SSi Forum

Is this method working for you?


Fantastic! :grinning:


Thank you for asking. For me, the repetitive tone for each spoken word causes me sensory overload. I recommend SSiW because I feel we all learn differently and what might not work for me might work for someone else. I hope this helps. Nadolig Llawen.


I’m now on challenge 5, and finding it getting easier. My method is: I go through the whole thing without any pauses or repetition. I then go back an go over it until I come to a word or phrase I have difficulty remembering. I repeat this until I remember it. That can take many repetitions. I then go on this way through the whole lesson. I takes me about 2 hours to go through the lesson doing this and I do the lesson about 5 times before I go through the whole thing again from beginning to end without a pause.

I’m Scottish, and a friend who heard me practising said that I speak welsh with a Scottish accent. I learned French in High School. We had language lab in which we would listen to a sentence, repeat it while being recorded, the have the original and the recording played back. One did this until one’s accent improved. I worked in the Francophonie for several years and my daily language use was French. The nearest this to this in this programme is to record oneself on ones phone, play the original. then play back the recording until one’s accent improved. I don’t have time to do that because I’m doing the Learn Welsh programme and Duo. It take me about 6 hours a day to do it all. I’ve been at it for 3 months and am not sure how much progress I’'m making. I don’t have anyone to speak Welsh with. I hope to start going to a Bible study group in a Welsh chapel in January. I won’t be able to participate, but being in the environment may help me improve until I feel confident enough and have learned enough to speak.


On the topic of accent and perfecting pronunciation, from what I can tell the purpose of SSIW is to get you to the point of being able to muddle through conversations. It’s not trying to get you to correctness or perfection, it’s trying to get you to everyday functionality. That, I suspect, is also why the gaps for speaking are so short. It forces you to say something, whatever you can, without reaching for the perfect translation.

That’s not to say it works for everyone. I’m quite a precise speaker in English and I find it hard to resign myself to being sloppy in Welsh. Still, Welsh has one huge benefit that many languages don’t - even native Welsh speakers liberally sprinkle English words throughout their speech, so no one will think anything of it if you can’t bring the Welsh word to mind and you use the English one instead. I always remember the time my old boss, having a conversation in Welsh, suddenly said “dwi’n absolutely skint”. :joy:


@alan-charlesworth In my experience, getting to the point of being able to have a conversation is important - it moves you towards the tipping point I mentioned further up this thread. But I’m not really a fan of the “it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make” ethos. When I was learning Dutch I used the term klaarkomen at work to mean finish. Which it does. But it also means to come in the sexual sense. Much hilarity ensued for everybody else, and yes, I have never forgotten that lesson, but no, I do not think that learning by humiliation is the right approach. That’s maybe why I find this SSiW system difficult - making mistakes is OK but I don’t want to be FORCED to make mistakes.


From my own experience, I have to say it was the “don’t worry about making mistakes” advice that transformed me from someone who knew a lot of Welsh but couldn’t cope in a conversation to someone who is happy speaking the language. Aiming for correctness is essential when writing, but if you read transcripts of recordings of people speaking their native language in a conversational setting, it’s not perfect at all. There will be sentence fragments, hesitations, subject verb disagreements etc.

Besides, any mistakes you make while using SSiW are in the privacy of your own home so if there’s any feeling of frustration, it’s just you expecing perfection from yourself, which isn’t really reasonable when leaning something new. I hit plenty of wrong notes when learning to play the piano and made lots of mistakes learning to play the guitar. I made sure that before I performed in public I had learned the song and the chord patterns thoroughly, but you can’t learn anything without making mistakes.


I have not read all the postings on this topic so I’m sorry if this is a repeat of other ideas. I am approaching 70 an have considerable hearing problems including needing a lot of time to prcess what I am hearing. Fortuneately, I have an iphone and, in the app, it is possible to slow down the challenges so that the “thinking and speaking” gaps are much longer. This has been a life-saver for me. However, it is possible to download the challenges on to a desk or lap top and then use “audacity” free software to slow them down as well. I’m afraid that I do not know if the quality of the recording suffers using this method, but the pitch does remain the same.

