I don’t think I’ve ever answered this question on here.
It was the end of 2015, I’d been living in South East England and was pretty unhappy, Welsh hymns were starting to get me tearful and I was pining for Wales more than I ever had done. So I moved back home and I just decided it was time to properly learn Welsh. I’d done a fair few abortive attempts at the language over the years, I was somehow aware of SSiW, I may even have had the app’ on my phone for a rainy day. Yet I had some spare time and started doing the courses and enjoyed the whole agony of getting though the sessions. I just kept at it until I’d been through everything. Now I’m a Welsh speaker, confident to dive into conversations with native speakers (I spoke with someone last week at the Urdd Esiteddfod who hadn’t started speaking in English until they were 7!) and I’m off to my second bwtcamp in a few weeks. It’s been an incredible journey, yet commenced with a simple, lets give this a go. I think all the encouragement from Aran that we can do this in those early sessions made all the difference.
I don’t think I’ve ever answered this question on here.
Yes, that made all the difference especially at the start. This forum is also very important. I first came to SSiW because I saw a link on the Duolingo forum.
I’m going to answer this before I forget details (but let my reasons for learning Welsh aside for later - I saw there’s another specific topic somewhere in the forum).
HOW I FOUND IT
a link someone posted in Duolingo/discussion/Welsh. A student said SSiW was a great resource for further learning, with a lot of free material. (I later noticed there was also an official post from the guys who created the Duolingo course mentioning SSiW, that’s one more reason to try it).
The magic words “a lot” and especially “free” brought me straight to the main “Welsh” page.
By the way I got a glimpse of several languages through Duolingo and appreciate it/find it quite effective to do that, and build a basic vocabulary - for example before visiting a country, or just out of curiosity.
But never got too far cause it’s a bit boring. And after the 30th time you type “dw i’n bwyta selsig a cennin” (I’m pretty sure I will remember it forever!), you wonder if you’ll ever be able to have an interesting conversation with someone, too.
THE LANDING on SSiW
the sober, simple style of the site - as opposed to all previous free resources I had found via Google which all looked unnecessarily messy and distracting, or needed to create an account before being able to see anything (so I didn’t bother to even give them a try).
I didn’t like:
the “click here to try out our free material” was so tiny and almost hidden it gave me the impression that the free section would be very small, and then they’d soon try to convince me to buy one of the 3 courses advertised on the page (that seem intriguing and fairly priced, but I’m not interested in it at the moment).
I was slightly tempted to bounce away. But since it was a fellow learner writing a positive comment about it, and my previous attempts to learn more about Welsh failed so it was probably worth one just more click to find out what it was all about.
One more click - play. Very promising and encouraging, and a touch of humour that I very much enjoy. The instructions and tips give me the impression that whoever did this course has very clear ideas about how to allow me to learn quite a lot without getting bored.
To tell the truth I also think that a slightly less motivated version of myself might not have had the patience (or circumstances, or decent internet connection) to listen to 4:24 minutes of audio - since as far as I can tell at the moment, it’s very likely to be completely useless chatter, like most introductions.
(Why not a text that someone can easily and quickly read?)
One more click, the first lesson. I think I like it being called “challenge”. And I like there’s really quite a lot of stuff in one lesson already. From time to time, I feel lost but it flows pretty smoothly and I have the impression that I can learn pretty fast with this method and definitely be able to have a basic conversation in Welsh after 25 of these.
But now I see I don’t have access to the other lessons.
Maybe only the first lesson is free? What am I really signing up to?
Am I about to enter the £40/month course? Or maybe the £50/year?
I can’t understand.
But I’m really amazed that the teacher/speaker seems to be able to read my mind: in the comments throughout the lesson there’s a tip, an answer, a solution to overcome all the obstacles and doubts I I find without even asking,
So, overall, I decide to sign up and found out the 25 lessons are all free - that’s awesome!
And also the e-mails I’m receiving are super-interesting!
A couple of days later I notice there’s even one more great resource, that I’m sure is going help me a lot to keep my motivation high when try initial enthusiasm fades away and I start to struggle to keep my attention focused: the forum.
And it’s in the forum that I find out about s a form of subscription that costs about £4 now, and will cost £10 after August…but what does it have to do with the 3 courses advertised in the landing page?
Now I’m still confused about how this all works, but in the meantime proceeding with the challenges alright.
And I’m wondering: why does this website seem to hide its treasures? Especially when there’s so much free material and support to get started with?
@aran might be the the best person to answer this one. Currently, the subscription is required for access to courses 2 and 3,with course 1 being free. I am uncertain as to whether the first course will remain free, but the higher price will definitely include the more advanced stuff. I recall reading about a scholarship, but I don’t know how that work.
Thanks for such a detailed and interesting response, Gisella…
Nothing - subscription is what was necessary for access to Level 2 and beyond in the old days - in the future, it’s only for access to weekly learner-friendly content for our more advanced learners.
We’ve spent the last 9 years giving the first course away for free - and our growth plateaued about four or five years ago. The new 6 month and 2 year courses are doing a far, far better job of getting a much higher % of people to complete Level 1, so in the near future that’s where all our focus is going to be (but with the option to apply for a scholarship for people who can’t afford them) - that’s why we’ve shifted away from what used to be the landing page emphasis on the free course…
Thanks for your answer, Aran. I see you have a very clear plan based on experience; and if this is where you’re going, then it means your landing page is just fine!
