SSi Forum

11 months in - and finished


#1

Just some thoughts for Aran and the team after finishing Level 3 material:

I came to SSi because I Googled ‘Michel Thomas Welsh’. I learnt French and Italian (and Spanish) through the Michel Thomas (MT) method and know how much quicker that is compared to traditional learning. After 16 hours of tuition I used Italian as a working language in Italy. It was nice to get something similar, but a bit different with SSiW.

I grew up in Wales and did GCSE in Welsh as a second language, but that was 20 years ago and no way could I use it conversationally (despite learning it from primary school through to sixth form) - such is the effectiveness of traditional language teaching! It’s laughable to the point of being criminal.

What I really liked with ssiw:

the high speed listening- nice to see research-based methods being used in language learning. This helped me get an ear for the language that I didn’t get with MT courses in other languages.

  • the connection based approach to forming sentences, really worked the brain, and that has paid off in a very subliminal way I think. I can listen to Radio Cymru and get what they are talking about. It’s hard work, but I also suspect my neural connections are stronger than in other learning approaches.

What I had mixed feelings of: The ‘we are not going to give you any rules’ approach for me was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I think it has given me a bit of ‘intuition’ for the language about what ‘feels’ right when spoken, but on the other I know I really value understanding the principles of the language, and I really struggled making sense of some of the sentences we were saying. I kept wanting to know why. After Level 3, my next move was to go through the Gareth King’s grammar books. After only 2 exercises I knew I wish I had got those books at the beginning of the course. All the confusion about ‘that, this, those’ was put to rights in 5 mins with the book - if only SSiW had given me the same clarity!!! Perhaps you should recommend the books for us ‘principled-based’ learners, they would be a great complement. A more extreme example: after 11 months speaking welsh I have only just worked out that the ‘chi’ form of you is for you (plural), I assumed it was similar to polite / impolite like in French. 11 months~!!! Again, something the grammar booked helped with.

With MT as it is also audio only, he spells each word out the first time it is used, I found this very helpful and wish SSiW did the same as I struggled to visualise the word when heard the first time and found it difficult to work out sometimes if it started with a f or dd for example.

Thank you though, it has been a great experience and I am ready for next stage in learning the language of continuing to have my welsh chats, and listening, and reading to now build up vocab and subject matter knowledge.

Just wish I’d seen those grammar books last year… :slight_smile:


#2

Llongyfarchiadau, Andy on completion of the main course in such a short time. Nice one. Thanks for such an interesting read.

Not to worry about Chi. Of course you were correct all along with the French comparison in that it is the formal (respectful) version as well as the plural.

Are you aware of the advanced content continuation course? I must say that it really helped me. Although I haven’t personally used Gareth’s course books yet, I have found his reference books to be first class. If it’s in the Modern Welsh dictionary, its OK to use :slight_smile:


#3

Well done!

It’s always interesting to read other learners experiences. It also reminds me it’s always good to do a check of our own progress from time to time.

It’s interesting that I did the course in 11 months myself, but with a different background and different impressions about my process of learning.
Do you mind if I write something about my experience here for a friendly comparison? :slight_smile:

I’m saying in advance because I’ve seen so many discussions on the web lately, that I want to underline there’s no right way/wrong way for me, it’s just fun to see the differences!


#4

Although this is not a reply I could see no other way to post in to this topic!

Aran’s recommendation for users of the advanced course is a consistent weekly pattern of a five part sequence: listen once; read the script ; listen again; read translation; listen one last time. Is it the intention that

This whole sequence is carried out together as a unit and subsequently repeated daily throughout the rest of the week.

OR one part at a time carried out in sequence on a daily basis during the week?

The time involved will obviously vary considerably between these two options. When following this advanced course the participant will inevitably come across a large amount of unfamiliar vocabulary. When listening should one be concentrating and trying to understand/translate as much of the content as possible, or just be listening and ‘soaking it up subconsciously’? Is it the belief/hope/intention that by just listening to the mixture of the Welsh with English translation , this will result in an acquired improved vocabulary and comprehension? If not, what part of the sequence will be the optimum to have (frequent) recourse to the dictionary? Grateful for guidance on the matter.


