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After today, I truly believe I will speak Welsh

Postby lbej » Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:43 pm

I had a most joyful experience today, one that gave me tremendous hope. We had our second intercontinental SSiW Google+ meet-up this morning/afternoon, and several advanced learners who speak Welsh quite well joined up. I'm currently on lesson 5 of Course 2, having started in September, and think of myself as not yet able to carry on a standard conversation in Welsh. But somewhere in the middle of the rapidly-flowing Welsh conversation I realized I was able to follow everything that was happening, and for the most part understand every word. It was a profound moment for me as I realized that I was fully participating in a natural conversation in Welsh.

I know I say this a lot, and forgive me if you're tired of hearing it, but I've longed to speak Welsh for the past thirty years, and have tried at least seven other times to do it with various courses. I'd become so discouraged, not being able to stick with them and not feeling like I'd ever crossed that line between a beginner who knows a few words to someone who is actually able to *use* the language in any capacity. I think in my heart I'd given up hope of every being able to speak Welsh.

Thus today was a profound moment for me, when I suddenly found myself doing something I've wanted so very much but never really believed I could do.

All of you, the SSiW community, are definitely what has made the difference. A language doesn't live when learned in isolation, and that is the most important lesson I've learned in my eighth try. This is the key to why I'm having success this time: I've made the commitment to speak Welsh several times a week via Skype and Google+. The commitment and connection with these conversation partner and groups, and spending breakfast each morning browsing the forum, motivates me to *keep on going* at those moments when I really don't think I'll be able to handle a single other verb form.

I also want to pass on a particular thanks to those of you who speak Welsh quite well and who are willing to pair up and converse with some of us not so far along. It is a huge help, not only because I learn new vocabulary, but also because it's encouraging to realize how much I can understand and to know that if I stick with SSiW I'll one day be able to speak as well as you do! So a "diolch yn fawr iawn iawn" to all of you who've been so patient and encouraging.

Lynn.
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Re: After today, I truly believe I will speak Welsh

Postby SJ » Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:10 pm

Brilliant post Lynn!

:llongyf: So glad to hear you've had the moment when you realise you don't need to bang your head against a brickwall any longer (well that's what it felt like for me some times!). Its great to have a profound moment like yours and be able to think about it when you're having a "bad Welsh day". Learning a language is a long journey of hard work and its the moments like this that remind us that its all worth it!

I'm so glad to hear that the intercontinental online meetups are working so well. I might have to drop in some time!
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Re: After today, I truly believe I will speak Welsh

Postby brigitte » Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:49 pm

SJ wrote:Brilliant post Lynn!

I'm so glad to hear that the intercontinental online meetups are working so well. I might have to drop in some time!


You are very welcome to drop in, SJ.
I felt quite lonely, being the only one from our side of the Pond, :wink:
but then Matthew dropped in. He lives in Wales and his Cymraeg is way ahead of the Cymraeg of the rest of us. He kept the chat on going and I, like Lynn, felt happy that I could understand everything (well, nearly everything) he and the others said.
Thanks again to Lynn, who organisizes the meetings so well.
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Re: After today, I truly believe I will speak Welsh

Postby rempesm » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:03 pm

Fair play to Lynn and everyone at the Google Hangout today--you all are doing absolutely fantastically well for learning Welsh in traditionally non-Welsh speaking countries! During our meet-up, I did make the obligatory comment that Pembrokeshire is 'Little England beyond Wales' and people in the area invariably start conversations in English rather than Welsh. However, I must admit I do experience a shade sight more of the Welsh language week to week than one would in any part of the States or even Germany for that matter!

As Lynn has touched on above, I think the key to building confidence is by utilising your Welsh, whatever amount that is, by hearing and participating in real Welsh conversations no matter the medium through which they take place. When you're learning a language, having a conversation with strangers is undoubtedly the most harrowing of experiences as all your social skills immediately go out the window. This is, of course, the hurdle that most learners naturally and understandably try to avoid until they feel more confident in their ability.

There's certainly nothing quite so disheartening as having someone (I was guilty of this today!) use a word you've never heard of before which ruins the perfectly prepared responses to all the questions you thought you might possibly be asked. I recall nearly a year ago now when I lost my footing after a timid query to a more advanced learner about their plans for the weekend was cruelly returned with a stream of idioms and dialect. This does happen as in any language and the thing I've always tried to keep in mind in these situations is the all-important SSiW mantra to not worry! Confidence will come in every instance that you say 'hi' when you mean 'he' or say last week when you meant next week or only catch one out of ten words that someone says far too rapidly for any normal human being to possibly understand and so on.

Once you open yourself up to the opportunity that hearing the language used in a conversation can provide, you'll realise just how much you can understand without needing to understand every word. I certainly still have miles to go before I can feel confident in approaching everyday subjects but I think I have made progress in leaps and bounds by using the tools SSiW has given me, which are exceptionally good tools I might add, and diving headfirst into making mistakes. And hey, what better people to make mistakes with than the lovely people in the SSiW community who can really empathise with the fifth or sixth time that you try to rephrase the same thought in Welsh?

Lynn, daliwch ati! You'll be there in no time flat.

Definitely looking forward to the next meet-up on the 23rd.
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Re: After today, I truly believe I will speak Welsh

Postby jstetson » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:43 pm

Bravo to you, Lynn. Those breakthrough moments are so exciting. And many thanks for leading the way and getting these meetups running. Bendegedig!
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Re: After today, I truly believe I will speak Welsh

Postby lbej » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:29 am

SJ wrote:I'm so glad to hear that the intercontinental online meetups are working so well. I might have to drop in some time!


You'd be most welcome, SJ! (And anyone else reading this post, too!). Just drop me a PM and I'll fill you in on how to get set up to participate in the hang-out.

And thanks to everyone for the kind, encouraging remarks. I need all the encouragement I can get, as I just embarked upon one of the marathon 1:11 lessons in Course 2! :shock:

Hwyl fawr -

Lynn.
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Re: After today, I truly believe I will speak Welsh

Postby Aran » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:29 pm

Gwych - llongyfarchiadau mawr... :party:

I love the sound of a new Welsh speaker making their way into the world...:D
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Re: After today, I truly believe I will speak Welsh

Postby Elizabeth Jane » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:02 pm

Llongyfarchiadau. I never had eight tries at learning Welsh but I can remember the moment I had a similar realization. It was gold. It just goes to show that learning the right way makes all the difference. And we'll done you for trying and trying and trying until you found it.
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Re: After today, I truly believe I will speak Welsh

Postby dragonseer » Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:38 am

Ardderchog! Superb! My Welsh is minimal, but I was thrilled to be part of the online group. Dw i'n mynd i siarad Cymraeg yn dda ... eventually! Actually, I would love to bottle Lynn's enthusiasm and share it with everyone who is interested in learning Welsh. Who knows what that could do to the census numbers? Bravo, all of you, and diolch!

(Please feel free to correct the Welsh of this newbie!)
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Re: After today, I truly believe I will speak Welsh

Postby mcrossmire » Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:04 am

Lynn,

Thank you for such an inspirational, moving, wonderful post! I am truly very happy for your well-deserved success, and I have no doubt that the entire SSiW staff is very proud of you, indeed. Stories like yours are what keep the rest of us plowing ahead!
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