I compare this learning method to teaching a gospel choir new songs when the choir members do not read music and they have to learn by ear. After learning the pipe organ in my mid 40s, which involves working at an extraordinarily slow pace in order to avoid allowing any kind of mistake to creep in and be fixed for ever more, I also found this method very challenging and thought I would find the breezy optimism of Iestyn cloying but have managed to get nearly to the end of level 2 and am enjoying it immensely.


@GrahamR I am full of admiration for anyone who can learn five languages! I think that’s amazing. I am English through and through, living in South London. I decided to learn Welsh almost three years ago, just because of a very good friend who lives in South Wales (The Mumbles, near Swansea) with whom I’ve stayed on average more than once a year since 2012. I came across SSiW and decided to do the challenges whilst driving to work each morning. I didn’t have any other language-learning experience to compare it with (apart from learning French at school, which I hated, in the 1970s). I found SSiW so different to my school language-learning memories and although I don’t learn anything new particularly quickly, I decided I wouldn’t stress over how quickly I picked it up. So endless repetition of challenges but no use of the ‘pause button’ (as I was driving so I couldn’t!) and it slowly seeped in to my brain. I reckon now if I was dropped into Wales and banned from speaking English, I could hold my own. So it’s worked for me. I make lots of mistakes, and my natural instinct is to abhor making any kind of mistake, so I’ve had to get over that. But hey, I probably made loads of mistakes as a toddler when learning my mother tongue - I know my own children did - and we all speak English pretty well now. SSiW is not a course that teaches reading and writing, but I am naturally interested in that side of the language too, so I found other material to supplement the SSiW course, once I was about a year in. I’m sorry you don’t find the SSiW method particularly helpful to you personally, but it has worked for me and for a lot of other people. And I have made a lot of new friends along the way, which has been a double bonus. The great thing is that there are a lot of different methods of learning languages out there, and it’s often a case of stumbling on one that works (best) for you. You’ve learned several already, so you probably know what works for you already. I’m not surprised you found SSiW to be so different, but I don’t know anything else and I’m very pleased with how it’s worked for me. But my aim was primarily to SPEAK Welsh, not particularly to read or write it (although I’ve added that in subsequently) and that’s what SSiW is aimed at. My wife is learning French on Duolingo and can do their challenges fine now but can’t really hold a conversation in it, which SSiW has allowed me to do.


@Anna-Scharf You know, it never crossed my mind to download the lessons and slow down the playback. Thank you - I’ll definitely give that a try!


Changing speed (slow down or speed up) is actually also possible directly in the SSiW iOS app. I had an iPod when I did the course, so I tried it, but then forgot about it cause I actually preferred using the pause instead because their voice becomes odd, and most of all I’m happier when I decide things myself. Like how should the pause be to suit my preferences. :grin:

[Edit, browsing backwards through comments and noticing details]
I remember Aran saying and writing that it’s not just "it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make”, but rather a “mistakes help learning faster” according to studies and tests this method is based on - sorry can’t find exact links now, but someone else might know.
Of course this doesn’t change the fact that each course (!) is based on different theories and systems, and it may or may not fit our needs and way of learning. I’ll be back later for a few more reflections based on your description of how you learnt Dutch and how your better half has a different way of approaching language acquisition, because I really enjoy talking about this!


@gisella-albertini “…each course (!) is based on different theories and systems …” - Ain’t that the truth! I tried a French course once, based on some research, where the participants would sit back in easy chairs and relax whilst text and information in modulated tones washed over us, with the intention that it would be absorbed into our relaxed minds. Frankly, I don’t think I learnt a single word and my wallet was significantly lighter for the experience.

