So... Welsh. Why?

(241 Posts)
gaelicsheep Sun 10-Mar-13 14:25:15

This is a thread to pick up a discussion that began on another thread about Welsh medium education. It isn't about Welsh medium. It's about compulsory Welsh to 16 in all other schools. It is hard as a non Welsh person to complain about this without sounding xenophobic so I am merely opening the floor if anyone is interested.

gaelicsheep Sun 10-Mar-13 16:39:57

Given that 75% or thereabouts of Welsh people do not speak Welsh, is no one bothered that they are excluded from public sector employment in their own country? Of course Welsh is now needed, because the Welsh government has created artificial conditions to ensure it is needed.

Northey Sun 10-Mar-13 16:43:08

It's entirely within its rights to do that, gaelic. Presumably if the welsh electorate disagreed with it as a priority and a course of action, it would vote in a party who promised to reverse it.

mejon Sun 10-Mar-13 16:43:39

Viva - you'd have no problem getting a job in the NHS here. There are very few jobs that require Welsh speaking as essential. Many job adverts state that speaking the language is 'desirable' or 'advantageous' but similarly many don't mention it at all.

I'm not going to engage on this thread any further. The OP has an agenda and from what I have seen - a massive chip on her shoulder. Perhaps you should have chosen Herefordshire when you had the chance.

Jellykat Sun 10-Mar-13 16:44:27

I live in Wales, and have 2 DSs.. DS1 came here at 12 yrs old, and got his Welsh GCSE, but only because the teacher practically told him the answers, a good pass rate was good for the school. He worked here for a year and then went to uni in England, knowing/ not knowing Welsh was irrelevant.
DS2 meanwhile went to a Welsh medium Primary from the age of 4, he did ok but struggled a bit, but it was a great school, with a lot of money to spend. When it came to choosing a Secondary school, we had to go for the Bilingual school. The local Welsh medium Sec. school, still give detentions for any child overheard speaking English in the playground fgs.

Now this is what i resent, the Welsh medium schools are known to have better funding for facilities and equipment then the bilingual here, and because DS2 is Dyspraxic, he just could not learn Maths/ science etc in a second language, it's hard enough as it is.. his school is crap, and i mean crap, but we have no choice.
Any DC with learning difficulties, who do not have Welsh as a first language really end up in the poorly funded schools (something like a third of DS2s school have some form of SEN) it's totally unfair.
And another thing, i've lived here for 10 years, i work P/T in a shop, and travel everywhere by bus and its been years since i've overheard a conversation in complete Welsh, things are changing.
Whilst i agree to it being taught in schools, preserve the language by all means, i resent the split in educational availability depending purely on the pupils Welsh speaking ability.

frosch Sun 10-Mar-13 16:51:20

Yes incomers should embrace the culture of the country they are joining, but make that something they want, not have to do. hmm

WallyBantersJunkBox Sun 10-Mar-13 16:55:32

Please don't apply the arrogant sweeping assumptions that people in South Wales don't care about keeping the Welsh language alive. I have two cousins who are teachers in Welsh schools within thriving Welsh speaking communities, the school admissions are full to the brim.

Yes Cardiff and Swansea are probably cities with wider ethnicity, but to disregard the Welsh language communities in the South and West is wrong indeed. just because people are tolerant and a little more relaxed publicly, doesn't mean they personally don't feel strongly about preserving the language.

On a practical note, if you settle in Wales and you plan on spending your life there i.e. you want your children to work there, in certain professions it does help to have a basic understanding of the pronunciation.

If you are working for the emergency services it can be a matter of life or death. I wonder how many people without a basic understanding could translate the following address:

1 Heol Meinciau, Mynyddygarreg, Kidwelly?

Or are you also suggesting that we Anglicise our place names too, to fit into your requirements?

frosch Sun 10-Mar-13 17:00:16

Agrees with Wally.

Primrose123 Sun 10-Mar-13 17:11:38

I am Welsh, and grew up learning very little Welsh in school. I know very few people who speak Welsh as their main language.

Welsh is not compulsory to GCSE in my DD's school, but I have encouraged her to take it, to help with getting a job in the future. She is at a disadvantage though, because some of the others speak Welsh at home, and she is finding it really hard to keep up.

I have been to Welsh classes as an adult, and speak and understand a little. I am interested in the language and enjoy learning it. But, I will never be completely fluent. I already speak two foreign languages! I spent years learning those, and still have to work at them to keep as fluent as possible.

I do feel that it is unfair to ask for Welsh in a job advert, unless the language is specifically needed for the job. I will always have that disadvantage, no matter how hard I work, or what other qualifications I have. I worry that this is the case for my children too. Even though they will hopefully get Welsh GCSE, they will not speak Welsh like a native speaker.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sun 10-Mar-13 17:15:24

Why not?

Takver Sun 10-Mar-13 17:19:52

Well, I'm definitely much happier about Welsh being a compulsory GCSE than I am Religious Education.

Why wouldn't Welsh be compulsory at GCSE in Wales?
English GCSE is compulsory in England. confused

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sun 10-Mar-13 17:25:56

Actually there are proportionately large numbers of Welsh speakers in Cardiff, simply because it is the largest city.

I used to go into Cardiff for piano lessons and listen to my teacher and her daughter talking away in Welsh and wish I understood better. Even the damn dog understood more Welsh than I did smile

As I understand gaelic, you live pretty close to the border. There are options.

