Alison and Phil survived! And ffrinDiaith has quietly opened its doors…

Well, Monday was one of the most nerve-wracking days I’ve had on the SaySomethingin roller-coaster!

I’d given Alison and Ross (our camera man) an overview of what we were looking for – a brief introduction before they went into La Tasca, for them to use as much Spanish as possible during the meal, and then for them to answer three different questions as though someone had said ‘Have you been learning for a month?’, ‘For a week?’, ‘For less than a day?!’ – but despite the brief, despite knowing that Alison is conscientious and thoughtful, despite how impressed I’ve been with Ross’s ability to understand what we were trying to do and even add his own valuable ideas, I still spent the day mostly in a state of dread.

First, I convinced myself that despite all the successful examples of accelerated learning we’ve seen, this would inevitably be the first one to fall flat on its face, and we’d end up with an expensive promotional video showing two tearful would-be Spanish learners saying ‘This course is complete rubbish, I wish I’d gone with Rosetta Stone after all.’

Believing that was so much fun that I went on to convince myself that even if the course worked, Alison and Phil would freeze in the spotlight, or start swearing in frustration, or that a meteorite would hit the restaurant, or the Spanish-speaking member of stuff turn out to be ill, or that Ross would decide he was packing it all in and going off to tame llamas.

Despite all this, in one of the truly great successes of my life, I did NOT text, phone, email or send a carrier pigeon to Alison or Ross with any of the several million last minute bits of frantic micro-managing that came to mind.

Somehow, I kept my eyes on the fact that the more panicked I seemed, the more pressure I’d be putting on Alison, and the more likely I would be making it that everything would go horribly wrong.

So I kept quiet.

This is not a natural state of affairs for me.

And I kept quiet.  Silent.  I even watched the thoroughly delightful Salmon Fishing in the Yemen to take my mind off it all, but that just made me wish that we could get hold of a wealthy Yemeni sheikh to help fund the growth of SaySomethingin…

By half-past ten that night, I was a broken man, and I sent Alison a mock-cheerful text message asking if she’d enjoyed herself.

She texted me back to say that she was sending an email.

It sounded serious.

My palms were sweaty.

And naturally enough, her email focused almost entirely on all the different things that she hadn’t done as well as she should have – classic learner beat-yourself-up material, but in the state I was in, it was enough to convince me that the walls of Jericho were indeed collapsing.

In my last few moments before swooning in despair, I sent her a line asking if she’d enjoyed anything about the experience…


Cue: a restless night.


And then, in the morning, after a slow, gloomy walk with the dogs, putting off the inevitable – an email from Alison overflowing with delight and enthusiasm at everything she’d achieved in such a short amount of time, which made it transparently obvious that she must have done wonderfully well, and that all would be good.

I would have sighed in relief, but I was too busy dancing around the house in relief, and frightening the dogs and the children.

And then later on that day I got a call from Ross, and it was equally clear from his input that Alison and Phil had done as well as I could possibly have hoped, that their Spanish-speaking waiter had been hugely impressed with them (and thought that they’d been learning for at least a month) and that the video, which we should have by the start of next week if all goes well, may indeed turn out to be a cracker.

We’ve got to do this less often!  Or I’ve got to become a little more hardened to it all…;-)


Meanwhile, we had a frantic week and frantic weekend with ffrinDiaith, but the forwarding url at is now live, and will take you (should you so desire) to a sign-up page on our new site.

From the early adopters, it seems that the sign-up is working smoothly, the messaging is neat and tidy, the search function does what it’s meant to, and broadly speaking all is well with the world – so we can now start to think in terms of rolling it out over the next week or so and getting a decent number of users on board before the official launch in the Eisteddfod.

A coward dies a thousand deaths, isn’t it?  I must be at least half-way there…;-)

11 responses to “Alison and Phil survived! And ffrinDiaith has quietly opened its doors…

  1. “A coward dies a thousand deaths, isn’t it? I must be at least half-way there…;-)” … you said.

    And I don’t agree with that. As much work as you all did it goes to eternity and there is only one eternal life for you because you’re not a coward. You’re brave and I’m thankful for that. The proof is me myself. As many times as I’ve gave up and thought (and even tweeted) I’ll never properly learn Welsh (tried a bit of your Spanish aswell), I’m still there, trying, learning, despite you teach first to speak, I’m learning to write aswell. Something drags me back to your magnificent site and lessons which are there for us learners to learn what is only proof that you’re doing magnificent work and you’re doing it well.

