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These are the wonderful stories of why people are learning Welsh

23 Dec 2022 12 minute read
Michael Sheen and Gareth Bale – two inspirations for people to learn Welsh

When Owen Williams reached out on Twitter to ask a few questions of those on the social media platform who are learning Welsh, he probably wasn’t quite prepared for the hundreds of reactions he would receive.

He wrote: “I’d love to hear from people who aren’t from, or even live in, Cymru, but have decided to learn Cymraeg.
What’s the story? What/who inspired you? Which learning methods are you using? And, big question, how’s it going?!”

It elicited a huge response and has become one of the most commented threads on the platform. It also gives an intimate insight into how many Welsh learners there are globally and the wonderful stories behind their myriad reasons and motivations for speaking Cymraeg.

From the Welsh music scene, the international football team, Michael Sheen speeches, relatives, holidays and everything in between, the responses are an absolute joy to read.

We’ve captured some of the very best and most interesting replies below.

James Roberts
2nd time studying in Wales and some of Mum’s side speak welsh so I want to learn 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 my Taid is my inspiration, I’m using Duolingo a lot but also trying to learn from Welsh speaking friends 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 it’s tough but the more I try to use it the better I’ll get! Nadolig Llawen Owen! 🎄

Kate Whatman
2 years of Cymraeg in Chipping Norton . Not much call for it in these parts but determined to continue using Duolingo. Studied while at school 60 years ago now !

Helgard Krause
I am German. My wife (English) fell in love with Ceredigion, she got a job in Aberaeron, bought a house. Thought that would be the end of my career in publishing. I got an offer: we pay for you to learn Welsh for a great job. Now it’s my 3rd language taking the place of francais!

Dr Cory Stade
My partner and I live in Lloegr, and we started Duolingo as a lockdown hobby. It snowballed and now we’re taking online classes. We love watching S4C and being able to use bits of Cymraeg at home! A move to Cymru one day? Maybe…

David Riure
A German who has been learning Welsh for three years, the language just seemed beautiful to me, so I started the duolingo course. not very fluent because I haven’t been to Wales yet, but I would like to go and practice speaking to improve my Welsh in the future ☺️ Christmas!!

Miranda Dickinson
I’ve been learning Cymraeg since 2019 and love it. My nieces live in Wales and speak Cymraeg at school, so I wanted to be able to chat with them. I use @duolingoUK which has been good but next year I want to find an online class to work on my conversational Welsh. Diolch!

Clare Mackintosh
Moved to Gwynedd in 2016 & put the kids (9, 8 & 8) into a Welsh medium school. They’re bilingual now, I’m still learning. Mix of @DailyWelshWords @duolingo @S4CDysguCymraeg and @NantGwrtheyrn1, and currently doing Cwrs Canolradd @LearnCymraegGDd

Jonny Bach
I was born an Englishman, but moved here to be with my Welsh partner and train as a teacher. Found Cymru to be a warm and welcoming place. Learnt Welsh on government sabbatical, best decision of my life. Now I’m a Welshmam through and through.

Helen Dennett
I moved to Cymru 11 years ago for uni and ended up staying. It’s been my permanent home for over 8 years. I was inspired to learn Cymraeg by the Welcome to Wrexham documentary! I’ve been using Duolingo and it’s going ok, but I’ve got a long way to go.

Chris Saville
I’m originally from London but I moved to Bangor for university in 2002. Been teaching since 2012 because my girlfriend (now wife) spoke Welsh. I used to go to classes and to Nant Gwrtheyrn a couple of times. Now I’m bringing up two children in Welsh, so plenty of practice!

Pamela Bursey
Canadian with British ancestry. Saw a speech by Michael Sheen where he explained the damage caused to the culture and language of Cymru by English policy and government. Less than 3 months in to learning Cymraeg in Doulingo but having fun and surprised how much I understand!

Rhiannon Rains
Helo, I have Welsh ancestry but I was inspired to learn Welsh because of the Welsh music I was listening to. I struggle being based in the West Midlands and I haven’t done much since the pandemic . I use @DailyWelshWords and have used Duolingo.

