Thought about getting a Welsh language tutor?

Are you learning Welsh? Are you struggling to find an experienced speaker to practice with? Is your language learning hitting a stumbling block? Have you ever thought about connecting with a Welsh language tutor for some informal tutoring?

I’ve recently joined the internet based Italki website, which offers informal and formal tutoring of multiple languages to students all over the world – and whilst I find my feet on the program I am offering informal tutoring sessions for a low cost.

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As a fluent Welsh speaker, who learned the language myself – I understand exactly how learners feel and understand the many pitfalls a Welsh learner can fall into.

I have been tutoring Welsh learners for approximately 18 months and have a very high success rate with my learners.

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I also offer trial lessons that last 30 minutes and are slightly cheaper in order for you to check if this method will work for you.

If you have any interest in arranging a lesson, please visit my Italki page at www.italki.com/thenickyroberts or email me at learnwelshwithnicky@gmail.com

 

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Want to learn French through Welsh… or vice versa?

NOTE: There is a Welsh language version of this article suitable for learners available by clicking “Newid i’r Cymraeg” on the menu above or by visiting the Welsh version of this website at: www.defnyddiwcheichcymraeg.com 

Do you want to learn French through the medium of Welsh, or do you want to learn Welsh through the medium of French?

That was a bit of a mouthful wasn’t it?

Hi there.. I’m Nicky – I’ve been running the YouTube channel “Learn Welsh with Nicky” for almost two years now, 21 months-ish.

I have a lot of Welsh speaking friends who had an interest in learning French, but had a preference to learn the language through Welsh, rather than having to piggy back off of their second language, English.

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Nicky Roberts: Likes languages.

The problem is… almost every language learning tool out there caters for the English speaking world. Google “Learn French” and 99.99% of the results will be for courses through the medium of English – but what about us Welsh speakers?

This is hopefully something I am able to help with. I’ve gone and created a 10 hour course in French for Welsh speakers, which is a proper bona fide load of French – not just how to say your name (you won’t learn that until the 9th hour!) or boring stuff – genuine useful French like buying pints in bars, getting around town, asking peoples opinions on things, having a chat and other useful bits. You’ll learn how to express the past tense in three ways (gwnes i, oedden i, …ais i), how to express the future tense in three ways (dw i’n mynd i, bydda i’n, wna i) as well as learning loads of vocabulary along the way.

Ten hours? Yep, that’s it, probably less to be honest as the tenth hour is a “practice hour”.

Est-ce que tu parle le Francais et veux apprendre le Gallois? Pourquoi pas?

Interview: Aran Jones, SaySomethinginWelsh

NOTE: This article has been translated into English from a Welsh chat. There is a Welsh language version of this article, which is suitable for learners on the Welsh language version of our website. To access this click “Newid i’r Cymraeg” in the menu above, or browse to www.defnyddiwcheichcymraeg.com 

Last week, I got the opportunity to sit down with Aran Jones himself, a man who is famous (at least in Welsh circles!) for creating the popular “Say Something in Welsh” learning program. I asked him how SSIW has changed his life and more…

Hello Aran, can I thank you for your time! By reading your book and getting to know you, you went on a little bit of a trip when growing up. Do you think that has had an impact on you and languages?

I’m not sure, but it’s possible. As you say, I have lived in a number of different countries – England, England, Germany, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia as a child and then Zimbabwe and Dubai as an adult. Hearing many languages ​​has been normal for me since very young, but I did not succeed in learning any of them before I learned Welsh. Learning Welsh was the most important experience for me in how I think of languages, I believe.

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It is likely that only a small number of people realize that you have learned Welsh yourself, it’s easy to think that you’ve been speaking the language since you were a child. Can you remember exactly when you chose to start learning the language yourself?

My Grandfather spoke Welsh – but not with the family, unfortunately – so some Welsh words were a natural part of my English – ‘tyrd yma’, ‘cau’r dwrs’, that kind of thing. So I always knew that I wanted to learn at some time – I always knew that Welsh belonged to me. I remember messing about with things like Linguaphone when I was at university, and a few other learning books, but the truth was that none of them worked for me. And wherever we were going to live, I would try to learn some of the local language, to see if I could learn Welsh successfully some day – and the story never failed. I have no natural ability to learn languages, and I was very afraid that I would never succeed in learning Welsh. When I came home from Dubai, I knew the time had arrived – and I was always grateful that the Wlpan system had helped me succeed in the Welsh language where I had failed with all other languages I tried to learn.

