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I am sending my ds1 to a welsh speaking nursery, we only speak English, sometimes I have pangs

(17 Posts)
Overrunderthemistletoe Thu 14-Dec-06 22:44:02

Overall we are happy with our decision, the nursery itself is lovely and he seems happy. I always have that worry about it though, that we can't join in with him. Its his navity play coming up, and he was sent home with his lines which we are supposed to practice with him. I have translated it for myself with my dictionary but can't help him say it, as will only pronounce it wrong.
I plan to do a course or ten but for various reasons can't at the moment. Any way I will never be fluent as he will.
Also feel sad that I will be sitting in the carol service/navity thing and not understanding the words or not hearing carols that I recogonise from my childhood.
Has any one get any advice or reassurance to give?

Zofloyya Thu 14-Dec-06 23:12:46

I saw from the Welsh meet-up thread that you're in Cardiff (I'm not, but it's where I grew up and my folks are there, which is why I was peeking at that thread). So I'd bet my bottom dollar that there will be other parents at the nursery in the same situatoin as you. Perhaps you could ask the nursery workers to introduce you, and you could form a bit of a support group - to encourage each other with learning Welsh, and also to share the inevitable sadness at feeling a bit left out of that aspect of your child's life.

You may well find that the carols are familiar tunes - so figuring out how the words fit will be a good start with learning. I have friends who are anglophone and in SE Wales and have done the same thing re nursery as you, and they have found learning themselves has been really crucial. Until you can get to classes, the BBC's catchphrase course is fantastic - it was good when I used it alongside studying Welsh at school 15 years ago, but the online version is outstanding.

HTH, and good luck

whatwouldjesusdo Fri 15-Dec-06 00:01:00

overunder, my children have mostly been at school in different languages and different system from my own school days. They rapidly spoke the languages better than I did, and were soon correcting my pronounciation (within 3 months). I also have to translate everything, including homework, with the aid of a dictionary. My children have never even been in a nativity play, becuase they dont have them in any of the schools they have attended .
Anyway, what I mean to say is, that being bilingual is great and makes up for these disadvantages. There was a thread recently about learning to read in a different language, with a link to an interesting site about the advantages of bilingualism.

serenitynightholynight Fri 15-Dec-06 00:25:29

I went to my childrens Nativity Play tonight and didn't understand most of it either (ours was English and Greek though ) It is sad in a way, but I have to say I also have a great feeling of pride that my children do understand even if I don't. Like Zofloyya says, you'll be surprised how many carols you do recognise - tonight I heard the greek versions of 'Jingle Bells', 'Little Donkey' and another one whose name escapes me atm

Overrunderthemistletoe Fri 15-Dec-06 09:52:23

Thanks every one,Zofloyya, I have looked at some of these websites and they do seem great, but its the time thing [fsad]. But as you say I recogonise that the only way to get over these slight feelings of sadness is to keep up with the learning.
I expect you are right about the music being the same, and ds1 sings a lot of songs that I recogonise the tune for [fgrin]
I will have a particular look at Catchphrase as you have recommended it.
I am sure I will still feel proud of him in his shepherd costume (dressing gown and tea towel to you and me [fwink]

Zofloyya Fri 15-Dec-06 10:10:46

It does take a lot of time and hard work to become fluent in a language, of course it does. But if you could just find 15 minutes a day to spend on the Catchphrase site you could pick up quite a lot. Can you think of a way of carving out just that much time, given that it might help you feel happier about this?

I bet there are Welsh websites for kids you could play on alongside your ds too as he gets a bit older, that would be a good way to pick up language that's really relevant to him.

I think it's great that you are sending him to a Welsh nursery and wanting to learn some of the language, even it it's hard at the moment

harrisey Mon 01-Jan-07 20:35:43

I'm in a similar situation as my dd1 is in Gaelic school and ds in the Gaelic nursery attatched to it- so I didnt understand much of the CHristmas plays or assemblies or anything like that. But I am quite happy to give up the ability to understand every word as the benefits of bilingualism are great and I am SO proud of them for being able to speak another language. I actually found hearing it all in Gaelic very cute! I am picking up quite a lot of Gaelic even though I am not having lessons as I do homework along with my 6 yo dd1 and I have picked up quite a lot of vocab etc through that.

