A few weeks ago I announced that I was going to learn German. However, before I started a few things came up. In particular I stumbled across an online course called Say Something in Welsh. I have long toyed with learning Welsh as my maternal grandparents were born in Wales (Brynmawr and Maesteg) and as a child I remember enjoying learning the few bits of Welsh that they knew. I don’t know much about their parents but can remember my great grandmother who spoke Welsh and am pretty sure I remember stories of other relatives who spoke Welsh. I often listen to BBC Radio Cymru and, despite not knowing what they are saying, enjoy the sound of the language and much of the music played.
What really encouraged me to think more seriously about switching from German to Welsh was a YouTube video posted by Moses McCormick. He mentioned how before he chooses to learn a language he looks in his area to see how many people speak it and what his opportunities to use it will be. I have lived in Bristol for about 20 years and have only ever heard German spoken once, whereas I have frequently bumped into people who speak Welsh and my family frequently holiday in Welsh speaking areas of Wales.
In my working life I come across a Welsh speaker at least once a fortnight in a situation in which it would be ok to exchange pleasantries in Welsh, however I rarely have contact with German speakers where it would be appropriate to use German. I was torn between learning German or Welsh but have decided because I will have more opportunities to use Welsh and because there is more support for learning it near me that it would be fun to learn.
Say Something in Welsh
As I said above I found the ‘Say Something in Welsh’ course, which is what I am using to learn Welsh. I read what people were saying about the course, tried the first lesson and fell in love with it. I am going through the South Wales version of the course and am really enjoying it; I particularly like the accent and style of the man who presents it. It could best be described as a high intensity course where once the presenter teaches you a new word or phrase in Welsh they then say lots of different phrases in English that you then have to say in Welsh. The English phrases are combinations of the things that you have already learned with the repetition of those spaced. So you could be asked to say the following sorts of phrases in order: “I have forgotten what I wanted to say”, “I have forgotten how to say what I wanted to say”, “I have forgotten to say what I need to say in Welsh”, etc. It really piles on the pressure, but at the same time I feel that I’m making progress and the time has been well spent.
I have been doing it for about a week now and am really happy with how it’s going. It has taken me a little longer to get to where I am now because there are two versions of the course: Course 1,2,3 or Level 1,2. I started doing the ‘course’ versions of the course then added the ‘level’ versions, now I have switched to the level versions completely as they are the new framework and by keeping to just one version of the course the spaced repetition should work better. My main difficulties at the moment are pronouncing the ‘ll’ sound, rolling my r’s and letting go of the pause button. I am getting better at the latter, but not sure if I am pronouncing the right sound for the double l. I think rolling my r’s will come naturally with practise. Also occasionally it is hard to work out what consonant is being pronounced at the start or end of some of the words as the course encourages you to not read Welsh until later on as it is believed that your accent will be better without it. This is probably true, but sometimes I have to use Google translate to try to find a word to clarify how they are saying it. It’s a minor problem and I’m looking forward to finding some time later today to crack on with the course.