Welsh medium

(172 Posts)
SmilingMakesMyFaceAche Mon 04-Mar-13 14:21:57

Anyone with any experience of welsh medium education? Come tell me your experiences! Neither DH or I speak welsh but I did gcse and I m willing to learn if we choose welsh medium for DS.
Advice and comments welcomed smile

learnandsay Mon 04-Mar-13 16:20:49

I went to Welsh speaking primary and secondary schools in Pembrokeshire many moons ago. I loved them both. What specifically were you after? I don't think it's necessary for the parents to speak Welsh but it'll certainly do no harm. I think the willingness to try speaks volumes about you, I really do. Your son should love it.

PolterGoose Mon 04-Mar-13 17:02:39

Dp's parents' first language is Welsh. He went to a Welsh medium unit for primary but not secondary. Their feeling is that as you advance through education it can limit access to certain resources as not everything is translated.

SmilingMakesMyFaceAche Mon 04-Mar-13 17:26:25

Thanks for the replies.
I like the school because of the cultural presence it's got, the kids get involved in the urdd and lots of sport etc. its viewed as the best school in the area. I want DS to have the best opportunity for everything and I think that welsh wouldn't hinder him, I think he'd gain. I just worry that with gcse science etc when he's older I'd struggle to help him. I'm an English teacher in a comp so I'm not worried about English gcse! smile

TwllBach Mon 04-Mar-13 19:16:00

Whereabouts are you OP? I think it can only be a positive thing really - although as a teacher in a bilingual school I would say that my experience is that there are less resource in welsh at the moment. I'm in primary though, and only an NQT so my experience doesn't count for much grin

LingDiLong Mon 04-Mar-13 19:24:07

My children are in Welsh primary and are very happy there. I've been learning as they learn and can now converse reasonably well - I can certainly keep up with my 8 year olds reading books and homework. All homework is sent home with an English translation though. Remember that by the time they get to secondary they can easily translate for you and back again. My nieces and nephews are in Welsh stream of a bilingual comp and the only time they need help from a proper welsh speaker is when they are doing Welsh homework.

I've no idea about the lack of resources at welsh comprehensives though...the view round here is that the english comps have a bad reputation and sending your child to a welsh primary means you have a larger range of comps to choose from.

I do love hearing my two speaking welsh and now my eldest is in the juniors there are loads of urdd related activities she can join in with which is great!

SmilingMakesMyFaceAche Mon 04-Mar-13 19:41:40

I'm in the valleys wink
I taught DS to say dere 'ma earlier and it was funny to hear his little voice in welsh
I think I'm going to ask if I can meet with someone from the school, they must get this all the time. I know he's only 2 but I will start him at meithrin if I'm definitely going to send him to wm
It's such a hard decision! I just want to give him good opportunities in life soppy mum emoticon

TwllBach Tue 05-Mar-13 07:02:23

Some people think that there's no point learning welsh because its a dying language - but if your DC wants to live and work in Wales then you are certainly giving him the best start in life! I'm not a fluent welsh speaker and over the last few years have found it increasingly difficult to find a job on any sector, as the vast majority specify bilingualism as essential.

Plus, I'm sure I've read that being bilingual makes becoming trilingual easier, so that could be doubly useful later on! Don't quote me on that though...

SmilingMakesMyFaceAche Tue 05-Mar-13 22:49:23

I've just ordered some welsh language stuff from amazon for me and DS
It's happening! smile

Houseworkprocrastinator Wed 06-Mar-13 10:40:01

I have mixed feelings about this. I did look into the welsh school by us as it was viewed as a better school. I think as someone mentioned earlier that to live and work in wales it is a good advantage to speak welsh as a lot of jobs do ask for it and even if they don't they view it as an advantage.
However, i have taught in a college (English speaking) and some of the students have struggled with the move from welsh medium to English because all there learning is in welsh and some of the specific words that they use in school but not in everyday life they do not know in English. But i also have friends who went from welsh school strait to welsh speaking university so didn't have that problem. I have many friends who chose the welsh school and are very happy with it.
I decided on English medium in the end because they do an awful lot more welsh than they did when i was young and my 4 and 6 year old are able now to speak more than i did at gcse level. I also didn't like the thought of not being able to help them with work, (i tried to go back as an adult and learn it again but found it so hard)
Good luck.

