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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

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 20:07:59

It is monolinguals who are in the minority-sadly for them.
This is a great article by the wonderful Elizabeth Woodcock of Twf which lists the myriad benefits of bilnigualism.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 20:12:16

They do a lot of Welsh in mainstream schools so I can't really see a point in Welsh medium. In Scotland we considered Gaelic medium because that is the only DS was going to learn any Gaelic at all, but decided against it in the end as we felt it was overkill.

Llareggub Thu 07-Mar-13 20:16:32

There is definitely a point in Welsh medium education; how else can people be educated in their first language? I know people who couldn't speak any English at all until they were 6 or so. They lived in Welsh communities and spoke Welsh all the time.

My little English son has been in an English medium nursery in Wales and is already using a smattering of Welsh. He says "popty" instead of bakery and tells me that it is heulog instead of sunny. I'm pretty sure he'll never be fluent, which is a shame.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 20:21:39

I find it hard to believe that anyone under the age of 80 would seriously consider Welsh to be their first language. Don't get me wrong it's really good for children to learn a second language at an early age, and it sets them up well for learning other languages, which is why I don't mind too much having so much Welsh at DS's school.

LingDiLong Thu 07-Mar-13 20:27:25

'I find it hard to believe that anyone under the age of 80 would seriously consider Welsh to their first language' - then, gaelicsheep, you are fundamentally ignorant about the Welsh language and the people who speak it. Sure, the majority of parents at my kids Welsh medium school speak English as their first language. But there is a SIGNIFICANT minority who are FIRST language Welsh. Not 'speaking Welsh to annoy English people' or 'speaking Welsh to make a political point', they actually speak Welsh the majority of the time. They speak it with their entire extended family, their husbands, their children, their school friends. All the time.

PolterGoose Thu 07-Mar-13 20:28:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 20:32:33

No I know very little about Wales, you're right. Is it really good/necessary for a child to be first language Welsh, really? Bilingual sure, but surely that's achievable in a regular school with Welsh at home?

LingDiLong Thu 07-Mar-13 20:37:10

What do you mean it is good or necessary?! Is it good or necessary for someone to be first language in any language other than English or perhaps Mandarin then?!

They speak Welsh because they are Welsh and it was the language their parents spoke to them. Like people in Spain speak Spanish or people in Moldova speak Moldovan or people in Japan speak Japanese.

Takver Thu 07-Mar-13 20:38:15

"If your ambitions for your child extend to spending the rest of their life living in Wales, and working in local government,"

I think it must depend where you are. Here in north Pembs, I think most employers given two equally qualified applicants would choose the Welsh speaker - a large proportion of the population here does use Welsh as their day to day language of choice (the primary school catchment is a bit of an anomaly because the town itself is historically English speaking, & the children from the Welsh speaking surrounding area go to a different school), so whether you are running a shop or whatever you will tend to choose someone who can provide the best service to your customers.

(And for those who don't believe that people actually use Welsh, one of my friends is a builder & in the firm he works for Welsh is the working language on site 100% - he's English, has recently joined them, and is getting rapidly fluent in building-site-Welsh grin )

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 20:42:41

Wales is a part of the UK and the UK speaks English. Even Scotland recognises this, hence Gaelic and Scots are not shoved down the throat nearly so much as Welsh is down here. Of course it is culturally important, but I for one would love to here a physics or biology lesson taught exclusively in Welsh.

LingDiLong Thu 07-Mar-13 20:46:03

No, Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland are part of the UK. In England the language is English, in Wales the language in Welsh. It's not that difficult a concept surely? How is people speaking their own language in their own country 'shoving it down people's throats'? What IS so threatening about this language that is apparently so pointless I wonder...

Startail Thu 07-Mar-13 20:46:16

I don't mind schools teaching Welsh, but to me WM education seems very fake.

Welsh is not and never will be the first language of most Welsh people. I've heard Polish and Chinese in Cardiff, but never Welsh.

Quite simply, the multi media world our DCs live in is predominantly in English. Nothing the Welsh government do can change that.

Whether educated in EM or WM when they grow up DCs are going to use English at work. Many will go to English universities or even further afield. For very many Welsh will be as much a childhood thing as playmobil. A warm memory, but not something used everyday.