Talking about that… Do people find it hard to believe that Welsh is your second language?

Usually people know that I do not come from their area straight away, and sometimes they’re kind enough to say that they’re surprised to hear that I’m a second language speaker – which puts a smile on my face, of course. Catrin claims she did not understand that I was a learner when we met, but I suspect that was because she wasn’t listening to me that much!

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‘Say Something in Welsh’ has become one of the most popular ways to learn the language. Without asking for your life story. How did that start?

After failing to learn a lot of languages, achieving some success in learning Welsh was a bit of shock – and then I ‘got’ Spanish quite easily – and started thinking that it wasn’t me that was the problem with all of the other languages I hadn’t been able to learn.

At the time, I started thinking about what was working, and what was not – and then I thought it would be interesting to create a Spanish course. I talked to someone I knew was helping people to start projects and businesses – but his investment friends said that learning languages ​​was far too competitive, and no one would be willing to commit money to develop them.

But then he hit me – I did not need money to start building what I was thinking about and I could do for the Welsh language. I started to build lessons with Catrin, my wife, and then I asked Iestyn to translate the lessons into the language of the South – and by the time we built 15 lessons, we published them on Facebook, and things started to grow.

At the time you were starting planning ‘Say Seomthing in Welsh’ there were still lots of ways to learn languages in the “old fashion style”, things like Michel Thomas, Pimsleurs, Linguaphone and lots more. Were you trying to be different to them right from the start?

I never thought of being ‘different’ as an objective in itself – what I wanted was something that focused on the work that was really needed, and leaving out all the stuff that really doesn’t help. I think there are strengths for every language course I’ve used – including Linguaphone, and Pimsleurs, and Michel Thomas – but I think there are also weaknesses, and that the process can be more effective. In a way, I was trying to simplify things at the beginning.

So, next year will be your 10th birthday. Does it feel weird or odd to see the program still continuing? When you started out did you think that SSIW would continue to help people 10 years later?

aran2_origI don’t think much about that really. We are still starting, or so it feels like – there are so many more things that we want to achieve!

As well as offering Welsh courses. You have been offering courses in other languages for a while now. I know that you don’t necessarily write each course individually – or at least not in the target language – and sometimes you hire people to write the target language course. So, what I really want to know is.. have you ever learned another langauge through SaySomethingIn? 

Well, I had to write all of the courses when we started trying to make other languages ​​- and that did not work very well, so that’s why we started working on an algorithm to make it possible for others to write with the same methodology.

I have just published the Manx course without any work – we hope to launch 5 to 6 new languages ​​next year – and yes, I have done the Manx lessons that are available so far in two intense days. I also had an intense day with Dutch, but I had seen a lot of it in helping to form the course, so I just made the ‘Corner’ as if it were. I’m looking forward to doing another intense day with Manx when there are more lessons available – so far, I don’t have quite enough Manx to hold a conversation, but I think I’ll be alright in the end!

I know that everyone has different experiences, and one of the great things about SSIW is the fact that you can go as fast or as slow as you want to – but what do you think is the ‘Perfect way to tackle SSIW?’

We’ve been doing some intensive training on the ‘2 days a week for 5 weeks’ model – I think that’s about the kind of ‘sweet spot’ – but I also tried to experiment with a period of 10 days of intensive learning when enough lessons are available in a new language.

After almost 10 years, you still have huge plans with the program. Things are changing for the better with SSI. So what can you tell us about your plans and future developments?

We’ve discovered lots more people finish the course when we give them more structure – which happens on the 6 month and 2 year courses. The difference is staggering – perhaps 5% can finish without guidance, but more like 80% with guidance – so we feel that we have a responsibility to make more people get some guidance.

And the results – from those who work hard and carry out all the work packs – are stunning. I had a conversation recently with someone who had just finished the 6 month course – I could hardly believe that they had only been learning for 6 months.

