Cariad@Iaith – for learners

There is a programme currently running on S4C about a group of celebrities learning Welsh on a campsite in Deepest Wales (Well, Pembrokeshire, actually).

The programme has been marketed at Welsh learners and people interested in learning Welsh, but on the Say Something in Welsh forum, we’ve heard a few people commenting that they have not been able to enjoy it, or that it has not lived up to their expectations.  So, in this post, I hope to pass on some tips about how to get the most out of Cariad@Iaith – for non Welsh-speakers and early learners, and even for people who want to legally watch abroad, where the usual options to watch S4C are (illegal) bit-torrents sites.


The obvious place to watch the Cariad@Iaith programmes is on S4C, available throughout the UK.  The programme finishes tomorrow, mind, so you may be a bit late for that!  If you do watch tonight or tomorrow, and your understanding of Welsh isn’t strong, you will find the live subtitling patchy at best, and probably frustrating.  For now, just accept that you won’t understand much:  You might even prefer to turn off the subtitles, and enjoy the sounds and the entertainment.  There is better news though:

The Live programme is re-shown on the S4C clic (watch again) service.  Once the advert at the start of the programme finishes, click on the “I” button (bottom right of the orange screen), and choose subtitles.  For some reason,they are still 5 or 10 seconds after what has been said, but they are more comprehensive!

Now for the extras:

Unfortunately, the programmes are not available outside the UK, but the extras are.

Go to the Cariad@Iaith website here, and you can watch videos of the daily lessons and find out a bit more about the programme (there’s a button at the top of the page if you want to toggle between Welsh and English).  The videos are certainly interesting.  Although the teaching method is quite different to SSiW, you’ll probably find some of the vocab and patterns sticking with you for later use!

While you’re there, take a look at the Cariad@Iaith Welsh Learners’ Pack, either by clicking on the link, or going here.

There’s simple mp3 lessons, the booklet that goes with the series, and even a bilingual detective novel – something to keep everyone entertained for a bit…

Finally, make sure you’re following @S4Cariad on Twitter, and Facebook


Remember before you watch Cariad@Iaith that it is a reality TV show on a Welsh Language TV station.  As Leia says on the SSiW Forum discussion, “…no one would have watched I’m a Celeb Get Me Out of here with any real intent to learn survival skills, or X-Factor to learn to sing… It is a reality TV show…“, so don’t expect to learn much Welsh from the show.  But do enjoy it, and I’m sure you’ll pick up all manner of snippets of Welsh from the celebs and the as well as the teachers.

There’s quite an interesting discussion happening on the forum right now about strengths and weakness of the programme, and how it does or doesn’t do “what it says on the tin.”  C0me and add your opinion – we’ll enjoy it, and I’m sure Fflic (the production company) will find the feedback useful.

If you know of other ways to get more value out of Cariad@Iaith, come and tell us on the forum, or leave us a message below!

Links for this post:


A note about S4C via Bit Torrent:

A number of SSiWers have found a bit-torrent site that streams S4C programmes outside of the UK.  It should be noted that Bit-torrents are not officially recognised, and are generally illegal.

S4C say: “We at S4C appreciate that people outside of the UK are eager to watch S4C programmes.  But at the moment, we do not have the right to broadcast online outside the UK… even were it possible… S4C would have to pay extra to allow us to broadcast these programmes.

“That is why there is ‘Geo Blocker’ software stopping Clic from being used worldwide.

“We would like to appeal to you on behalf of S4C not to dowload programmes (from as doing that will infringe on the rights of other individuals / companies.

“It is also worth noting that some of [our programmes] such as Taro 9 and CF99 ar available worldwide.”

Note – this is my translation.  Further details are available at the Hacio’r Iaith website here.  You may need to use the Google translation service, which is very good!

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12 Responses to Cariad@Iaith – for learners

  1. Cer says:

    Show’s over now but, if you go here: you can access on-line material. Big plus: the lesson videos play in the U.S. (shh!)

  2. HOWARD GUNN says:

    Saysomething in Welsh does not appear to be a reliable source of information.

    • welshclass says:

      Hi Howard – I’m not sure what you mean. Have you found something wrong on this blog? Or is it our free Welsh course that has said something that you don’t agree with? We always try to be accurate, but information goes out of date, and new information often trumps old, so if you let us know where the problem is, we’ll try and sort it out!

