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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

mamijacacalys Thu 07-Mar-13 21:11:28

What ling di long and Moondog said.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 21:11:34

Of course not moondog. I've no appetite to continue this now, I feel crap and grumpy. I have nothing against Welsh per se. I would - and have - said the same about Gaelic. I think these languages are brilliant as second languages, but that's what they are.

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

Where I live the council have taken the bizarre decision to make the local 6th form Welsh medium, for the benefit of about two students as far as i can tell. Meaning that everyone else now has to send their children miles away to.complete their education. Where is the sense in that, I ask you?

SmilingMakesMyFaceAche Thu 07-Mar-13 21:23:14

Good lord what a bizarre attitude some people have. I'm actually getting quite cross now and disappointed about the attitudes of some posters, especially those who seem convinced that nobody speaks welsh anymore! Have a bloody biscuit biscuit

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 21:28:38

It doesn't make me angry when people say things about Welsh that are short sighted or ignorant (in the true sense of the word). It is hard to understand from a non Welsh speaking perspective.
Like many languages, Welsh and Welsh speakers have been dismissed, persecuted, harassed and oppressed to such an extent that fairly robust measures are noe needed to safeguard the language.
I am not one for meddlesome laws and heavy handed government involvement in society, but the turnaround in the status of the Welsh language from the 60s, when even the notion of a roadsign written properly (in not an Englsih bastardisation) was anathema to most is extremely heartening.

I am also so glad at the many many good cultured and respectful people that come to Wales and make an effort to learn Welsh and understand the historical context. A stone's throw form where I live, there are Swedes, Americans, Iraqis, Indians and Englsih people who have learnt to speak Welsh and delight in using it daily, as we delight in them.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 21:41:15

I admire the Welsh for protecting their language so fiercely, I do, and I used to wish the Scots did the same for Gaelic. I just don't believe it is best for a child in this day and age to be educated exclusively in a minority language.

MisForMumNotMaid Thu 07-Mar-13 21:41:24

My DC have been through early primary in Welsh. They are both fluent and relaxed in conversation switching naturally between languages.

Homework is fun through the medium of Welsh, you pick up a fair bit of the basics and its amazing how it gets your ear in to being more receptive when out and about.

I think a second language is significantly beneficial for children at a young age regardless of what the language is. I also think that it will take many years for language use statistics in Wales to change, by the current in my opinion aggressive Welsh language supremacy. I think that positive discrimination is essential for its retention and hopefully to reduce its decline but some of the racism that i see in the name of the Welsh language distresses me.

We moved out children from the local Welsh language school to a bilingual one, its rather significantly English language so not quite a happy medium. The school we were at had dire Estyn visits and revisits. One of the comments was about lack of use of Welsh language in the yard. Initiatives were put in place to reward children for good use of Welsh be it in the class or on the yard. All was well then due to various stresses and strains it became punishments for speaking English - the English Knot? My elder DS started reporting missing going out at lunch because he had spoken in English at the table. He's Autistic and fairly straight he certainly doesn't get the politics and doesn't seek out confrontation. This was only a small part of why we moved though.

My experience of one small school (over 1/3 pupils left in one academic year so not just us) does not make me regret the DC learning Welsh fluently. I just wish it were possible to separate out the language politics from the enjoyment of it and the celebration of Welsh culture through any language.

As an aside I believe primary Maths is easier through Welsh. My DS2 still does sums in Welsh and translates. Its all the 1 ten 2 ten business. It makes more sense.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 21:43:59

One never is, Gaelic. Kids do English from 7 onwards.
The challenge is to maintain the balance so that English doesn't swamp the child. Certainly not the other way 'round.
The Scottish pride coupled with an almost complete lack of interest in the language has laways intrigued me.
Wales is the other way round-far fewer artefacts, but a strong and proud language.
Cenedl heb iaith
Cenedl heb galon

A nation without a language is a nation without a heart

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 21:49:10

In the case of the Scots I think it's because the lowland Scots (ie the majority) were active participants in the suppression of the Highlanders and the Gaelic language. They don't like to mention that too much now, preferring to teach anti- English sentiments instead in the name of nationalism.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 21:51:03

A salutary tale from Scotland regarding the imposition of politics on language. Gaelic roadsigns in "Norse" Caithness. Now that did cause a rumpus.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 21:51:12

Yes, definitely a murky and somewhat shameful history. sad

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 21:55:28

I do think though find it interesting how the mention of Welsh gets my hackles up in a way that Gaelic never did. It's true I haven't exactly chosen to live here, but I'm afraid the Welsh do come over to outsiders as quite militant. That tale about English speaking kids being sanctioned for speaking English is an excellent case in point. And I too have read Estyn reports criticising a school/nursery for not using enough Welsh. So bloody what.