Whatever the benefits of bilingualism I just don't see how Wales can afford both the money and the teaching time for WM.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 20:47:29


The latter point being the very reason why we disn't pursue Gaelic medium in Scotland. Neither language is relevant in the modern world. It is important to keep them alive culturally - for the stories and the music and the placenames and the descriptions of the landscape. But making up Welsh/ Gaelic sounding words for modern concepts and making every blooming document bilingual, that is not necessary IMO.

Naoko Thu 07-Mar-13 20:53:56

I live in North West Wales and there are certainly very many first language Welsh speakers here, from tiny children to the very elderly. The language is alive and kicking. My neighbour shouts at her kids in Welsh, the woman in the corner shop addresses me in Welsh, the bus driver talks to people in Welsh, and the receptionist at my academic department answers the phone in Welsh. I can't speak Welsh, and I really wish I could. Of course there should be Welsh medium education in a Welsh speaking environment!

Besides, I'm not British. I come from a nation about the size of Wales, albeit with more inhabitants (nothing like the population of Britain as a whole, though). My native language is spoken by at best 20 million people worldwide. Never held anyone back. Speaking more than one language is an asset, not a burden, even if you never actually use the language beyond ordering lunch while on holiday. It teaches you to think differently, to think about language, to apply what you know about one thing to figure out another, to express yourself. How can that possibly be a bad thing?

Llareggub Thu 07-Mar-13 20:59:14

When I walk into the petrol station in New Quay in West Wales I get greeted in Welsh. There is an assumption that I will be a welsh speaker.

My mate is first language Welsh and when she lived in France her answer phone was French first, Welsh second. English didn't get a look in because she knew that anyone calling her from home would expect to hear welsh.

I don't hear so much here in Swansea but having left for 10 years there is definitely more around then there used to be. For me, that it is good thing. My grandmother was fluent until she moved to Swansea and it was only when she got to 100, just before she died, that she reverted to welsh only. It confused the hell out of us but I would love to know what she was saying.

Takver Thu 07-Mar-13 20:59:36

The thing is, Cardiff is Cardiff, isn't it - its a bit like judging England by London.

I guess to me it doesn't seem that odd. Before we came to Wales, we lived for many years in Spain. Depending on where you live, your children might be educated in Basque, Catalan (including regional variants) as well as Castillian.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 20:59:58

What is the Welsh for computer? Motherboard? Resistor? Semi-conductor? Capacitor? Space shuttle?

I am intrigued as to how these concepts are taught in Welsh.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Thu 07-Mar-13 21:03:11


gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 21:04:26

And the thing is that like it or not large parts of Wales are no longer Welsh speaking, if they ever were, so it does feel like political manouevring and social engineering at the taxpayers' expense.

Llareggub Thu 07-Mar-13 21:04:43

I've no idea, but I am pretty sure that other languages manage perfectly well to teach subjects in a language other than English.

Llareggub Thu 07-Mar-13 21:05:22

It was English social engineering that eradicated the Welsh language.

Takver Thu 07-Mar-13 21:06:03

Well, I guess its very much the same as Spanish or French taking English words and then making them 'fit'.

Do you speak any other languages than English, gaelicsheep? That's not a snippy question, its just that my experience is that all languages have to come up with an answer to 'what do you call a motherboard', and that often involves taking a word from elsewhere (something of course that English does par excellence).

<<OT, I know, but I'm rather sad that English doesn't lose the boring 'microwave' and adopt 'popty ping' as an improvement >>

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 21:06:08

Gaelic, do you assume there is such a thing as English?
There isn't really-it is an amalgame of many different languages-hence its success. It is the great borrower.


Shall I go on?

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 21:07:57

And Cornish, and old Cumbrian, and any number of old regional languages. Should there be education provided in all of those too, as a "first" language?

Takver Thu 07-Mar-13 21:10:45

This of course is all rather veering off the question of 'should I choose Welsh medium education for my child'

Despite my love of multilingualism, if I had to answer the question 'would I choose Welsh medium primary again were I deciding for my child' then it would be hard for me to give a definite answer.

However, my negatives are clouded by specific problems in dd's school (very poor to deal with any non-average pupils in either direction, and completely thrown by someone who should probably be on both the SEN and G&T register, plus years 3-6 being taught effectively by NQTs). Would this have been better in an English medium school? Probably not directly, but I suspect it would have been better in a larger school with a less traditional approach.

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