Why I’m learning Welsh online with Nant Gwrtheyrn
by Helen Blodwen Rees
I’ve always felt Welsh: my middle name is Blodwen and my dad was a Welsh speaker. But I never lived in Wales until my husband and I decided to retire to Conwy a few years ago. We attended Nant Gwrtheyrn residential courses together in 2015 and 2016 and always meant to come back, but somehow life got in the way.
When I saw the online courses being advertised during lockdown, I thought they were ideal for me as I was self-isolating at home. I began with the Mynediad course in August and then took the Sylfaen course in September.
The online delivery was excellent. Each class included a good mix of presentations, general discussion, conversations with a partner and small breakout groups. The atmosphere was relaxed and focused at the same time. Mathew was the tutor on both of my courses. He is a fantastic teacher: very patient and very responsive to all our questions, during and after the class. His explanations are very clear and thanks to Mathew, I now understand aspects of the language that I’ve struggled with in the past. He’s very good at explaining why and how you say things in Welsh, including some of the tricky grammatical rules. It is much easier to remember something when you understand the reason why it’s that way.
Studying at my kitchen table, I did miss the beautiful location of Nant Gwrtheryn, but there are many advantages to distance learning. There were people in the classes from across the UK and beyond – from as far afield as Germany and Australia. Meeting people from other parts of the world who are learning Welsh is very motivating.
I don’t have great technical skills, but the online classroom was very easy to access and use. Practising the language with one other student or in a small group worked just as well online as in the classroom at the Nant. We had each received the coursebook in advance, so we had everything we needed for each lesson.
I would recommend an online course with Nant Gwrtheryn for everyone who wants to start learning or improve their Welsh this winter. When so many aspects of our lives feel uncertain at the moment, learning Welsh together is useful, fun and very rewarding.