Does that mean that the course materials will be free for anybody who wishes to use them by themselves? That’s what this seems to imply, and I just want to make sure that I’ve got that right.
No, sorry - I can see how that was unclear - I was just talking about the lack of connection between subscription and the structured courses.
In the (near) future, subscription will be something for people who’ve completed the structured courses…
So new learners will start with our (coming soon) ‘learn 1 sentence’ intro (free), then choose whether they want to follow a slower or faster structured course (slower will be £10 a month for a total of 2 years, faster will be £40 a month for a total of 6 months) - then there’ll be an ‘In at the Deep End’ structured course (3 months for the faster course, 1 year for the slower course).
After the ‘Deep End’ course is when the subscription will become relevant (and it will, when we finally get it built, include some other ideas we’ve got about increasing understanding/passive vocab).
The free option, in the future, will be to apply for scholarship entry to the slower course - and the people we accept on scholarships will get the slower structured course at no cost.
Ah, that makes more sense. Are there any details yet as to how the scholarships will work/what the criteria will be? I know a number of people on very low income (primarily disability benefits) who would still be very interested in using this method to learn Welsh, but for whom even £12 a month (including VAT) would be a struggle.
Those are exactly the kind of people we want to make sure we’re not excluding. We’re going to need to keep a weather eye on %, so I’d imagine we’ll end up with a (not too long winded) application form, and then we’ll be able to open up places for a % of applicants depending on how sales are going otherwise. So hopefully instead of needing to turn anyone down, some applicants will just have to wait a little longer…
I’ve always thought giving away the whole of the first course was very generous. However I think I would have wanted to try more than a very short “1 sentence” lesson before signing up - I think I’d have wanted to try out at least one whole lesson, possibly more than one.
I was very quickly hooked but what I think might have happened if there was only a very short intro before money was involved, is that I would have spent quite a long time dithering and wondering if it was going to be worth it before trying it at all.
Apologies, you’ve probably spent many hours considering all the options!
Yup, it doesn’t sound like very much, does it?..
Works out at about 45 minutes of learning… so a lesson and a half in old money… but more importantly (in my opinion!) it comes wrapped up with all the stuff we’ve learnt about training and support from the intensives and the structured courses… so by the time anyone gets through the 1sentence stuff, they’ll have a really clear understanding of what we do and how we do it… and then we’ll be offering payment at the end of the month for the structured courses… so they’ll have a month to test-drive it before needing to pay (apart from a £1 entry fee).
If we get a lot of people saying they’re still not sure, we might have to rethink, but so far this feels like the best balance yet between letting people see what it’s all about, but with enough measurability for us to be able to carry on advertising…
This was a concern of mine – I tried SSiW after having already completed DuoLingo as it stood at the time, and I’m not sure I learnt a whole lot from the first lesson, although I liked it enough to try the next. By about a couple more lessons in I was more convinced/hooked, and quite happy to pony up. A month to test-drive would have worked for me, though.
Will people be able to change speed, if they find things too fast or slow?
OK, that sounds pretty good! It’s really interesting hearing about what keeps people going.
Have you heard about Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies? She splits people into four types according to what amount of internal and external accountability they need to meet goals. So some people need some amount of external accountability to keep going, no matter how motivated they are - I imagine this is why the more structured 6 month course works for so many. Others need to do their research and ask a lot of questions to convince themselves that something is a good idea, but after that, they can keep going without too much external input (I am like this). I’ve no idea how much science if any there is to back it up, but I found it helpful to understand why I sometimes find it impossible to get going, and other times can be incredibly stubborn about meeting goals.
We’re going to try and figure that out, although it’s non-trivial…
Not specifically, but I’ve read other stuff in that kind of direction… I suspect there may be shift in individuals too, depending on circumstances… so far, what we seem to be seeing at this early stage is either a) there are many more people who need the structure or b) people who don’t need structure can cope better with having structure than people who DO need it can cope without it…
Yes, I would certainly have signed up for the 6 month course if it had been available a year ago, and I’m sure I would have benefited from it - almost certainly I would have started actually speaking sooner. But I was able to go to a bootcamp, and that spurred me on to start going to the London Welsh centre, and now we have slack too, so it all worked out fine!
Just to get a full picture and figure out a plan:
I saw on another post that whoever signs up before the end of August will keep on paying
£ 3.95/month, instead of 10 (for the weekly 30 minutes conversation etc.).
So I guess it might be interesting also for those who are not intermediate level yet but…hopefully will someday.
Especially for anyone who do not live in Wales/UK and have less chances to meet and talk to other people in person.
At this point I was also wondering: will current level 1, 2 and 3 disappear after August? Or they will still be available to anyone who subscribed earlier?
They’ll still be available to anyone who subscribed earlier…
It’s a tricky call, I think, for early stage learners - if you end up getting through all Levels and wanting weekly advanced content, then you’ll save a fair bit from having subscribed early - but if not, then you’ve paid before you’re really ready to (although it doesn’t add up to a huge amount, unless you’re a very long time deciding if it’s working out for you or not)…
I was drawn to SSiW because it is focused on listening and speaking to promote early attempts at using the language in conversation as used day to day. It encourages you to try speaking the language to others no matter how much or how little you have learnt. My grandmother was Welsh and I heard my father speak Welsh for the very first time a couple of weeks ago, he is 95 and was recovering from surgery. Although I knew a little Welsh many years ago, I now have a renewed eagerness to learn again so starting at the very beginning with Lesson 1. Thank you.