Learning Welsh Advice  - hgunn.uk


       Many learners do not  give active thought to what they will need to do when they choose to learn the Welsh Language. The successful learning of a new language is a long term commitment that is going to take years to achieve. The problem with learning Welsh in Wales is that Welsh language learning is a very emotive political issues. Courses are marketed on tutoring learning to 'speak' the language, which can mean anything.

       The problem with learning language 'parrot fashion' is that it will be impossible to learn the thousands of phrases that need to be learnt. In Scottish Gaelic Ulpan, which is the Scottish version of Wlpan, they refer to learners needing to memorise twelve phrases a week. It is referred to as the early communication method, because it allows learners to communicate by mechanically 'reguritating' memorised phrase like 'parrots'. This easy to do. 

     The limitation of the method is that it will not prepare learners to apply the thousands of phrases that need to be applied fluently in a new language. I will offer learners with an early sense of progress, but it there will rarely be a 'later'. It will not provide learners with secure avenue that lead to ever increasing language learning success.

         The most useful book to learn how to learn a new language currently is Hurd and Murphy "Success with Languages". The Open University is a respected institution. It is about the best book currently available. Anyone who really wants to learn a new language should read it and those who do not want to waste their time undertaking unproductive practice. 

      Their research it develop from Coleman and Klapper (2005) Open University reasearch books on languages. 

        I have subsequently written my own book, but it subject to private distribution to professional teaching sources.I am in negotiations about my new books that should be published this year.

      All tutors in Wales are now required to apply proven methods in Welsh for Adult Service, proven methods are methods that are applied to large populations of leareners, which are derided from proven research. Tutors are not allowed to be 

      Many learners will struggle to find a suitable Welsh learning course. Unless courses tutor grammar, then they are not worth taking. It is impossible to effectively learn any new language without learning grammar, especially when learners are not living in Welsh speaking families. Any tutor not tutoring grammar is incompetent. Learners are legally entitled to have their money back if they do not.
 Please remember that you enter into a contract to learn Welsh,  it is called an invitation to treat and unless grammar is taught course providers will be in breach of contract, because they will not be teaching you.

          Grammar is taught in all schools and all new languages. It recommended in Coleman and Klapper (2005), which has twenty-two leading university language authorities in their field contributing to it.

     Certain tutors abandon English in Welsh classes. If learners could understand what tutors attempt to tutor through the medium of Welsh, then they would not need to learn Welsh. It practised in tutoring English as a second language because learners speak a variety of languages, but Welsh language learners have a fluent English language learning capacity. Working memory dictates that when learner's are tutored through Welsh, it will retard adults new language learning.

   Research illustrates illustrates that adult working memory decreases with age, but not significantly, but it hard to learn a new language as adult than children. 

You enter into a contract to learn Welsh, not to be spoken to in Welsh. If you tutor is not prepared to teaching English, then ask for your money back an find another course where you will be able to learn quicker and more effectively.

     The notion tutors tutoring through the medium of Welsh will have value in immersing you in Welsh is silly, because hundreds of hours of language immersion is need to develop language competence. Using the new language to tutor from the first lesson is ridicolous.

      Remember university academics are tutors, not teachers, professional teachers would be put on a competency procedure for not practising the teaching of grammar. They are not entitled to make methods of up. 

Welsh Learners

    The problem is that what is learners best interests to achieve in not what many adults learners expect to receive. I had the priveldge to improve my Welsh using a community course written by Sue MacMillan. It was far superior to Wlpan and Cwrs Myneddiad, but it was a rote teaching method.

     I remember looking at the course book. It appeared easy to learn. The problem is that languages need to be grown in the head and developed into basic fluency. It must be taken off the page. That takes considerable time to achive.

        The most difficult verbs to learn the present tense in Welsh, because it so irregular.

 The mistake many people make when walking is to enthusiastically start walking and they get tired. I climbed Ben Nevis in 1999. Language are learnt in years not terms. It is a long term commitment and it vital that learners take the right path.

  Longer term success is determined how securely in the foundations Welsh learning are developed in the initial years.

 The W.J.E.C. claim it takes four years to reach G.C.S.E. level Welsh. 