LingDiLong Thu 07-Mar-13 21:59:06

How are they militant? My English husband and English father wouldn't agree with you. In fact they are both Welsh learners.

Why don't you try and learn a bit more about where you are living? You admitted earlier on in the thread that you knew very little about Wales and the Welsh language and yet you are extraordinarily opinionated and negative about it.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 22:06:46

I live right on the border in a non Welsh speaking part of Wales so I have no need to do so. I came here from Scotland so I find comparison of the two approaches interesting.

SmilingMakesMyFaceAche Thu 07-Mar-13 22:07:35

I'm a little bit in love with moondog

mamapants Thu 07-Mar-13 22:13:28

I can see no negatives to sending your child to a welsh medium school from the beginning of their school life.
As for a lack of welsh resources- I saw that as a positive we would quite often have a lesson in welsh with english resources and therefore be working in both languages at once- we therefore knew the technical science words in english and welsh so no disadvantage for further education.
Being able to communicat effectively in both languages will help ensure your child isn't isolated in different places ie a swimming class where everyone else is a welsh speaker.

And Gaelic you seem to be comparing welsh to gaelic which as I understand is only spoken by older generations in scotland and is now being taught as a second language in schools. Welsh is a living, breathing language spokeclusively in many households. I go to work and speak welsh every day, I go to the doctors I speak welsh, I go to mother and baby clubs I speak welsh, I go to the shops and I speak welsh. Why shouldn't there be schools which allow children to be educated in their FIRST language.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 22:13:38

Militant in the sense of, for example, school inspectors appearing more concerned about the amount of conversational Welsh, in a very un Welsh area, than about the actual quality of education. In the sense of imposing unneeded Welsh medium education on an area thus cutting the choices of the vast majority. One size does not fit all. Not all of Wales is still Welsh-speaking. cf the Gaelic roadsigns example.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 22:18:41

Actually Gaelic isn't being effectively taught as a second language. It's Gaelic medium or pretty much nothing unfortunately. Would that DS could have learned Gaelic in a mainstream primary. I think the Welsh do well ensuring that it is available, with considerable time spent on it, in ALL schools.

Welsh is only a living breathing language in parts of Wales. My objection is that policies made in Cardiff are made to apply universally whether Welsh is spoken or not.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 22:20:44

Anyhow my opinion doesn't matter unduly since I am not Welsh. Just saying it as I see it.

hippo123 Thu 07-Mar-13 22:37:09

We live in north west Wales and I can assure you that the welsh language is very much alive. My dc attend a welsh medium primary, all primaries in Gwynedd are welsh medium. We are English speaking parents and I am amazed and very proud at how my children have picked up the language. I can only see how being bilingual can be of advantage to them, especially socially, to be able to be part of the community and to gain employment in the area. I'm baffled at how people don't think speaking welsh in Wales is important - the clues in the countrys name smile

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 22:43:34

I wouldn't want kids punished for speaking English any more than I would want them punished for speaking Welsh. It's odd that you focus on that one alleged example Gaelic because I could point you in the direction of many real life examples of people harassed and belittled and mocked for speaking Welsh, and not just back in the year 1860.
I know of a very recent case where an s/lt ( a supposed language and communications expert!) told a Welsh speaking family that they needed to 're examine thier priorities' when they asked for Welsh medium specialist educational provision for their child.

There are many instances of language renewal and revival and/or maintenance. Catalan. The French in Canada.
There are many instances also of practices being established which were at one time seen as fringe causes.
Equal pay. Maternity benefits. Smoking legislation. Seatbelts
How absured they all seemed at the time!

I don't like government inteference and I don't like professional whingers but I can see a clear case for the protection and nurture of what is after all the oldest language in Europe. I remember training as an s/lt in London and all of these right on types gonig on about the importance of providing therapy in every language under the sun.
When I began to talk about Welsh, I will never forget the patronising little wave of dismissal this so called language expert gave.

The new breed of Welsh person is both parochial and cosmopolitan. One does not precluse the other. I grew up speaking Welsh 10 000 miles away from Wales and this makes me extraordinarily proud. Yet in our family, Welsh competes merrily with English, French and Korean and it is great.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 23:03:18

Hippo - sure. I currently live in East Wales and barely anyone round here speaks Welsh at all, let alone as a first language, so it all feels quite false.

ZZZenAgain Thu 07-Mar-13 23:07:58

would have thought Basque was the oldest surviving language in Europe but I really don't know

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 23:14:04

Also, again in response to hippo, my DS is picking up Welsh very well too in a regular school. He's won the Welsh certificate twice and I'm very proud of him. But I would have never moved to an area where our only choice was full on Welsh medium. As a non Welsh person that would be a big step too far.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 23:16:13

Which begs an interesting question as to whether such a policy of exclusive Welsh medium furthers the Welsh cause or actually hinders it. I can't be the only.person to find it offputting.

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