SSi Forum

So what languages do people here speak/which languages are you learning?


I have enjoyed reading this thread, so thought I would add to it!

I was exposed to languages from a young age because my late mum loved German. My great language love has been Spanish, which I studied to PhD level, spending three years in Peru and various periods in Mexico. My fascination with Latin America also led me to teach myself Portuguese. I spent a fair amount of time in Portugal a decade or so ago, and am fairly fluent, if a bit rusty. My wife grew up in Italy, and my Italian is OK - I surprised myself during a recent work trip to Rome!

I had a bad experience with French at school, dropped it at 14, but picked it up again a couple of years ago after falling in love with Lyon. I have been studying it pretty intensively since then. I went to Lyon again last week for work, and was pleased with how much French I could use - several meetings and a working dinner’s worth, as well as the usual shop and cafe stuff! I did German to A-Level and still get by, but am sorry to say I have not fallen in love with it the way I have with other languages I know.

As for Welsh, I started it in August after a lovely family holiday in Aberystwyth (having meant to do so for years; I have loved Wales since I was a child), and have been amazed at my progress with SSiW, and delighted with the friends I have made. I am already having conversations and listening to media in Welsh. Learning it is such a joy!

In sum, languages are my first love and have added hugely to my life!


I have done all of SSiSpanish and reckon I can speak well enough for tourism and also go to Meetups where I speak with “Nativos” for an hour or two. Before I did SSi, I did some free online courses Introduction to Spanish with the OU.

I am a native English speaker and teach ESOL.


It’s a very interesting thread! I wonder how people who speak more than a couple of languages maintain them. I speak Russian, English and German equally well and I really struggle to give each of them the necessary attention despite being a Russian native who speaks German at home at English at work. Fluency and eloquence need commitment as well as time to read versatile texts for fun and produce quality texts regularly.

This is why it took me a very long time, about two months, to decide that I am ready to carve out a place in my heart for one more language. This is also why I am so grateful for all the additional tasks that come with my Welsh lessons and help me get to know the culture and the people too.

I used to be a more or less causal learner of French (school), Spanish (uni), Italian and Icelandic. Failed to really connect with any of them on the level needed to keep going, however.


Hello from a fellow native Russian speaker:) Somehow finding another native Russian speaker who is learning Welsh is a thing that never ceases to delight me.
Russian would be the only language I can say I speak really well, at the “beyong proficiency level”, then I read and understand Belarusian and can speak make myself understood in it. I speak Italian and English fluently, and can speak and understand French and Spanish (though I would say that my listening/reading are much stronger here than my speaking/writing - but then I don’t have many French or Spanish people to talk to, so I suppose it’s fine)
Welsh is the language I love most and care about most (together with Russian) - maybe because of its sound and grammar, maybe because of the culture, maybe the fact that it was, at a time, so endangered makes me care more and take my learning more responsibly. I know I will never achieve a native-like proficiency in it, but I can now read non-graded books, and follow a conversation, and say something (though my speaking skills leave much to be desired).
This month I decided to join a thing called “speak in a week”. It’s a kind of an experiment held on a social networking website, where you have to start learning an entirely new language for a week and then decide if you want to keep going. I will either take Scottish Gaelic or Breton (have been thinking about them for a while).
Learning languages is so very fun on the one hand, because it makes your world bigger, but, at the same time, it makes you understand your limitations as, perhaps, few other things do. It really upsets me that none of the languages I speak will ever become as familiar and easy as Russian to me, and I will never be able to achieve the fluency and eloquency my inner perfectionist desires. But maybe it’s part of the reason why I’m learning languages - to see these limitations, accept them and be happy with what I actually can do - say “diolch”, buy a Welsh-language book, understand an article etc.


Hi @seren! :wave:
I’ve just started learning Welsh and you are right, meeting other Russians with the same (rarely practical) interest in Welsh is a treat every time!
I’ve heard Scottish Gaelic spoken on Skye, it sounded beautiful and mysterious! Don’t have any experience with Breton, but I wish you a wonderful time getting to know any of these languages!


Oh! Is “speak in a week” the set of courses offered on the fluentin3months website?
If you do choose Gàidhlig ( = Scottish Gaelic), I would love to know how the course is, as all Gàidhlig courses I have ever come across seem to just be long lists of grammar rules to learn!
The only course that I have really stuck at is the ‘Teach Yourself Gaelic’ book, but it is pretty tough going and mostly based on reading, with a bit of listening if you have the CD.

Gàidhlig is such a captivating language - how difficult it is to learn seems to make it even more so.
I really hope there is a SSiG some day!


My thoughts ON WELSH exactly! :see_no_evil: :smile:
Good luck with Gaelic you wonderful people!