Fillyjonk Tue 09-Jan-07 16:55:47

overrun-I think this is a really common situation. am very suprised that the school is not doing anything to

there are some good cds with welsh carols. caban on kings road in canton has a good selection.

I have a friend who learnt welsh from scratch as an adult with 2 kids btw, and now works in a welsh school. actually I think this is common-I think a proprtion of welsh playleaders have actually learnt as adults, and are still fluent.

when you have time the wlpan /pellach etc courses run by cardiff university are very very good.

VelmaDinkley Thu 11-Jan-07 11:44:34

still going over...Our ds has been at Gaelic nurery for a year now- he's enjoying it so much we've decided he'll carry on in the Gaelic reception class at Primary.. the original reasons we went to the nursery have changed (we just liked them)as we all feel more positive towards Gaelic & feel it's important children have the oppertunities to learn languages like Gaelic (& Welsh).. I've started morning Gaelic lesson's which are run by the council to promote the language- (about 1/3 there are mum's) as I want to be able to join in &help him with reading/ writing etc...my own teacher ( a retired teacher) says often the children enjoy English at home more too as it defines formal learning at school from home...we've followed ds's lead really- if he hadnt been enjoying it so much, I guess it wouldn't have developed it this way for us.

JustIvor Fri 12-Jan-07 08:56:01

Hi Overrun. My children have gone right the way through the primary school education in a Welsh medium school and to Ysgol Feithrin before that. I've been to about 10 nativity plays without understanding much (we do nativity plays differently around here it seems, there is Mary and Joseph but Sali Mali and the like often are in there, too!) I know what you mean about being concerned that you can't help him to learn something without being able to help with the pronunciation. Do you have a Welsh speaking friend who can say it for you (in future) whilst you tape it so that you can play it back at home and use it to help? I hope that your nativity play went well in the end. There are a number of Welsh speakers here who you can call upon for help and my dh, ds and dd are Welsh speaking if you need to have something translated. Btw, my children now go to a Welsh medium secondary school and my Welsh is still about as good as my dogs!

calmontheoutside Fri 12-Jan-07 10:04:53

Can I just say, as someone on the inside, that children who have their education through the medium of another language, appear generally to do very well, receive an excellent education and have the experience of all the cultural richness that goes along with Gaelic medium education (for example).
However, problems can occur when the child already has inherrent language problems, and by that I don't mean that the child cannot speak well or grasp the meaning of a situation. These problems are to do with rhyming, repeating a sequence, etc. The kind of child I am talking about would find these problems a barrier to reading/writing in the English speaking class.
So often, a child in the Gaelic medium comes unstuck when in p3 they also start learning English. Then after a year of struggling, or in many cases, more than that, they get shunted to the English mainstream, where they perceive themselves, correctly, to be far behind their peers. I feel incredibly sorry for these kids, who feel that they have 'failed' in one class and are at the 'bottom' of the new one. Their perceptions, not mine (I fiercely hold to that).
You have to understand that these children are not having problems just because they are in the Gaelic medium, far from it, the majority of children come out all the better for having learned this way. BUT for the children who do have inherrent language problems (there are baseline tests that pick up on these on entry to school), total immersion in a new language plus a second language is not aiding them in any way.
And of course, this is confounded when the parent is not able to help at all, because they don't speak or read any Gaelic themselves. I am sorry to go on. I have seen too many poor kids who do 'fail' and then come into the mainstream sector, already bruised from the whole experience.
Finally, can I state that I am a fan of the Gaelic medium education in Scotland. See my first paragraph! I do think though that more careful consideration has to be done by some parents and also the Gaelic medium teachers when they state that EVERYBODY benefits from a Gaelic medium education.

Overrun Fri 12-Jan-07 10:15:13

I have just read the contributions to the thread since I last looked at it with interest.
Filly, I think you are right, my one issue with the school so far is that there not enough support offered to the English speaking parents.
I am definetly going to learn welsh,I probably start a course next year when they are in Nursery/School.
I can't comment on the Gaelic side of things, but Calmontheoutside, I am sure there is some truth in your post, i.e that although it is of benefit to most children, just occasionally a child will not thrive, and then there is a problem.
I think its worth taking that risk personally.
BTW, the Navity was lovely, and I felt very proud when he said his line. I said it pefectly, and differently from I had been saying it. I think he was humouring me at home, by mispronouncing it

JustIvor Fri 12-Jan-07 11:26:25

I appreciate the points that calmontheoutside is making. There can be a "party line" of "All the children benefit from being bilingual" to the detriment of children who need extra help but don't get it. Also, I've found that some teachers aren't that good at spoken and written English (from speaking to them and reading the poor English in the school reports) and I don't think my children have had the grounding in English grammar that I had. Before anyone says mine isn't good, I lost it, strangely, when I had a long term illness a few years ago. I used to be able to spell correctly and know where to put apostrophes!