Peter Dysart
Scots/English background but discovered Welsh ancestry on Mum’s side. Started learning Cymraeg after hearing Welsh friends & listening to Welsh bands on @adamwalton’s programme. Learning via Duolingo. It’s the world’s most unique language & an absolute wonder to hear and learn.

Hannah Baird
I started learning on Duolingo a few years ago because I was watching Misfits, and saw behind the scenes videos of Iwan Rheon speaking Cymraeg and thought it sounded cool 🤷‍♀️😂 Since moving to Caerdydd I picked it up again with proper lessons and I’m loving it!!

Maria Vetleseter Bøe
1. Love languages, esp. minority languages (use minority version of Norwegian myself)
2. Inspired by
@elisjames and my sister in law Siân
3. Learn on Duolingo and dysgu Cymraeg twitter like @AwrYDysgwyr and @CymraegDoctor
4. Going ok, 1117 day streak 😁

Wyn Jones
Live in Leeds. Welsh speaking parents. Born in England as English speaker. In lockdown wife & sons started different languages on #Duolingo so had a go a Welsh. Now on day 790 streak.

Lorna Florilegia
Moved to Wales 11 years ago with a small baby. Knew he’d need to do Welsh in school and wanted to support him. Had the opportunity to learn with work: it’s really helped with my job as I work in a Uni and we produce everything bilingually. Also a general love for languages.

Patricia @BoreDaDraig
I’m from Spain🇪🇸but live in Mexico🇲🇽.
Saw a random video and fell in love with how Welsh sounds. I HAD to learn it. Use Duolingo and Twitter mainly. Also reading (graded readers/novel/articles/tweets) & listening (podcasts). It’s going… slowly. But I’m enjoying it!

Bronwen Jones
I started learning Maori (I’m from NZ), which involves learning ancestry. Didn’t know mine. Dad was from Nth Wales. Started with SSiW, then Duolingo. Now year-long classes with LearnWelsh (via Cambria Uni). Dw i’n caru dysgu Cymraeg!

Ross @rossmcf
On honeymoon in Aberaeron, I heard a couple next to us speaking Cymraeg. I felt like I was missing out on something. 2 years later we moved to Pembs and I signed up for classes. That was 10 years ago. I’m enjoying it. It’s massively improved my enjoyment of a school show!

Rachel Bridge
Wanted to learn a language, support Charlton who have a rich history of @FAWales players at the club, but mainly following Jonny Williams and @Chrisgunter16’s national exploits inspired me. I use Duolingo (on a 400+ day streak).

Katia Rumin
I am American, and I still live there – I have no Welsh roots (my roots are mainly from Eastern Europe). But when I was younger, I was in a youth choir, and we sang in many different languages.
Once, we were singing a song in Welsh, and I enjoyed how the language sounded. I’ve always been interested in the sound of words and languages (I speak Russian and several other languages too). Then, during the lockdown, I needed something to do.
I decided to learn “a little bit of Welsh” – but then I found a lot of interesting literature and music (I’m a musician and a writer), as well as the struggles of the language… and it went a little bit out of control.
Since then I have had so many interesting opportunities through the medium of Welsh, (although I still have a lot of imposter syndrome)

Neil Atkinson
We have a family caravan in Gwynedd. The landlord of the village pub pointed out how holidaymakers learn to say please, thank you or even order a beer in Spain or Greece or Portugal – but not in Wales. So I started with a phrase book but soon moved on to evening classes.

Alan Molineaux
My wife and I are from Lancashire and live in Yorkshire. Our grandson is learning it because his dad is from Neath. We decided to learn it with him. We recently did DNA tests and I am 47% Welsh – that added to it. We have really enjoyed the journey.

Born and brought up in Wales (Gwent) but didn’t speak, or was taught, Welsh. Spent 50 years living in Llloegr and moved back to Wales this year. Now 69 and decided, after many years dithering about it, to dysgu Cymraeg.