  3. HOWARD GUNN says:

    I understand that Aled is Chief Executive of Communed. A Welsh community pressure group.
    I accept that you are only intending to teach people to ‘only’ say something in Welsh.
    What accredited teaching qualifications does he possess?
    Why does appear to claim to be an authority on Welsh learning issues?

  4. HOWARD GUNN says:

    Dear Aran
    I have read your C.V. and you appear to have no teaching qualifications whatsoever. You do not even appear to posses a degree. I am unclear of why in the Western Mail (1st of September 2009) described you and Estyn ap Dafydd as teachers offering who were offering a new ‘cutting edge’ methodology, which “abandons wasting time on reading and writing”. Cutting out the complicated stuff are the words used on your website.

    You were marketing your course as, “The new, faster and easier way to learn Welsh. You do not need to write or do any revision. You just need to start speaking naturally and normally”.

    I find someone you testimonials very amusing, such as the reference to someone saying he Welsh so quickly it was like a miracle. It must be! It normally takes around six year to reach basic fluency in any second language.

    • welshclass says:

      Hello, Howard. I’m sorry – I didn’t recognise your name when I answered your first query.

      I will answer your posts one by one, so this may take a while…

      I won’t go into academic qualifications, as the SSiW course is not an academic course as such, and any background qualifications are, well, academic!

      23,000 individuals have registered to learn with us, and nearly a 1000 of them have had enough success with the first free 35 half-hour lessons to be spending money on further courses.

      SSiW does indeed “get rid of time wasted on reading and writing in order to help people learn to speak and understand Welsh far more quickly” (note the accurate quote). Academic courses often concentrate on grammatical rules and the ability to read and write from the very start, but this is not the modern method – eg that used by Pimsleur or Michel Thomas, who I assume also have received this complaint from you. Mutation tables and grammar rules are, however, the generally accepted method of teaching Welsh, which brings me on to your other slight mis-quote.

      The article does not say that we are “offering a new ‘cutting edge’ methodology”, but rather that we are bringing cutting edge methods to Welsh

      What we have found time and time again is that once people are familiar enough with the sounds and patterns of Welsh, they can take to reading and writing far more easily, and learn why they say what they do (grammar rules), extend their vocabulary and all the other useful things that come with reading and writing. But if all you want to do is chat with the shop keeper on holiday, or gossip with the neighbours, this extra step is not a priority – it is far more important to be able to speak to them and understand their answers. This is what SSiW achieves.

      I’m glad you find our testimonials amusing. The “miracle” quote was from a learner in Hungary. By the time he passed his oral exam with Lampeter University, he was living in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. He was complimented on how natural his Welsh sounded by the examiner, even though he had never spoken Welsh with anyone but our recordings. I think even in the internet age, that could be described as miraculous!

      Iestyn ap Dafydd

      Edited once to clarify one sentence and remove another that may have seemed more offensive than was intended.

  5. HOWARD GUNN says:

    Second language is a basic skill, which requires high quality teaching skills to teach effectively, and it is difficult to learn. Despite all the training that Q.T.S. teachers need to obtain and the research that is undertaking in second language learning, it is astonishing that we missed something so obvious! Have you thought of applying for the Nobel Prize?

    You refer to having 15,000 learners. Are these just visiting your site? I accept you learn using wlpan , which dates back to 1949, and this is what you are reflecting this in your practice, but this no longer an acceptable method of learning. It is certainly not a new revolutionary method of learning!!

    The fact that learners can recite phrases ‘parrot fashion’ does not mean that they have successfully learnt the Welsh language! I am unclear of what serial learning is all about. I have not encountered this in the educational literature, which you clearly have never opened.

    I would advise Aran that if you really want learners to learn Welsh in Wales then you should leave the process of teaching learners to people with appropriate qualifications and teaching experience. I understand that you are a family man. Would you allow an unqualified gas fitter to fix your fire? Learners can suffer if they are not taught appropriately. I accept that there are problems in Welsh to adults teaching and I have raised my concerns with the appropriate authorities, but it unacceptable to mislead learners over learning issues.

    I will declare that I am a Registered Teacher, which means that my advice has high legal status, and you will be unable to defend my concerns. You as a private individual might be able to do anything you like, but you are being sponsored by respected public figures. I would advise you to inform your ‘sponsors’ about my concerns. I have a dossier of my concerns. I congratulate you on your marketing skills.

