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G’day and shwmae to another Aussie learning Welsh

04 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Emma Price – one of many Welsh learners outside of Wales

Stephen Price

The growth of Welsh learning across the world shows no signs of slowing down, but when it came to putting her practice into action in the homeland of Cymraeg, one Australian who chose to begin learning to connect with her roots came a little unstuck.

Emma Price began making more of an effort in her Welsh language journey around 2017 as a fun way to connect with her cultural identity. Here’s a little from her about her journey so far…

Pen y Bont ar Ogwr

Like Liz Williams I am also part of the statistics of Australians born overseas (technically I was born in Basingstoke, however I only lived there until I was one).

Before moving to Perth in 1996 at the age of ten I had grown up in Bridgend, as Dad’s family is from the Bridgend, Pyle and Porthcawl area.

Welsh was never a language used at home, instead food was how we connected culturally and I have fond memories of making Welsh cakes with my Grandma. I struggle to make them at the moment without the help of a flat griddle pan, however I will perfect my Welsh cakes one of these days!

Siwrne Cymraeg Emma

Where the Welsh language comes in is that I can remember my Grandad having been heavily involved in the Welsh Male Voice choir growing up so my first memories of the language are connected to him singing in Welsh.

My first introduction to speaking the language myself was in school before I left.

I think because of this, some basic greetings and my pronunciation of words were better than I thought they would be when I started to learn as an adult.

Setbacks

I am slowly getting there with my language journey but it has been hard because I don’t regularly converse with Welsh speakers.

I do know Welsh speakers but I feel like asking to meet up online for a chat would be imposing myself on others.

I am my own worst enemy at times. In the last couple of weeks I have begun working with a tutor again to work on my conversation with the hope of confidently speaking to people without getting nervous and reverting back to English.

I have had the opportunity to practice my Welsh on a few occasions the last couple of months, as I work at a museum and increasingly I have found that some of our visitors have been from Wales and are Welsh speakers.

I have enjoyed being able to welcome them and ask a few questions in Welsh. My reading and writing I feel are stronger than my conversational skills and people still have to talk slowly when talking to me otherwise I completely miss it.

Cymru Ni

I have used programs like Duolingo, Say Something in Welsh and a tutor to help learn and I enjoy listening to music and watching tv for practice.

I listen to bands like Adwaith and artists like Casi Wyn, Gwenno, Eädyth and Izzy Rabey. Cymru ni is currently on repeat!

S4C Clic Worldwide has made watching Welsh language TV easy here in Australia, I recently enjoyed watching Chris a’r afal mawr and the series he did in Scandinavia.

Also in our own media here in Australia Welsh pops up every now and again. SBS (Australia’s special language broadcasting station) is showing Dal Y Mellt and Bang, and Gwenno has played on my local radio station RTRFM.

Immersion

For me, working with a tutor, immersing  myself in music and using Duolingo on my commute has helped the most.

There is such a mix of people from a variety of different backgrounds who have come to the language in different ways that it is great learning people’s stories.

I agree with Liz Williams that language is an important aspect of connecting with culture, and I think for me it has also meant remembering and respecting that the land I now live on has its own language and culture.

I was last in Wales for Christmas 2018 to visit family and I was lucky enough to take a day trip to Eryri, something I had not done before. It was beautiful!

I had learned a little Welsh at that point and after working up the confidence to order soup in Welsh when on a visit to Conwy the girl behind the bar looked at me sympathetically and said “Sorry I am from England, I don’t speak Welsh”.

Y dyfodol

Over the next few years I would love to explore more of the country with my partner, and take the opportunity to practice my Welsh.

I would love to be able to see Adwaith live one day in a venue where I could immerse myself in the language.

What I would say to others is be kind to yourself, people will understand you are learning and are often surprised and happy that you can converse with them, even if it is a basic conversation. It’s advice I should remember for myself

Click here to find out more about SaySomethingInWelsh.

Click here for more info on DuoLingo.

Click here for information on local Wales-based Welsh classes or London classes (Not exhaustive so please check social media and search engines for what’s on in your area)


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Frank
Frank
12 days ago

Although “shwmae” is used and recognised in Wales the correct spelling is “siwmae”. There is no “sh” in Welsh.

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