SSi Forum

Very sad :(


Hello I’ve just begun the SSIW 6 month course which I’m really enjoying. I plucked up the courage to tell one of the local farmers here who is a first language speaker that I’m learning Welsh and I want to practice speaking (saying it in Welsh of course) after challenge 2. Now halfway through challenge 4. He rang earlier and spoke Welsh and I didn’t understand what he was saying…turns out he’d just asked how I was but I didn’t know what he was saying so just didn’t answer out of absolute panic/embarrassment…which meant he got really embarrassed and apologised in the massive silence and said he thought he’d try speaking so I could practice which was lovely but I think I’ve put him off now by how flustered I was. He probably assumed that we’d start with that on the course and now only being able to say variations of I’m learning/speaking/practicing Welsh doesn’t seem so impressive :frowning: Are we meant to be learning ‘the basics’ such as hello and how are you by ourselves (ie does the course assume we know this already) or does it come later? Sorry for the stream of consciousness post but I’m still blushing so hard all blood has gone to cheeks not brain.


Sarah, don’t worry, and don’t beat yourself up - the important thing here is that you were brave enough to jump in at the deep end, and that is a superbly positive sign. Of course it’s early days - and you’re likely to get this kind of ‘deer in the headlights’ feeling for a good while to begin with - but if you’ve got the follow-up courage to have a chat with him (in English!) and explain that you panicked a bit because you’d bitten off more than you could chew, but you’d love for him to carry on giving you the chance to practice a bit, then you’ll end up with a very valuable resource…

Oh, two other things - one, phone conversations are the TOUGHEST of all, because you don’t have ay of the visual clues that usually help so much - and two, he was clearly impressed enough with what you said after challenge 2 to think that you were much further on than you actually are - which is another brilliant sign, suggesting that your accent is already very promising… :slight_smile:

So all in all, it feels tough right now, but it’s brilliant that you did this, and it’s going to lead to great things… :slight_smile: :star: :star2:


Hello Sarah, I think that first of all even while blushing, you should give yourself a pat on the back for being so brave: going out and ask your neighbour to practice speaking with you after just a few of lessons! :clap:

Second thing, not sure it’s very encouraging right now, but in my experience with learning languages embarrassment is just part of the process.

When I first went to the UK, I had studied English at school for 6 years but never heard a fluent native speaker, so I understood almost nothing when people talked to me. The family I stayed with had to repeat almost every question many times.
Once I was very proud I had caught they were asking me how I had reached England and I said: “on the Hoovercraft!”.
Plenty of laughter and embarrassment followed.
It went on pretty much like this every day with most people I met - but when I came back home after a couple of weeks I had learnt 1000 times more then in 6 years at school.

Many years and plenty of practice later, a waiter in Manchester asked me something related to ordering some food (which I should have known by then). I didn’t understand anything at all.
Then a friend’s friend in London talked to me for 5 minutes and I have no idea of what she said.
It just happens. The good news is that if you persist, you get used to it, and won’t feel bad any more! :wink:


Hi Sarah – I notice that no-one has yet answered this bit of your question, so I’m going to try.

I think the basic thing is that the course design is very different to your usual learners-learning-from-scratch thing. In so many languages we learn “Comment ça va? Ça va très bien, merci” kind of thing, followed by about a year stuck in the present tense talking about the weather, and so on. The SSi course kind of eschews all that in favour of building up real conversational fluency much more quickly, but it’s an unusual approach: so it was natural that your acquaintance, knowing you’ve started learning, would expect you to be able to say hello and almost certainly no more, and so the different approach has somewhat foxed him and embarrassed you. My guess is that you will shortly be surprising him in a positive way with how much you can do, rather than what you can’t.

But I do feel that the different focus of SSi does leave some gaps for those basic social niceties. I think that if, unlike me, you’re in Wales and on speaking terms with local first-language speakers they’re probably gaps that are fairly easily plugged – listen to people, or straight-out ask “This weird course I’m doing doesn’t teach us that, so how do you say hello to people?” – but I think the gaps are there.The first time I went along to speak to other learners in Oxford I had absolutely no idea what to say – I didn’t know I could say helo or haia, I didn’t know how to say sut dach chi? or chi’n iawn? or Sh’mae, and I felt paralysed. But I think that lasted for literally about two occasions, before I just kind of reflected what other people said back at them… Then, months later, when I was feeling much more confident, someone I’d met only once before greeted me with a big, friendly Sut mae hwyl? (‘How’s fun?’ = ‘How’s things?’) which was so completely new to me that I just looked stupid at her until she explained.