So now – someone new has the opportunity to learn one sentence with us, in small lessons of 5 minutes or 10 minutes – if that works for them, they have the opportunity to do a month of one of the structured courses for £1 and then they pay monthly for whatever course they have chosen. We are confident that this will help to create a lot more confident speakers than we have been able to do in the past.

We are also about to launch new content for our experienced learners – to help them reach the point where using the language feels easily and natural – starting with 30 minute conversations a week with a transcription and a translation. I expect this will be a huge step forward – I would have been delighted to have this type of content when I was learning.

The Welsh government has said that they want to hit their million Welsh speakers target by 2050. How can SSIW play an important role helping the nation arrive at this number?

I want to try to spread the idea that the best place to start is by learning one sentence – if we get a million people able to do one sentence, we will continue to improve and extend their Welsh.

We also believe that there is a need to build more opportunities for people to use their Welsh wherever they are in the world – like, for example, with the WelshSpeakingPractice.slack.com practice community that you’ve done so much work to help with and to promote

You have probably inspired and helped thousands and thousands of people learn the language, not just in Wales alone, but just over the world. How does that make you feel? Have you ever had the opportunity to look at the figures. You have to feel proud of what you’ve done with SSIW?

He feels quite obscure, to tell the truth. I don’t often think of it. It’s very nice to see people from other countries speak Welsh, and I love all of the new friends we’ve taught in other countries – and in Wales, it’s small, of course. But there is so much, so much to do to ensure a successful future for the Welsh language, and I tend to spend my time thinking about what needs to be done next.

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Finally then.. Imagine if you can that someone is reading this and they are thinking seriously about learning the language. What would you say to them in order to help them make the decision to start?

What about starting with one sentence? It will possibly open a new and wonderful world to you…

Aran Jones is one of the owners of  SaySomethingin.com. You can follow him on Twitter also.

Interview: Lara Roberts, Dillad Tost Clothing.

NOTE: There is a Welsh language version of this article, which is suitable for learners on the Welsh language version of our website. To access this click “Newid i’r Cymraeg” in the menu above, or browse to www.defnyddiwcheichcymraeg.com 

Tost are a brand new alternative clothing company based in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion. They produce a range of interesting designs across an even bigger range of products. T-Shirts, hoodies, badges – you name it, they do it.

We sat down with founder Lara Roberts for a quick chat about the company, her work and her experience with the Welsh language.

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Can you tell us exactly what Tost is?

Basically, Tost started out as just a T-shirt company, but has quickly grown in to a clothing brand, and our mission is to create unique merchandise inspired by alternative culture, street art, music and the Welsh language.

 

merchtostWhy did you start Tost? What was the main reason?

Well, I’ve always been in to alternative fashion and culture since I was a teenager. My choices were shaped by the music I’d listen to – lots of punk music, accompanied by lots of skateboarding, hair-colouring and guitar playing.  I found that there was a serious gap in the market for Welsh language clothing with an ‘alternative’ edge to it, so I decided to try to fill that gap!

 

There are lots of companies who do things like this, but you are the only company that I know of who do it in Welsh. How important is the language to you?

The language is very important to me. I was born in Swansea, I am Welsh and proud to identify as a Cymraes. I am hoping that the designs I create for Tost will reach further than just us who can speak the language, and maybe inspire others to learn, or even just to raise awareness of the language.

 

What is your story with the language?

Well, I decided to start learning Welsh at the end of 2016 because I felt that as a Welsh woman, I should be able to speak the language of my country!  I used Say Something in Welsh, watched a lot of “Pobol y Cwm” and listened to a lot of Welsh language music at the start of my learning journey.  I’m still learning, and believe I will always be a learner, however I can live my life and work through the language, and of course chat with my Welsh speaking friends over a few beers!

 

mockup-430fff02Also, you work for a famous company in the Welsh world – Siop y Pethe. Have this helped you at all when you were setting up the company?

Siop have been great, they’ve been very supportive of the idea and want to stock my designs as soon as possible.  I’d like to work alongside them to create a one-off design for their collection.

 

 

Music and art has been a massive inspiration to you. What type of things do you like at the moment?

