Sometimes, it seems the more we learn, the less we know:
and last year’s Welsh lessons were for me no exception to this particular rule. Whilst during the first two terms I seemed to be making good progress, I had to miss so much of the third term – what with goats kidding etc, that I really felt I was beginning to struggle towards the end…..& by the conclusion of Ceredigion College’s summer vacation, I’d decided that I would gain more benefit by revisiting the first-year course again; & consolidating what we’d already done, rather than by jumping ‘in at the deep end’ & sinking rather than swimming through an unhappy Year Two. Also, Boo wanted to start Welsh lessons, too; & we figured that if we worked together it would provide mutual encouragement & incentive (particularly as we intend to consolidate our weekly lessons in the local coffee shop, over a bowl of steaming latte, after each class!). Thus it was that this morning I drove to Maes Y Derw to pick her up, after a brief ‘over-the-gate’ chat with our neighbour Ieuan, & we made our way to our first class of the new term. Actually lessons had commenced the previous week; but I hadn’t been aware of the fact & for various reasons Boo had also missed it; so for both of us, this was our first lesson with the new group.
I was delighted to discover that the lessons were to be taught by my tutor from last year, Meryl – who is infinitely patient, good-humoured & helpful; so I was even more enthusiastic. She was supportive in my decision to resit the year; & I was especially glad I’d made that particular decision as the syllabus has been completely changed & we are all working from new books – which would have made the Second Year even more of a struggle for me, as there were potential disconnects between the two courses with knowledge gaps that might be left unplugged – although I nevertheless did feel slightly uncomfortable with the new format, as it doesn’t seem to be as ‘user friendly’ as that which we learned last year. For example, some unneccessarily complex pronunciations were introduced in the very first lesson with no accompanying explanation as to the meanings of the words we ‘parroted’ (I remedied this by working through them this evening – & it was hard going owing to the fact the Welsh language ‘mutates’ – but I’ll elaborate on that as classes progress). Let’s face it, over the first couple of weeks all most students want, is to learn a few simple phrases such as ‘Hello’ & ‘How are you?’ – which would at least give them a sense of progress & a few simple exchanges to try with local shopkeepers, neighbours etc. I’m concerned that some students may find this revised approach a bit disheartening & be tempted to give up before they’ve really had a go. But we’ll see. To be honest I found some of it hard work – & I have the advantage of a couple of terms’ experience under my belt, so it’s no wonder some of the other students seemed daunted & even a bit shell-shocked.
Nevertheless Boo & I had a good old chuckle whilst revising the lesson afterwards, in the coffee shop: when attempting to pronounce the word chwech (translation: the number ‘six’), of which the ‘ch’ is pronounced as in the Scottish word, ‘loch’, Boo sounded as if she was trying to compete with the coffee percolator!
I returned home to work on my ‘Smallholder’ magazine article, whilst Tony continued his revison of the Sage accounts package in preparation for our first impending VAT return, due at the end of the month; before we knew it, it was already time for the evening chores which Tony tackled whilst I concocted him his requested hot chilli as night fell over the little ffarm. Somewhat concerned that I’d over-spiced it, I got him to sneak a taste from the pot as I didn’t dare even sample it, myself (I’d cooked myself a rather more bland pasta dish, not being a lover of spicy food); but owing to a sniffling cold, he felt it didn’t pack sufficient ‘punch’ & insisted I add further chillies. He ate the resulting meal with gusto; although he said it still wasn’t particularly hot. But the fiery red chillies I’d added would make the most seasoned Mexican blanch, I’m sure; & Tony admitted the intoxicating combination seemed to be doing ‘something’, to make him sweat…..however he’s so ‘bunged up’ he still couldn’t actually tingle his tastebuds! Well; I’ll be surprised if his other orifices are ‘bunged up’ tomorrow, that’s for sure…….!!