I am an American without any familial connection to Wales whatsoever, but I’ve always found Welsh a very interesting language in both writing and speaking, as well as always fostering a deep admiration for Wales and her people for continuing to keep their language and culture alive under the pressure of English colonialism. I tried learning it on the app that shall not be named in 2019 but gave up after a few days because I felt I was not learning well with the app and also had nobody to talk to in Welsh. Cut to 2023, I’m dating a Welshman fluent in the language. Hearing him talk in Welsh lit the fire under me again and so I went looking for resources to learn, spurred on by his enthusiasm for my own enthusiasm for his country and culture. On Google, I found SSiW and subscribed instantly when I heard how well-regarded it was amongst those who have used it.
My key reason for sticking with SSiW is its great approach to teaching Welsh. Whereas the app that shall not be named has a gamified approach that penalizes any mistakes you make, SSiW acknowledges that mistakes can and will happen, and in fact encourages you to make them so you will understand how to correct them in the future. As someone who has had a lifelong desire to be perfect, this method really helps me relax and understand I’m not going to be perfect at everything I say in Welsh on my first try, nor should I be. Specifically, I became convinced that my inability to roll my “R” would be an insurmountable, front-and-center speech impediment in learning languages, but seeing the bit in the AutoMagic ad where it says even some first-language speakers can’t do it convinced me to take a breath and jump into learning Welsh. I am now on Level 1, Challenge 5 and absolutely loving every single minute of it even if my brain feels like it’s been dunked in acid by the end of a challenge on my first go-around.
Also, Aran’s voice is a big draw for me. He has one of those voices where he could read the entire Wikipedia article for turnips and I would be captivated the whole time. Combined with the praise given for completing challenges, I truly feel like I’m making giant steps in my learning, a feeling which my partner has corroborated by being extremely shocked by how much I can say after just four challenges. Diolch yn fawr, Aran, Catrin, and the rest of the SSiW team for giving me and many others the confidence and opportunity to learn this beautiful language.