Thanks - we need your good luck to have any hope with Gàidhlig! :smile:
At least we have SSiW to help with Welsh, enabling people to be captivating everywhere :laughing:
I so wish there were an SSi course for Gàidhlig, as well as so many other languages.
In the future, I’m sure there will be!


Yes and no - it’s definitely based on the principles and tasks from this Benny Lewis course, but the thing I’m joining is a challenge on a (mostly Russian) social media website. There’s a very strong (and friendly) community of language lovers there, and there’s some kind of a challenge every month - for example, right now I’m taking part in a “Language Advent” where you need to make 24 gifts to a language you’re learning - sing a song, listen to a podcast, find a funny picture - it’s very sweet and makes me work regularly.
So for this Speak in a week course we will be doing a task connected with a language every day and then post the results. The tasks will probably be the same as the ones on the fluentin3months website, but with this additional accountability and group support:)
I’ll definitely write a review after I finish the course - and I’m pretty sure it won’t be grammar rules to learn.
I don’t have experience with “Teach yourself Gaelic” but I did learn some of my Welsh from the “Teach yourself Welsh” and it was rather tough and very fast-paced, so I suppose the Gaelic book will be the same. I also found a Now you’re talking Scottish Gaelic series of videos on youtube which I’m probably going to use - I loved the Welsh series, it was funny and informative and has this nostalgic 90s feel about it.
If I may ask, how much Gaelic have you already learnt? Do you or have you ever learned Irish Gaelic too?

Oh, that would be the best thing ever:)


“Language Advent” sounds like a great challenge - out of interest, is it hosted on VK?

Funnily enough, I bought the “Teach Yourself Welsh” book quite a long time ago, but I found it quite difficult to make progress.
Yet after doing the SSiW course, it was much easier and more worthwhile, so I could read the whole book over the summer!

So far, I have picked up some Gàidhlig, including through a course on the Isle of Skye, but I feel a long way from fluency - whereas with Welsh, I have been learning for less time but feel that fluency is achievable.
Looking at the “Now You’re Talking” series, I absolutely see what you mean about the 90’s feel - very nostalgic!
There was another series, “Speaking Our Language”, which I used a little bit and seemed very similar in style.
The only problem I have found is that progress feels quite slow with these series!

I have tried to learn some Irish Gaelic too, just with an online course on the FutureLearn platform.
Funnily enough, it has been even more difficult than Gàidhlig, just because it is so similar to Gàidhlig, so they are easily confused.
But one day I will be fluent in both … maybe!

Have you also learnt some Irish? :slight_smile:


Yes, it’s hosted on Vk and really fun, especially reading other people’s posts and seeing how many languages people are learning - there’s a girl learning Scottish Gaelic, by the way:)
Totally agree with you - I don’t think I would’ve been able to start speaking Welsh using any of the books I have, but after SSIW they all made sense and I could use them to enrich my vocabulary and clarify doubts. ’

This is the feeling I have about all of the Goidelic languages - they seem so incredibly complicated (and people who speak them confirm it). I did try to learn Irish Gaelic, but the pronunciation discouraged me - I’m generally very bad at pronouncing stuff - and so I left it alone for a while.
Have you tried other Brythonic languages, apart from Welsh? They seem easier in a way (though die-hard Gaelic fans say that mutations are marked in a more understandable way in Irish). And yes, I can feel that fluency is achievable in Welsh or Breton - I know a Russian girl who has become “The writer of the year” in Brittany, writing poetry books in Breton!


That’s cool - there must be so many different posts about so many different languages, and it would be really interesting to see!
I have wondered whether to try Vk - I would never have imagined that it might be to practise Scottish Gaelic, but maybe this is a good reason to try it!

Absolutely - for some reason, I really cannot grasp the Irish pronunciation.
Yet for some reason, one thing which works for me is to use a Northern Irish accent - somehow that made things much easier, though I don’t know why! :laughing:

Beyond Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish, the only other I have tried a little is Manx, and that was just the very basics - the only thing I can remember right now is moghrey mie ( = good morning)!
Wow, people like the ‘writer of the year’ can show us that anything is possible with languages!
So have you decided to go for Scottish Gaelic over Breton for the online challenge? :slight_smile:


If you do decide to try - the tag for Language Advent is #languageadvent2019, and for Welsh specifically LA_welsh - this time there are three people learning it actively, but some other people expressed interest, which is great:)
Oh, Manx has always seemed so difficult to me - not that I know much about it, apart from the fact that is is a Goidelic language - but I’m so glad they are reviving it.
Yes, I’m going Scottish Gaelic - you’ve inspired me. :slight_smile:


@seren are you going to post about your minority language project here? It looks like a good place :slight_smile:


I didn’t really get sick. I got stuck into Welsh.


