DYSGU CYMRAEG/LEARN WELSH

So, you’ve found your way here because you’ve either tried out one of the videos on the other parts of this website, or you’ve just somehow stumbled upon this page – nevermind. Whichever way you arrived here, welcome!

Learning Welsh, especially if you live in Wales can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. I learnt Welsh as an adult myself, after spending 95% of my life being unable to speak or understand it.

The great thing about Welsh nowadays is that there is no shortage of ways to learn it. As a man who grew up in the south Wales valleys in the 1980s, I am truly amazed at the number of (growing) resources out there.

I hope this website has been of some use to you, and that the introductory Welsh you will have learnt and explored from our videos has given you a taster of how easy Welsh can be.

How to learn Welsh further….

We are all unique individuals, each with different methods of learning. Some people prefer speaking a lot, some people prefer writing a lot, some people like the commitment of a weekly class whilst others prefer having an app on a phone that they can use for 5 minutes when they’re bored.

There really is no right or wrong way to learn Welsh!

Well, there are lots of wrong ways to learn Welsh – one of which is turning up to a French class!
But seriously… there are essentially, a handful of ways forward for you to start learning the language and I will go through the pros and cons of each method, giving you a realistic view of what to expect from each one.

This is personal opinion based on my own learning experiences and those of my friends and others I have seen go through the learning process.

Method One: Say Something in Welsh

Say Something in Welsh has been running since 2009 and has grown over the years into something that has helped turn thousands of Welsh learners into fluent Welsh speakers, even me!

Say Something in Welsh (or SSIW as I’ll refer to it from here on in) is a largely aural based method of language learning, authored by Aran Jones, who was joined by long time friend and voice of the southern course Iestyn ap Dafydd. The two, who were friends who kept bumping into each other through different jobs and roles eventually decided to join forces and create what has since become SSIW.

Both of these guys have done a great deal of work and research over the years into language acquisition and the result of that work is the SaySomethingIn.. family of courses. Welsh being by far the most developed at present, but the duo also offer courses in other languages such as Spanish, Dutch and Manx among others – with plans for more in the near future.

The course is taught predominantly through 30 minute lessons that can be played on your computer or smart phone. The course is taught very much in the same sort of way you picked up English as a child, lots of pointing, lots of talking and lots of questions – there’s a science behind it and I can’t really explain how it works but it does!

Another bonus is that the first level (25 lessons) are absolutely free of charge. So you can reach a pretty impressive level before even paying a penny. Following this there are more levels and additional content you can access for a modest monthly subscription.

Pros

  • The results speak for themselves. No other method produces confident speakers in such a small amount of time.
  • The language learned is the same colloquial form of the language you’ll hear in pubs, shops and towns across Wales.
  • The choice of following a Northern or a Southern course to really develop your local dialect.
  • A supportive community of users.
  • The additional options of things like 6 month and 2 year guided courses as well as residential bootcamps.
  • Comes in smartphone app form.

Cons

  • Course is aural based only, with no written teaching.
  • Self determination needed. Might not be the course for people who like the commitment of a weekly class etc.

Method Two: Duolingo.

Duolingo is the most popular method of learning a language for a reason, it is a very effective way of learning a language. Millions of people learn languages every day using Duolingo and the Welsh course recently celebrated it’s 1,000,000th learner – which suggests that it definitely must be doing something right.

Duolingo is a course you take part in using your computer or your smart phone. In order to get the full benefit you need to use your microphone and produce some of the language vocally, but when you are in a public setting such as a train or a library – this can be turned off.

The course is generally based on the curriculum of the “Welsh for Adults” courses so if you have taken any of those courses you will be sure to run into some material you will already be familiar with.

What Duolingo does really well is teach written Welsh. It makes no differentiation between the north and south variants, but as a teaching tool for writing, it is second to none.

Pros

  • Comes in smartphone app form, great on the go.
  • Teaches writing very well.
  • Introduces an impressive vocabulary.
  • Large supportive community of users.
  • “Game” like nature of the course will keep you hooked.
  • Is free of charge.

Cons

  • Very easy to turn off the speaking function, thus reducing the overall success of the course. Of course this depends on the learner themselves.
  • Increased advertising on the Duolingo website and increased amount of requests to subscribe.
  • A recent update to the system (the introduction of “Crowns” rather than linear achievements) has not been popular with users.
  • Teaches in single sentence form, learners may find it more challenging to go out and take part in genuine conversations without some extra practice.

Method Three: Welsh for Adults course.

Whilst other courses exist from many different suppliers “Welsh for Adults” is very much considered the “go-to” in terms of real-life classes.

“Welsh for Adults” run course of multiple levels right across the country, usually in colleges, universities or even in community centres. The courses run right from Pre-Entry/Taster level right up to Proficiency level which is aimed at fluent Welsh speakers as a “last polish up” of your skills.

These courses are good for people who like the commitment factor that a scheduled coure can offer, and the fact you are attending with others gives you a lot of opportunity to mix with other Welsh learners.

Pros

  • A well structured and ordered course.
  • The chance to mix with other learners.
  • A tutor on-site to answer questions as they happen.
  • A recognised qualification at the end of the course.
  • Optional “residential summer schools” in places like Aberystwyth where a whole level of the course can be undertaken in a short space of time.

Cons

  • Going from beginner to fluent speaker can take a while due to the speed of the course.
  • Although not necessarily expensive by any means (£100-£150 for a full term Sept-May is about the going rate), this is the most expensive method of those listed here.
  • Whilst speaking with other learners is great, if you are only speaking with other learners you may find that your language stagnates a little.
  • Although the course provider try their best, depending on location sometimes the courses are difficult to attend.

Method Four: Going it totally alone!

By going it totally alone, you’ll be largely learning Welsh from books or just picking up colloquial Welsh from other fluent speakers.

I myself know of many people who just moved to Wales, found their local pub, realised that people spoke Welsh there and just learned colloquial Welsh from them.

Whilst this may frighten even the bravest of us out there, there are a lot of benefits to using this method – especially if you try where possible to limit yourself to only speaking Welsh with certain people.

Have you ever heard the theory about French? They say that people learn the language in schools for ten years without being able to produce a proper sentence, yet if you dumped someone in a southern-French village where no-one spoke English at all, and they had to learn some French in order to survive, they’d probably be fluent in a month! This is the nearest thing to that!

Pros

  • Can be an incredible quick way of learning the language (can also be very slow!)
  • You will definitely learn to speak “how the locals” speak.
  • The use of literature etc can further assist and aid your progress.

Cons

  • This is by far and away the hardest way to learn the language.
  • Can take a much longer time that simply taking a formal course.
  • You need to be quite the “people person” to achieve good results with this method.
  • Incredible amounts of self motivation needed.
  • Will your mistakes be corrected?
  • Possible lack of direction in your learning?

Struggling to decide which way to learn? Visit our forum and chat with other members of our community!

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