My last post was about starting the Say Something In Welsh course. This is just an update on how that's going.
First, the main difference between this and DuoLingo is the sense of community. The DuoLingo forums (if you can call them that) are really only for people asking questions about the lessons themselves, or querying the correct answers to questions within the lessons. The Say Something In Welsh forums have much more spirit about them. People joke with each other, people ask questions, get replies and then go off topic about their experiences of learning Welsh. People share their real world experiences of *using* Welsh and receive encouragement from others for doing so. And, most importantly, the course creators and contributors also join in with all of this. And there's never a hint of condescension, just encouragement. This tone is maintained through the lessons themselves, with one of the later sentences on the very first lesson being "I'm not trying to speak Welsh, I am speaking Welsh" (Dw i ddim yn trio siarad Cymraeg, dw i'n siarad Cymraeg!)
Second, the course takes some getting used to for someone like me who has done a little Welsh before. The pronunciations are a little more colloquial, and words are omitted in the same way that a native speaker might: "Wyt ti'n bwyta" (you are eating) becomes simply "ti'n bwyta", in much the same way as an English speaker might ask simply "You eating?"
Then there's the manner of the course. Everything is very relaxed. You're told "don't worry about this now" when introduced to things like mutations and the long form of the past tense. You're told, "To form the past tense, you only need to know how to say "ness ee". This stumped me, until I realised it was just a colloquial pronunciation of what I know as "Mi wnes i". I'm not sure how well I cope with this casual approach. I **need** to know conjugations, I **need** to know why things are what they are. It's very hard for me to just let go and accept that things are as they are, and it will all become clear later.
But I'm trying. The course clearly works, as plenty of people on the forums are using it, and Iestyn is an excellent teacher. His lessons are well measured, his voice is clear, he's encouraging throughout, and he participates in the forums to answer questions and give advice.
He is clearly passionate about Welsh, and that enthusiasm is infectious.