I started learning French 2 years ago:) The progress was not so good. It’s B1 now. I enjoy learning European languages and now I have good German (B2) and good Italian (B2). I also want to learn something similar so I can choose Spanish then:) Besides, I need to learn Greek because I need to live in my flat in Greece for a long time. But I think this language is quite complicated.


I had a little British Sign Language, but I lost all of it from lack of use - I once had a deaf friend.
I had a little Cantonese, but I lost most of it from lack of use - I once had a Chinese wife.
I had a tiny bit of Greek, but lost nearly all of it from lack of use - I love Greece.
I’m now just starting to learn Cornish, on lesson 2 in SSi Cornish after a couple of weeks - I moved to Cornwall six months ago.

I’m a slow learner of languages, but I will plod on.


Living in Switzerland, I learned French, Italian and English in school. At home, I speak Swiss German, Romanian and Swiss-German sign language with my sons and friends; and I’m learning Welsh and ASL :nerd_face: :love_you_gesture:t5::tulip:

P.S. … and I speak German, too, but didn’t have to consciously learn it. In Switzerland, books, movies, newspapers, news - all is in “proper” German


Hi Steve,

If you’re enjoying the Cornish course, you might be interested in the upcoming Cornish Language Weekend in St Austell over the first weekend in April — I posted details of it here recently. There are classes for complete beginners as well as all other levels of ability, plus other activities like singing, plays and films in Cornish, and a bilingual guided tour of St Austell Brewery. I can vouch from experience (I’ve been to three previous ones) that it’s lots of fun and really helpful for learning the language and you get to meet lots of great people too! :grinning: Just a thought if you’re available that weekend.


I really enjoy reading this thread, so I want to join in now.

I did not start learning English until my fifth year in school (which was then normal - today they start in English in 3rd grade), but I soon discovered a certain love for my first foreign language, took part in school exchange programmes early on (and I must say being thrown into the English speaking world for two weeks after just two years of school English was an interesting experience… my exchange partner hardly spoke any German at all, so I was forced to use what little English I had. And it worked.)

Then I chose Latin as my second language at school. I loved it, because I was one of those weird kids who loved analysing a language and its grammar even more than actually speaking it.

I took French as my third language when they offered it, but unfortunately the class hardly ever took place, because our teacher went on sick leave for months after a serious injury, and the teacher who took over the class was only able to offer it every second week.

Anyway, whenever there was a language club offered at school, you’d be sure to find me there. That’s how I learned a bit of Russian and Spanish. I found it hard to reach a conversational level with Russian, but Spanish went quite well, and when my aunt took me on holidays in Spain I was surprised to find that I could actually chat away with the people working at the hotel we stayed at. I fear I’ve lost most of my active Spanish due to lack of usage over the years, but I guess if I started again it would come back quickly enough.

Well, on to university… and again… language clubs. I went on with a little bit of Spanish, added Brazilian Portuguese to the mix, joined the English Drama Club. Then went to study in Glasgow for a year with the Erasmus Programme. That’s where I first started to really learn to speak Scottish Gaelic in an evening class (I had started with the “Teach Yourself…”) books about a year earlier.

Back in Germany I tried to get back into Spanish and Brazilian… but funnily enough, I was perfectly able to understand everything the teachers said, but when I tried to speak all that came out was Gaelic. So I took a break from the Romance languages and went on with Gaelic… attended a weekend workshops here and there. Forward a couple of years… and my husband’s work took us to Ottawa, Canada for a year. I joined a little Gaelic choir, took part in singing and speaking competitions at the US Mòd as well as Mòd Canada. After returning to Germany I enrolled for long-distance learning at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig to take first the beginner’s and then the advanced course. I am thinking of taking another online class while I’m pretty much stuck at home for weeks now… I could really use some conversation practise again.

I think it was at one of the Gaelic workshops I mentioned earlier that someone told me about a Welsh course book that her German Welsh teacher had written… which I immediately added to my growing library of language related books. So I started to work my way through that book… until I found out about SSiW… since then I’ve been learning Welsh with SSiW on and off, always depending on how busy I was at work and with the kids. I just seriously got back into it this year, when I suddenly realised that my half-hour commute to work is the perfect length to do a whole challenge in one. Guess what… while I really don’t miss teaching at school that much, I really do miss the commute :open_mouth:. It’s so much harder to make time for the lessons when I’m home with the kids all day.

And guess what… I never went on to study languages at university… I certainly considered it, but in the end my love for physics won over :smiley:.