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16 October 2014
the Big Welsh Challenge

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Sunday 14th October

More than a hundred people have learned a few useful Welsh phrases, thanks to Big Welsh Challenge taster sessions held at the BBC Wales roadshow in Maesteg. Visitors were invited to join a lively ten minute lesson with tutor Helen Prosser to get a flavour of the language. And many were so inspired by the experience they now plan to sign up for a course.

Derek with learners

Derek joins a discussion in Welsh about the weather

It was originally intended that one would take place every hour, but they proved so popular that 16 groups were held during the day, attracting a total of 101 people. Big Welsh Challenge mentor Iolo Williams and learner Derek Brockway were on hand to offer inspiration and support.

Iolo with learners

Iolo comes to help the learners

"It's really important to make Welsh fun," says Iolo. "If you're getting enjoyment from learning the language it makes it so much easier to grasp."

Gareth Lewis and his daughter Rachel were among visitors who took advantage of the bite-sized lessons. "It's been great," said Gareth. "I did some Welsh in school but I was never very good. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time. It's embarrassing when people ask me if I can speak any Welsh and I have to say that I can't."

Gareth and Rachel

Gareth and Rachel

And for tutor Helen it was a rewarding, if exhausting, day. "It's really important to go out into the community like this," she said. "It's been a really great day, I've met so many people and I hope I've inspired them to go on and learn more Welsh."

Welsh Learners' Day, Maesteg College

Learners are also invited to a Big Welsh Challenge Welsh Learners' Day in Maesteg next month. People of all standards will be able to take part in lessons and activities and meet BBC Celebrities at the event on Saturday 17th November at Coleg Maesteg. Please register by emailing

This follows successful events held earlier this year. The former Archdruid Selwyn Griffiths proved to be a popular attraction at a Big Welsh Challenge Welsh Learners' Day in Llaneurgain near Mold, held in July, just ahead of the National Eisteddfod.

The former Archdruid Selwyn Griffiths takes part in a workshop
The former Archdruid Selwyn Griffiths takes part in a workshop

Singer and actress Lisa Jên and Radio Cymru's Jonsi were also on hand to entertain the learners.

"A fantastic event. I feel like a real Welshman now!" said one of the learners, Iain Buck.

The previous month, a Big Welsh Challenge Welsh Learners' Day in Newtown, Powys attracted people from around the world. Sisters 13 year old Frankie Johnson and Emily, aged 17, from North Carolina had come over to visit their mother's family and decided to try their first taste of Welsh. "We just saw it in the paper and thought we should go," said Emily. "We don't come over here much but can carry on learning online."

Frankie Johnson and Emily
Frankie Jonson and Emily at the Big Welsh Challenge Day, Newtown

Big Welsh Challenge presenter Dewi Pws and actress Gillian Elisa were on hand to provide a bit of light entertainment. "Learning is a two-way thing," said Gillian. I got as much out of it as the learners did. I couldn't get over their commitment to the Welsh language - it's phenomenal. I'm really impressed."

 Dewi and Gillian at the Newtown Welsh Learners' Day
Dewi and Gillian at the Big Welsh Challenge Learners' Day, Newtown

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