If you're learning a language, one of the best ways to gain exposure to that language and increase fluency is to visit a country where that language is spoken.

Herein lies the problem with Welsh: not all Welsh people speak it. They all speak English, but only around 20% of the population speaks Welsh. This means that if I'm in Wales, I can't initiate a conversation in Welsh because I can't guarantee that the other person will be a Welsh speaker.

Such a situation, where a native does not speak the native language, would be inconceivable in most other countries.

The fact that there are no monoglot Welsh speakers remaining also doesn't help. Because everyone speaks English fluently there's less incentive to make the effort to learn and speak Welsh.

Then there's the problem with signage. In France, other than at some touristy areas, all signs are in French. Signs alerting me to the "dèrniere sortie avant péage" will do so only in French. Translating and understanding the signs becomes part of the learning experience. Unfortunately, in Wales most signs are bilingual. The order of the languages is left to the discretion of the local authority, but an English translation will be on the sign somewhere. On the one hand, this allows you to quickly confirm that your translation of the Welsh was correct. On the other, it takes a lot of the fun and the necessity out of translating in the first place. It's very hard not to notice the English accidentally before you've had chance to attempt the Welsh.

What I have discovered, to my surprise and delight, is that several of my colleagues speak varying levels of Welsh. Remember, this is Somerset, England, not the north of Wales, so it's not entirely expected. One even speaks fluent Welsh, having attended a Welsh medium school. And he's said he's always happy to help with my Welsh learning.

So things are looking up.