#5

You can do it however it suits you, but the main point is to follow the “listen-read-listen-read-listen” pattern. The “soaking it up subconsciously” works far better than we tend to think it can, but perhaps - if you wish to try it - go through the sequence once without concentrating on the listening parts, then (on another day!) go through the sequence again but with concentration. For comparison, you could always try a second piece the other way around - concentrate first, then don’t. Then pick the one that works best for you - there’s no “one-size-fits-all” with this!
Also, where possible, make-do with getting the gist without recourse to a dictionary - it will benefit you much more because in real life conversations, we generally can’t stop to look words up! That’s really what this part of the course is all about, advancing your listening skills for use “in the wild”!


#6

Very many thanks for this prompt and helpful reply.:smile:


#7

Feel free to reply- would be great to compare!


#8

I think it’s more interesting and fun for me to write to use he same structure in my comparison so here goes!

I started Level 1 in July 2018 and finished Level 3 exactly 11 months later.

I came to SSiW through a link in a Duolingo forum page, after trying a few Welsh lessons there.

I have never attempted studying any language as an adult. I had studied at school: English (learnt it pretty well, even though mostly because I soon started to use it a lot outside the class).
French (failed exam, but later learnt to speak it thanks to going to France often), and some German (I can understand a bit but never managed to speak it).

I had no previous knowledge of iWelsh, apart from a few Datblygu songs.

What I really liked:
Totally agree with Andy about the approach to forming sentences so no need to rewrite it :grin:

I also really liked the absence of grammar in the course. I used to find it boring (OMG the dozens of repetitions of each exercise, but then when I tried to speak it took me minutes to put together a sentence - that usually turned out sounding odd to natives).
I actually didn’t even read the vocabulary lists until after I finished Level 2. From time to time I had doubts I felt a need to clarify, just asked here in the forum and got enough information to carry on.
I didn’t care about understanding, to be honest. :sweat_smile: to my surprise, the very first time I tried to speak a few months later people could understand me much better than when I first tried to speak English, French or German:
My sentences in Welsh were basic, broken and full of mistakes but somehow sounded clear to speakers than the more formally correct but unnatural I had learnt in standard courses of other languages.

I did not enjoy the high speed listening. and did just the bare minimum as from instructions.I rarely ever did them again after finishing the course, but I’m quite sure they did improve my listening skills.
After Level 2 I started listening to the Advanced Content: I couldn’t really understand much more than in the high speed listening series by it was more fun! And one of my guiding principles have been: enjoying myself as much as possible and I think it worked!

After finishing Level 3 I took a long break. Then just kept on listening to the songs (a lot), watching some TV (althouhg not continuously), listening to the radio and the Advanced Content from time to time. I’ve connected to online chats just a few times, but tried to get the !ax out of my trips to Wales (a total of about three weeks).

More recently I bought a few books for learners and finally started to enjoy reading.

I’ve tried traditional classes a couple of times, and although the teacher and the coursemates were lively and nice I can’t really see myself following a course.

During lockdown, I retried Duolingo (close to end Level 4, planning to finish 5 by the end of September. It’s not so bad to revise and practice verbs, structures and vocabulary and some writing skills too.

And…oooh… I even bought my first grammar book! “Working Welsh”. And at this point, an with that a bit unusual approach I had to admit I really like it and find it useful. Now!

Ok way too long for a summary, sorry :sweat_smile:. And what now…I guess I’ll have to start planning some interesting new challenge, but enough for today!

P.s. if you’d like the staff to read this we might as well call a few of them for when thy have time to have a look @aran @CatrinLliarJones @Iestyn @beca-brown @Deborah-SSi


#9

Thanks to @andy-15 and @gisella-albertini for those really interesting personal journeys to becoming Welsh speakers. It seems enjoyment has been key for both of you, and I think that’s really important. No one is going to stick at something if they’re not enjoying it, so individuals will vary things a little in order to enjoy them more.

I can understand Andy’s interest in how the language works behind the scenes, as I’m that kind of person myself, but having tackled various languages in more traditional ways, I agree that being able to speak and manipulate the language early on is a real bonus. When I was learning with SSiW I felt that it gave me a personal command over the language, that I could mix and combine words and structures at will - something that rarely happened with other methods.

And I’m totally loving Gareth King’s latest “Working Welsh” book. OK, it has grammatical points, but Gareth’s personality and sense of humour come through at every turn, and it makes it a great read.


#10

Ooh, advanced content? How do you access that? I started this at the beginning of lockdown and have just started her 7 lefel 3, so not there quite yet, but i was wondering what would happen next! I will also be hunting out Gareth King’s grammar books,!


#11

It’s near to the Challenge levels. Just click
LEARN again and it should come up. Assuming that you are paying by subscription.


#12

found it! Diolch! :slight_smile: