Sometimes people ask this question out loud – sometimes I just see it lurking in their eyes – the uncertainty, the lack of belief – the lack of self-belief.
It’s a Catch-22 situation – if you only speak English, it’s impossible to imagine what it’s like to speak Welsh as well – it’s impossible to KNOW that your brain is capable of being bilingual.
Once you reach the point where using Welsh is easy, and doesn’t require any extra thought or effort, it seems obvious and simple – of course your brain can deal with more than one language.
But the WHOLE way there – through all the effort, all the set-backs and mistakes and moments of doubt or embarrassment – you have to rely on belief.
You have to find belief in yourself (which people often find really tough) and belief in the system you’re using.
[This is one of the things I love about the SaySomethinginWelsh forum – people stay part of the community, and keep helping others, long after they’ve become confident speakers – so they help show that it’s possible.]
It does help to see other people who’ve become confident speakers – but we’re also really good at imagining reasons why someone else can do it, but we can’t.
‘They’re cleverer than I am,’ we tell ourselves, or ‘They’re just good at languages’, or ‘They’ve spent YEARS putting hours in every week’…
Anything to let ourselves carry on believing that we can’t do it.
But there’s one simple little step that can help fuel our belief in ourselves.
It can’t replace the need for belief – there’s no getting around the fact that until you KNOW Welsh is easy for you, you have to rely on believing it can happen to you as well.
But this little step can add real fuel – real fire – to your self-belief – to the idea that YOU really can become a Welsh speaker.
It’s what our Welsh learners often call ‘Welsh bubbling up in your brain.’
Here’s how it works:
When you do the right kind of speaking exercises – when you force your brain to produce entire sentences, and the words in those sentences are always being changed around so you see as many different ways they fit into each other as possible…
After a while (it can be after your very first session, but it seems to happen more commonly after you’ve done about 10 half-hour lessons) – you’ll discover Welsh words bubbling up in your brain when you’re NOT EVEN THINKING ABOUT WELSH.
It’s such a peculiar feeling – ‘hey, what’s this language doing in my head?!’ – that it gives you your first piece of genuine evidence that you really can change your brain – turn it into a bilingual brain.
I can tell you that I learnt Welsh when I was 32 – and I’d never been able to have easy conversations in another language before that – so it’s possible for you.
And you’ll nod your head, and think some variant of ‘Yeah, sure, but you…’
I can suggest that you learn ONE sentence using the kind of speaking exercise that triggers this experience.
You probably won’t get the bubbles after just one sentence – but if you can feel even the slightest shift, and you have the confidence to carry on into our ‘6 Minute a Day’ course (which only costs £10 a month, and has video group practice sessions as well) then after two or three months you should notice your first bubbles.
And those first bubbles might just be what gives you the self-belief to become a Welsh speaker…:-)
You can do that first, slightly unusual sentence here: