Watching Welsh TV is a useful way to hear the language spoken
naturally and by native speakers, but although S4C and S4C
Digital provide many programmes of interest, almost all of
them are aimed at fluent speakers and it can be hard to keep
track of whats going on if your aural comprehension
isnt too hot.
Thats where Talk About Welsh comes in. A series created
specifically for learners by Acen
and HTV, it combines drama and education in short, 20 minute
programmes that arent too strenuous, but which leave
you feeling like you actually have learned something.
The format of the programme has been well thought out: a
scene from the drama unfolds, then the presenter, Gareth Roberts,
takes you through the difficult phrases and discusses things
to look out for in the upcoming scene.
Combined with subtitles for the trickier phrases, its
a very good way to start training your brain to hear and understand,
without resorting to any intermediate stages involving spelling,
word association or dictionaries.
Each programme has revision pages embedded in it, which can only
be read by pausing the video. Its a good way to cram a lot
of information onto the video without actually taking up too much
time, although if youre watching Talk About Welsh on TV, then
you have to video it to take advantage of this.
In so far as the drama goes, well, its not Cannes, so the
acting can be slightly dodgy, and a couple of characters are more
like caricatures any scene involving Roger Finn
is as irritating as an army of ants invading your underwear draw.
Its quite easy to get past this, though, because youre
ultimately concentrating so hard on understanding whats being
said that you can just ignore the occasional oak-like actor.
What also takes a while to get used to is the fact that Gareth Roberts
can often been seen lurking in the background of any scene
perhaps trying to get coffee out of a defunct machine, or sitting
at a desk in an office whilst the action goes on in front
Ultimately, this proves to be one of Talk About Welshs great
strength because it blurs the distinction between the characters
in the drama and the presenter, thus keeping the flow of the drama
undisturbed whilst providing the explanations and support that the
majority of learners will need. Any doubts I had initially about
this approach were totally blown away by the scene in which Gareths
in full drag, just to deliver one line. A superbly surreal moment
that endeared me to the series in an instant.
Talk About Welsh is an excellent adjunct to any other course or
method of learning. Its fun, it doesnt take itself too
seriously, and it teaches you really useful Welsh, like cau
dy geg (shut your mouth) and beth sy i de?
(whats for tea?). With four series on video, plus back-up
material, available from Acen,
youll find yourself speaking and, more importantly, understanding
Welsh very quickly.