SSi Forum

SSi - the latest news and/or thoughts about the whole project


#1

So… it’s been a long old while since I did any kind of a project update! Ahem, sorry - bit of a busy year so far…:wink:

I seem to remember promising a quarterly update last year - and it feeling as if not enough new stuff happened to justify a weekly or monthly update - but the problem with quarterly is it just ends up slipping my mind and/or becoming a mountain of new things to explain.

So this time round, I’m going to try a weekly post - which will be news/developments when there are any to report, and just ‘what I’m thinking about mostly’ when nothing has actually changed… :slight_smile:

I hope you’ll find it an interesting insight into everything that’s going on, and I’m always happy to answer any questions you have, and very keen to hear your suggestions…:slight_smile:


The main BIG news is that we’ve had a couple of important shifts in terms of organisational structure (which we’re confident are going to help us crack on with some serious growth in the next couple of years).

SaySomethingin.com Ltd now has 4 owners - Jeff, Jesse, Iestyn and myself. Jeff you’ve seen on the forum for years, helping people troubleshoot the iOS app which he so kindly built for us - Jesse you haven’t seen on the forum, but if you’ve been watching any of our ads on Facebook or YouTube, you’ve seen the hugely important work he’s been doing - it’s largely because of Jesse that we now have far more active, subscribing learners than ever before. Both Jeff and Jesse have made significant cash investments in SaySomethingin.com Ltd as well, and bring a huge amount of experience and expertise to the table - we’re absolutely delighted to have them on board.

As well as 4 owners/share-holders, SaySomethingin.com now also has a board of directors, consisting of Jeff, Jesse, Iestyn, myself and - drum-roll! - Justine. Justine you’ve seen on the forum from time to time - she lives just down the road from Catrin and myself, in Penygroes - and if you were at the 10th birthday party, you felt the benefits of her remarkable organisational skills. By day, she’s a trouble-shooting chief operating officer, who gets called in to fix universities and health trusts and so on - and now by night she’s our operations director, and we really couldn’t be luckier to have someone with such vast experience making sure that we’re properly ready for the next stages of growth.

So what next stages of growth are those?!

Most of you know that we’ve been ramping up our Facebook advertising - and we now have very steady patterns of growth based on that advertising (and we’ve just started testing some stuff on YouTube as well). We want to keep fine-tuning so that we can grow faster - we’re held back slightly by the fact that it takes us about 7 to 8 months to get to breakeven on new learners at the moment, but that just means that we need to be a little more patient than is natural…:wink: We’ve got some fantastic new creative marketing videos on the way from the terrific folk at wearebak.com (Memet and Dave), and we’ll be starting to test ads for our Spanish course over the next few weeks.

We’re also continuing to talk to a number of possible investors - don’t worry, we’re not going to get snapped up by some big hidebound organisation and stop being SSiW as you have known it! - we’ve got a range of possible investment/loan structures that leave a majority ownership with Iestyn and myself, so this is NOT about being taken over, it’s about increasing our capitalisation so that we can grow faster (which means more courses and more tutors more quickly).

Finally, we’re also talking to people with whom we can do some partnership work - at the moment, we’re focusing on publishing, to see what sort of difference to our growth it might make to have some books on shelves - and we’re also doing some work that should reach your TV screens at some point next spring.

Getting all these strands lined up has taken a lot of time and energy - which is a large part of why I haven’t been on the forum as much as usual this year (which I’m looking forward to changing).

Now, we’re getting close to being in a position where those varying elements are all set up and running smoothly - which means we are very close to being at the long-awaited point where we can start to produce courses in new languages - so you can expect the first few new flowers this coming spring… :wink: :heart:

Any questions? :heart:


#2

Thank you for the update, diolch yn fawr. Mae’n golygu lot i fi.
For me, being simple minded, its just about not forgetting ‘where you’ve come from.’
I am not averse to change at all and if it means more language learning for more people then that is absolutely wonderful.
In so doing, please try to ensure that this wonderfully supportive community, our ssiw family, is not affected. That it will continue to nurture and be nurtured.
The ssi method of learning is undoubtedly the way forward in language learning but it is aided also via the support and encouragement we get from this forum and the slack channels. The fact that you and Iestyn, Deborah, Nia, Cat, Catrin and everyone else involved in this project (its a bit more than that now), interact with us as you do, creates ties. I actually feel the support of this ‘group’ willing me on when I am speaking Welsh. I know you all have my back. When I speak Welsh, I am representing ssiw. You gave me the basics, the confidence and the belief that I could do it and, I did! I am! And it’s AMAZING. I love it so much. I love my language, I love the new Wales I have discovered and continue to discover.
Please, we must never lose this side of ssiw.
I wish you all the very best of everything as you continue your journey in expanding this wonderful gift. xx


