#clearthelist December 2018: Welsh Progress, GCSE Exams, and Women in Language

29 November 2018

Welcome to the November edition of my #clearthelist language goal tracking post. If you’ve never heard of this before, Clear The List is a support and accountability blog group sharing monthly language learning goals.

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I’m very excited because I’m writing this article at the end of the month and not as usual - a few rushed days into the start of a new month.

On Monday, I am excited to open the doors to the Fluent German Retreat in Trier so over the last week I have mostly been preparing for this: planning visits to amazing Christmas markets and monuments, booking restaurants, collecting teaching ideas for the participants. I can’t wait!

What Else Happened In November?

This was a great month for learning a language! We kicked it off with the amazing Women in Language Camp event, a one-day get-together online where over 100 language learners learnt and exchanged ideas around the theme of creating community in language learning.

I can never get tired of mentioning how wonderful the audience at Women in Language events is. The Women in Language Camp event gave me a huge boost, because sharing the language passion makes me want to learn more languages!

There will be a big Women in Language conference in March 2019, so make sure you get all the news by signing up at www.womeninlanguage.com.

Beyond this online event, I also attended the Language Show Live in London on 10 October. There were so many great friends to meet! You can see them all in this video by Gareth Popkins. Lindsay Williams, Rebecca Howie, Michele Frolla and I hosted a meet-up in the pub and it was exciting to meet so many of you!

The Fluent Show

November was a FAB month for the Fluent Show, with special guest Ellen Jovin making her second appearance to share stories from her grammar table project. Ellen has just been featured in the New York Times, so I’m delighted to say we got the scoop.

My recommendation for your listening this month is How to Get The Perfect Accent, which features all the tips you need if you’re an advanced speaker thinking of polishing how you sound.

Language Goals and Progress

Time to dig into how my own language learning went in November! Here’s how I got on in Welsh.


The goal was to watch 4+ episodes of Byw Cerlwydd, a Welsh-language political drama that I used to enjoy. The storylines, however, seem to have gone full-on soap opera and I’ve not been a fan of what I’ve seen this season.

I did catch the BBC programme Hidden Wales. It’s only available in English and it’s wonderful. For all of you who aren’t learning Welsh, watch it to see why I’m in love with Cymru.

This leaves me with a gap for my listening practice. I have been switching the radio back on in Welsh, and tried to listen to the Podpeth podcast but found it a bit too difficult to follow.


Great month for reading! My goal was to reach page 150 of my Welsh for learners novel Sgwp, and I’m pleased to say I’m currently on page 137 and about to get to 150 during my train journey to Gatwick airport.

It’s also been fairly quiet in Welsh on my social media feeds! Usually I see a few more posts, maybe I should look into more accounts to follow outside of Twitter.


My goals were to have two italki lessons and two “paned” online catch-ups with friends. I booked and took both of the italki classes, and I will also count my chats with Gareth during the Language Show Meetup as good speaking practice. Apart from that, things were sadly quiet when it came to practicing Welsh.

I’ve long thought about posting a quick advert at the local university to see if anyone might be up for practicing Welsh with me in exchange for a free coffee and cake, so maybe that should make it into my goal section!


This month, my writing practice consisted of

  • texting a few friends (I used my first ever passive voice sentence!!).
  • making hand-written class notes about Christmas vocab.
  • writing a sample paper of the Welsh GCSE exam, taken from past papers on the WJEC website.

The only annoying there is that I should have chosen one of the adult learning levels instead of the GCSE (which is a school exam), as now I find myself writing about school trips and my favourite Welsh star. But never mind, all practice is good practice.

Daily Contact Goal

Every month, I log my “daily contact” with the Welsh language. November looks just fine, with 16 days out of 30. I don’t track the length of each “contact”, but on at least 7 days this was a longer session than 10 minutes.

As always, this depends on me remembering to tick a box, so it’s not a 100% accurate number.

Goals For December 2018

As I mentioned above, I’m spending the first week of December focused on my German learners at the Fluent German Retreat. I’m going back to Germany later in the month to spend Christmas with my family, so there’s certainly some travel time that could double up as language learning time.


The radio is my best bet, I generally find the BBC Cymru shows 60-80% understandable, so my goal will be to listen to the radio in Welsh during my breakfast or lunch at least 4 times a day.

It’s just so hard to commit when there’s amazing podcasts around every corner. I’m so glad to hear that Welsh language superman Nicky Roberts has just launched a podcast called Mynd am being gyda... I spoke to him in Cardiff at the Eisteddfod, and here watch a video episode of that show featuring me and my spoken Welsh.


Last month, being very specific about the number of pages I want to read really helped get me going with Sgwp. So I’m using that strategy again. In December, I want to get to page 185 of this book.


I’ve already booked my next italki class, and my goal is to always re-book after a finished class.

As I mentioned above, I’ll also step up my efforts to try and find a local Welsh speaker who’s interested in speaking their language to me on a regular basis. This city is so small that I can imagine we have fewer than 10 of them, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try to find them!

Beyond this speaking practice, I will also pick up Say Something in Welsh again and finish challenges 21 and 22 of level 2.


I’m enjoying my practice with the Welsh exam papers and once they’re finished I will read them out to my italki tutor so she can give me feedback on my writing skills.

I’m keen to move on from the GCSE level (although it’s amazing to know that this level is not a huge challenge for me) and go back into the system they use in adult education. But that sounds like a bit much for December, so for now I want to “pass the written GCSE” in Welsh as a second language. And celebrate with a Welshcake.

Other Languages

My main language dabble at the moment is Mandarin Chinese, and my contact was largely app-based. I’m enjoying Drops a lot for Chinese, as well as Memrise. When you’re a Welsh learner, you don’t get as much playtime with the language learning apps so right now I’m enjoying this very much.

I also watched a few Chinese videos on YouTube (EasyChinese and YoYo Chinese, if you wanted to know) and listened to the much-recommended Chinese with Mike

And I have to admit something: My beloved 10 Minutes a Day series isn’t really working for me in Chinese. I don’t know why as I loved the Russian version, but this one clicks a little less. If you want to recommend a good book for solo Chinese learners, I’m interested!

(Not that I’m learning Chinese.)

In other languages, I obviously focused on German from my teacher’s perspective because of the German Retreat. I cannot wait to meet this year’s participants!

What About You?

Are you travelling to any Christmas markets this year? How was your November? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to check out the Clear The List linkup by Lindsay Williams and Shannon Kennedy.