This is very late and to be honest it could (no, should) have been written much earlier; I wasn't sure whether I wanted to but hopefully it isn't as gloomy as it starts out to be!
Last year after finishing my way through L1 and halfway through L2 and several months of listening very closely to Radio Cymru, rhaglenni ar S4C, a cerddoriaeth yn Gymraeg, I took the chance to go and experience the Eisteddfod in Y Fenni.
Admittedly at the time, and for several months afterward, it felt like a huge failure. I very nearly gave up learning. Genuinely I thought it would be okay. Not necessarily amazing or as easy as it might be for others, but with my hearing (or lack thereof) it's always difficult to understand anything said irrelevant of language.
This is especially true with noisy environments, as lip reading only goes so far and Cymraeg is no easier to see on the lips.
So, skip forward several months of self loathing, tears and generally ignoring the successful moments; it eventually dawned on me that not only had I thrown myself in the deepest, biggest, and darkest pool I could find, but I'd actually had several successful interactions with lots of lovely people.
All yn Gymraeg, a nid gair o'r Saesneg. Even if they were rather painful for the (mostly patient) people on the receiving end of my repeated 'Chlywes i ddim be' ddidest ti'.
Admittedly for the rest of that year I spent the majority of my time drowning myself in sound daily for hours. If it existed, I probably listened to it at least once. Every month or so I would go through challenge 25 again.
By this point I felt as though there wasn't really any huge improvement, new year was around the corner and by this point it was far more tempting to just give up. However, just after the start of this year, it was backed to square one.
Only this time there would be no pausing, no rewinding, every last bit of attention focused on each lesson and forget everything else in the world (well, except maybe fire). Everyone and everything thing else, had to wait the 30-45 minutes a day. I bowled through the first set of challenges again but opted for the southern variant.
It was hard. Possibly one of the hardest things I've done in. I felt like it was all a blur, a mess, all but impossible; especially as @iestyn speaks much faster than @aran (not a complaint, honest!) and is just as sneaky, if not more so, with casual variants thrown in into sentences.
Something magical happened although it wasn't obvious to me until between challenge twenty and twenty five. After the initial tongue twisting experience, not pausing felt natural, even spending less time trying to process what was said and just going with whatever I heard.
I have no idea whether this is simply the break between restarting, the excessive time I spent just listening, or some combination of both; Cymraeg (and to some extent Saesneg) genuinely seems more intelligible to me than before. I've seemingly exchanged 'Chlywes i ddim be' ddidest ti' for 'wnes i ddim deall be' ddwedest ti' instead.
Maybe it's time to drop myself in the deep end once more, and experience this year's Eisteddfod?
(Apologies for the looooong post)