The other thing is all the “I’m learning/speaking/practicing Welsh” stuff. At some point, when I’d done a lot more Welsh, I went back to listen to the first few lessons again because I was curious about how the course was structured and designed. And you’re right: you seem to talk about nothing other than the fact that you’re learning for ages. But it’s not really ages, and it depends how quickly you go through the lessons: within a surprisingly short time you’ll probably be telling him that you met someone last night who told you that… and he won’t believe how fast you’ve progressed. (At least, that’s my honest experience: I’ve learnt a few different languages, and I reckon I made as much progress in Welsh with SSi in a couple of months as I made in literally about 7 years of evening classes of Modern Greek.)

So… yeah: I think there are gaps, but I think they’ll be easy to plug. I understand the embarrassment now, but as @aran says, talking on the phone in a second language is fearsomely, horribly hard. And I think that the pace of the 6 month course is probably such that you’ll be pleasantly surprising both yourself and your acquaintances well within that 6 months.

Dal ati! (Keep at it!)


No one actually answered this question the shortest way possible so I will do just that:

I presume you have the access to both, new and old material so take some courage and do just this very unique lesson 6B of Course One (Lesson 6 - Bonus) and you’re a winner! In this, I have to admit very hard and challenging lesson, you have everything “helo”, “bore da” etc, related. You start with greetings and finish with going to the pub for the cup of coffi. Both versions of the lesson are at the same link and you can switch the regions at the bottom of the page.

If you don’t have the access to this I think, @aran, it might be worthy reconsidder to inplement this awesome, funny and very useful lesson somewhere inbetween the levels aswell. This is, by my opinion, the quickest way to learn these so very needed basics to go along with especially when you put yourself into the challenging conversations of every day life at such very beginning as @sarah-holtom has put herself.

All in all, you’re a star to go into the deep end in so early time of learning. Da iawn ti!

Tatjana :slight_smile:


Yes, no need to feel down. It sounds like you are doing great. Your friend might have expected that you could only exchange pleasantries and weather conditions, as would be the case in a long haul course, rather than the considerable repertoire that you already have at your command through SSiW.

Listening to real conversations is probably the hardest part of speaking Welsh. I find it frustrating that I only fully understand what someone has said after the moment has passed. However, it sets me up for the next time I hear it.

So, all you need to start the conversation is - S’mae/shwmae for Hi. Helo is obvious. Sut/Shwd wyt ti? for how are you? Da iawn diolch for very well thanks.

There you go. Give him a call and try them out, plus some great SSiW stuff. He’ll be blown away.

O, and Heddiw for today usually sounds like Heddi.

Edited -
However, as Tatjana mentioned - When you have reached (completed) “Challenge 6, Bonus” - just click on “Vocab” for a great summary of conversation starters.


Oh, and, @sarah-holtom, I’ve only now seen that you’ve just joined our community on this forum at the same time you’ve written your original post so I’m happy to say a very warm welcome to our community! I’m happy you’ve reached out to us with your feelings and we’re happy to help with ideas, encouragements and sharing happiness and cheering with you. I have no doubt that these happy days are to come (if they didn’t already) in the instant time.

I’m (as probably are all the rest) happy for you to be here. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions, you find yourself in linguistic trouble or you just need to share happy moments with us out of excitement.

Croeso cynnes ar y fforwm.

Tatjana :slight_smile:


Thank you very much all - this really is the nicest forum on the internet! Thanks for all the advice and encouragement. I have found my nearest Clwb Siarad and will be going along to that in 2 weeks, which gives me lots of time to listen to the lesson that Tatjana recommended and to have a chat with my farmer to explain why I just stopped talking :slight_smile: Diolch yn fawr x


YAY!!! That’s the spirit!

You’re already a winner so keep on going. I’m extreamly glad you’ve found the conversation group to practice. This will help you enourmously!

Da iawn ti!

Tatjana :slight_smile:


Hi Sarah - so glad you shared your experience - you’re not alone! Fairly new myself, I went to my local meetup last week - which is monthly, nowhere near Wales - but found a similar problem to yours, because while I could say about learning/practising/speaking - and thinking/remembering/ forgetting - everyday queries foxed me. And the group ended up using a lot of English, which made me feel guilty and also saw me use little Welsh! (Managed telling them I’d just started Welsh, how long I’d been learning, and that I wasn’t sure how to say what I wanted in Welsh!). So I came home with mixed feelings. But the next challenge introduced talking about what someone else is doing, leaving me more hopeful for another meetup - and now I can check out Tatjana’s recommendation too :slight_smile:

PS Amazing how helpful listening exercise is to developing listening and understanding.
I’ve not started a structured course yet, but can definitely vouch for how friendly and helpful the forum is. Starting SSiW is joining a family :slight_smile:


It takes a bit of time for vocabs etc of the people from different courses to match. You’ll be fine next time.