       In my improving of my Welsh I commenced in the middle of a second year of a class.  I was a rebel to refused to learn non-essential mutations! I tended to be behind everyone in my class, because I knew how to learn. I eventually overtook all my class.

  I am authority on formative, early learning and Q.T.S. qualified to teach Welsh. I applied my own methodology, a advanced learning method, and wrote my own Welsh learners methodology. I can understand Welsh, but not speak it. I have no opportunity to speak it.

 How you Should Learn

      Learners are not parrots. Languages cannot be learnt by memorising language phrases. Learners need to practice constructing language phrases using the native language as a scaffold. It is called positive language transfer. 

       Constructing language is much slower than learning and repeating phrases 'parrot fashion', but learners cannot possibly learn every phrase they will need to learn in a new language. With practice learners will become more fluent at constructing phrases and will remember those they apply frequently.

       This is the only way to effectively learn a new language unless learners only want  to learn only a few Welsh phrase. I witnessed learners learning Welsh up to six years. who had little to show for their learning. 

    The scheme to allow learners to partnered with Welsh speakers is merely political window dressing. It is extremely difficult for an adult to develop even basic language fluency unless they live in Welsh speaking families. 

      Learners should develop their new language from creating simple language in their native language from the vocabulary they know in the second, what is referred to as survival language,  and translate it into their new language. 

    The mistake that many adult learners make on the higher quality Welsh language courses, where they apply positive language transfer, is that they will create what they expect to say in their native language and translate it into their new language.  One lady asked for the translation of satalite dish in one of my lessons!
    Learners need to build their new language from simple roots, what is referred to as survival language.

Language Skills

       The four language skills are important speaking, listening, reading and writing. They are all interrelated cognitively in the brain. Applying each contributes the development of the overall speaking capabilities.

      Many learners believe they should only practice speaking until they can pronounce, speak the language. This causes frustration, stuttered performances and unnecessarily learning difficulty. 

       Learners find is very difficult process aural languages sounds initially, because there are no spaces in aural language as there is in written language. It can be difficult for them to detect individual words. It is surprising that only around 2009 Cardiff School of Welsh discovered there was value of allowing their learners to read their tutor books.

  Aural language is very transient. It is difficult to work out the form of language using it. Reading is very important
   Learners should be patient and not attempt to learn too  much too quickly. 

     Adult learners in Wales learn Cymru am Byw, which is an artificial form of the Welsh language, but this will provide a platform to  develop proper Welsh fluency, but  it will be difficult for them to achieve unless they live in a Welsh speaking family.

    Do no forget to buy a grammar book Hieni Gruffud or Gareth King's. Hieni has a C.D. you can purchase and it has the phrases written in a booklet. Listening and reading is important. When the in no interest in their value in many Welsh learning centres is complete mystery to me.

    Finally, as far a possible avoid Wplan type courses. If you use Saysomethinginwelsh.cp,, that is all you will do. The method is fictional, dreamt up. Professional teaching is researched base. Most of the courses are 'all show' and no substance.


         There is no doubt the teaching of Welsh can be improved. Howard has also written two learners book, which he developed to support his own Welsh learning, that draws upon his research on language cognition. He can understand Welsh, but not speak it very much.

         Very sadly until the Welsh for Adult tutoring is reformed, then most adult are wasting their time attempting to learn Welsh

       In all optional learning it  must be consider what learners will have gained through their learning, even if they fail to learning goal. They only benefit they will have gained doing a Wlpan course is what it like to community service of practice and memorising language phrases. There is no instant stick'Bostick'  methods of language learning.

       There are many  worthwhile courses that adults can take, where there is no the political rhetoric and interference. Very sadly I cannot recommend any adult to learn Welsh.

      I did a good Welsh language course,  I still have the course book, it was not written by a university academic.  It possible to have interesting and challenging learning experiences, without larking around on course like de-Suggestopedia ones. Dic Mortimer sums up the situation.

See Forward

Colin Miles - I Do not want to Learn Pigeon Welsh I.W.A.

Confessions of a Welsh Learner - Dic Mortimer