    Sorry Aled. It is very easy for people to demand what other should do. You have been demanding that learners should learn up six years to learn the Welsh language, but there is no evidence that you had conviction to obtain sufficient qualifications to develop sufficient understanding of the teaching process to serve learners interests. There is no evidence you even attempted to open a book.

    • welshclass says:

      I’m less certain of the meaning of this post, but there are specific concerns that you raise that i can answer.

      “Second language is a basic skill… and is difficult to learn” – I tend to disagree that a second language is “difficult” to learn. If you practice everything that you learn on a regular basis, it becomes ingrained quite easily. The big problem that most people have is not “learning” the language in the first place, but in practising enough to be able to use what they’ve learnt. The big advantage of the SSiW system over other Welsh teaching courses is that we provide that practice – around 18hours of intensive teaching / practising for free, and a further 3 hours a week of practice sessions that cover speaking and, vitally, listening. Even without adding our own experience into what works and what doesn’t, material wise, and carefully spacing different forms of practice, the up to 3 hours a week of practice would be massive boost for most Welsh learners.

      “The fact that learners can recite phrases ‘parrot fashion’ does not mean that they have successfully learnt the Welsh language!” I agree with you entirely. Unfortuantely for your argument, this is not what we do. Can you imagine how boring 18 hours of “repeat after me – dwi ddim yn gwybod beth sy’n digwydd”… would be? But you don’t seem to have ever listened to a SSiW lesson, or you would know that as soon as we have introduced a new word or pattern, the learner is made to use it over and over again in different contexts and permutations, so that he / she not only remembers it from usage, but also instantly start to get a feel for what is “right” and what is “wrong”.

      I have a feeling that your definition of “learning a languge” is somewhat different from ours. We are not teaching people to speak perfect academic Welsh – no-one that I know personally speaks Welsh that way. Rather, we are teaching people to be able to communicate in Welsh. If you want to learn mutation tables and how to run verbs, great – go to an academic course. If you want to be able to speak confidently, not worrying about minor slip-ups and occasional use of English, then we’ll help you.

      Actually, it’s interesting that you quote 6 years as the time to learn a language “to fluency”, as this is demonstrably a figure that is plucked from the air. The length of time that any individual will take to learn a specific language depends mostly on contact hours, and intensity of those contact hours. For example, you will learn more doing 5 hours a day of French in France for a fortnight (50 hours + practice outside of class) than you would doing 25 two hour night classes in Basingstoke. In the former case, you could probably be practically and academically fluent within a year, in the latter, you might still be struggling after two or three years.

      But there, I do not have any teaching qualification, so any comments I make appear to be of low legal status (whatever that means…). I would pass on your concerns to our patrons, but as you did that early in 2010, with very little effect, I’m not sure that it is a particlarly valuable use of their time or mine.

      Have a nice day!

      Iestyn ap Dafydd

  6. HOWARD GUNN says:

    I propose you contact you patrons. i will arrranging for this to be done through my local A,M.

  7. Aran Jones says:

    Hello Howard! Please could you tell me why we should contact our patrons? You’ve already contacted them, and those who took the time to answer you (instead of just forwarding your communications to us) have already told you that they are happy to continue as patrons of the course.

    You say ‘You have been demanding that learners should learn up six years to learn the Welsh language’. Where have we ‘demanded’ this? In fact, many of our learners are capable of confident and interesting conversations in less than a year – and some even faster than that.

    So what’s the real problem here? Are you unhappy that over 20,000 people have accessed our lessons, that over 10,000 enjoy them enough to want to receive our weekly email, and that almost 1000 have completed our extensive free course and decided that they are doing so well they want to pay a monthly fee for more lessons? Are you unhappy that we have been invited to meetings with the 6 Welsh for Adults centres? Are you unhappy that we are the online partners for the popular ‘Hwb’ programme for Welsh learners on S4C? Are you unhappy that we received an award from the IWA for promoting Wales globally? Are you unhappy that over 4000 people enjoy playing our Daily Welsh Words game on Twitter? Are you unhappy that Stephen Fry encouraged people to try our course? Are you unhappy that volunteers from around the world are learning how to use our methods to produce courses for other languages?

    If so, why are you unhappy about these things, Howard?

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