Learning Welsh

("'Siarad Cymraeg'" by nicdafis is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Croeso (welcome) to the latest in our series of posts about learning the Celtic languages! If you’re interested in learning Welsh, there are loads of free resources available online. Which ones you choose to use might depend on whether you want to learn North or South Walian. It’s completely up to you which you go for – some people choose one over the other based on their location or a family link, others prefer the way one sounds, and still others decide at random.

SaySomethingIn is a popular choice for learners of both dialects – its focus on speaking practice is ideal for people who want to learn conversational Welsh, and the first several challenges are free. You can supplement your learning by listening to the Welsh radio station or, if you are based in the UK, watching programmes on S4C Clic. For further listening practice, you can use Glossika, a website which uses spaced repetition of recorded sentences to teach the structure of the language without explicitly focusing on grammar. Most of the courses on Glossika require a paid subscription, but the Welsh one is free to use (although it might be worth noting that the recordings are in North Walian). Duolingo also has a Welsh course which currently reports having 461,000 users. It covers aspects from both North and South Walian and can be a valuable tool for learning vocabulary. BBC Bitesize has some useful resources too, and although these are aimed at school-level learners in the UK, most of them are freely accessible to everyone. You could also take a look at the Open University’s beginner Welsh course, which covers some of the fundamentals of the language. For learners of South Walian, the Learn Welsh Podcast offers a number of free lessons. These go over some of the key words and phrases that will come in handy for complete beginners. For more podcasts, try Y Pod, where you will find lots of shows and programmes on a variety of topics, including Pigion, which is aimed at (intermediate and above) learners.

If you prefer a more structured approach, you could try Dysgu Cymraeg. They offer a variety of paid-for courses and sessions, ranging from opportunities to chat with other learners for an hour to year-long courses. If you are not based in Wales, it can be daunting to book classes with Dysgu Cymraeg because they are organised by region, but as classes are currently taking place online, you can choose any class which suits your timetable. If you’re not looking to spend any money, or even to create an account, there is still a lot of free supporting material to be found on their website. Their Digital Resources section, for instance, can be used with or without an account, and contains interactive summaries of their coursebooks.

Regarding dictionaries, many people use the Geiriadue Prifysgol Cymru. This can be a little confusing as it is a detailed historical dictionary, but given a little practice it can be used for the modern language too. If you would rather use something simpler (but perhaps a little less comprehensive), you could try Ap Geiriaduron, a free app by Bangor University’s Welsh language technological center Canolfan Bedwyr. They have also developed a grammar- and spell-checking system, Cysgliad, which can be freely downloaded and used alongside word processing software. As far as physical dictionaries are concerned, the Essential Welsh Dictionary is designed for learners and includes the mutated forms of some words, but there are many other options around.

If you’re a little more advanced and are looking for some books to read in Welsh, take a look at gwales, which sells books for adults and children (both in English and Welsh). You can choose to support a local bookshop when you check out, too. There are also some ways to get started with reading if you’re not quite ready to buy a book. You can find short stories online, some of which include audio recordings you can listen to. There is also a popular, relatively cheap, magazine aimed at learners of all levels, Lingo Newydd. There are 6 issues each year, and you can subscribe for physical or digital copies.

Finally, why not check out ACSIB’s podcast episode on learning Welsh? You’ll hear myself and another Welsh learner discussing our experiences, book recommendations for learners, and more.

However you choose to learn, pob lwc (good luck) on your journey!

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