SSi Forum

The (almost) end of 'free' SSiW


#1

As you know, for a very long time, SSiW offered the whole of Course 1 (and then the whole of the new Level 1) entirely for free.

We loved doing this - it felt great - and the word of mouth lead to what felt like successful growth in the early days.

Then it stalled.

I mean, really stalled.

We were just about able to manage two full-time people (on pretty low salaries). When we switched over to charging for the 6 month approach and the 6 minute approach, we started growing, and reaching far more learners. We’ve now got 10 full-time and 5 part-time members of staff, and we’re reaching and helping thousands more learners than we were before - so it’s very clear that this is the necessary direction for us.

But, inevitably, people who were paying for the 6 month or 6 minute structure weren’t very pleased to see that the core content for Level 1 was available for free - so we cut back there, offering the first 15 sessions instead of the whole 25.

It’s still something that generates support requests, though - understandably, a lot of people feel that the actual lesson content is the most important part of the 6 month/6 minute structure, and they feel we’ve mislead them by not pointing out that they could get that bit for free.

So, with a certain sadness at the inevitability of it all, we’re closing down free access.

This means it’s hugely important for you NOT to tell people that they should try SSiW because it’s free. It’s not, any more.

In place of the free course, we now have 3 options:

  • sign up to a paid-for structured approach (6 month or 6 minute currently, although we’re working towards blending them into one with some new tech)

  • do our free ‘one sentence’ mini-intro, which gets meaty enough to show how the method works and whether it feels helpful or not for that individual learner

  • if the paid-for structures are absolutely out of reach, apply for a scholarship place - we assess each application and offer a number of scholarships each year - when we offer a scholarship (at 50% or 100% off), it includes full access to everything, so in that sense we’ve actually started offering more material for free, for people who otherwise would struggle to afford it.

If you see anyone who hasn’t read this update telling new learners on the forum (or on Facebook or Twitter!) about the ‘free lessons’, it would be a GIGANTIC help if you could send them the link to this thread… :slight_smile: :heart:


Charging for subscription
Lesson 1 challenges disappeared
A bit confused on what's paid access in SSIW
#2

Despite the inevitability of the decision I think it is correct. I was puzzled at how much was available for no charge when I started. It is just too good to give away.

So well done for being brave enough to make the step. I hope the Say Something language courses grow from strength to strength from now on.


#3

Really appreciate that, Ken, diolch yn fawr… :slight_smile: I think figuring out the scholarship stuff is how we can managed to stay true to our roots but still manage to reach more people - fingers crossed! :slight_smile:


#4

Despite it being the inevitable decision - I agree with Ken and think it’s the right one, too.
While I did appreciate the free access very much to find out if the SSi method works for me and did a lot of them on my own, it was just that: Lonely learning.
After I subscribed to the 6 minutes course I realised how much I did miss before, because the community on Slack along with the support you get there is greater than I’m able to express in words and I regret that I didn’t subsrcibe earlier.
I’m enjoying it so very, very much and I don’t regret a single penny I’m paying for it.

The scholarships are wonderful and I love you for offering them to people who wouldn’t be able to join the fun otherwise!

I hope SSi will keep growing and flourishing :revolving_hearts:


#5

It did always seem to me that the amount of free content was perhaps excessively generous, from a business point of view! No doubt an enormous amount of work went into (and still goes into) that content, so it’s only reasonable that most or all has a cost associated. I don’t think that’s unfair.

The scholarship thing is a great idea. Hopefully it manages to balance the competing needs of sustainable business and accessibility to users.


#6

That is so very lovely of you, Camilla - diolch o waelod calon! - I’m particularly pleased to hear that the gear change from solo to structured/group learning is a genuine help, since that’s absolutely the aim… :slight_smile: :star2:

Diolch, Alan - really appreciate it - yes, it’s a tricky old balance, but I’m now firmly of the opinion that the more we can grow, the more people we can reach, and the more people we’ll end up helping at no cost, too… :slight_smile:


#7

I admire SSi’s generosity and restraint in delaying this, but fully back the decision to call an end to the decade of pro bono work which has, of course, been of such benefit to the community and to the language.

