Speaking Welsh aloud

This week for me has been about trying to speak Welsh aloud everyday, even just a sentence or two.

Whilst Duolingo is great to help with understanding and writing Welsh, I don’t think it helps with speaking Welsh. So this week I’ve started using a second Welsh Learning app called ‘Say Something in Welsh’ (SSIW). 

SSIW are audio Welsh lessons put together by Aran and his wife Catrin. Aran teaches you the Welsh for a word, then he says it in English and I then have to repeat it in Welsh before Catrin says it, and Aran repeats it. Sounds easy right? Not quite! The sentences get longer but the time you get to say your bit in Welsh doesn’t lengthen to the same extent forcing you to think on your feet and trust your gut. Lots of science behind it, but essentially it gets you learning and thinking in Welsh quicker and sets you up for coping with conversations in Welsh in real life.

Lessons are quite long at 35 minutes and I’ve only managed to fit in Challenge 1 of Level 1 this week. But I’ve started, that’s the main thing. I enjoyed my first lesson but blimey did my head hurt come the end of the 35 mins! A few phrases I struggled to say before Catrin said them but on the whole I did okay. 

Hedd was very impressed with me knowing the word for “practice”- “ymarfer”…I think he’s enjoying hearing some of the Welsh words i’m learning which perhaps he hasn’t heard or used for a while. I’m still struggling to commit to memory the Welsh for “I can’t” “fedra i ddim”, but I’m blaming that on my in-built optimism bias ; ) !

I’m loving Arans top tips for using SSIW….following them makes the whole thing less daunting:- 

1) Make mistakes! 

2) Ditch the pause button! 

3) Don’t repeat sessions! 

4) Do the listening exercises! 

5) And talk to a live person every week.

Thanks Aran! However this is also the same guy that informed me at the end of challenge 1 that after challenge 5 the lessons are going to go at double speed!!! My reaction:- “whatttttt!!!

I’ve also joined the SSIW Forum and found a Welsh Learning Social Group that meets up in Oxford weekly to practice Welsh. Sounds petrifying (!) but I will go and try it out soon (eek!).

I’ve continued using Duolingo daily on my commute to and from work. This week I have completed lessons on numbers. I like the structure of Welsh numbers. For example ’34’ is tri (3) deg (10) pedwer (4). So in that way numbers are building blocks so once you know 1-10 you’re good to go really for all numbers 1 to 100! 

I completed a whole lesson on math, learning the words for minus/add/multiply/divide- don’t know how often I will use that vocab! 

I’ve learnt Places- I particularly liked learning “I work in New York”- “dwi’n gwedditho yn eurog newydd” and giggled learning “do you eat meat in abergavenny?” “Dych chi’n bwta cig yn Y Fenni?”!

The lesson on Past Tense was a little tricky…remembering not to put the ‘n’ in “dw i’n” and the order of words in the sentence structure is slightly counter intuitive. 
However in the same lesson I did learn:- “Dych chi wedi codi eto?” “Have you got up yet?”, which I have preceded to say with delight to Hedd every morning this week as I often leave for work before Hedd is out of bed! 

I completed the lesson on Animals- including “llygodden”(mouse) which I then put in a sentence, saying to Hedd that I had seen a little mouse in the kitchen and he freaked out in Welsh- very funny!

I learnt the Welsh for “She” and “He”.  I can see me make some bluppers there. Mae e (he) Mae hi (she)….very similar to each other that a slip of the tongue could cause a bit of confusion! Just like when I called our nephew Dyfan “hogan bach” (little girl) instead of “hogin bach” (little boy)…hmm, I apologise in advance to all for any offence I will cause!

So 17 aspects learnt and 2 checkpoints past in Duolingo and Challenge 1 of 25 completed in SSIW (level 1 of 2). So loads of distance still to be covered but I’m quietly proud of my first 2 weeks “in the pursuit of Welsh”. Till next time…..

Learning “my sounds”

I have a best friend, Nikki, who is a Primary School teacher and this year I spent Christmas Eve with her and her 2 young boys, Jasper and Farley. Jasper got a new rhyming card game to play with and as I sat playing it with Jay, Nikki said encouragingly “use your sounds”…Jay considered his hand of cards practicing his phonics and picked out “cat” and “hat”, “van” and “man” with great success.

So this week that’s where I started…Learning the Welsh alphabet; learning “my sounds”. I hope that this will set me up for a winning hand just like Jay.

I’ve been using my ‘Welsh on the Wall’ poster to recite “my sounds”. This is stuck up in our hallway…I think Hedd wishes it was up somewhere closer to a sofa as we have spent an abnormal amount of time in our entrance hallway this week!

So an intro to the Welsh Alphabet. There is 28 letters (2 more than in English), including 8 newbies on the block:- ch, dd, ff, ng, ll, ph, rh, th. And not many sound the same as in English! As I stood reciting, I found myself having to resist every desire in my brain to pronounce the letter as I would in English because, I  guess, my mother tongue sounds are so engrained in my lexicon. (Well done Manadon Vale Primary School!) But I’m getting there.

Vowel sounds are different. I’m finding “u” the most tricky. You need to have your tongue forward but contained within your teeth and project the sound from your throat. Hedd and I were in giggles as I ended up looking like I was threatening a head butt whilst making some sort of fight noise/grunt! Hmm…one to keep working on I think!

“R” is another tricky one, to me it’s “rur” (for Ricky the robber) but in Welsh “r” is “urr” (as in bud-wise-urrr). I smile as I acknowledge my learning methods have moved from story characters to booze branding!

“L” is another one. Not “ler” for “Lucy lamp lady” but “url” (as in a mix of “ohhh a unicorn” and “uhh I’ve touched used chewing gum under the table!”)

Another is “Ng” as in ki-“ng” which to me feels like im making a comic swallow of the throat sound.

I think my favourite run of letters is “P” and “Ph”, as in “per” and “fer”, because you know puffer fish (okay okay, small things please me!)

My Learning Welsh App of choice this week has been Duolingo which I’ve been doing it on my commute to work. I have a 20 minute train journey as part of my commute and the 5 minute lessons fit in rather nicely. Although there is the jeopardy that is the internet black hole Heyford-to-Tackley stretch and making sure I’ve completed and graded a lesson in time!

I’ve completed 8 lessons so far and reached the first ‘checkpoint’. I smashed lessons 1 and 2 on “greetings”. There has been lessons on days- remembering Thursday is the trickiest for me “lau”. Lessons on wanting- “eisiau”. I don’t like “eisiau” so much, it makes me feel like I’m bluntly demanding which I rarely do in English. Instead of “want”, I would like to know how to say in Welsh, “I would like…” or “I fancy a…” And to complete the check point I’ve done lessons on the Present Tense, Clothes and Work. 

So I’ve learnt a cocophony of Welsh words this week and I fear I’m confusing Hedd slightly with the random questions I’m now asking him in Welsh using the mix of words I’ve learnt. Yesterday we had a whole conversation about new shirts and ironing! “Dy chi’n mind i swmddio crys newedd heno?” / “Are you going to iron your new shirts tonight?”

Lol, let the random continue…!