Having a hard time in Wales.

(85 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

oOlaurenOo Sat 22-Mar-14 20:43:35

I grew up in an English part of Wales and don't speak Welsh. As an adult I moved only an hour down the road for work.... to a much more Welsh part of Wales, where there is a high percentage of 1st language Welsh speakers, and all primary schools are 1st language Welsh (they say they're billingual but in reality they're not)

I have always been happy living in this part of Wales but now, since my son has started school in a Welsh speaking school, I am beginning to worry. I am not comfortable with his education being in a 2nd language. I ask him how school isand what he did but I just get "nothing"!! I try tosay phrases to him in Welsh but he tells me to stop. I'm worried that he just sits there and stares blankly at the teacher without a clue of what is going on. But I'm more worried that his education and potential will suffer due to him not learning in his own language.

Any ressuring words or advice? Thanks x

frankyboop Sat 22-Mar-14 20:49:28

"An English part of Wales..." Ha! My Welsh DH would be sad at that! grin

I would say that it will be hard for your DS initially but he will soon pick it up and then what a wonderful thing to have, a second language! A lot of children also say they have done "nothing" at school but in fact they have done loads and prob cba to talk about it. Just talk to him in English at home as it seems it's annoying him if you are pushing the welsh too much.

If you are still concerned after a few weeks then go to speak to his teacher, I'm sure they will reassure you smile

peppapigmustdie Sat 22-Mar-14 20:51:42

I am from North West Wales. My education was in English (70's to late 80's) I moved away but came back when dd1 was 8 and all her primary education was Welsh medium.
The school sent her to a unit for intensive Welsh for two terms. I enrolled for free classes and learnt the same time.
Her secondary school is only one of two in the catchment and the English choice but she is top set for Welsh now.
We only speak English at home but dd2 aged 3 knows at least 70% of her vocabulary in Welsh thanks to pre school.

oOlaurenOo Sat 22-Mar-14 21:19:17

Thank you for replies smile

Sorry, by English part of Wales I mean majority speak English rather than Welsh, due to the schooling being in English, apart from selected Welsh speaking schools.

I think my son associates the Welsh language as a school language amd not a real life thing. I met a twf lady recently and she said try to get him to make friends and have play dates with 1st lang Welsh children, which may be a good idea.

I doubt I am going to learn Welsh fluently. I have been here for 30 years. If I was going to I'd have done it by now!... It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I struggle.

NigellasDealer Sat 22-Mar-14 21:22:36

well at least his mind will be opened up to two languages at an early age which cannot be a bad thing.

oOlaurenOo Sat 22-Mar-14 21:55:00

No, that can't be a bad thing... For the future, and if he goes on to wanting to learn other languages as I've heard it's easier. But can learning complex subjects such as maths and science (which are much more import ant imo than having a good headstart on learning other languages) be learnt well if learnt in a language which isn't your own?.... Would he be better off having his education in his own language?

NigellasDealer Sat 22-Mar-14 21:57:52

i would not worry too much about that as when secondary comes you can choose the English medium school (if your area is similar to here which i think it might be)
FWIW I am sure the Welsh medium secondary here gets better GCSE results than the English medium

LostInWales Sat 22-Mar-14 22:01:47

My three sons have all been educated in Welsh language schools from the age of three and I know they are all really good according to teachers yet even now if I ask what has gone on at school I get 'nothing' or 'dim gybod', I have tried to learn Welsh but if I speak it I am the most embarrassing mother on the planet. Despite this the two in secondary school (also Welsh language) seem to be excelling in school and according to their Mamgu speak the language really well.

My secondary boys do maths and science in English which is an option in their school, I thought it would give them a good share of both languages and seems to be working well.

NamerchangerQwerty Sat 22-Mar-14 22:07:46

We live in a Welsh speaking part of Wales ( just less than half speak it apparently )
My children went to the local primary school and it was dreadful
I had to drive them into a school in town .
Bilingual education is a waste of time in my opinion .
Change to an education in English .

This is just my experience though , in the real world most people don't speak Welsh ,it's not important , but education is

The Welsh medium secondary school doesn't get better results , and students who have been educated in Welsh really struggle at higher level when writing essays in English ( eg when studying music or history )

NomDeClavier Sat 22-Mar-14 22:12:29

Your DS isn't unusual having a school language and a home language and in a way WME is much better equipped to deal with it because there are very few families who don't have some element of English so the schools know they're fighting against the tide of a majority language.

Welsh is phonetically regular which is an advantage learning to read too.

Children are sponges, they do pick up a new language very quickly, even faster when the effort is made to adapt to the way it's taught taking children with no prior experience of the language into account.

