I’ll have to start by admitting that before I moved to Wales I knew very little about it, other than its capital and the fact that some people speak Welsh. I have, however made up for my lack of knowledge ever since. Falling in love with a Welshman brought me to Cardiff back in 2016; at the time I couldn’t even get my head around why road signs said ‘Croeso I Gymru’ when I had already learnt that Wales was Cymru (mutations had not yet started to torment me at the time).
The more I got exposed to the language, either through friends I made who were first language Welsh, more road signs, S4C and the rest I decided that it would be a shame not to try and learn the language, especially when I could get free lessons.
I’ve always loved learning languages and I can speak a few to various degrees, so figured it couldn’t be that hard to learn Welsh. Oh, how wrong I was! My first mistake was not realising that Mynediad 2 wasn’t just another version of Mynediad but in fact the second part of the mynediad level. I could not understand how everyone else seemed to know so much more than me until I eventually realised that my classmates had had a whole year of Mynediad 1 under their belt. Too late to turn back though, so I had to ramp up my learning; I downloaded Duolingo, started watching S4C, listening to Radio Cymru and just chatting to myself in the very limited language I’d acquired. ‘Wyt ti eisiau baned, Stelu? Ydw, diolch’ (please note the mistakes- mutations had indeed started to torment me at that point).
Despite my best efforts something wasn’t clicking, and I really did not enjoy learning it at first- could be that I should have started from the very beginning or done more but it wasn’t until I started noticing the similarities between Welsh and Latin languages that things finally started making sense (this is where speaking other Latin languages comes in handy). I could now combine my knowledge of English, Spanish, Romanian, Italian and so on to finally start seeing patterns in the language and all of a sudden it became much more accessible. So much so that I took the Mynediad exam that very year and passed it.
I really wanted to carry on but going to class from 6-8 every Thursday after work had become a bit of a chore so I stopped, as online classes were not an option at the time (2018). It was only due to the pandemic and online classes that I decided to restart my Welsh journey in September 2021 and then passed my Sylfaen exam and moved onto Canolradd. Since somehow it worked with Mynediad, I also skipped Sylfaen 1 and went straight to the second part, this time with much more confidence. It worked again!
It was only at Canolradd level that I decided I should to both parts 1 and 2 so I took a three hour a week course with self-study. I can now proudly say that I love learning Welsh and that I am so glad I stuck with it through all the lessons that made little sense.
I’ll be starting Uwch rhan 1 in September and I’m very excited to be practising my speaking more. Lots of my friends don’t understand why I’m even learning it, considering I’m not even Welsh and I have no better answer other than that it’s fun and it’s such a special thing to be able to understand a speak a language that so few people do. I’m now even teaching my Welsh husband since I have surpassed his knowledge already.
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You can follow Stelu's journey on Instagram @stelu.insta.grama