My first SSIW Oxford meet up

So this week on Wednesday I went along to my first Say Something In Welsh (SSIW) Oxford meet up. John, who is the organiser extraordinaire of the group, got in touch with me via the SSIW online forum and invited me along. Having never met John before I did think I should have suggested he wear a daffodil to distinguish himself in the cafe but a friendly face and a Welsh magazine on the table did the trick!

John has been learning Welsh for 4 years, has done an Open University Welsh course and a Welsh immersion course in North Wales. As I sat down after saying my opening gambit “Helo. Helen dw i” (hello I’m Helen), I realised I really didn’t have a lot of vocab to draw on to make Welsh conversation with someone I hadn’t met before! But I muddled through for an hour or so and I managed to ask some questions and understand John’s answers. John was incredibly patient with me and helped me move some of my predominately English sentences into fully Welsh sentences. I realised my Welsh past tense was particularly lacking…need to work on that!

It was great to hear his ideas for learning Cymraeg and he also very kindly gave me a copy of a magazine targeted at Welsh Learners called Lingo Newydd. He gets them through the post and the articles are colour coded depending on what level of Welsh speaker you are. Clever!

I also briefly met Richard, another Welsh learner living in Oxford, before heading for my train home; my brain abit of a blur. Whilst the SSIW Oxford group meet up every week, I think what I’ll do is see where my learning is at in a months time and go back for a meet up then. Think I need more vocab and ability to ask questions under my belt to really be able to contribute. But I’m proud that I went, met my first new person via the medium of Welsh and all on a Wednesday evening after a days work…phew!

By completing SSIW lesson 7 today, I’m almost a third of way through level 1. Although today’s lesson went okay, it was the first time I had a real feeling of the learning going in one ear and out the next! Hopefully I’m wrong!

Learnt lots more past tense in this lesson which is good and also learnt some questions starting with ‘when’ which I think is a handy addition. ‘When’ in Welsh is ‘Pryd’ or ‘Pan’ depending on the context of the question…yep never simple!

On DuoLingo this week I have enjoyed learning commands. By the looks of things you just add a -wch on the end of the direction word. That plus a voice infection exclamation mark and you’re good to go! Useful vocab I think for when Hedd and I are on niece and nephew babysitting duty!

I’ve just started learning some more opinions in Welsh too. I shall leave you with the Welsh for ‘pretty’ which is ‘bert’….lol!

Tara am rwan!


Saying “Yes” yn Gymreag / in Welsh

I remember quite vividly the first time I discovered that there was no single word in Welsh that answers “yes” to questions. I was dumbstruck. But I just want to say yes! Why can’t I just say yes?! [add expletives]!

I now come to think of it as one of the many things that makes Welsh unique and heck it’s a challenge why not! I still find myself playing the “yes roulette” when up staying with the V-E’s. The family are quite patient with me as I pause to make my choice from the plethora of ways to be accepting in Welsh. I’m happy to report that the odds in me making the right choice are improving!

So brace yourselves, these are the many ways to say “yes” yn Gymreag / in Welsh…well the ways I’ve discovered so far! (Oh yes I’m sure there are more ways than 9!)

  • Ydw- yes, I am.
  • Ydy- yes, he/she is.
  • Ydyn- yes, we/they are.
  • Oes- yes, she/he does.
  • Ie- yes (to questions that don’t start with a verb e.g. Is this yours?)
  • Byddi- yes, you will
  • Cei- yes, you can
  • Oedd- yes, it was
  • Do- yes, we/he/she/I did (where action completed in past tense)

Annnddd breath! As Hedd said to me this evening, why only have 1 way to say “yes” when you can have 9!

So now to the report of my learning over the last 7 days…well I’ve started my 5 minute a day SSIW listening exercise. Aran now narrates my train journey Kings Sutton to Heyford each morning! He gets around that SSIW producer!

Yesterday I completed Challenge 6 of the Level 1 SSIW course. Ooh it was a long one at 47mins. Longest one yet. I struggled come the end I have to admit as the left side of my brain ached from concentrating for so long. But I reckon I spoke 80% + of phrases right so I was pleased with that.
Keeping all my lesson “coins” gold in Duolingo has been a challenge this last week which is a shame because I’m looking forward to getting started on the next lessons in the app. They are entitled ‘commands 1’ and ‘commands 2’…watch out Hedd!

This week I’ve also discovered another learning resource. It’s called ‘Daily Welsh’ on the Pinterest app. There is a vocab sheet for near enough every occasion, including ‘The Face’. So I just gotta find the complimentary ‘The Body’ vocab sheet and then I’m good to go on the nursery rhyme Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes!

Tara am rwan!

My first visit to Wales

This weekend was my first visit to Wales to see the V-E family since starting to learn Welsh. I was a little apprehensive that I would be bombarded with Welsh and have to embarrassingly blink blankly back at the converser. But none of that happened at all and I actually really enjoyed practicing my Welsh in real life. The photo above is of the Vale of Clwyd which I took on my walk this morning. Never get bored of that view.

Wel-ish was spoken in full force by me, encouraged by Ian, Hedds dad, who says that over time there would be less English in the sentences but not to worry about it. It’s better to say half a sentence in Welsh than resorting to English completely because I haven’t learnt or remembered perhaps just one Welsh word.

The whole V-E family were very supportive and I even got a “I’m impressed” which I took with great appreciation. I made the most of being in BBC Radio Cymru signal catchment and had that playing in the car all weekend, so I got a bit of immersive learning as we traveled about. I honed my ‘Wales supporter’ vocabulary during the Wales v Italy Six Nations Rugby game (Wales won 33-7, get in!). And I practiced my weather and animal vocab on Hedd and Awel as we strolled the Welsh hills. So all and all a pleasing weekend on the Welsh practice front!

As per I’ve been completing at least 2 lessons on Duolingo each day. This week I have enjoyed lessons on family and weddings. Bride/ groom / mother in law/ wedding dress- all vital vocab for a priodas (wedding) lover like me! Duolingo is also equipping me to be decisive, completing lessons on “must” and “must not”. Watch out Hedd!

Today I completed challenge 5 of ‘Say something in Welsh’ (SSIW) audio learning course and was met with the encouraging message above. Aran from SSIW promises that if get past level 5 then chances are you are going to become a very able Welsh speaker- hooray! 

I found lesson 5 not too bad. I learnt new words like “I’m not sure” / “dw i ddim yn swre”, “interesting” / “diddoral” and “if” / “os”. Along side recapping on words learnt previously in lessons 1 to 4 but using them in different sentences. All meant to deepen the memory of the vocab by repetition which I definitely  think is working.

Now that I’ve completed challenge 5, I have a listening exercise to do for 5 mins each day until I reach challenge 10. It’s all downloaded on my phone so I’m planning to do it each day on the train during the annoying “wifi black spot” on the commute to  work. Nifty way to pass the time me thinks!
Oh in the my last post I was telling you I couldn’t decide whether to go back and repeat any of the SSIW lessons to embed the learning. Well, with the help of Aran’s advice (thanks Aran!), I’ve decided to press on and not repeat any. So this time next week I will be able to regale you with the stories of SSIW lesson 6. 

Tara am rwan/ Tara for now!