It varies to be honest, although I always go back to listening to punk bands, usually from America!  At the moment I’m listening to The Wonder Years a lot, but I could be listening to Manic Street Preachers one day and Good Riddance the next.  Yeah, I have an art degree so art is a very important inspiration to me.  Just like with music, my favourite artists change.  Although, I’ve always been a huge fan of street art, in particular the Belgian street artist ROA.  I saw a lot of his work on the streets of Brussels when I was out in Belgium in 2016, which was cool.

 

What type of feedback have you received so far?

The feedback has been really positive.  We’ve had a lot of interest from all over the world, which is great because it means the Welsh language is spreading far and wide!

 

What are your plans for the future with Tost? Are you planning anything exciting?

I’d really like to be able to eventually do everything myself.  At the moment, in order to keep costs down I’m using an external printing company to print & send orders, but I plan to essentially have a one-woman-band where I can control every aspect of the service!  Other than that, having some sort of prescence at the Eisteddfod would be awesome!

 

Finally. How can people find out more about Tost?

It’s super easy, you can go to www.dilladtost.com and go from there!  We have hoodies, t-shirts, badges and bags.  More merchandise will be added soon!  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using @dilladtost

Review: Byrgyr, Aberystwyth

NOTE: There is a Welsh language version of this article, which is suitable for learners on the Welsh language version of our website. To access this click “Newid i’r Cymraeg” in the menu above, or browse to www.defnyddiwcheichcymraeg.com 

When I found out there was going to be a “burger” restaurant opening in Aberystwyth, I got excited for a moment, so waiting for 2 months for the place to open has been very frustrating… but last Tuesday night, I got my first chance to find out what all the fuss was about.

They have called the Cambria building their home, near the Pier in Aberystwyth. I had heard lots of good things over the web about them over the weekend – because they opened officially three days ago.

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The first things you’ll notice, especially people with an interest in the Welsh language, is just how “prominent” the language is on everything they do, which is really encouraging. The staff speak it, the owners speak it, and more importantly, they have hired staff as learners of the Welsh language, helping to grow the number of Welsh speakers in the Ceredigion area, which is really important.

IMG_4318The place? It’s open, stylish and modern, with lots of wooden features everywhere which gives a comfortable feeling to the place. Somehow, it feels like the type of place where you would be happy to go for a “posh meal” at the same time as calling in for a “quick lunch break” during your work.

 

There were 10 of us eating tonight, so they definitely had their work cut out for them in the kitchen to tell the truth. Every single one of us chose something different to the next person, so we were feeling a little bit guilty for stretching their skills out so early!

As vegetarians, me and my wife always get a bit disappointed when we look at a menu and find find one “token veggie burger”. So we were really happy to find more than one, more than two, loads of options for vegetarians like us. So thanks for that!

I had the “Corn Gwlad” – vegetarian burger, a burger with a bit of a “kick”, filled with fresh salad and a lovely bun. The taste was excellent, full of flavour! My wife had the “Aber” burger, which is also suitable for vegans. That was tasty also, because we were sharing the two! We also had “Loaded Fries with cheese” They were great.

IMG_4314To drink, I had a couple of bottles of “Preseli Pils” while my wife drank house red wine. That’s the thing with Byrgyr, the guys who run the place come from the local area – so they use local resources, local meat, local drinks and things like that.

We were served through the medium of Welsh, even though the staff helping us were learners, so fair play to them all!

The ten of us enjoyed the evening, and we were all very happy with what Byrgyr had to offer. Even though we do not eat meat, our friends said that their burgers were very tasty and they all enjoyed them a lot.

If you want to go somewhere comfortable but luxurious at the same time, it’s impossible to beat Byrgyr in the Ceredigion. Food – amazing, Welcome – warm, View out of the window – the sea!

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Visit soon, before everyone finds out!

Our new “Adopt a Learner” program

What is the “Adopt a Learner” program?

“Adopt a Learner” is a brand new, totally free service we offer here at useyourwelsh.com, which aims to pair up keen learners with more experienced Welsh speakers in order to help the learner improve their Welsh and to develop friendships that primarily operate through the medium of Welsh.

The idea is to bring like minded people together and to give learners the vital experience of speaking to confident and more fluent Welsh speakers outside of a classroom environment.

The level of contact you have with your adopted partner is totally down to you, and your preferences that you select are used when matching you up with a partner. Some people may want to stck to email contact only, some people may be happy to chat over Skype, some people may prefer to chat over the phone, some people would be happy to meet for a coffee every so often. It really is up to you!

