SSi Forum

What are the problems? What needs to happen differently?


I don’t think you NEED to anywhere actually, as all the Welsh speak English as a second language even if their first language is Welsh, so the need is not there. However the need in a moral and cultrual sense is there.


Added to the fact that Welsh is only spoken by a very small number of people in a small area of an even smaller country dominated by a country with one of the most international languages in the world. Those are the facts, sad or unfair as they may be. And Wales is in an even worse position than other countries in that regard.


Must put in a word for the Welsh in Patagonia where very few speak English although, of course, their situation us broadly similar as they all speak Spanish as a second language


Did I read somewhere that all schools in Wales are to start teaching Welsh to first language level in the next two or three years or is it just a certain number of them?


Yes, I think that I heard that too


This is the story


Here are the rambling thoughts of a new learner. I feel like i should go back through this and tidy it up but it’s 15 minutes into my welsh learning time so please forgive me if it jumps about a bit.

As a new learner, it’s incredibly frustrating to hear that people went to school through the medium of welsh and never use it. It’s been mentioned that people feel uncomfortable with their level or quality of welsh. For the language to really come alive it is important for evreyone who can speak welsh to use it as much as possible. I was recently in Rhug in North Wales. There were two young lads on the tills and I’m pretty sure that they both spoke welsh and yet were communicating between each other in English. There is an interesting documentary from 2010 called the Welsh Knot on youtube about the kids in south wales going to welsh medium school and not using it in their breaks or outside school and a young girl in North Wales who’s family use it in all walks of life. It’s how to get the kids using welsh. I think somehow one of the answers is to get the idea out there that speaking welsh is cool. It’s a language of friendships of ancient characters and mystery. Personally i think it’s really cool, a friend of mine is learning with me and I can’t wait until and my good mate are chatting away in our own little language. Getting the idea out there that it’s cool, it’s awesome and the cool thing to be able to do I believe it the key to it’s success. I feel like there is a responsibility by teachers to instill a feeling of welshness and welsh identity and pride which includes a pride in the ability to speak welsh.

I did welsh o’level at school in 1987, people loved to say it wasn’t worth as much as french or german, I dont know one friend who did french or german who have used it. Everyone took welsh upto year 3 of the high school but it was often treated as a lesson that people fooled around in. Only 10 of us out of 200 took it on as an o’level. I had asked my parents to send me to the welsh school in Mold but they were scared that i would miss out trying to catch up learning the language. I scraped through my welsh o’level knowing the days of the week months of the year the weather and what i liked and what i wanted and that was it until 2019.

Three months ago, I was using duo lingo learning spanish and I thought I would have a look at welsh and after taking the intro test it opened me up at level 13. For two months, I did both, before I finally cracked and dropped the spanish to really kick on with my welsh. The real issue of dropping the spanish was that idea of usefulness. I got over it by realising not everything in my life needs to be done to achieve an end gain and I started it as a form of relaxation.

My interest in welsh was sparked again in 2016, I travel away to watch wales football club, I am from Buckley originally where very little welsh is ever heard, and I was truely gobsmacked at how much welsh was being spoken all around me in France. I got the feeling that a lot of people who don’t speak welsh at home were also relishing the opportunity to use their welsh. Interestingly enough there is another guy who uses google hangouts chat who has been inspired to learn welsh because of these football trips where being welsh and speaking welsh really comes alive.

The day I joined saysomethinginwelsh i posted on the Wrexham Football messageboard and the responses give a few reasons why and why not people have learned or been put off from learning.

Knowing where you can speak your welsh and letting others know that you can is something that needs help. When i was in wales last, how can I know or tell when i can or can’t Are we afraid to start saying something in welsh for fear of embarassing the other person or myself. Maybe starting every transaction in welsh and being extra polite if the server or other person doesn’t speak welsh is the way forward. It’s amazing how many people who don’t speak welsh actually want to but don’t know where to start. A friend of mine worked selling football programmes at the game and one gentleman weekly arrives and does the transaction in welsh with a big smile on his face even though its clear my friend never spoke welsh, he kicks on with welsh.

One of the obvious threats to the language is that it only takes on person in a group not to speak welsh and the whole group has to switch to English. One of the learners i speak with gave this as her reason for learning. She doesn’t like being the reason 4 or 5 people have to not speak welsh when she is there.

I think mutations are terrifying for a lot of people I am 3 months into duo lingo and a month into say something in welsh and i am currently ignoring my fear of them and just ploughing on, it really does feel like once you have learned something it starts to jump about and change. I am doing my best with them and hoping they fall into line later but for a new learner they are offputting. I love the relaxed way that ssiw treats them as fun and entertaining.