Jonno94 Wed 06-Mar-13 15:21:07

I think the Welsh medium schools do better than other schools in Wales. However I think we will stick to English medium and if that fails....Eton!

Startail Wed 06-Mar-13 20:08:36

We had Spanish exchange post grads at university, they always said that speaking good English was the most important skill they could acquire.

It also saved them money as translated academic books, if they even existed, were very expensive.

Speak good English and the World is your oyster, speak good Welsh and you get a few very pretty hills.

(They are very pretty hills and I miss them, but I will never go back)

Takver Wed 06-Mar-13 21:33:58

"Speak good English and the World is your oyster, speak good Welsh and you get a few very pretty hills."

A child whose first language is English won't stop speaking it just because they are in Welsh medium education, though.

Smiling - my dd is in yr 6 at a Welsh medium primary. For background, in her year of 16, I think that 2 children have parents who are fluent Welsh speakers, and none speak Welsh at home AFAIK - which is pretty typical of the school as a whole.

I would say that there are advantages and disadvantages. DD has some specific dyslexic/dyspraxic type issues, and I do think that working entirely in Welsh for KS1 didn't help with these (in particular because she was reading fluently in English by the time they started using it in school in yr 3, and so got no English phonics at all). I think if your dc have any ALNs then working in a second language - and a language which realistically in many parts of Wales they are unlikely to use outside of the school setting - adds an additional layer of difficulty.

Moving on into secondary, there are other issues - in theory dc may be fluent, but if they have only spoken the language in school then they won't have the range of vocabulary that you would expect. And it is hard to expand that vocabulary since the resources easily available in Welsh are pretty limited (even at KS2 try helping your dc find the vocab for a piece of homework talking about how chamelaeons change colour). Too often I would say dd writes a piece of work to the words she knows, rather than to her true ability.

The overwhelming obvious advantage of course is if they stay in Wales then it will help with employment. So often two people I know go for an interview, and the Welsh speaker gets the job, of course this is going to happen if there are two equally qualified candidates, why would you not choose the one who can speak to your customers in their preferred language.

We are now at the 'welsh stream or english stream' question for 2ndary. DD isn't going to the welsh medium secondary despite its stellar results - we don't think it is right for her partly because of the school, but largely because of the Welsh (though also tbh I think a lot of the very traditional attitudes are closely linked to Welsh culture in this area). She has the option of streams in the other school, ideally she would do just a couple of subjects in Welsh, which used to be allowed, but seems not to be the case now . . . a big dilemma for us.

AnameIcouldnotthinkof Wed 06-Mar-13 21:55:43

I went to a welsh medium school and I was really proud of it. Neither of my parents spoke welsh but my mum did pick it up as me and my brothers went through school. It is very helpful for getting jobs in Wales.
It also helps if your DCs decide to learn other languages because of the different verbs and the language structure.

It is a bit awkward in higher education my DN 18 (another who has had a welsh education) went to a welsh college after being in a welsh primary and secondary school. She found the language difference hard to get used to but she is glad she has done it now rather than getting to uni and having to work through it there.
The resources for welsh schools are getting much better and the GCSE text books are being translated. I imagine by the time your DC gets to secondary school the resources shall all be translated.

I have decided to send my DCs to a welsh medium primary school and they love it there.
I do work on their english at home in order to improve their reading and make sure they aren't behind just because they went to a welsh school. We also speak english at home and it is our DCs first language.
The school suits our family well and the school has very good resources and activities and the DCs get to join in with the Urdd etc, so I don't think they are disadvantaged by being there.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Wed 06-Mar-13 22:04:01

Our 2 ds's are in a welsh primary.

DH speaks welsh and I am in my 4th year of learning, so I can help with their reading and spelling but I don't converse with their teachers in welsh (yet!).

90% of children at school come from non-welsh speaking homes. That isn't a problem.

The results that our school gets are excellent and on a par with our catchment English speaking primary but our school is much smaller. It's a friendly place with a real sense of belonging and community.

As far as I see it, speaking welsh will not close any doors to our ds's but it will open lots. What's not to like about that?!

Startail Thu 07-Mar-13 15:15:20

It still seem very odd to me that you would go to all this trouble to educate DCs in a language that is only any use to them in a tiny corner of the world.

I went to school in Wales and consider it home, but I hate how it's become almost racist in it's attitude to outsiders.