Just to emphasize again also, because some responses may have missed it. I know that making mistakes helps learning, and I know that not being afraid to make mistakes helps learning. But FORCING people to make mistakes (e.g. by not allowing enough time to assimilate an English phrase then speak the Welsh version) is, I think, for many psychologically impeding. That’s what I find problematic in the design of this system.


:rofl: Maybe a close relative of this one?

I didn’t try it though, so I can’t tell if it would be my key to finally master Deutsch. :grin:

Your description of how you reached absolute fluency/mother-tongue level in Dutch has many similarities with my experience with English.
#1 Game-changer, time: spending time in countries where it is spoken as first language, so that I’m forced to live full-immersion and use it in everyday life, for no less than 2 weeks in a row each time.
I say so, cause that was my first ever trip to Great Britain and it unlocked my ability to speak and understand. Fewer days wouldn’t have been enough. More time, as a beginner user, wouldn’t have made so much of a difference because I always need breaks to let it settle and sink in.
While at a more advanced level, spending one or more months or years can do only good!

#2 anti-lazyness strategy: with English there was no backup language. So I was forced to speak it. With any other language I attempted, besides time, I’d need to be strongly motivated, because switching to a more familiar common language is easy. It happens in France all the time, even though I’m quite advanced speaker, of course anywhere else where other languages are spoken.

And in Wales too although I’ve spent to little timeanyway. That would make a huge difference!
(going out for a walk, so all for now!)


@GrahamR I think that the point here is how you (and probably others) are relating to “mistakes”. I would suggest that you consider how we learn anything when we are infants. A child takes (say) 3 years to become fluent in his, or her, mother tongue. During that time, one would hardly relate to the child’s attempts to speak as “mistakes”. “Mummy, I want go park” from a 2-year-old is not a mistake, but a child learning a language. Similarly, when one starts to learn a musical instrument and at first produces an awful sound, that is not a mistake but part of the normal learning process. The same can be applied to anything (I would allow an exception for when one pilots one’s first passenger plane).
I respectfully suggest that you do not regard your inability to translate a sentence 100% correctly within the time alloted as a “mistake”. Instead, whatever you do manage to say correctly is a step forward in learning a new language. “The glass is 25% full and not 75% empty.” Cherish that 25%!
And, again, I wish you good luck with whatever paths you choose in life.


@Baruch I don’t think I’m getting my point across. The system as it stands give you just four seconds to translate an English sentence. For a learner this is in some cases simply not possible. Any person needs some time to assimilate the English text, and that time is significantly longer if English is not your first language. Then, even if you don’t think about the Welsh, you still need time to get your mouth around it - literally. It takes me a second or so just to get my mouth and tongue in the right position to make the ll sound. And then you need time to say it. Given a phrase that takes a Welsh-speaker three seconds to say, giving a novice learner just four seconds to say it is physically not enough - it FORCES the learner to fail. That’s my beef. It’s not the getting it correct that’s the problem. I don’t think I have written anywhere that I have a problem with making mistakes. It’s forcing mistakes and forcing failure which I think is psychologically impeding. It’s the timing which doesn’t even allow me to get half-way through my answer. Yes, I could press pause, but I’m encouraged not to. Yes, I could play back slower. But, to me, taking that into account and allowing more time for the learner to translate and say the longer and more difficult phrases, which would give the learner AT LEAST a chance not to fail, would be a better designed course.


From a purely practical point, it is easier for those who need to, to make the gap shorter (by pausing) than it is for those who don’t need to to speed it up. For instance, a 10 second gap for each answer would be extremely tedious for those who only take 4 seconds to answer, and even some who have struggled with 4 seconds find that they actually can manage that when they re-visit the lesson at a later date, whereas they would notice no improvement if the gap was 10 seconds. It’s not just a short term thing, it’s a long term goal.

The phrases are not said at full speed as it is, they are much slower than normal speaking speed - a three second phrase might only take 1.5 to 2 seconds normally, and yes, some of them seem incredibly long and too much to fit into the gap but the idea is to encourage the brain (and the tongue!) to create ‘autopilot’ pathways - much like muscle memory in learning an instrument or dance step etc - which, over time, make the answers come quicker and more naturally.

