Monday, 26 January 2009


With apologies for a bit of an off-beat post but this is something I do find interesting.

Betsan Powys has blogged this morning about what the government could be about to do re making Welsh businesses provide leaflets, information, etc. in Welsh as well as English.

I have an interest in this because I have a bit of Welsh blood (my nan was a Williams from the Rhondda valley) and, since 1996, my family home has been in West Wales. So university vacations and pre-qualification cheap holidays were usually spent in Wales.

I speak only a few words of Welsh (incidentally, the title of this post means "Welsh"). But in the area of Wales where my parents live, Welsh is the first language. Schools teach all lessons in Welsh. Road signs are in Welsh first and then English. Many local people speak English colloquially at best.

That's great for keeping the rich Welsh heritage alive. But it also means that it limits young people's horizons. Welsh is only spoken in Wales. Nowhere else. So they often go to university in Wales, and take jobs in Wales. As for going even to England to study, or take a job - many couldn't or wouldn't.

Personally, if I were in the government, I would be pushing for schools to teach in English. Rightly or wrongly, that would open so many more doors for Welsh young people.

What do other people think of this?

1 comment:

  1. It's not correct to say that schools in west Wales teach all lessons in Welsh.

    English is a key part of the UK-wide national curriculum and is accorded that status and scheduling even in Welsh-medium schools.

    So we are talking about a bilingual upbringing and education here. There is plenty of research being undertaken in this area. On the basis of the evidence, most experts in the field would conclude that this is profoundly good for young minds.

    Demand for Welsh-medium education is increasing - in my opinion this makes a welcome change from the monolingual mindset engrained in the culture of most of the UK.

    I'm a Welsh learner living in Cardiff and I know many first language Welsh speakers from all around Wales. A large proportion of them know a third language (Spanish, German and Mandarin for instance) and have lived outside Wales.

    Obviously as a city dweller there is a bias to any anecdotal observation I might give, but I can't help thinking that early experience with grasping two languages can help someone to learn a third.


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