When I didn’t speak welsh if anyone asked me if i spoke welsh, I didn’t really realise they were looking to speak welsh with me, at times it felt like a “Are you actually as welsh as me?” question. Since I started learning I feel like to save this language or to grow the language there is a huge responsibility by everyone who speaks welsh to use their welsh and really try to lift the language.



Thanks for sharing your views as a new learner Marcus and your positive attitude towards speaking Welsh in the community. Pob lwc with the SSiW course.


Not rambling at all. I live in London and don’t have to think about whether someone I am speaking to in a shop speaks Welsh or not. I don’t know how you make it ‘cool’ but the language can’t ‘lose’ speakers of Welsh when they leave school either at the end of their studies or the end of each day. There is obviously a lot of psychology I don’t understand around why something precious like another language can be lost by a speaker of it. There has been a post here in the last couple of weeks about the psychology of young people who speak Welsh and don’t care about it, but I couldn’t find it. I am sure a solution will come which means it becomes the language of choice for those who speak it and that some easy way will be found to know where Welsh can be spoken as you walk into a shop. I have a website that was meant to help a little but it hasn’t really worked. However, have a look.

#191 This is the programme that i mentioned.


One of the things I have found fascinating about the Beca a’i Phobl podcasts in the advanced section have been that Beca always asks people about their history with learning Welsh. A picture is building up of how attitudes have changed over time ( from the 1950s to the present day), and in different parts of Wales. Different things tipped the balance and made Welsh ‘cool’ for people as they grew up - be it politics or music or just finding themselves in a community where it was a living language.

It’s always good to hear people from Caernarfon and the surrounding towns talking about Welsh being the default, which is how I experienced it visiting Anglesey in the 1970s & 80s ( though frustratingly at second-hand via my relatives, as I couldn’t speak it then).

I also think there are a lot of people ( like the friend Nicky was talking about the other day on the Mynd am Beint Gyda thread) who will switch back and forth between Welsh and English even within one sentence, and not think twice about it. You even hear that in the dramas and comedies on BBC Radio Cymru.

But yes, I think the tipping point comes when kids see it as a living, breathing thing with a culture they can relate to - and not as a school subject devoid of relevance.


Really interesting, thanks for the link


Finally managed to find time to watch this. Fascinating. But I felt as if they missed one important point.

One of the critical reasons the kids in the south who valued the language but weren’t speaking it out of school was that their parents didn’t speak it. But presumably those same kids will grow up have kids of their own, send them to Welsh medium schools because they do value the language, and unlike their parents will be able to speak Welsh with their children. So it starts to become the iaith adref, the language of the home, again, as it is in the north.

Cause for hope, surely?


It seems that in a lot of instances, the Irish and Scottish are what people associate with Celts. It’s popularized in media such as books, TV shows, movies, etc. But there’s not a lot of attention paid to the rest of the lot. We know fairly little about Wales, and even less about everything else. Who are the Manx? What is this Breton language you speak of?
What I also find interesting is that there’s actually more Breton and Welsh speakers than there are Irish and Scottish Gaelic speakers, yet Breton and Welsh don’t get a lot of attention. If we’re going to focus on Celtic languages, culture, etc., why not focus on all of them?


As part of my SSIW “homework”, I’ve been listening to Radio BBC Cymru. This morning they were talking about SSIW, I think?! Possibly related to the million speakers project, politics and Europe.

Sadly my Welsh is at an early stage so I’d be grateful if someone who heard it could clarify!


Only loosely connected to the million speakers project - it was about the fact that due to its galloping success the revenue of SSiW is now over the VAT threshold meaning that SSiW will have to pay 20% VAT now on its revenue but HMRC does not charge VAT on companies teaching English as a second language, i.e. it discriminates against companies teaching Welsh as a second language. The Welsh government issued a statement supportive of SSiW but without appearing to do very much else but HMRC said that EU rules do not allow them to exempt every language teaching company form VAT, which of course is missing the point - it’s not all languages, but an official language of Wales which puts things in a different category (and bearing in mind the UK government tendency to use ‘EU rules’ as an excuse for not doing something, it’d probably be worth checking very carefully whether EU rules do actually say this!)

Radio Cymru this morning Monday 20/5
Tiny questions with quick answers - continuing thread

Sounds like double standards.




Which radio programme was that? @GowerRanger or @johnwilliams_6


It was Post Cyntaf on Radio Cymru - in the news headlines and with an interview with Aran a few minutes after (maybe around 8.05am?)