I have had a few run-ins with the Urdd in particular because of the lack of support offered to the English speaking parents. For example, if you go to an Urdd swimming competition that your child is in, the list of races is in Welsh so unless you know what freestyle, backstroke etc are in Welsh, you've no chance of working out which race your child is in or where you are in the programme at any given point in time! Another time, I was at an Urdd Eisteddfod preliminary competition and they announced bilingually "Please don't clap in between the pieces, only when each school has finished their entry" but only announced in Welsh (and not in English) "If the snow is bad tomorrow and the school is closed, tommorrow's competition will be held the same time next week at this same location (or whatever it was)" which was either an oversight or ignorance. My child has also gone on an Urdd event and the initial "Come to Cardiff to see the rugby (or whatever it was) with us" leaflet was bilingual (it would have to be because so many parents otherwise wouldn't be able to read it and put the child's details and parent contact details etc otherwise and this was essential Health and Safety info) but the follow up letter with the bus stop locations and timings and stuff was in Welsh only. I e-mailed to ask for a translation and got no reply.

I have told an Urdd person in no uncertain terms that whilst they feel that they are doing their bit for the Welsh language by working and promoting the language, the non Welsh speaking parents who send their children to Welsh medium schools are the ones who are really doing their bit for the language and they deserve recognition and support. I wrote a letter after speaking to the person and, for the second time, didn't receive a reply. I'm not impressed with them, I have to say.

calmontheoutside Fri 12-Jan-07 12:04:05

JustIvor. I agree with you that the parents who don't have the language are supporting that language and culture when they send their children to an immersion class.
And I absolutely agree that there should be more support for such parents (their children, to be honest, are at a disadvantage compared to the other children in the class).
I do find it incredible though, when some parents don't even try to learn the language their child is doing. How can they possibly begin to help their child?
One mother admitted outright that it was the small class sizes she was interested in, promised to begin learning, didn't bother trying, and after two years changed her mind...Sorry, old gripes.
]I repeat that I am all for the Gaelic medium (Welsh and other) incase you think I'm just jealous (of how much money is spent on a Gaelic education compared to English.)
Overrun - yes it is worth the risk if you have a reasonably bright child and can help them...
Sometimes in an entirely English speaking environment the snow messages don't get out to everybody...

JustIvor Fri 12-Jan-07 21:44:43

I agree with you about people not learning. There can be problems with non Welsh speaking people and Welsh learners being treated by some fluent Welsh speakers (native and learnt as children or adults as a 2nd language) of being made to feel like 2nd class citizens, but that's another thread! I've done year 1 Welsh classes about twice (in the South and in the North) and a year long intensive rollercoaster class in Mid Wales and was working towards a GCSE class when I fell ill a few years ago. Maybe if dh wasn't a fluent Welsh speaker, I'd make it more of a priority to learn. Saying that, I have to take care to not fall ill again, but if all is still going well by next Sept, I might well go back to classes again and do year 2. Oh, yes, my kids ask me to say "wedi blino" "tired" just so they can laugh at me! Cruel devils!

moondog Tue 16-Jan-07 09:00:54

Hmm,Ivor,it's interesting to note your gripes when you are simultaneously laughing about the fact that your Welsh is 'as good as my dog's'.

Yet you have the nerve to criticise the Urdd-!

JustIvor Tue 27-Feb-07 22:43:53

moondog - I've just spotted this whilst looking for something else. I was exaggerating about my inability to speak and understand Welsh to make the point that you don't have to be a fluent Welsh speaker in order for your children to go to a Welsh medium primary and/or secondary school. Also, I think I've explained why I was cross with the Urdd. I don't think they are "gripes" but we can agree to disagree. I have spoken and written to them to let them know the difficulties that non Welsh speaking parents face with Urdd events, so I do offer constructive criticism, which is important I think. I haven't had a reply, but there you go. At least I have tried.

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