queue.

When the conversation is started with me is English, I’m temped to carry on in English.

Critical situations, times when I need to be sure that I am being absolutely clear. e.g. when speaking to a doctor about particular symptoms.

Large groups of Welsh speakers also put me off slightly, just because it feels like there are so many people judging my Welsh. In this situation I tend to spend a lot more time thinking before I speak, which weirdly tends to make my Welsh worse!
I have found that when I’m with a group of Welsh speakers, it helps if amongst them there is someone who can be extra patient and in times of difficulty help you understand what is going on. This hasn’t been hard to achieve as I’ve found most speakers very understanding and encouraging.

I tend to avoid dealing in Welsh with people who give off an ‘angry feeling’ – Sometimes hearing someone speak with others in harsh tones puts me off trying my Welsh with them. I suppose this is because I expect them to be less than patient with me.

Re: What helps you speak Welsh?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:31 pm
by Tahl
I agreed with just about everything Warren wrote, but particularly with
warren_davies wrote:
What, in a situation, encourages you to speak Welsh?


When talking with people I know; direct encouragement from them and a refusal to speak English.

This holds for people I've just met, too. Last year I went to a Welsh studies conference. I was trying to explain something (about SSiW!) to a first-language speaker, and I got myself tangled in my Welsh. I tried to switch to English. She immediately said "na, da iawn, yn Gymraeg!" and made clear that she wanted me to stay in Welsh no matter what. If she hadn't done that, the conversation would have gone into English and I wouldn't have felt nearly as good about it.
warren_davies wrote:Busy situations; where appearing to dither would cause annoyance e.g. when at the front of a large queue.
...
Large groups of Welsh speakers also put me off slightly, just because it feels like there are so many people judging my Welsh.

We developed a little routine at the SSiW table in Maes D at the Eisteddfod.
- Notice visitor lurking near the table, often just far enough away that you have to raise your voice to speak to them.
- Address them directly with a smile and a clearly-pronounced, not-too-fast, using-chi-not-ti (because most people learn chi first), keeping the d-on-the-front-of-dych (same reason), "Dych chi'n dysgu Gymraeg?"
- Follow on based on their response, staying in Welsh as long as you & they are able to communicate.
- The more uncertain someone's Welsh is, the better it is to keep the conversation feeling one-on-one (and so not a 'performance') even in the midst of other hubbub.

In retrospect, I wonder if breaking up the dinner table at Bootcamp from one big table into two or more smaller tables might spur conversation sometimes, to help with the 'large groups' issue (especially when everyone is tired).

Re: What helps you speak Welsh?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:56 pm
by Iestyn
tahl wrote:In retrospect, I wonder if breaking up the dinner table at Bootcamp from one big table into two or more smaller tables might spur conversation sometimes, to help with the 'large groups' issue (especially when everyone is tired).


That is an interesting idea, Tahl. I wonder what other bootcampers feel?

This thread is turning up just the kind of information that I wass hoping for, diolch yn fawr to everyone. keep the ideas coming (and don't worry if you just agree with what other have said - the more people who say the same thing, the more we know it's true!