#3

I’m sure you needn’t worry there @aliC. It’s at the heart of everything we do :rose:


#4

Couldn’t agree more - I’ve been missing this forum lots over the last few months - it’s been a HUGE part of the last ten years of my life - and we will ALWAYS prioritise doing more and making more things possible and just helping more on the forum… :slight_smile: :star: :star2:


#5

In accord with the task for week 4 of Level Three, I looked this morning on YouTube for a recording of ‘Ar Hyd y Nos’, in order to start learning it. I was surprised and delighted to find it preceded by an advert for…SSiW, starring a very pleasant young man!
The new changes sound useful, but as @aliC comments, let’s keep our closeness and sense of community. Especially for those of us who live elsewhere. :grinning:
Diolch yn fawr iawn I pawb.


#6

Thanks for the update, I’d no idea there was so much going on behind the scenes.

Any hints about what new language(s) you will be working on?


#7

That strikes me as an excellent analysis, but Catrin thinks it has a few important flaws… :wink: :joy:

The #1 most popular question on here! It’s a toughie to answer, too - but right now, we’re gearing up for a fair bit more advertising on our Spanish course, and if all goes well, the likelihood is that we’ll be going in the direction of adding Italian and French and English-through-the-medium-of-Spanish in the not-too-distant future.

If the first few go fairly painlessly, then we’ll be adding another half dozen or so soon after - if it’s hiccupy, we’ll need to lick our wounds and fix stuff before the next round… :slight_smile:


#8

Thank you for the update. I’ve just wondered the other day if there will be something new happening in “not so distant future”.

:heart: :heart: :heart:

Living elswhere, especially in the country where no one else is learning Welsh could be a real handicap and as the community grows bounds can very easily be made but also very easily get lost. Since I’m not that much on Slack (I’ m rearly there to be honest) I feel I already am loosing the track and grip though.

So I second all quoted above.


#9

:rofl:you’re young enough to be my son, hence young lol. And the pleasant is an extrapolation from the advert, emails and forum :wink: Diolch yn fawr iawn I ti, Catrin, Iestyn, Cat, Deborah, Nia a many, many more. X :slightly_smiling_face::sunglasses:


#10

Oh and SSiSpanish, SSiFrench a SSiItalian sound excellent (gwych even). I’m enjoying SSiCornish too. :sunglasses:


#11

Wow! Exhausted just reading about what you have all achieved so far. The thought of SSIW growing is a bit like being told you’re going to have to share Mum and Dad with a new baby brother/sister😯 However, it’s a lovely thought that so many more will be able to use such a marvellous method for other languages. Some day all language teaching will be as effective and pain free.

Good luck with all your hard work you deserve every success.


#12

That’s an excellent way to put it @jo-hornagold1. Just how I feel :grinning::sleepy::grinning:


#13

I will seize that with both hands and cherish it… :wink: :joy:

Oh, what an excellent description - and it can feel a bit like that for us as well, sometimes! This is a lovely way to think of it, which I will remind myself of when it all feels a bit daunting… :slight_smile:


#14

Thanks for the update @aran!
Pleased to hear that you’re branching out into making videos… will these be learning videos? One thing I do stumble with at times with SSIW is mishearing dd as f (and vice-versa) - I have to refer to the vocab sheets a lot (and my printer is currently broken, so this is problematic)… but if there were also lessons one could hear AND see, with the words popping up on screen at the same time! I think this would help initially - watching once would be enough to get the ‘correct’ pronunciation - as audio is way more flexible for learning purposes (I’ve done most of my learning with you on dog-walks and in the car!!!). I’ve fully enjoyed the 6-month course, and am now in at the Deep End… I’ll make you a video by way of thanks as soon as I can :heart:

… Diolch yn ddawr! (only kidding :rofl:)


#15

We already do Spanish via video as well, so we definitely want to bring that to Welsh - I think it’s best to check vocab sheets and then focus on your listening, and I suspect that accent won’t be quite as good with video learning, but I certainly take the point that it will be handier to do it all in video… :slight_smile:


#16

Are we getting Spanish/Manx/Dutch/Esperanto (for @Deborah-SSiW’s liking) etc through the medium of Welsh? Then Welsh mother-tongue speakers can’t claim that they are “no good at foreign languages”, etc!