Jobs only for Welsh speakers is surely against all the European freedom of movement rules. If I was polish or Spanish I could learn English at my local college, but not Welsh. Likewise my DDS can learn French or even Chinese, but Welsh would be far harder.

Worst still insisting on Welsh for employment discriminates against many many born and bread Welsh people. My generation did Welsh as a MFL a few lessons a week and most of us gave up at 14. We do not speak it. My Welsh friends parents and grandparents in mid Wales didn't speak it.

My DSIS can't speak it, although she can copy type bilingual stuff and don't get her started on how much money that wastes when the local council are making job cuts.

Welsh has been imposed by the Cardiff intellectual and political classes, somehow they have brain washed the wider population into believing it is vital to their cultural identity. It isn't, but making it necessary for high paid local government and teaching jobs sure as hell protects their livelihoods and those of their children.

They have been very, very, clever and I am not criticizing parents who have chosen Welsh medium education. I know my DSIS best friend has because that was the best funded and most supportive school for her DCs.

I am criticizing the officials that have made it so because I think their motives have far more to do with getting and retaining power and very little to do with Welsh cultural identity.

adeucalione Thu 07-Mar-13 16:57:01

The last census showed that the number of Welsh speakers has fallen, to 19% of the population - there is no data on how fluent or otherwise these speakers consider themselves to be. This is apparently due to demographic changes, including fewer children and an increase in older adults.

So, that's about 500,000 in the entire world who can speak some Welsh.

If your ambitions for your child extend to spending the rest of their life living in Wales, and working in local government, then I would say that WME is a great idea. If not, I would choose EM and, if desired, take a GCSE in Welsh.

adeucalione Thu 07-Mar-13 16:57:35

Sorry link to census here

SmilingMakesMyFaceAche Thu 07-Mar-13 18:10:08

Adeucalione - that's a bit rude, my ambitions for my son are that he is happy and succeeds in whatever he wants to do. If that involves him living and working in Wales for the rest of his life then that's up to him. I sense a sneering attitude where you say that. You sound rather 'anti wales / welsh' tbh. I'm a successful and experienced teacher, I know how the education system works thanks. I was just keen to hear others' experiences.
Thanks for all the replies. It's really been food for thought.

adeucalione Thu 07-Mar-13 18:40:34

I suggest you read my comment again - not rude or sneering at all, perhaps I have touched a nerve?

I merely offered my honest opinion, based on recent census statistics and my own experience of living and working in Wales.

SmilingMakesMyFaceAche Thu 07-Mar-13 18:53:09

No nerve touched, you just sound odd. I don't need to read it again thanks.

SmilingMakesMyFaceAche Thu 07-Mar-13 18:53:56

Would like to reiterate my thanks for those who have given me some constructive comments and advice to consider.
Thanks again.

Llareggub Thu 07-Mar-13 18:57:54

I've just moved back to Wales and I think there is far more Welsh around than there used to be. My DCs are in an English medium school but if they'd been younger when we moved back I would have considered welsh medium. What's not to like?

My lack of welsh didn't prevent me finding a job; far from it. Got the first, well paid part time job I applied for.

Oh, they speak welsh in Patagonia too.

adeucalione Thu 07-Mar-13 19:53:26

Brilliant, I'm rude, sneering, anti-Welsh and now odd too, I've excelled myself grin

LingDiLong Thu 07-Mar-13 20:03:03

See, this bizarrely negative attitude to the Welsh language is exactly why so many laws have had to be written to protect it. Is there any other country in the world where the idea of people wanting to speak their native tongue would be dismissed as some kind of political conspiracy or a lack of ambition?! Is there any other country in the world where it would be seen as acceptable to complain that you actually need to speak the language to get a job there?

There are millions of languages the world over, many of them spoken by very few people. And of course it's true that English is a kind of global majority language. But would you also argue that we should just get rid of every other language and only speak English the entire world over?!

Why is it apparently so difficult to believe or understand that some Welsh people actually want to speak Welsh?

And, you know what, not every single choice I make for my children is about what will get them the best possible job. I want them to live a life that is culturally rich. Why not start with their own native culture? Learning a language - any language - can only help them broaden their horizons and outlook. Thank God, they won't grow up to be monoglots, convinced of the superiority of the English language above all others, bellowing loudly at other nationalities in English because they can't be bothered to learn another language. They have learnt from a very tender age about the value of bilingualism.

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