How does it work?

So the idea is that you can choose to register with the programme as either a “Welsh Learner” or a “Welsh Speaker”.

If you register as a “Welsh learner” you will be paired up with someone on our database who is more experienced with the language, this could be a first language speaker, a fluent Welsh speaker who has learnt the language but doesn’t speak it as a first language or someone who is still learning the language but is very confident and is likely to be further down the line than yourself.

If you register as a “Welsh speaker” you will be paired up with a Welsh learner who could come from any part of the world.

You will be asked a series of questions about what type of person you would like to be put in contact with, things like interests, hobbies, location (those learning the northern dialect may prefer to meet a fellow north Walian etc) and what methods you are happy for your Learner or Speaker to communicate with you through.

As a Learner, what should I expect from my partner?

Although you will be paired up with a more experienced Welsh speaker, their role is not to teach you to speak Welsh, their role will be to offer you a helping hand, offer you guidance and to offer you the opportunity to get chatting practice – whether that is over the phone, over Skype or in person.

To take part in the programme, you should be following your own plan of action to learn Welsh. This is not a replacement for an educational course and it would be unfair to expect someone to teach you in this manner.

As a Welsh speaker, what should I expect from my partner?

Your partner will be a Welsh learner, but they will be following their own plan of action for learning the language, this may be via night classes at a local college, using tools like Say Something in Welsh and Duolingo or using other methods available.

Your job is not to teach your partner how to speak Welsh, but rather just to be there as a source of guidance and practice every now and then. You can contact each other via email, phone, Skype or even meet for coffee if you so wish.

By doing so, you will be helping to further secure the future of the Welsh language and helping ensure that the language continues its recent growth.

When I sign up, what happens next?

When you sign up, your requests are entered into our system and we will pair you up with someone who meets your requirements as closely as possible. If you’ve requested that you’d rather be paired up with someone who likes football and is happy to chat weekly over Skype, we will try our very best to set you up with someone who likes football and doesn’t mind Skyping on a regular basis. If you request to be matched up with someone who likes chess and only wants to chat over email, then you will get matched up with someone who likes chess and only wants to chat over email.

How is this free?

It just is. I thought this would be a pretty good idea, and so I did it. It’s completely free. The only thing I’d ask is that I hope for this process to be quite cyclical. I.E If you sign up as a “Welsh learner” and you find the programme useful, I would be so appreciative if you’d then consider becoming a “Welsh speaker” later on down the line when you’ve become a confident Welsh speaker, this way the programme grows in a more “organic way” If this year’s “learners” become next years “speakers” then the programme will grow and help the Welsh language grow.

How fluent do I have to be to offer my services as a “Welsh speaker”?

The people joining this programme as learners are going to be relatively new and inexperienced learners, so even you still consider yourself a learner (albeit a quite advanced one), you are more than welcome to join the programme as someone offering their services as a helper. If you can get by on a day to day basis through the medium of Welsh without any trouble, you are a perfect candidate to fulfil the “Welsh speaker” side of the deal!

What are the rules?

The rules are pretty simple, just be nice and behave. Any reported instances of the following will result in instant dismissal and blacklisting from the programme.

  1. Offering of paid services – i.e A tutor joining the programme and then offering paid tutoring services to their “learner”. This programme is completely free and there are already channels offering this sort of thing, please use them.
  2. Abuse of any kind. Any reports of bad behaviour, timewasters and so forth will result in instant dismissal

What if I don’t like my partner or if my partners goes missing/loses contact?

This is a free programme, so if you and your partner don’t get on, or you lose contact with them – just come back here, enter your details, make sure everything is back up and date and we will quickly pair you back up with someone!

Your data

Your data will be held securely and in an encrypted format on our servers under current GDPR regulations. This data will only be stored until the point where you are connected with a partner. Once this process is complete your information will be deleted.

When a connection between partners is made, you will be informed of their email address. It will then be up to yourselves to initiate further contact.

How to sign up….

To sign up, please go to the “Adopt a Learner” page, or find the new option on our menu bar.

How can learners contribute to Welsh speaking life?