The point that I think is not coming across is that it is not failing if you can’t fit an answer into the gap. It is not failing if in the rush you use the wrong verb or noun or pronoun. It is not failing if you mess up a LL or a DD or a CH. These are all just markers of progress on a learning curve, and that’s a concept that that takes some getting used to because it’s not the one we were generally taught as children in school when we were at an impressionable age.


This may be where you’re going wrong. The method isn’t asking you to translate the sentence. You’re not supposed to think about what was said, analyse it and come up with a Welsh version. The goal is to respond almost without thinking with the pre-learned chunks of language. This is what makes the method so valuable as a learning method for people who want to speak Welsh with native speakers. You have to respond quickly when spoken to or they will switch to English at the first sign of hesitation.


@siaronjames I don’t want to get into circular arguments - I’m just trying to clarify because some people are picking up on points I didn’t make. I take the point about the pausing versus speeding up. I think varying gaps is the answer - leaving 4 seconds to say dw i and leaving 4 seconds to say dw i ddim yn gallu mynd i’r swyddfa (to pick something out of the air) seems perverse to me. I may seem to be nit picking, but I am trying to be constructive - clearly, reading some of the comments, other people are also having problems with this. It would be nice if it could be taken on board. As to the speed, I don’t hear much difference in the first Welsh lesson between the spoken Welsh there and the speed a newsreader on S4C speaks, for example. I did test the Dutch course (a language I speak fluently) - some is slower, some is normal spoken speed. Anyway, this thread seems to have gotten out of hand - I shall take a break and give it a go at slower speed to see if I can get a better grip on it.


I totally understand that different methods with for different people. But in answer to your question does SSIw work for anyone, i can answer a resounding yes for myself personally. I was raised in Merthyr, so had some Welsh around me as a child, but have lived in England for the last 20 odd years. At the start of the pandemic i would have said that I could say ‘dydw i ddim yn hoffi coffi’ and ‘dwi’n chwarae pêl roed’ and that was it. I started SSIw during the first lockdown and loved it so much that I finished the entire course levels 1-3 in 3 months, and was at a level where I could hold a good conversation. From there i did the old course and advanced content, and read through the cyfres amdani books. These days I read the Bible every day in Welsh and enjoy listening to radio Cymru and watching s4c, and love the opportunity to chat online or in person when I visit home. Learning Welsh has given me lots of new friends and opened the door to a wonderful world of music and culture that I had never known before.
I hope you can find a way to make the method work for you or find some other way to learn this beautiful language. But yes, it definitely worked for me . X


@GrahamR I’ve been having a look again at the instructions, that I had read when I had started the course and never again once found my customized balance. I have to admit that they look different from what I remembered. :smile: :thinking:

Here’s what’s in it:
"-During lessons, we will tell you something in English, pause, and then you will hear it
said twice in Welsh. You must try to say the Welsh in the pause. To start with, this will be
impossible without using the pause button. The pause button is your friend. It is allowed
and encouraged. But…

-Don’t try to get everything perfect. In fact, don’t try to get anything perfect. If you were
somewhere close with what you said in Welsh, congratulate yourself and move on. The
course is called Say Something in Welsh, not Say Something Perfect in Welsh – you
will learn far more from saying things wrong than from staying quiet, or pausing for 5
minutes while you check your grammar books. Relax, laugh at your mistakes (especially
if you have said something really odd!), and be pleased with anything you get right.
Enjoy the process."

How do they seem to you?


@gisella-albertini I haven’t seen these instructions and I can’t find them. Where did you find them? I have only heard the spoken introduction to the course, and the e-mailed videos of Aran. These instructions seem much more sensible to me, but the first one especially is a little at odds with what was in those videos and the spoken introduction as I remember them …