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Having a hard time in Wales.(86 Posts)
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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
Just a gentle nudge from us!
We'd really appreciate it if users could remember that there are particular sensitivities around minority British languages, and while we think it's absolutely fine to discuss the possible drawbacks of bilingual education, we'd be grateful if MNers could remember that aspects of national identity are very important to a lot of people in the UK.
"I ask him how school isand what he did but I just get "nothing"!!
That's nothing to do with language, and everything to do with having a small child in school
More seriously, I really, really wouldn't panic at Meithrin age, if they do tell you anything about school it will like as not be total fantasy (there was a Tardis in the corner of dd's reception classroom . . .)
Re. long term educational success, unless your county is very different from ours you will most likely find the Welsh medium secondary is the one with the super high flying results, despite having a majority of english-speaking-at-home dc.
I don't know what county you're in but here we also have the choice at secondary age of Welsh or English medium so your dc don't have to stay in WM if they don't want to. (Having said that my dd chose to avoid the academic hot house of full on WM education, and go for the WM stream of the mainly English school which gives a half way house.)
The one time I think WM may be a disadvantage is if you are an English first language child with dyslexia / similar language related SNs.
Ive lived in Wales more than I have lived in England and what you said about the english moaning about the welsh speaking Welsh in their own country did make me chuckle because that is my mum to a t! Before we moved here we used to holiday in Wales quite a lot and my mum much as i love her, to be frank is a stuck sanctimonious twat. We used to walk into shops or cafes and of course people used to be speaking welsh and my mum used to say in her poshest english accent how disgusting and rude the welsh were, they were doing it on purpose, loudly so we could all hear.
She couldnt also comprehend how a child could be brought up, in a predominantly welsh speaking area, speaking welsh, with no English and that it was a disgrace and ignorant. She actually said this to some woman on the train somewhere!
Of course we then moved to Wales due to work relocation and she wasnt quite so vocal then but still..we do live in an area that is mostly English speaking but still several welsh speaking communities etc, its very much alive. bizarrly my mum has a level 2 in Welsh now, she had to as she worked for the police!
But I will say again, sometimes, just sometimes, some welsh speaking people can be very negative about incomers learning Welsh especially if they are very English like me and cant roll their rrrs
But i can say basic stuff and can have a conversation with Dd2 who at 6 can speak it with ease
* maths and science (which are much more import ant imo than having a good headstart on learning other languages)*
At primary level this is absolutely not the case. Learning a second language, from native speakers, to a good degree of fluency, enhances the ability to learn other subjects. This is why bilingual people are often highly successful.
Re Irish speakers, it depends on which part of Ireland your in , I am half Irish, I have relatives who are bilingual & I can understand some ( lived there when I was a kid)
It also amazes me when people complain about Welsh being spoken by locals in Wales, do the same people complain about French being spoken in France ?
OP I haven't read the entire thread (apart from all your messages) but I would say that at meithrin stage there's no need to be concerned about him viewing welsh as "school language". My DS is 6, he went to meithrin at 3.5 (welsh stream) and is now in a welsh primary. (My choice, I am semi-fluent, DH doesn't speak it). He still occasionally asks me not to speak welsh, but understands every word. If I ask him a question in welsh, he might respond in english, but he knows what I've asked. Likewise, he came out of school in "welsh-mode" once, I was talking to him in english and he was responding in welsh.
I suppose the point I'm trying to make is not to worry too much at this stage about him not knowing what's going on in school - DS started meithrin with 3 welsh words in his vocab, he's now pretty much fluent and doing well in school. Kids really are like sponges. They learn by association and if he's in a welsh environment (meithrin) on a daily basis he'll pick it up quickly.
I thought it was really cool when I went to the welsh regimental museum, and it said about the soldiers talking welsh over the radios to confuse the enemy :-)
Silly I used to watch Irish language TV ( we could receive it as we are just across the sea and I always thought it an amazing language.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
No your quite right Nigella. It's just that I see this type of attitude every Summer when tourists season starts and the English visitors ( not all of course) start having a go at the locals for speaking Welsh when they are around. Grrr.
oh let's not go there milly!
You can even understand how the Welsh don't like the English with attitudes like that.
i agree with you millyblods, that is how it is in Wales, if you do not like it, do not live here isn't it?
The schools are bilingual in Secondary school. You are the one with the issue here. If you don't like it don't live here.
yes but nocomet Welsh speakers over the age of 5 are invariably bilingual so accessing the web and so on would not be a problem.
They speak perfect Welsh and Perfect English. They are in their twenties. I don't think you seem to grasp the fact that I live in a Welsh speaking area. It is the norm.
Yes and one day your DCs may want to spread their wings.
They need to speak good Welsh to work in at most a 50 mile radius of your house.
With good English the worlds their oyster.
My DF spent a year in Spain teaching English to junior managers. English was essential to promotion even there.
We had Spanish exchange students, at university, who said text books were half the price if you could use English ones.
Your DCs ambition may be to be your local GP and for that primary school Welsh and senior school English would be essential.
Welsh universities teach some courses in Welsh, but you need to be able to access text books and the Web in English.
Being able to read and speak Welsh is a necessity here as most positions advertised want Welsh speakers only. Jobs are advertised in Welsh. Without Welsh here you are not able to integrate properly.
In this part of Wales there does not need to be a solution as there is no problem. It is a Welsh speaking area as I have already explained.
I think the only thing that can be said about Welsh education is there is no ideal solution.
I follow Welsh education stories in the news and you get parents in both sides of the debate complaining that they can't find a school that predominately teachers in their choice of language.
And personally I think all schools should teach in English with differing amounts of Welsh dependent on the region of Wales, because that's what gives the DCs the greatest choice in adulthood.
But, Millyblods do your brightest 25% stay or do a high percentage of them disappear to England?
DH would live to return to his equally beautiful rural home (which also once had it's own language), but the reality is he has to eat.
Well choice is always nice but where we live there would be no point in having English primary schools as its Welsh speaking area and as I said before, Welsh is the everyday spoken language. English is mainly used by incomers and tourists. I do understand what you say regarding predominately non Welsh speaking areas of Wales though Nocomet.
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