SSi Forum

Am I doing it right?


#1

Dear all!

First a confession: the last days I’ve definetely been spending more time reading on the forum than doing actual lessons…for the reason that I’m so insecure about which is the best way to go. I would be so grateful for some tips!

So what I’ve figured out so far:
The challenges are designed in a way that you could do them without using pause, no repetition, and just move on the the next challenge - as long as you’re working concentrated and really say as much as possible in the gaps. ok.
Also, just do what works for yourself as long as you’re enjoying it. great!
BUT …
can I please hear it just one more time? hahahha.

I feel so insecure just going with it, always wondering whether I’m doing it right. I felt it was good for me to do a challenge once, at the end being completly confused (my flatmates having had to endure a lot of swearing) and then just repeating it the next day and being ok with it. Next challenge maybe in the evening or the next day. Probably that’s all right, but maybe I’d get more out of it it I didn’t repeat? And just today I read about marathon sessions. Would anyone be so kind and share their experience about just going on as long as possible? I imagine it’s just complete brain melt down.

Another thing ist that I believe starting to extend vocabulary as early as possible is clever. I have a long term aversion to reading learner’s magazines, just tuning in a radio station or watching telenovelas; probably a relict from school. I hope I’ll soon be brave enough to participate in WSP activities, but I’d also like to have other resources. It helps me a lot to see a word written down. Do you have recommendations?

Same goes for grammar, I feel that it really relaxes me to just have some information about grammar. In a way that I don’t care if I get it wrong, but I can always go back to something and figure out where the problem was. I’m a grammar person, it gives me confidence. Probably I’m not the only charts and tables enthusiast here, what are your experiences? Did you manage to not start looking up (exceptions from) rules or did you find that in the end it did help you to have some structured information? I’m very close to just giving in hahahaha

Phew. I realize most people struggle in the beginning. But I’m just so used to having some sort of feedback when learning a new language, it would mean a lot to hear about your experiences and get some advice. Thank you all for letting me join this wonderful community!


#2

Hello Hannah!

About your first request:
Yes, right: The challenges are designed in a way that you could do them without using pause, no repetition, and just move on the the next challenge - as long as you’re working concentrated and really say as much as possible in the gaps.

I did pretty much like this and it worked fine! :slight_smile:

Except that I did often use pause because it took me a bit more time to think what I had just heard, translate it into Italian in my mind, and find as many words as possible in Welsh to fill in the gap.

But no repetition, except the very first because I hadn’t figured a balance with using pause button and a couple from Level 2 because I was really distracted (like on a bus trip to France with a lot of noise around me and couldn’t focus) or had fallen asleep! :laughing:

At the end of each challenge, I was totally confused, and probably very confused most of the time throughout the course but then words do settle somehow and you realize you remember much more than you thought.

I’m not a “grammar person”, but many in the forum are. So I’m sure someone else will pop up and have hints and tips for you. :wink:

(For vocabulary, I have to find a few things I had read and seen and written before - I’ll be back for another comment)


#3

The challenges are designed in a way that you could do them without using pause, no repetition, and just move on the the next challenge - as long as you’re working concentrated and really say as much as possible in the gaps. ok.
Also, just do what works for yourself as long as you’re enjoying it. great!
BUT …
can I please hear it just one more time? hahahha.
I feel so insecure just going with it, always wondering whether I’m doing it right.
Yup! You have to learn to sit with that slightly unsure feeling and keep going. The best learning happens when you are fully concentrating on the learning and that learning is hard.

Would anyone be so kind and share their experience about just going on as long as possible? I imagine it’s just complete brain melt down.

I did one lesson a day for 3 months without repeating one (because I was timing it for my trip to Wales). I never felt like I had caught anything of the lesson until about 2 lessons later when I suddenly realised that the old lesson content actually felt okay. But it does slightly feel like brain meltdown (hence why I lie down to do the lessons :joy: ). Now I am repeating the lessons at 1.8x and it is just as brain melty but I know that I need something that is just slightly more difficult than I think I can handle or I won’t progress. If it is too much - maybe do half a challenge at a time but keep pushing through.

Another thing is that I believe starting to extend vocabulary as early as possible is clever. I have a long term aversion to reading learner’s magazines, just tuning in a radio station or watching telenovelas; probably a relict from school.

The thing about SSiW is that it trains all the sentence structures and tenses. Single words are not very useful by themselves and I would suggest that if you are finding the challenges difficult then trying to learn vocabulary will just leave you feeling more overwhelmed. Although learning tons of vocab might make you feel like you know a lot, if your goal is communication, then the SSiW sentences are a lot more useful (eg. you can always point or gesture if you want to refer to an object you don’t know the word for). Now I have finished all the courses once, I am leaning vocab in a more traditional way but I feel much more fluent being able to say anything I want and then dropping in vocab as I go than trying to wriggle single words into grammatically understandable sentences (eg. as in school languages). Does that make sense? It is freeing to have all the sentences structures as a beginner.