My DS has a reasonable command of Welsh from 2 Welsh au pairs, my crap Welsh (I do a good line in counting and songs and I can read storybooks!) and 2 visits in his whole life, and that's competing for space with English which is what I mostly speak to him and what DH and I mostly speak together, and French which is DH, school and the community. I wouldn't have any worries putting him into a Welsh school so I'm sure your DS will do fine smile

NomDeClavier Sat 22-Mar-14 22:14:30

Oh and on the chronically bad communication front my DS tells me he played with cars all day. I know he doesn't but it's like getting blood from a stone to say they sat and listened to a story, sang a song, did some drawing/sticking/counting etc.

siilk Sun 23-Mar-14 16:24:12

I too live in a very welsh speaking area of Wales. Both my sons attend the local welsh medium school. They are being brought up bilingually, and so are fluent in both. I still get nothing or dim gybod every evening!!!

doormouse04 Sun 23-Mar-14 16:43:13

We moved to wales when my son started junior school . His primary school was welsh medium and four years on he is now in the welsh stream at a bilingual high school. The primary school was great at helping him when he needed it and for the purpose of all pupils who needed it instructions would be repeated in english if required.
In my experience getting nothing for your children about their day at school is nothing to do with the language, I have always had to trick them into telling me about their day! As a positive, my son, because he has become adept at picking up a new language is taking to french at high school, a second language he is now learning through the medium of welsh, can't get my head round that one.

LostInWales Sun 23-Mar-14 17:00:20

I know! DS2 is doing really well in French yet when I look at his books there's French in one column, Welsh in the other. I can't comprehend it at all grin.

oOlaurenOo Sun 23-Mar-14 20:07:30

Thanks everyone for replies. I am still in 2 minds. In my heart I do feel that my son will get a better education in England (if we choose our location carefully) but I also love where we live right now and know that if we stay here then he will be better off in the long term with a Welsh education due to jobs around here.

I just struggle to get my head around why some counties choose Welsh and others don't, why is it not a whole country thing. It. Kind of make me feel like it is a pointless language to learn as there is no continuity throughout the country!

NigellasDealer Sun 23-Mar-14 20:13:08

with no offence meant, it is a pointless language to learn unless you are going to take a job with the welsh assembly or the county council in which case it is essential.
to my mind the Welsh language is not dead, but being kept artificially alive like a coma patient at vast expense.#
no offence to Welsh speakers.

LostInWales Sun 23-Mar-14 20:24:34

Ah sweetheart when you need to put 'no offence' twice surely you should know you are going to cause offence grin. Round here it is the common language, frequently the only language used in the home and to be found in the pub, post office, chippy and betting shop, it is just the local language and needs no propping up. Not being kept artificially alive, just the language. Now jog on, there's a dear.

NigellasDealer Sun 23-Mar-14 20:27:40

i said 'no offence' because i meant it.
i know many people have Welsh as a first language but yes it is being artificially propped up, you know it. good grief , the council was even paying me to have Welsh lessons at one point grin.
i do not feel 'lost' here at least.

LostInWales Sun 23-Mar-14 20:27:54

It's not a whole country thing because for a while the English held the jobs in their hands especially in the mining areas so people wouldn't teach their children Welsh in case it affected their chance in life, areas like here where the 'industry' was fishing and the land people just kept on speaking their own language without quite so much heavy handed involvement. Kind of explains why the English aren't as popular as they would like too.

Nocomet Sun 23-Mar-14 20:38:45

I have a very DF who is about to lose the local council job she's had for 20 years due to millions and millions of pounds of cuts.

I wouldn't ask her what she things of Welsh medium education and translating everything into Welsh in an area where no one traditionally specks one word of Welsh.

Bilingualism in French, Spanish, German might have some point. Welsh is a dead end that is a stepping stone to nothing except teaching Welsh to another generation if DCs who could be learning something outward looking and useful.

NigellasDealer Sun 23-Mar-14 20:40:16

careful nocomet, lostinwales will start calling you dear and sweetie grin

Nocomet Sun 23-Mar-14 20:46:15

I certainly don't come from mining country, but a land of sheep and more sheep, but with better road links to Herefordshire than to the rest of Wales.

Welsh medium education doesn't belong, the area has a culture, traditions and a beautiful soft Welsh lilt to the way the locals speak English all of it's own already.

slightlyglitterstained Sun 23-Mar-14 20:53:00

Teaching a community language, whatever that language is, beats any "more popular" language that the child has zero daily contact with hands down.

Locally, if my child was going to be educated bilingually it would make a damn sight more sense for him to learn Somali than French, because he'd actually have a shot at becoming functionally bilingual then. Once you have crossed that bridge once, it is a lot easier to do it again for another language.

"Ooh, I'd rather my child learnt French" isn't a real choice, because school French lessons twice a week do not make a child a French speaker. I can remember being shocked at the products of the English schooling system when I walked through the foreign language dept of a university - all of these kids who'd pissed away 9 years "classroom learning" French, and all they could find to review about their year out placements was how many other English speakers there were in town so they didn't have to actually speak the language they were there to learn. Fucking pitiful.

slightlyglitterstained Sun 23-Mar-14 20:59:52

FWIW OP, as the product of the Welsh medium system you're worried about - please don't worry. Your son will be fine. Playdates sound like a good idea, might be worth mentioning to parents you want him to speak a bit more Welsh outside school in case they think they'll need to speak English to him!

Also, university mathematics & science depts are full of researchers who did their schooling in another language! So don't worry about the maths & science.

Nocomet Sun 23-Mar-14 21:19:53

But Welsh isn't a community language where I was brought up, it doesn't belong to the area I come from.

You were more likely to hear a French or Dutch tourist than any one speak Welsh.

I was addressed in Welsh in town once in 18 years by a north welsh tourist

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