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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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!

Neil Rowlands – Parallel.cymru

Creating the new online bilingual magazine parallel.cymru, by Neil Rowlands

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 

Parallel.cymru is a new online magazine which provides side-by-side Welsh-English content from contributors who are working, creating, using and learning the language.Parallel.cymru is a new online magazine which provides side-by-side Welsh-English content from contributors who are working, creating, using and learning the language.
I’ve been learning Welsh in South Wales for the last four years, and after progressing through the reading resources suitable for learners, such as the magazine Lingo Newydd, translations of teen fiction such as Roald Dahl and JK Rowling, Quick Reads and books by Bethan Gwanas and Lois Arnold, I found the jump up to first language books and magazines difficult.  I looked into learning resources in other languages and noticed that many popular language pairs such as Spanish-English and French-English have parallel reading books and websites, with content laid out in both languages, side by side.

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I have experience of creating and marketing websites, and from volunteering at Welsh language centres and events I’ve got to know a few people in the community.  So in October 2017 I simply mixed these ingredients together, asked a few friends to do interviews and popped them on a simple website.  Feedback from people that I shared it with were positive, so I made the website look professional and told a few more people about it.  Over November 2017 I expanded the marketing to include Say Something in Welsh, Twitter, S4C appearances, mailouts to Welsh Language Centres and good old word of mouth.
Rather than being an ordinary blog, I’m focussing on providing first person perspective on the Welsh language world.  So people who write, run businesses, organise activities, create music and art, or simply have interesting stories to tell, share what they are doing.  This also means that each time you come to the site, there will be quality and unique content to savour.

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All the articles are organised by the level of Welsh, so that people can read simple Welsh as people speak it, standard written Welsh, or the formal Welsh as used in literature.  Providing English side by side means it is very easy to check a word or the meaning of a sentence.  In this way I hope that people can become more familiar with reading Welsh and over time improve their abilities.
Another distinguishing feature is that content will remain online- unlike magazines and other sites where exceptional and useful content disappears after the next edition is published.  So, over time parallel.cymru will grow into a corpus of how people use and interact with the language.
One of my long term goals is to provide original short form fiction and long form fiction.  Providing translations of out of copyright English texts that people are familiar with helps reading in Welsh easier. Similarly, making contemporary Welsh fiction available with an English version introduces people to Welsh literature and writers.
Other long term goals include:

  • Providing a bilingual grammar guide.
  • Publishing accessible papers from Welsh-speaking academics and postgraduate students that explains their work to a wide audience;
  • Working with Welsh for Adults tutors to provide resources for informal learning;
    Creating Spanish-Welsh or trilingual articles to support people in Patagonia.

I’m currently running parallel.cymru as a hobby in my spare time.  As all content is, and will remain, available for free, I’ve had to think about a sustainable operating model.  Many websites generate income through referrals to Amazon, but as I want to promote Welsh businesses I won’t do that.  Other websites inject advertising and auto-playing videos, but I don’t want that to distract from the unique content hosted here.Instead I will establish parallel.cymru as a charitable enterprise, prepare grant applications, and later on explore opportunities for organisations to sponsor the site in the form of a weekly post explaining their product.
However, the most important parts of parallel.cymru is its contributors and readers, so I extend heartfelt thanks to the many people who are supporting and enjoying this project.
If you have an area of expertise you would like to share or a good story to tell, then you can get in touch with me on parallel.cymru@gmail.com.
Enjoy reading!