On a related matter, do gift certificates exist to the value of all or part of the various options?


#8

There’s another side to this that you need to consider Aran. I did pay for the whole course and downloaded all the lessons onto my computer to keep for practice.But if I was a dishonest person I could have just paid the first month, dowlnoaded all the material and then cancelled my subscription. Don’t know what you can do to stop this from happening unless you disable the download function. Or maybe there are no dishonest people who join SSiW. :pleading_face: (written with tongue in cheek)

I do think it’s a shame that you don’t offer at most five lessons for free as a taster. Any other course that can be bought will offer a small trial for free. But having said that, I understand your reasons for not doing so.


#9

That’s a fair point, but Aran did mention that they’re going to put together a sort of sampler so people can see if the course appeals. I think that should do the job.


#10

I agree @alan-charlesworth, that @RobMorgan makes a fair point.
This, I think is the “sampler” you mentioned (taken from the opening post in this thread) which I also feel is all that is necessary.

do our free ‘one sentence’ mini-intro, which gets meaty enough to show how the method works and whether it feels helpful or not for that individual learner


#11

This is a reasonable and yet brave step. As someone who’s always been doing a lot of „free“ work in cultural events I understand it’s not easy to find a balance between making ends meet and keeping things accessible. Thank you for your work and the sensible way you are communicating your decision!

Am I getting this right: The only option to keep access to the app content will be through the structured six minute course? Or will there still be the £10 monthly subscription to work at your own pace?


#12

I presume some research has been done to see what effect this will have on people moving from trying to buying, but is there a chance that fewer people will subscribe for a course if they’ve not had adequate time to try it out? Is the one sentence going to be enough for people to take the plunge?

I can understand the reasoning behind the decision, though. It’s a little like the recent Strava decision to make previously free features subscription-only, in part because with so much being free there was little incentive for most people to subscribe.


#13

Not at the moment, but it’s on the to-do list… :slight_smile: :heart:

We think most Welsh learners (from experience) are honest and want to help, but we’re keenly aware of this as we look to go into larger markets - it’s possible we’ll move to a streaming environment rather than a file download environment (although that will leave us wanting to try and find a way to help solve for people who want to use the material when they’re not online).

Sorry, no, I confused myself (and everyone else!) - the standard paid subscription will still give full access to everything, whether you choose to follow the structured courses or not… :slight_smile:

Yup, huge amounts, and it’s not even close. By now, the overwhelming majority of our new learners come in via the no-free-try-out route.


#14

I really can’t complain for having had the chance to do a lot of the 3-Level course for free. :grin:

But I also think that the effort and work to offer a high quality product totally deserves to be paid.
And even if I had to pay from Challenge 1 at the current monthly price, at my pace and without even asking to pause when I took some long breaks, I would have spent about… £100! Very affordable, really.
Considering that there will always be a chance to get a scholarship for those who can’t afford it I think it’s all very fair. :slight_smile:


#15

I’m a fairly new subscriber, and i was very surprised to have 15 free lessons. In fact i subscribed after doing the first 5 or 6 because it didn’t seem right to not be paying! I really love the course but i don’t think i would have subscribed after just the say one sentence. It depends on your motivation i guess- i didn’t come along determined to learn but after a few of the free sessions i just loved the language so much and was hooked. I know you’ve considered everything from a business perspective, but i just wanted to feedback that just a few free sessions were essential for me- even just 1 or 2. But I’m thankful that you are doing that and not upping the subscription price :grinning: it is amazing value for money.


