There are a lot of reasons I’m here. I’m your typical American of Northern European descent, long parted from any of my ancestors and any languages that they spoke and I do feel the poorer for it. I’ve never managed to successfully learn more than a few words of any of them mainly because I have no one to talk to. I went to Ireland a decade ago and ended up in Wales, at an experiential camp run by the Anglesey Druid Order. Several things came out of subsequent trips back there, including a very magical day spent on Anglesey with a native Welsh speaker. He kept on running into his community, as you do, and the conversations were mainly in Welsh. I couldn’t of course understand a word, but still felt welcome and included–and the language was pure music to me.
I’m now taking the order’s course, and the phrases and poems of the language in the course that we’re learning have really gotten under my skin. I want to understand them with my heart as well as my head. I heard about SSiW from them, and decided to give it a try. This course is fantastic! It is hard work, but as soon as I let it wash over me, like the language did that day on Anglesey, and had the freedom to just say what I was asked to say, no matter how badly I did it at first, it amazed me how quickly it began to stick in my head–and my mouth! I am a traditional singer, and this course is very similar to the way I began learning songs off recordings. You sing along and not only do the lyrics stick in your head, all the tunes, ornamentation, and cadence come with it. As I was once told, languages are not spoken, they are sung.
This course is so convenient too. I always have my phone, after all, and I walk a lot. People are always walking as they talk to the air, and really, what’s the difference between taking a call or taking a challenge? My commute has become my classroom, and I have some hope that this time I’ll actually succeed in learning to speak. The words I know are coming into my mind even as I type. My goal is, next time I’m in Anglesey, I may not yet have the words down yet, but I will at least be able to follow the conversation and even have enough confidence someday to join in!