NOTE: This article was originally written for Parallel.cymru, who have kindly offered to share it. To read this article there, please follow this link. To read this article in Welsh, please click here

Sometimes, as learners we can think it is difficult to contribute to the Welsh-speaking world. Here, Neil Rowlands and contributors to the digital magazine parallel.cymru speak about their work and give tips and advice.

The six of us- Neil, Dani, Nicky, Patrick, Peter & Sam will speak about this in the National Eisteddfod this year:

Saturday 04/08, 15:10 at “Shw’mae Caerdydd” (Pierhead Building); free entry.
Croeso cynnes i gyd! A warm welcome to all!

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Dani Schlick
Local community member and Welsh Learner of the Year 2017 finalist.

How can Welsh learners contribute to Welsh-speaking life? – In any possible way as people who contribute to life in communities.

How can Welsh learners contribute to Welsh-speaking life? – In any possible way as people who contribute to life in communities.

A great example is Siân, a friend from my Welsh class, who works as a physiotherarpist in Ysbyty Alltwen in Porthmadog. She started learning Welsh because she – being Welsh – wanted to speak the language of her country and treat patients in their language. In her work she goes to the patients’ homes, in the area around Porthmadog, Beddgelert and Blaenau Ffestiniog – a very Welsh speaking area. To make patients feel more comfortable it is important to speak their first language with them. Siân’s patients appreciate this a lot. And as a little bonus Siân learns a lot about the language of the area. She already speaks the “native language”.

DanielaAnd myself, I speak Welsh in any possible context – with colleagues at work and of course in my spare time. It was a great priviledge and pleasure to be part of the Eisteddfod Choir in Anglesey in 2017 – a mostly Welsh-speaking choir. Some people in the choir knew me, but I didn’t mention to the others that I am a Welsh learner – I just spoke Welsh to them from the very beginning. Maybe the choir members suspected that I was not a first language speaker.

What a surprise it was to them when I reached the final of Welsh Learner of the Year 2017 – another priviledge and pleasure, by the way. It really opened their eyes, realising how important it is to include learners in Welsh-speaking events and to speak Welsh with learners. So in a way, this contributed to the way they see Welsh learners now.

Let me give you one little advice: Don’t say that you are a learner – what ever your level. Pretend! People will notice when you are speaking. But by not saying the word “learner” the conversation start more natural. And once you’ve started in Welsh, it will be difficult to change the language. And there you are!


Neil Rowlands
Founder, parallel.cymru

Learning any language bring rewards, challenges and opportunities. For myself, learning Welsh over the last five years has opened to the door to meeting hundreds of new people, develop friendships and has opened the door to Welsh culture and its institutions.

However, it has not always been a linear and straightforward journey. I started going to speaking groups and social events in Tŷ Tawe six months after starting classes, and barely understood a word! However, not having Welsh speakers in my family, office or many existing friends, I knew that I had to be hearing Welsh in the real world. Of course, the community in Swansea was very encouraging and welcoming. Over time I began understanding more, and then began small contributions to conversations; now feel that when I meet someone new I don’t need to identify myself with the term learner.

Neil-with-laptop-265Two years ago I decided that I wanted to integrate Welsh into my life, so I applied for some jobs where Welsh language abilities was a requirement. In the second of those interviews I was asked the question: “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, but I didn’t understand the words cryfderau and gwendidau. I asked the panel member to repeat the question, but I still didn’t understand, so had to ask for the question in English! I felt a right wally! However the process of writing the application in Welsh and spending time preparing for the interview gave me hours of contact time, and the feeling that I had stood on my own feet to submitted an ambitious application through a language that I was still learning gave me a tremendous boost.

In autumn 2017 I realised that I was in a catch-22 situation- I wanted to integrate Welsh into my life, but was in a job where there were no opportunities to do that. A lack of experience of delivering Welsh-medium services would always put me at a disadvantage compared to other applicants, whatever my standard of Welsh.

I realised that I had weekends and evenings to use, and that I didn’t need to find a job or funding to do something – I could just start something myself. I’m familiar with building websites and telling people about them, and I was aware that parallel reading is used in other European language pairs but not English-Welsh, so I spent a couple of weeks chucking something together, asked some friends to contribute some content, told some more people about it, who seemed to like it, so I iterated and then went live a couple of weeks after that.