Will any books and videos feature the stars of SSiW hangouts… I am thinking of Sam, security specialist currently guarding @nia.llywelyn’s place of work, and her SSi van… But other pets have featured…

The international dimension of SSi Welsh is a real joy, and viewed from ever more insular Little English Midlands, it is so refreshing! I hope publishing will reflect the huge burst of optimism and joy that was fully in evidence at the Parti Pen-blywydd 10 yng Ghaernarfon…

Even English tourism within England (Derby, Coventry, Croesoswallt [?!], Rhydychen, Anwythig, Manceinion) and meeting the Welsh speakers of England or anticipating doing so, is made magical by SSiW’s touch… although I still don’t have resources to actually get very far/to many events & places.

So now I want the language dimension in all that I do. When you chuck the Westminster obsession with testing and the “narrow 3Rs out of context and as sheer slog” - and replace it with people ‘tearing their hair out with self-doubt in the middle stages of level 1 Welsh & in the demanding moments of 6mws/6mad courses!!’ :wink: - the world seems more fruitful, more buildable, more lovable, harder to leave and neglect, harder to destroy through apathy…

The health dividend - once we’ve been encouraged to get out, enjoy cultural events, walk and talk, enjoy glorious Welsh scenery and hospitality - makes a subscription to SSi languages frankly invaluable, immeasurably beneficial in every dimension of lives that become so easily depleted by technology’s most deadening outcomes/side effects.Mind you, if it sounds like lecturing about Healthy Lifestyles that WILL put people off…!


#17

In due course! It’s definitely on the list - but probably going to take us two or three years to get to that point (although you never know, it might go a little faster)… :slight_smile:


#18

Yes, Thanks for updating us, Aran. I’m sure that its the right way to go, in order to support the growth of the enterprise. Great to see new people coming on board.


#19

Gosh, is it really only a week since that post?! Feels like more, in the roller-coaster world of SSi… :slight_smile:

Of course, the overview I gave last week remains the big picture - the bits of it that have been most noticeable this last week and are on my mind at the moment:

  • need to push on a bit with the work I’m doing with Carol Vorderman for a new TV show - she’s been snowed under with work for the last couple of weeks, which is great but also an interruption for our work - I’m not worried, though, she’s such a fast learner I’m sure she’ll be fine by the time they’re filming in the second half of October… :slight_smile:

  • I’ve got a meeting coming up soon with a possible partner/investor (a very strong natural fit, so I’m confident we’re going to end up with something working there) which would help us kick on with our current acceleration.

  • I’m whipping up a few custom extra lessons for the TUC at the moment, which I promised I’d do before things got quite this busy, but got to make sure they happen - hoping to have them mostly wrapped up this week.

  • we’re about to go live on a new round of ads for the 6 minute course

  • I’ve just started work on the content for a book that we’ve got a publishing offer for, which I think is going to be really important for reaching more people in Wales

  • and I’ve just had a slightly unexpected but fascinating conversation with a friend of one of our learners, who works for a company in China that might be interested in helping us scale a bit faster - next stop, if she can sell him on the idea, might be to meet the boss in London, so that all feels a bit surreal - but potentially fantastic.

We’ve also just welcomed @justineabbott to her first official week as an SSi board member and operations director, and she’s off to a flying start - she’s clearly going to make a massive difference to us, and be a huge part of helping us get to the point where we have all our structures really working well - add Jesse’s work on growth, and I look closer to being able to focus on methodology/delivery/new courses than I have been for years - which is very much the ideal picture for me… :slight_smile:


#20

Thanks, @aran for the warm welcome! I’m delighted to be on board & to be part of such a fantastic group of people. I had no idea when I clicked on that first SSiW Level 1 download back in 2012 that this is where I’d end up - living proof that Welsh & SSiW really can change your life…

Just to reassure those like @aliC who are concerned that the ‘character’ of SSiW might change as a result of its growth (not singling you out, @aliC, just that you were the first to mention the possibility): that’s certainly something to be aware of but not something envisaged. The SSiW community is such an important part of learning with SSiW that none of us want to lose that or alter it significantly. Most of the stuff I’ll be doing won’t actually be visible, tbh - it’s back office gubbins. My aim is to enable @aran and others to be able to spend more time supporting learners. Good admin/operational stuff is like the air in a car tyre IMO; you can’t see it but you sure as wotsits know if it’s not there :wink: