“The more you know, the more you want to know”
The Irishman learning Welsh
Aidan Mc Ginley’s relationship with Wales first began in 2008, when he met his friend Dyfan whilst working together for the United Nations in Lesotho.
Ten years later it was a two-day trip to visit Dyfan in north Wales that inspired him to start learning Welsh online. He visited the Eisteddfod in Llanrwst and came across the Learn Welsh stall.
Aidan’s first language is Gaelic, he lives on a small island, Tory, off the north-west coast of Ireland. Interestingly, for Gaelic speakers in the north they find Scottish Gaelic easier to understand than the Gaelic spoken in the south of Ireland.
He’s recently completed his second 10-week online entry level course which was taught by Nant Gwrtheyrn tutor, Shân. Here he tells us all about the experience, and what he’s learnt about the similarities between Gaelic and Welsh.
“When I tell people I’m learning Welsh, the firs rection I get is: ‘Oh, I wouldn’t learn that the sounds are so different.’ But what I’ve found surprising, is how similar the links are.
“I wanted to try and unlock the differences to see what it was like. At first, it was a shock to encounter new sounds, there are written similarities and same mutations, but they are used in a different way. Once I taught myself to forget about Gaelic and to treat Welsh as new language, I found it much easier.”
Aidan has put together an interesting list showing the Irish Gaeilge and Scottish Gàidhlig hidden in the Welsh course.
“Learning online has been a great experience. Learning with others allows you to check your understanding. You get to see people, get to know people, and get to practice natural conversation. This makes a huge difference. The opportunity to learn online has been fantastic, especially for people living in rural areas who now have the same opportunities as those in urban areas. During the course we were split into break out rooms to practice over and over again. Shân checks everyone and you do it over and over until we ‘get it’.
“I think the main advantage of learning online is that the course is structured and it’s easier to concentrate. You get to the point quicker and spend the maximum time learning.
“I’ll be continuing on my Welsh language journey. The more you know the more you want to know. I told Dyfan when I visited last year that I’d be able to say a few words by my next visit. Hopefully, it will be a few sentences by then! But I’m going to take my time with it.”
Our tutor Shân learnt a few things from Aidan too: “The role of a Welsh language tutor ay Nant Gwrtheyrn is such an interesting job, I come across such a variety of characters, cultures and languages. I feel really luck to experience all these things. Aidan has been with me in a Tuesday morning class for the last 10 weeks. During this time, he has been very interested in studying the similarities between the two languages. His passion towards the language is infectious, and we’ve all learnt a thing or two in the lessons, including me! Diolch Aidan.”
Aidan remembers the Dolen Cymru organisation in Lesotho in 2008. Their office was next to the UN office in Maseru. He was amazed to hear that the same man, Dr Carl Clowes was the founder of both Dolen Cymru and Nant Gwrtheyrn. A small world indeed!
See all details about our online and residential courses here.