It helps me a lot to see a word written down. Do you have recommendations?

I think everyone feels like this but it actually is better to hear words rather than seeing them written down until you have a good grasp on the basics. Especially as I don’t have a Welsh accent naturally it was really beneficial for my pronunciation to train my mouth (by the audio lessons) and my ear before reading.

Same goes for grammar, I feel that it really relaxes me to just have some information about grammar.

Again, I think everyone feels like this. But I don’t believe that learning something like a language can be relaxing if you are going to progress as efficiently as possible (or you progress so slowly that you get bored and stop altogether). I love studying grammars of different languages (defo a chart and table enthusiast) but as my goal is communication, it is more useful to know the phrases rather than the tables. You will find as the lessons progress that the grammar table in your mind gradually expands and you start noticing patterns. Maybe that will even make you more confident than having the crutch of a table (because you have your own representation that you can bring to mind at any point). That is certainly what happened for me.

I realise now that this is a very long answer and I’m not sure whether it is clear or not. I can explain any points in more depth if you are unsure but I will spare you any more of my waffle! My advice for you: Keep going with regular lessons and just trust that they are enough for now (unless you want to listen/watch some Welsh stuff). Then at the end of level 3 you can always fill any gaps if you feel you need to. And I hope that you find some joy in your new Welsh skills soon!


#4

I think it really depends on what you feel works for you. Experiment a bit.

For me, my general pattern from the beginning was to have one attempt at a challenge each day, but I typically needed 3 attempts to feel like it was mostly going in. Sometimes 2 attempts; on one occasion 5 attempts (seems like overkill in retrospect but I felt I needed it at the time).

Now, halfway through level 2, it generally takes me no more than 1-2 attempts. I think a big factor is just allowing your brain some time to get used to the way this course works.

Anyway, my point is: some people listen once and move on, others repeat. Just feel it out and see what seems to work for you.

The only other thing I’d say is don’t give in to the temptation to keep repeating until you feel completely confident. I find that the moment when I’m thinking “I feel like I’ve got about half of that, maybe one more try” is the right time to move on.


#5

Hi Gisella,

thanks a lot for you answer! If you still remember some tips or threads in the forum on vocabulary, I’d be glad to hear about it. But don’t worry if you don’t find the time. I feel already very lucky to have gotten so much advice, thank you!


#6

Hi Wren,

thank you so much for your detailed reply!
I think we might differ in how much challenge we can handle well, and for now I might just stick to repeating a challenge if I really feel the need to and otherwise move on. I’d be glad to hear more about your perspective on extending vocabulary, if you find the time it’d be great :slight_smile:

Your answer totally makes sense to me. My idea was that I could just switch some words, hence applying the structure we’re learning. E.g. I can say Dw i isio dweud rhywbeth yn y Gymraeg -> so i feel, i should be easily able to say I want to read something in Welsh -> in need for to read -> looking it up: Dw i isio darllen (?) yn y Gymraeg. I feel like I just want to do! something with the structures I’m learning. Like I want to be running around the flat telling my flatmate what I’m doing, what she is doing and that I am so happy to be saying something in Welsh! Do you think that this might not be working out well, like I’m missing essential chunks of grammar/structures if I just go for it?

Yes. Of course. I have a brain that is able to process and structure information all by itself. Sometimes it’s good to hear someone saying out loud the obvious, that reminder really helped!

So thanks a lot Wren for taking the time writing this reply and have a good day!


#7

Hey Alan,

thanks that helps! I’ll try going by the “I feel I’ve got half of it” mark, maybe like this I will get to finishing at least some challenges without a repetition.


#8

So, for now I feel relaxed enough to ditch the grammar problem, just really needed a reminder that I’m capable of recognizing structures :smiley:

But I’d really like to hear some more thoughts about vocab (until I’m brave enough to join WSP activities).

Thank you all for your advice <3 I hope that in a while I will be able to give back and also offer support


#9

Please, please, don’t put off trying WSP because you think you don’t have enough vocab because it can become an excuse that never ends! and one of the best ways to pick up extra words is to hear people using them!
WSP is very informal - everyone would be happy to explain/translate new words that stump you, you only have to ask, and don’t be embarrassed about asking because we all have to ask sometimes!

Rather than jump in on a group chat (although you’d be more than welcome to sit in and just listen if you prefer), maybe try a few one-to-one chats first. That way the pace is more controlled. And if you need a word you don’t know in the middle of a sentence, it’s fine to use the English one or ask what word you need - sometimes it helps the word stick when you’ve learnt it in a conversation rather than from a written source.


#10

One of the great things about practical Welsh in the wild, at least where I am (Gwynedd), is that even first-language Welsh speakers frequently drop in English words, so people don’t think anything of it if you have to do that. I think that does make it less scary for a learner.


#11

That is exactly what you should be doing, and what will ultimately turn you into a Welsh speaker. That, and trying WSP as @siaronjames has said (have I seen you there already?), where several of us will be happy to have an introductory chat with you and help you take your first steps.