There are incredible opportunites for people to deliver services through the medium of Welsh which don’t currently exist; government funding and vision only goes so far, and it is up to the community to innovate and try new things from the ground up.

The ideal project is to combine something that you know how to do with something that you are have an interest in. I knew how to make and publicise websites, and had an interest in making Welsh accessible.

I’ve also received a lot of support behind the scenes; some very kind people have granted their time to improve the standard of content on parallel.cymru, such as Elgan Davies-Jones, David Sutton and Patrick Jemmer (note- if there are any language errors on parallel.cymru then I’m responsible, not them). It’s wonderful to see people such as Dani, Huw Rowlands, Nicky and Peter use their time freely to share their skills and experience through what they do.

The digital world has removed barriers – if you have an idea for something that is missing from the Welsh-speaking world, why not fill it yourself?


Nicky Roberts
Founder useyourwelsh.com & youtube.com/learnwelshwithnicky; Welsh Learner of the Year 2018 Finalist.

Almost two years ago, I was in France with what felt like everyone else from Wales, supporting our nation competing against the best teams in Europe for the first time in my life.

I had a chance meeting with a guy who asked me if I needed any help taking my pints back to my seat. I did not know at the moment, but that guy had a huge impact on my life.

I came home from the Euros with much less money and a bit more weigh, but I knew something had changed in my head. I was going to learn the language of my country, sing the anthem and understand what I had been singing since the first time I watched Wales play in 1990.

DSC_0089_2Originally from the Rhondda Valley, from a very small town called Edmondstown. When I grew up in the Valleys, I didn’t hear the Welsh language until I went on holiday in West Wales with my family. There was no Welsh-medium secondary school when I grew up – and English-speaking schools in the 80s had a lot more to do to inspire anyone to learn the language.

Just a couple of weeks before Christmas 2016, I went to search Google for ‘How to learn Welsh quickly’ and went to the Say Something in Welsh program. I started to do that, doing one or two lessons a day. After two and a half weeks of learning the language, I started a channel on YouTube with the name “Learn Welsh with Nicky (www.youtube.com/learnwelshwithnicky)”. Since then my channel has grown and developed – I have more than 350 subscribers and my channel has more than 20,000 views.

The most important thing I’ve done since starting to speak Welsh has been helping to attract and encourage others to try the language, as well as running sessions for brand new beginners for online communities. And in real life, I have set up a brand new website that helps help attract and encourage people and businesses to use the more frequent language. Namely, my new bilingual website http://www.useyourwelsh.com.

What I always say to learners is “Go for it now!” By learning the language, I have met many people who want to be fluent, but haven’t yet gone out and used their Welsh. Talking with other people is the most important thing you can do! Don’t even worry about making mistakes – don’t! That was crucial to my language learning success – I was not frightened at all. I was out in the town trying to find speakers of the language after one week of learning it! You should do the same thing too!

We are all responsible for the language- the future of the language is in our hands. We can choose what happens with the language.


Patrick Jemmer
Translator of Ask Dr Gramadeg, tutor and regular contributor with parallel.cymru

I began to learn Welsh in Tŷ Tawe in Swansea city center when I came back home from Newcastle where I had been working, and I’ve been working at it now for six years. I love the Welsh language and Welsh culture, and I’m always trying to practise, to share ideas and my love of the language, and to learn more. I was very lucky when I won the Prose Medal for Learners in the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny in 2016, with a piece entitled ‘Bridges’.

Over the period 2012 – 2014 I was also studying in Swansea University for a ‘Certificate of Higher Education’ in Creative Writing and Psychotherapy (in English), containing lots of exercises based on ‘Writing the Self’, and I graduated with a distinction in 2014. So I had loads of ideas for topics and creative prompts when I started to create content for Parallel.cymru.

Although the English-language work had already been corrected by tutors (many thanks to Mr Andrew Hubbard and Dr Catriona Ryan for all their help and feedback), I don’t translate my words from English into Welsh, however. By now I write directly in Welsh. It’s an excellent experience thinking and communicating in Welsh. And to be honest, often I prefer how my ‘creative voice’ sounds in Welsh. I love the language! Now I’m experimenting with factual pieces, self-expressive ones, a bit of humour (see Ffred Phantastig and his antics — ha ha ha!), and even a little science fiction.