To be fair, after my initial two years of learning in night classes, I very much doubt if I could have said “I dont know how to say what I want to say”. Also it might be that some of your group members are using moyn and others are using isiau for want - which is fine, but could throw the 1st time visitor.


Hello @sarah-holtom! Welcome to the friendliest forum on the planet! I have had quite a few moments just like the one you describe - many of us have, so I’d say you were in good company. I have let myself be put off and felt huge embarrassment in the past through experiences just like this. I daresay I can’t save you completely from feeling bad in the future, but here’s what helped me…
In terms of practical things, find other people to speak to as well as your helpful farmer, so you have a wide range. Other learners will have begun in more or less the same place as you (especially SSIWers) and will know what to expect, as will you of them. In our village there are learners and a native speaker (a Gog too :flushed:) and I found that the native speaker was much harder to understand at first. We had less common ground until I got used to him. He, of course had to get used to me being very random (in either language) and getting mixed up, but he survived, and so did I! If you can, try face-to-face encounters, so you can use visual clues to help you. I’ve found grinning and waving my arms about is a great comfort when words escape me. I also prefer to watch Welsh telly instead of listening to the radio for the same reason.
In the course, you will soon learn how to say that you don’t understand something, how to ask someone to repeat what they’ve said, and to slow down. So even if you don’t understand a word - you can ask for help in Welsh.
And aside from the practical things there are ways to make this easier on yourself.
Learn to laugh if it all goes wrong.
Always ask if something confuses you - in Welsh or in English if the Welsh escapes you. Curiosity will drag you through any feelings of embarrassment if you let it.
Be kind to yourself - you are just beginning. Be as kind as you would be to another learner.
I like the sound of your farmer! I should keep him happy with cake :grin: You could ask him to tell you exactly what he said on the phone, and what he might expect you to say back, so next time you’ll be able to join in. Before you know it, it will just be the thing that you say to him naturally when you see him or answer the phone.
Last piece of advice (I do go on don’t I?), use the forum. It is like a big friendly Welsh brain! It is full of support, knowledge and kindness.


Further to not registeting imedeately - this morning, a friend was asking about my wife but used the word for wife rather than her name. She was really kind to wait while my cogs were gently winding. I was then able to answer. I like friends like her.


Thank you for your encouragement :slight_smile:


Helo ann-6,
How nice to see somebody getting the English right - to practise with an ‘s’ and the noun ‘practice’ with a ‘c’!! So much easier in Welsh: just ‘ymarfer’ the verb and ‘ymarferiad’ the noun! How we love those ‘iad’ endings, and plural "iadau’!! If it is any consolation when I booked a Welsh-speaking holiday in Gwynedd and stayed with a very charming Welsh widower, I failed to grasp what he was saying for a whole day! When I got used to his rural accent and gruff voice, however, it was less embarrassing. Just as well as he helped me find my lost mobile phone!!


Well, according to PONS dictionary both is correct

I actually don’t remember I’d be taught in school to write “practise” with “s” but rather with “c”. And “practice” for me was always with “c”.


The practise/practice spelling difference applies to British English - in American English both have a ‘c’.


Happens to us all one time or another. Phone calls e the hardest. Noisy pub is good to you get more confident as u can pretend you didn’t hear properly!! Keep at it , it’s worth it. Choose someone to have short conversations with an about the phrases u know, so when they reply they will be more likely to use words and phrases you understand


Hi Sarah. I had the same tummy-wobbling moment as you a couple of weeks ago with a cafe owner I know. I had only done the 6 month challenge no. 1 at the time and was telling her about my learning. The following week I went in and she engaged by greeting me yn y Gymraeg and trying to get me to place my order similarly. I struggled through it and at one point she said, “I hope I’m not putting too much pressure on you.” The following 3 times I have been in, she has spoken only in English. I know just how you feel but I think my cafe owner probably felt more embarrassed for me than I was actually embarrassed! The way I am going to do it, is have some kind words of thanks to her on my visit this week, explain about the nature of the course and ask her to keep trying with me. I hope you have managed to keep your engagement with your kind neighbour.


Well done - that willingness to get back on the horse is what will see you win in the end… :slight_smile: :star: