Learning any language is a big undertaking, and when you first
start the task ahead seems insurmountable. In truth, its not
as Herculean as it seems - its just a matter of persistence,
perseverance and perspiration.
Enrolling on a course of an evening classes is the logical option
for some learners, but many dont have that choice. The easiest
alternative for them is to buy a course book/tape to work through,
and I wouldnt hesitate to recommend Colloquial Welsh by Gareth
King (ISBN: 0-415-10783-0). The best approach to take is to do a
little bit every day, instead of a big chunk once in a while. Ten
minutes may not seem like much, but youll take in more than
you think you will.
Unfortunately, even the best books can get a little tedious and
dry if youre having to work through them on your own, so here
are a few tips and tricks that Ive collected whilst trying
to get my own head round Welsh, which might help you with your learning,
even if youre doing it on your own in the middle of Mongolia!
Theyre great - you stick them on, you take them off
Theyre so great, in fact, that you can stick them on everything
you own to display the name of that thing in Welsh. Cyfrifiadur,
desg, cadair. Then, once you know that you know the word for computer,
desk and chair, you can just take them off and move on to llun,
drych and blodyn picture, mirror, flower. Just dont
try this on your cath.
If youre a list-maker, try making all your lists in Welsh.
Your shopping lists will soon teach you the words for the food you
like to eat, and your to do lists will soon have you
organising yourself in Welsh. To start off with you might like to
make bilingual lists - theres nothing worse than getting all
the way to the supermarket and suddenly thinking Now, what
did madarch mean again?.
read your dictionary!
Getting a good dictionary is a must - the Pocket Modern Welsh Dictionary
edited by Gareth King is fantastic (ISBN: 0-19-864531-7). It includes
comprehensive usage explanations and examples, and makes life much
easier for the learner by clarifying the subtle nuances in meaning
that different words have. Its only shortfall is that there just
arent enough words in it, so you might also want to get a
bigger dictionary for those that it doesnt cover.
Of course, once youve got your dictionary, youll be
able to spend happy hours reading it. And Im not kidding
flicking through a dictionary every now and again will make you
familiar not just with lots of words, but also the different forms
of words. Seeing the way that pobl (people) lends itself to poblogaeth
(population) and poblogaidd (popular) will help you remember those
three words. Youll also start to tell the difference between
nouns, verbs and adjectives, like defnydd (n. material, use), defnyddio
(v. to use) and defnyddiol (a. useful). Spotting different endings
and understanding what they mean is a big step towards understanding
Listening is probably the most important thing you can do when youre
trying to learn a language, and there are several Web sites (including
CMC) that provide you with audio files
to download and the corresponding text to read through at the same
Catchphrase is an excellent site which provides both half-hour
Real Audio lessons and scripts to help you understand what youre
books on tape
There are several Welsh books available on tape, including some
by Bob Eynon who writes specifically for learners. It might take
a bit of a search but they are out there! It can be quite a bit
of work to translate a whole book, even if it is quite slim and
has the vocabulary at the end of each chapter, so sometimes its
nicer just to listen to the tape and get used to the sound of Welsh
before you start work on actually reading the book.
Learners in Wales have access to Sianel
Pedwar Cymru - S4C - but if you live anywhere in the UK and
have access to certain cable/satellite digital tv packages you can
get S4C Digidol, which is free although you do have to register
with them first. Whether you have the terrestrial or satellite version
you can learn a lot just from having it on as background noise -
youll be really chuffed when youre listening to it one
day and suddenly realise that you understood that the next programme
will be at half past twelve, or hanner awr wedi hanner dydd.
S4C Digidol has more Welsh-language content than the terrestrial
channel, and happily they seem to be endlessly repeating episodes
of Talk About Welsh, their programme for Welsh learners.
Radio Cymru is available in Wales, and if you can handle their choice
of music, which depends entirely on your taste, you can get to hear
a lot of Welsh. If youre not too worried about your phone
bill, you can also listen to Radio
Cymru on the Internet.
browsing the Internet
You can get a Welsh language pack for the Mozilla browser if youre
feeling really dedicated! Download Mozilla via the Gwelywiwr
Mozilla web site, install it, go online, then go to View,
then Languages and content, then Download more
and youll be able to download and install the Welsh language
module. Mozilla is based on the Netscape browser and so is pretty
easy to use. The only problem with being a Welsh learner with a
Welsh browser is that all dialogue boxes come up in Welsh and sometimes
you end up taking a flying guess as to which button to press
which perhaps isnt the wisest way to browse the Web!
use Welsh in your head!
I use huge amounts of Welsh in my head, more than I ever speak on
a daily basis. I have even managed to dream in Welsh, which surprised
me no end! But however loopy it sounds, its a good idea to
start translating things into Welsh in your head because thats
where the biggest change will happen as you start to get fluent
- when you start thinking in Welsh instead of English you will know
that youre getting somewhere. So instead of moaning to yourself
that youve got to wash the dishes, moan that youve got
to golchir llestri instead.
mutter a lot
If youre alone, and the neighbours arent eavesdropping,
try talking Welsh to yourself, just to get your tongue round the
sounds and see how they feel. Dont just think rhaid
i mi olchir llestri, say it as well! Then go do something
remember - you are not alone!
There are a huge number of Welsh learners, all battling with the
same problems, all learning the same words, all getting frustrated
over the same mutations. Never feel like you are the only person
to deal with all this - find yourself a good discussion group, (and
of course Im going to recommend CMC's
group!), and get stuck in! Youll make friends, youll
learn loads and youll be able to support other learners at
the same time! Bargain!!
If youve any tips or tricks that youd like to share,
please email us with