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Confessions of a Welsh Learner

8th November 2017

I have lived in Wales all my life, have been through the Welsh schooling system but I am ashamed to say that despite all this I have little knowledge of the Welsh language.  I have rudimentary skills, can say Bore Da and interpret the odd Welsh road sign but that is it.

When my company (Levercliff) offered me the chance to learn the Welsh language I jumped at the opportunity.  This was an opportunity to not only help my company but also to reinforce my Welsh identity and give a little back to the country I grew up in.  Plus being able to help out with the kid’s homework!

I opted for a class close to work in the small Welsh village of Chirk or Y Waun (to give its proper Welsh name).  Before my first lesson I was a little apprehensive as learning a language is a daunting prospect.  At first these fears were allayed as the tutor was a passionate North Walian who couldn’t do enough to make you feel more comfortable in class and reassure everyone that he was there to offer plenty of support.

However, this did change slightly after the class introduced themselves to one another.   Amongst my fellow pupils there was a person with 2 degrees and had taught at numerous universities and another who had been a professor in linguistics.  I felt sorry for my tutor who potentially had a demanding class but I was also acutely aware that I had to up my game if I was going to keep up with this lot!

With introductions out of the way our first lesson was to learn how to pronounce the Welsh alphabet.  My first reaction was how hard can this be?  A relatively simple task that should not take long at all.  That was until I realised that I could not roll my R’s.  This in itself has been a source of amusement amongst my wife and kids for a number of years and now I was being asked to do it in front of my peers.

Learning Welsh is not for the faint hearted – you have to approach with enthusiasm and be prepared to contort you mouth, tongue and lips into new shapes in order to master some of the Welsh words.  Needless to say, I had some homework to do!

Despite this, my first lesson was a success, I have joined a class of lovely people who were not scared to give anything a go and is led by a passionate Welsh language tutor who is keen to create the right environment for learning.

I can’t wait to see what future lessons bring….

Duncan Macaskill

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