#16

I totally agree with @Camilla_Walker! :slight_smile: I started doing the (lonely) free sessions, and when I got to the end of them I subscribed in order to carry on - not realising that there were all the other activities from the weekly emails that I’d missed, and the hangouts and the Slack community and everything! So I had to go straight on to pause while I caught up with the other tasks. Its one of my only regrets about learning Welsh - that I didn’t just subscribe straight away and get the full experience from the start. Its worth every penny and I knew after trying “one sentence” that this was the course for me!! :slight_smile:


#17

Before I retired I worked for an organization that teaches music to children in school and offers out of school musical activities. The tuition had to be paid for by parents but the out of school activities were free. There came a point when financially this set-up was no longer viable. There was much resistance from some of the management team to introducing charging, as amongst other reasons, it was feared numbers attending would drop. Others argued, myself included, that this would not happen, and would probably raise the perceived value of the out of school activities once they were charged for. This latter argument turned out to be true and the organization continues to thrive. Free attendance is still allowed for those who cannot afford to pay.
If a product or service is of good quality, which SSiW most certainly is, then people will be willing to pay to access those goods.
SSiW am byth!


#18

Having just completed Challenge 15 Level 1, I feel like someone who has just caught last orders yn y dafarn! Having now subscribed, the feeling is similar to getting the nod for an unexpected lock in! Enough drinking references! - I’m just delighted to have found SSiW.
I was amazed at how much was available for free.The one sentence into really sold it for me. Possibly lesson 1 being free could further showcase what a top product this is?
It is easily the best language learning course I have used. Thank you so much.
Innovative, quality products, full of exceptional material which are positive, full of integrity and heart will always be successful!


#19

Dear SSiW,
This step forward is a little scary, I won’t lie, but it makes good sense, and I’m exited to see how this change might help SSiW grow. Actually, a few nights ago, I went back checked out some of the old stuff, the listening practices, I think. To a fairly new SSiWer, the dfference was pretty surprising! The old stuff sounded like people putting something out to try to help people learn Welsh, which was nice, but not radically different from, say, watching some language learning videos on youtube or something. It made me realise more than ever how the magnificent SSiW course of today feels like a gift descended from heaven! The effectiveness of the lessons and the strong incorporation of community building elements are really powerful indicators of the value of SSiW. I’m glad you feel empowered with where SSiW is (and how the Welsh language is!) so that this is the best course of action.

This is one of the best projects of which I know, and it really was too good to be true for so much to be free. (I know my vision on this doesn’t really count, as I’m not actually from Wales, but I wish the strategies and practises of SSiW were officially recognised public service, employed across the country to build Welsh language communites, instituted in every community which would vote it in! It’d be policy well in line with Cymraeg 2050. :smile:)

However, I do have a question; will the forum on here still be availible to non-paying members? (What will non-paying member mean, if anything?) I know I’m liable to have some gaps in my paid access, (not permanent inability to pay, so I wouldn’t take one of the scholarships from someone who really needs it to do SSiW at all). But still having a modicum of connection with the SSiW community, even when the payment time period is up, would be really, really helpful. (Especially for those of us who are a little wracked with insecurities about our desire to learn Welsh.)

Love,
Gwen
P.S. I’m not a paid member now, but will be soon! Personally, just having reached Lesson 15, then coming back after months and just this week having worked back up to Lesson 15, I’m not really aware of all the details of the paid access. Though from what I hear on the forum, the extra structures in the paid approach seem really worthwhile and a big part of the real experience. I look forward to finding out for myself. Only reasons I haven’t jumped in up to the pockets up until now are that I take a really long time to climb out of my shell, and that I am in the messy middle of working out how and what to do with my life - so this announcement has really jumpstarted my reflections on what I value and what I want - diolch, dw i 'di angen hi!


#20

This strikes me as completely fair. To be honest, the monthly/annual subscription strikes me as quite cheap given the amount and quality of material, and the level of language proficiency that you can get to by using it. Personally, I would have been willing to pay quite a bit more.