Informal conversation groups for Welsh learners are popping up all over Wales, with the Mentrau Iaith an integral part of the effort.
Creating informal, comfortable opportunities to speak Welsh, without judgment, and creating spaces to increase confidence in using the language is the purpose of these groups.
In the words of one participant;
“Every time I use my Welsh in a more informal setting than in class I gain more confidence in speaking Welsh in front of other people in the community and at work.”
After taking early retirement, moving to Pembrokeshire from Manchester, this individual started learning Welsh using Duolingo app before starting an entry level class. They started coming to the Menter Iaith Sir Benfro Clonc a Choffi sessions every fortnight while still taking the Entry Level 2 classes.
From West Wales to the East – Menter Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen a Mynwy offer a similar experience. Thomas Hughes, Cheif Officer of the menter says of one of their participants;
“This lady has been learning Welsh for around 3 years using SaySomethingInWelsh and Welsh for Adults lesson. Before coming to the Menter’s sessions she lacked in confidence in using Welsh outside of class and she didn’t know any Welsh speakers in the area.
The Menter have helped this lady to come in to contact with fluent Welsh speakers and other Welsh learners who have bridged into fluent speakers during our coffee mornings and breakfast clubs. By creating informal conversations over a cuppa at Parc Bryn Bach the Development Officer has helped this learner to communicate with first language Welsh speakers by explaining the meaning of words in the local dialect and helping her to worry less about making mistakes while speaking Welsh.”
An encouraging experience, as the individual explains;
“Coming to the Menter Iaith coffee mornings has improved my Welsh very much. Welsh feels like a natural language for me now, I speak Welsh first instead of English with others without thought – even if the person in the shop doesn’t understand Welsh!
Practicing my Welsh every week at the coffee mornings helps my confidence. I saw a girl behind the counter in Asda wearing an orange Welsh badge and I told her I can speak Welsh and had a conversation with her without thinking of what she thought about the standard of my Welsh.”
Similar sessions and groups are happening in every part of Wales, either through the local Menter Iaith or through your library, Welsh shop/centre or in cafes. Contact your local Menter Iaith to find a group near you.