Aled Roberts
When I was in Welsh primary I thought I was never going to be able to learn Welsh but when I got to an English secondary school I found that I had ADHD so tried my best to gain what I failed in primary by trying to learn the language also currently learning it via Duolingo.

Jacques Le Singe
I was on holiday, and someone said “diolch” when I opened a door for them. I felt bad that I didn’t know how to say “you’re welcome” in return. I have found it a tremendously satisfying language to learn.

Tim @Hucksty
Was born in Cardiff to English parents. I have always supported Cymru in rugby and footy. Taught myself the national anthem and Calon Lan so thought id go the whole hog and start to learn. Not easy on the wrong side of the Severn. Dwi’n hoffi dysgu Cymraeg.

Huw @huwr
Dad’s from Aber and moved to Australia before I was born. He’s quite good at Welsh. He took us to Wales a few times to meet relatives. We went to the Cymdeithas Cymraeg in Canberra for a few years to practice I’m still okay at the pronunciation but my vocab’s slipped.

Gary Gearraidh Gyrru
From London with one Welsh (not speaker) Nan, always looked out for the football team and introduced to yr iaith by Gorky’s & SFA as a teen, which grew into a love of miwsig Gymraeg. Began learning on Duolingo & SSiW.

Charlotte Faulkner
Born in England but my mum and grandparents are Welsh. I’m super proud and passionate about my heritage this is a way to connect to that. I use Say Something in Welsh, Duolingo and listen to some Welsh language music. It’s not going that great but what I do, I enjoy.

Jonathan Thomas
I live in London-great grandparents moved here to set up a dairy. Family always spoke Welsh, attended chapel etc. Spoke Welsh when young but gradually fell away. Prompted by having a son I wanted to grow up hearing/using Welsh. Duo/reading/S4C/family/Ysgol Sul. Going well 🤞

Siôn Williams
I moved away 4 years ago, having never spoken Welsh; but I’ve been learning for my daughter born a couple of months ago. Using @DailyWelshWords and @duolingo for more vocabulary, been going for about a month, still a long way to go.

Nate @_digin8
Englishman here 🙋‍♂️ we live in Manchester so Cymru is pretty close. I find that I learn a language better when I speak it often. I’m hoping the proximity will mean I will feel brave enough do that! The football team and the Red Wall inspired me and Duolingo is my method.

John Gerard Molloy
Irish in Wales so starting from scratch, my fiancée is fluent in 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 and our 4 year old daughter attends a Welsh medium school so I’m eager to learn, use online apps and my partner helps me along. Enjoying it very much, going slow but will get there.

Ari Rotonen
I live in Finland, discovered Welsh music and started learning with Duolingo, tweets, podcasts and videos. I am especially impressed by the enthusiasm of the Welsh language community and its welcoming attitude towards learners.

Jen Sharp
I’ve never lived in Wales but do have some Welsh family, and fell hard in love with the country in my 20s. Started learning Cymraeg a few years ago, partly because learning a language is just a great thing to do anyway – and partly to help me if I ever decided to live/work there.

Sue Archer
I live in Salford, but go to Wales for holidays and one day we’d like to move there, so I wanted to learn. Have used Duo, SSiW, and now Skype every week with a friend in Ynys Môn, and watch S4C online, and read novels. Lots to learn, but feel very happy with progress so far!

Iain Jenkins
Live in Northampton. Started learning languages during lockdown, mostly on Duolingo. Also learning Polish and French.
Want to be able to understand some of the brilliant welsh language music I’ve been listening to over the years (Super Furry Animals, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Melys, Adwaith etc)

Lizzie Cain
I’m a scouser so Wales has been #1 holiday destination for most of my life! Rediscovered it in covid and started Duolingo (on day 858), although I want to learn properly. Plus my parents met at uni there so it’s the only language I’ve ever felt a connection to. And its magical!


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1 year ago

We are learning Cymraeg from Tukey.
I am from England and my wife is from Turkey, dyn ni’n dysgu Cymraeg (mostly on DuoLingo) as we plan to move to Cymru in 2023. Our 3 year old watches the kids cartoons on S4C. It has been a very enjoyable experience so far.

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