    I’m really living proof, that your concept works greatly, because I’m not native English speaking person and so I have to take two foreign languages to deal with and your site still works for me.

    Dw i’n dysgu ac dw i’n dysgu yn dda! Diolch yn fawr.

    • Thank you so much for your very kind words, which I appreciate enormously…:-)

      It’s hugely impressive that you’re managing to learn Welsh through the medium of a non-native language – that is a huge achievement. What is your native language? One day, I hope we’ll have the Welsh course available directly in it, although that will be too for you, since you’ll be a Welsh speaker by then…:-)

      • Thank you for kind reply.

        My native language is Slovene. It’s quite different from English and Welsh and it can be treated as even tougher to learn as Welsh itself because it has neuter and duality in grammar.

        Your site works perfectly for me as I say, but I slightly doubt you could really be able to compose the course of Welsh on this basis to be in my native language. I’ve tried to imagine how it would look like, but failed already with the concept of first lesson of English-Welsh course to convert it into Slovene-Welsh one. Our infinitive is slightly different spoken and written as verb itself so it can be very confusing. Duality makes another problem etc…

      • Oh, how interesting! I went to Slovenia with a choir once, and had an enormously enjoyable time.

        It’s not particularly easy to adapt the framework into other languages (to teach Welsh in that language, or to teach that language itself) – but so far, it’s always been possible, and we’ve done work with an increasingly wide range of languages. It’s a matter of mapping the meaning, rather than the individual words.

        Iestyn has been doing some work on adapting our framework to build a course to learn Slovene (although how he finds time to breathe with four children, I don’t know!) – when he finally gets the chance to finish that, I’m sure he’ll be interested in making our Welsh course available through Slovene – it’ll be interesting to see how far we get (but it will certainly be too late for you, unfortunately!).

      • Just tell me now that Iestyn speaks Slovene and I’d be really stunned out of awe. This should be amazing. It’d be really interesting to see/hear how this all comes out. I believe it would be wonderful. And it’s never too late for anything. I can English very well (I deliberately won’t say perfectly because there’s always something I could do better) so I’m not in any trouble learning Welsh through English-Welsh course. I’m simply happy I’ve found this page or better said re-found it as I had it in my bookmarks for quite long time before I started to learn, but (who knows for what reason) I didn’t pay much attention until one of your learners allerted me about it and i gave it a try.

        The only thing I fear (i don’t mean nothing offensive with that) is that there’s no mistake in languages and Iesyn really is working on Slovene and not on Slovak language. There’s always a huge mixing of our countries and languages allover the world unfortunately and people who speak about Slovakia actually mean Slovenia and oposite. Slovaks do the things even harder by saying for themselves they’re Slovene (Slovenci) and we are saying the same (Slovenci).

        Well, all in all, both languages are very different from English and Welsh, but very similar to one another and confusions can be made so I’ll say only Pob lwc i Iesyn.

      • Oops, sorry, only just seen this! Argh – now you mention it, I’m suddenly uncertain as to what language Iestyn is actually learning – he might have been saying Slovak, and I just didn’t bother to listen properly because I’m more interested in Slovenia…;-)

        But either way, we’ll certainly have a Welsh-through-the-medium-of-Slovene course one of these days, because we’re determined to make it available in as many European languages as possible…:-)

      • I hardly wait to listen to Welsh/Slovene version of the course no matter I’ll probably already speak Welsh quite well at the time it happens.

        Dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg. = Učim se valižansko. 🙂

        Have a great week and enjoy the quite hot Summer which (hopefully) sin’t about to end yet. 🙂

      • I’m sure you’ll already be an excellent Welsh speaker by the time we get to that point…:-)

  2. Oh dear, that sounds like a special kind of fun. I’m very glad to read that everything went well, but that doesn’t surprise me. I haven’t tried the Spanish course (yet!) but I believe in the SSi way of doing things wholeheartedly.

    • It was thoroughly entertaining…;-) Thanks for your faith! Mine is okay too, most of the time…;-)

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