In my case learning Welsh as an adult started a few years ago with some frantic activity. I am sure many learners are familiar with the Post it notes on the fridge door, the lists of vocab etc
Sadly it did not stick and it seemed that all I could manage was to listen to Welsh being spoken and pick out a word now and again. Clearly that is a million miles from understanding and yet I was stuck with a stream of noise or repeating sentences or playing games with dice in class. In reality we mix and match depending on who we are with, the situation, what we want to say and so on. We change and chop but the books give patterns which are useful but there seems to be a disconnect from that to the understanding. I am told that comes later and in my case probably decades so.
So the different patterns are complex but I have rarely thought in English – ooh that is a conditional tense and now need to try to replicate that as I try to learn to speak Welsh
The question of how can adults learn Welsh or indeed another other language has been asked many times. When I see friends teaching their kids to speak Welsh and in some cases two languages, it just works. If I think about the difference between an adult learner and I definiately put myself in that group, to the child. The problem as one lovely Welsh tutor said, is that I can already speak English and I am constantly translating and trying to remember lots of new words, new structures of sentences and even a newish alphabet.
A child seems to know no different and just laps up the words so that it has a meaning of doing something from the very start. Comes to something when a child in Meithrin / nursery has more advanced language skills in Welsh than I do. If there is a way to develop that natural context then maybe it would making learning Welsh a whole lot easier.
If I had a pound for everytime someone said, you need to speak in Welsh I would be very rich. The problem is I just can’t as I don’t have the words and saying thank you and counting to 10 is a bit limiting.
There is a great deal of research about the value of being bi lingual and how it helps the neural processes to develop. The benefits of expanding the ability of the brain the process information cannot be underestimated. It is suggested that we only really use a tiny percentage of the capacity of our brains. So all I need to do is to make mine work a little bit more. If only I was three again and as that is not going to happen I need to find another way.
I decided it was time to practice what I preach and learn a new skill. I have always wanted to speak another language and dabbled over the years since school with French and German. Living in Wales, the obvious choice to learn was Welsh. Family and friends etc speak it and so no excuse not to learn. I work with a Welsh speaking business
How hard can this be I wondered? Well actually very. I started a few years ago on a Summer School or Ysgol Haf to my Welsh speaking readers and it was great fun. It gave me the basics but then with all sorts of other things in my life it was a bit hit and miss. Not able to attend class everyweek made it difficult. I should have pushed it up the priority list but there was always something else.
For some reason I could not find a way to make it stick. I tried reciting like a parrot, list of words. Memory of a goldfish so that did not work – yellow sticky notes around the house, how was that supposed to help? Making up sentences of words I knew, well that was easy, I could say hello and thank you. Better when I could manage coffee. Sadly I struggled to hold a conversation with a 3 year old. Got excited when I could count to 10- woo hoo, not a lot of help in everyday chat.
So I bought books by the dozen, CDs, videos. I am a walking bookshop and have a groaning book shelf. Looks mighty impressive but there seemed no way of the content coming alive. So I lost interest, gave up on the 15 minutes a day which anyone can fit in. Of course I can but Monday became Tuesday and then Friday, so start next week. A week became a month and then three months and I was going nowhere quickly.
So this is my story and I will report progress as I have a new method which fits in with my erratic lifestyle. I am trying a system called Say Something in Welsh. It is just audio so we will see …………….