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16 October 2014
the Big Welsh Challenge

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Mentoring : Mentors this way

Cerys Mathews

The celebrities test their Welsh in a series of exciting challenges. We'll be setting learners challenges too, designed to make learning fun. At the start of every month there'll be news of the new task on the bottom of this page. Please let us know how you get on: message board

You're lucky enough to be able to speak Welsh. Why not help someone else learn? Being a mentor can make the world of difference. Together you can build confidence and have fun.

If you'd like to become a Big Welsh Challenge mentor, please email Mentors


  • Give yourselves small achievable targets
  • Decide what you're hoping to gain from your sessions
  • In terms of safety, meet up in a public place if you're outside the workplace
  • Decide how often you're going to meet up
  • Arrange regular, informal and friendly meetings
  • Arrange fun days out where you will have an opportunity to speak Welsh
  • Discuss something different each time
  • Contact your local support organisations, including Menter Iaith.
    They arrange a variety of activities through the medium of Welsh - anything from
    mountain bike orienteering to craft events.
  • Try to stick with the arrangements you've made
  • Do make it fun and enjoyable - it's not a formal Welsh lesson
  • Don't put too much pressure on the learner - be understanding
  • Don't correct every mistake
  • Offer encouragement- discuss together what you're comfortable with
  • Take up a new hobby together - for example, Salsa dancing
  • Don't expect too much too soon
  • Be prepared to speak slowly but decide together at what pace
  • Find out about local events for Welsh learners
  • Discuss and evaluate every month how things are progressing - have you achieved your target?
    For example, going into the local shop and buy a loaf of bread using Welsh


  • Set up an area in your workplace where Welsh learners and Welsh speakers can get together
  • Why not set-up a coordinator at work to get people together in partnerships
  • Wear a badge at work to identify yourself as a Welsh language mentor
  • Find out who else speaks Welsh at work - they too can become mentors
  • Let people know that you're a Welsh speaker and that you're willing to help learners


  • Don't concentrate on grammar. Think of your session with the learner as an informal chat rather than a lesson
  • As a mentor don't go out of your depth and try to answer difficult questions about the structure of the language
  • If the learners ask a difficult question it's best to refer them to a language tutor who can explain a bit more
  • Explain that you don't know all the answers

Points of contact

  • NORTH WALES WELSH FOR ADULTS CENTRE: 01248 383928 e-mail:
  • MID WALES WELSH FOR ADULTS CENTRE: 0800 876 6975 Email:


In preparation for Dydd Santes Dwynwen on 25th January, tell your learner a bit about the story of the Welsh Patron Saint of Love. You can also talk about other traditional Welsh love stories, such as the tale of the tragic couple from Nant Gwrtheyrn, Meinir and Rhys. Try to use as much Welsh as you can in the stories, explaining words as you go. Help your learner make and write a Dydd Santes Dwynwen card.


Get ready for St David's Day on 1st March and help your learner to do some cooking in Welsh - with Cerys Matthews' recipe for Welsh cakes. Cover up the English and go through the Welsh instructions together. Your learner should now be ready to take to the kitchen and follow the recipe to prepare some delicious cakes.

Help your learner introduce himself/herself to three new people. You can adapt this task to suit the level of Welsh. Start by giving names, details about yourselves and where you come from, job, family, pets etc. The language you'll need is contained in our online course. More advanced learners can take this a step further - perhaps pretend they're in a speed dating scenario or they can do a bit of role play. They could answer as if they're one of the Big Welsh Challenge celebrities - read through their profiles to give you some ideas. If your learner cannot find enough Welsh speakers, you can help by pretending to be different people.

Playing games is a good way to help your learner improve his or her language skills. "Who am I?" is a good one and can be played with almost any level of Welsh. Players give each other a secret identity. Each person asks questions about their age, gender, where they come from etc to try to work out who they are. Help your learner prepare useful vocabulary. The catch is the other players can only answer "yes" or "no". A player continues to ask questions until the answer is "no", then it's the next person's turn. Why not use the identities of some of the Big Welsh Challenge celebrities? Alternatively, you can be a thing instead of a person, perhaps a fruit or vegetable or a household object.

Help your learner to guide a group of family or friends around the local area on a walking tour. The trip can take in landmarks - or simply point out where the nearest bank or post office is. Help the learner prepare with directions and useful vocabulary. Choose a sunny day and off you go!

Discussing food and drink: Help your learner get together with a group of Welsh speakers in a local bar or café for lunch or dinner. The learner will tell people what's on the menu, ask what they'd like to eat or drink - then pass the order onto the waiter. If the staff don't speak Welsh, you might need to pretend to be a waiter and take the order. Perhaps you can check in advance what's likely to be on the menu and help your learner with some of the words, as well as phrases he or she might need.

Shopping Trip: Help your learner with the Welsh words for different foods and weights and measures. Write a list of 12 basic items you need to buy. Now you're going together on a shopping trip. Meet your learner at the local shop or supermarket, then start the clock - your learner has two minutes to collect your items in a basket or trolley as you go round reading from your list. You can also use basic directions as you go - "i'r chwith" or "i'r dde" etc. You can adjust the time for this task depending on the size of the shop.

Booking a Holiday: Collect some travel brochures. Your learner takes on the role of a travel agent and you try to book a holiday. You can describe the sort of holiday you're looking for and the facilities you need. The learner has to try to find the appropriate holiday for you and describe what's on offer. You can swap roles. Help your learner prepare with suitable vocabulary for the task.

Autumn leaves: Go through the Welsh names of some of the more common trees with your learner. Then, in a local park, ask the learner to bring back leaves from specific trees nearby. See how many he or she can collect within a given time. Also help your learner by discussing the names of any birds or animals you see.

Reading aloud: Help your learner improve his or her pronunciation by reading out loud. Find a short children's book or story and go through the words together, helping with meanings and pronunciation and discussing the story. Choose the book according to your learner's ability. Your learner can then practise by reading to a child or children in his or her family. Remind the learner to think about the meaning as well as the pronunciation as he or she reads.

Christmas list: The festive season is fast approaching, but you can help your learner with some early preparation. Encourage him or her to work what needs to be done in the coming weeks - presents to buy, food to organise. Then list these arrangements in Welsh. Help with some useful words and, as time goes on, the list can include the gifts already bought and those important last-minute reminders. Perhaps you can ask the learner to help you draw up your own list - you might even pick up some good ideas.


Help your learner to write some Chrismas cards in Welsh - and even to put a personal message inside. Also have a look through the Christmas jokes below - explain them if necessary to your learner and help him or her to practise them.

Joke 1:
Cnoc Cnoc
Pwy sy 'na?
Iorwerth pwy?
Iorwerth mewn preseb!

Joke 2:
Beth ddwedodd Santa Claus pan gyrhaeddodd ei simne olaf?
Ateb: Jyst un corn-eto

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