Takver Sun 10-Mar-13 17:27:01

I'm also unconvinced about schools only offering dual science. Both our local secondaries offer triple - I've pasted in below the details from one of their websites.

From what I've heard and from information at open evenings I get the strong impression that at both schools triple science is not only available but very much expected for the more able students (basically, it is 'optional' in name only).

"Students start their Key Stage 4 course at the end of Year 9 and follow one of three routes:
Three GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics (what was once known as ‘Triple Science’).
Two GCSEs in Core Science and Additional Science.
BTEC Applied Science.
Biology, Chemistry and Physics are offered at AS and A level, and they are popular options. "

wonderstuff Sun 10-Mar-13 17:46:49

It isn't just north Wales were Welsh is spoken, I think it would be tragic if all pupils in Wales weren't given good opportunities to learn the language, bilingualism is such a benefit, language and culture are so intimately linked. My grandparents are from mid Wales, Welsh was their first language , my grandmother moved to London when she was 12 and my grandfather joined her in England after the war. I don't speak a lot of Welsh and this does at times exclude me, at my grandfathers funeral I didn't understand much of the service, at family gatherings people have to stick to English or translate for me. It's frustrating. I have never lived in Wales, but I imagine that there must be times when Welsh is so useful if you do, even in South Wales. My family are from just outside Aberystwyth. My cousin married an Englishman and he learnt Welsh when he moved there because it is still very much a first language for so many people.

gaelicsheep Sun 10-Mar-13 17:56:04

Why am I being cast as anti Wales with a chip on my shoulder because I ask questions about the education system? Wales and the Welsh language are not the same thing.

gaelicsheep Sun 10-Mar-13 17:58:41

And please stop directing this back at me. I said on another thread I would start a thread to continue the line of discussion. I was true to my word and started a thread. End of. Why so personal?

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sun 10-Mar-13 18:05:08

The Welsh are often accused of being chippy and defensive - and with good reason a lot of the time.

However, I think given their history, gaelic, it is understandable. It's hard to separate an objective question from a sneer when you think others perceive your country to be overlooked at best, or a drain on resources, which is often a view you hear or read.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sun 10-Mar-13 18:05:36

And to be clear, I know that's not what you think!

gaelicsheep Sun 10-Mar-13 18:13:53

You're right Ariel, I am not coming from a standpoint of sneering, simply objective curiosity about the country I find myself in.

Northey Sun 10-Mar-13 18:15:08

I honestly don't think you have been cast as anti-Wales, actually, and I don't think anyone's posts have been personal.

gaelicsheep Sun 10-Mar-13 18:19:46

Are you saying the tone of the responses would have been the same had I not made it very clear I am not Welsh?

Northey Sun 10-Mar-13 18:24:35

I honestly didn't pick up anything nasty in the tone of responses. The "don't like it then leave" faction are admittedly a bit blunt, but I think everyone else was just putting their point of view about why compulsory welsh isn't a bad thing.

Northey Sun 10-Mar-13 18:25:10

I hope you're feeling ok and not attacked.

BigSpork Sun 10-Mar-13 18:25:55

There is very little that binds people together and makes them a people than language. With languages going extinct at such a rapid pace (the stat is something like a a language dies every 14 days) mostly through repercussions of colonization. This was England's impact on Wales and it is very impressive that they've brought it from the verge to only vulnerable language status. All of these are interconnected and make for an emotive issue (and a very political one). People have fought very hard to get Welsh, Scots Gaelic, and BSL recognised and in schools (for the last, the fight still continues as it has yet to become a GCSE subject or even recognised in UK education as a Modern Language).

As for why, language gives a people an identity and an understanding of the people so learning it does both and both are important to creating a national identity (as are schools). Most would consider learning their cultural/national languages a very high priority, connecting with each other and their past.

Any language is useful and makes learning additional languages easier. I find the dismissive attitude towards Welsh and the push for other languages both sad and unrealistic. People living in Wales are far more like to run into a Welsh speaker or wish to read Welsh than Spanish or Mandarin. Sure, there are more Spanish or Mandarin speakers but due to dialects most cannot understand each other (you pretty much have to relearn the language to use it in Latin America compared to Spain Spanish which is taught in UK schools, for Mandarin it varies greatly by region and country to be be almost ununderstandable between them). For most careers/jobs, any language will be a bonus. Number of speakers shouldn't be the top priority in deciding a language, it's who we wish to communicate with.

And the argument of causing resentment was put for all modern languages and now the fall has been so great, and we so far behind global competitors, it's being brought back. The resentment argument has also been made for almost all subjects at one time or another. A nation has to decide how to define itself and this identity is put in the framework in schools to continue it - and Wales wants to continue it's language for all the reasons already discussed.

Really, I don't see why not.

frosch Sun 10-Mar-13 18:26:44

I don't think you're anti-Welsh or anti-Wales. You said in your opening post that the quality of Welsh education ranks right down there with the number of computers available to Reception age children. And I am FUMING having discovered DS will have to waste a valuable GCSE on the subject. The Welsh education system is not without its issues but, given that we're a small nation, Wales has gone on to produce a significant amount of Britain's politicians, entrepreneurs, educators, designers, architects, scientists, sportspeople and the like, all of whom have started off in the Welsh education system. I think that you're raging against something that will not actually disadvantage your DS.

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