#12

Thank you @siaronjames @AlanP @alan-charlesworth for the encouragement!

Set goal is to join my first chat when I have finished challenge 10, for the latest! I have already joined the slack and sort of figured out how it works.
I think I will just look up some words every now and then when I feel I can’t find a way to express something with the words I already know.

Have a good day you all!


#13

Hello! I will share my experience but it doesn’t necessarily make it right or wrong, it’s just what works for me :slight_smile:

I tend to play each challenge 3 times. First time, I haven’t a clue, 2nd makes more sense and 3rd I’m pretty much there. I do look at the vocab for that challenge but only really to check I’ve heard the sounds correctly and so I know what the word looks like (I learn visually also.) I am finding that my brain is now more prepared and understands the new way of learning and it feels a little easier (I’m up to challenge 9)

I too need a bit of theory in everything I do to understand what I’m doing. However! I have just started an online ‘traditional’ course, mainly because it is free but also to increase my exposure to the language. This is much more focused on rules and vocab lists. I am finding it much harder to remember this and knowing a little (but not enough) about the grammar has actually been detrimental which surprised me! I’m too busy thinking about the tense/mutation etc.rather than the conversation.

I’m still doing and enjoying both but for me at least, the SSI method definitely works better

Do what works for you though but most of all enjoy it! Best of luck!


#14

Oh, it may take some extra time, but I’ll find some more! :wink:
In the meantime, the easier ones are post I previously wrote with my own experience.

About vocabulary, I think we all feel we need to know way more words before being able to actually try and speak. But the more I challenged myself, the more I realized it’s probably neither true nor the most efficient approach.

Since WSP was mentioned above, I’ll start with a link to the report of my first chat (3 weeks after starting SSiW).

About vocabulary here’s a post I had written somewhere else and now copy and paste here:

Planning how to understand and speak enough Welsh in the wild
[when I started planning my first trip to Wales, about two weeks after starting Level 1], I was only able to:

  • say a bunch of sentences and words from the first SSiW challenges
  • remember and sort of sing along a few Datblygu songs
  • understand about 1 word per minute in an average conversation on the radio

I guessed I’d need a bit more than that, to survive in the wild. So I looked for tips and hints here on the Forum and around the web, especially on polyglots’ websites and YouTube channels.

Among those, the most enlightening for me was a video (found via https://www.fluentin3months.com ) of this talk by Anthony Lauder: https://youtu.be/2X7XTui58Qs

The first guideline I decided to follow was:
“Fluency is not about a big vocabulary. Fluency is about being quick, smooth and in control of what you already have” .

Then second guideline , that I heard several times from polyglots and also often found mentioned here, for example by @aran and @garethrking:
Just give your brain exposure to the language, even if you don’t [completely, consciously] understand what you hear.

So I quit trying to learn words with flashcards, illustrated dictionaries and apps - proven an useless and boring effort for me.

For structured learning , I focused just on SSiW challenges: Level 1 and 2 and later Advanced Content. With lotsa questions on this forum (with plenty thanks to all those who take the time to answer to all our beginners’ questions!)

For exposure , I listened to Radio Cymru, watched programmes and series on S4C (now officially available outside the UK, at last!) and of course kept on listening to Datblygu songs - plus a few others that I discovered mostly thanks to this forum and especially @robbruce .

For extra self-training , I just tried to think of sentences I’d be likely to need or want to say.

(then if you want to hear if/how it worked, I’ll find more stuff for you to read. However this was just meant to give hints so that you can find the way that works best for you. And for this, I’m sure I’ll be able to find more links unless someone with a very different approach decides to write their experiences here in the meantime) :slight_smile:


#15

These two are both true. First guideline: everyday use of any language involves no more than about 800 words - this can be fitted pretty much on a couple of sides of A4, can’t it? Incredible but true. Second guideline: I always told all my Welsh students to keep Radio Cymru burbling on in the background all day while they were in the house, and not even make a conscious effort to listen. The brain magically absorbs the language in all kinds of ways, and it really does help. I have just made the same recommendation to my son who has embarked on German. (though what good Radio Cymru will be to him with German I can’t imagine! :open_mouth: )


#16

Well, despite my continuous effort claiming that Welsh language sounds a lot like Italian, most people here seem to think that it sounds like German instead.
So maybe listening to Radio Cymru while learning it makes more sense than one might think! :sweat_smile:


#17

Lots of English people say that as well - it’s the ch sound that they notice.


#18

Yes, sure…but I mean…that’s ONE sound out of a whole alphabet!
Isn’t it odd that everybody seems to focus just on that - I wonder?


#19

It’s very distinctive, so I suppose that’s why it is noticed. The LL is as well, of course.


#20

Thanks for sharing! Good to hear about your experience with a traditional course in comparison to ssi.
All the best and above all FUN for your journey learning Welsh!