Then, I sat the A-Level exam for Second-Language Speakers in May 2017, and I got a distinction. Now I’m doing a great deal of immensely enjoyable work for Parallel.cymru, as an author, and helping with editing and translating. I met Neil, manager of the project, during the classes. Of course the whole process involves learning all the time, and I appreciate and enjoy receiving feedback and corrections, as I’m not an expert, and all constructive comments help me to learn and improve, and that’s my attitude to learning and using a language. Having said that, I can go to the pub and meet new people, chatting in Welsh without any problems at all! And without a doubt, the writing and proof-reading and so on have been very useful in this.

I’m self-employed at present. My main drive is enormous curiosity and a desire to explore new things, and to develop, and express creativity. I love expanding my understanding and insight; and helping others to do the same and achieve their goals in whatever they want to do.

I teach maths, science and English to people who are sitting GCSEs and A-Levels, and even some university students. I’ve been working with several students who go to Welsh-language secondary schools. I work face-to-face, with groups, and over the internet. I want to use the Welsh language more and more with students by teaching through the medium of Welsh, and by working as a Welsh language tutor for young people and adults too.

So, you can practise Welsh all the time, from saying ‘shw mae’ in the corner shop, the library, or on the bus, using it in the workplace, through volunteering in the local Menter Iaith, to sharing your experiences or your ideas on Parallel.cymru. There are people here to help you, so don’t be frightened. As I was saying, although I love grammar, I’m always learning something new, and I’m truly grateful to everyone who helps me. The most important thing is that we are all very friendly, passionate about the language, work as a team, encouraging each other whilst promoting the language. Why don’t you give it a go and join us on our journey of discovery into Welsh language and culture? It’s incredibly worthwhile, and full of fun, too!


Peter Mescall
Writer of Newyddion i Ddysgwyr Newydd and organiser of courses for Welsh learners.

About two years ago, I was looking for something to do. I was speaking with another teacher in the school. He was brought up in North Wales but was originally from Liverpool. “Do you speak Welsh?” he said. I couldn’t answer in Welsh. And then I thought: “How shameful- I can’t answer in Welsh”.

So, I decided to learn Welsh; to start with Say Something in Welsh. The course is great but at the time I was looking for something else. I was learning more so I tried to organise weekends for learners.

Then, I was reading parallel.cymru. I realised that learner need something to help them learn new vocabulary. I sent a message to Neil… “I’d like to try writing the news in Welsh- a chance to practice reading and an opportunity to learn new words”.

And there we are. I still organise weekends and I’m so proud that people have the opportunity to use their Welsh over the weekend. Also the news- I have learnt so much since I started contributing the news.

I hope that you all can feel that you have the opportunity to improve as well.


Sam Brown
Linguist and Digital Marketing Officer for Gomer

I started learning Welsh about seven years ago after I went on holidays to north Wales and and heard the language being spoken by the majority of people that I saw on the street. After that I knew that I was going to learn the language, and when the time came to decide which university to go to, I knwe that in Wales I could study the language.

Since then the Welsh language has been more and more important to me and my daily life. I studied every level of Welsh for Adults courses, and after finishing my BA degree in German in Bangor University I went on to study Welsh and Celtic Studies in Cardiff University, where I studied through the medium of Welsh only. After finishing in Cardiff I got a job with Gomer Press in Carmarthen where I’ve worked for a year as a Digital Marketing Officer.

Sometimes it is difficult to use a second language (or, in my case, a third language) in the workplace and in every aspect of professional and personal life. I don’t know every word in Welsh and it has been a challenge for me to practice with all dialects – especially after living in three corners of Wales.

The best advice I can give is- don’t be afraid when you don’t understand something. There’s nothing worse than being on the phone or in a meeting and losing a word or not understanding someone’s accent. But, especially when discussing important things in the office or at university, sometimes you have to put your hand in the air and ask someone to explain.

This is not always a good experience and can feel very awkward, but in the end it will help you to become more confident and fluent in using your Welsh. You’ll be able to practice when you hear different accents and dialects and skills will develop such as words and phrases in their context.

One other thing that I can’t suggest enough is use your Welsh whenever you have an opportunity!