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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

hippo123 Thu 07-Mar-13 23:34:41

I found it really off putting believe me. I really struggled to get my head around the idea and seriously considered moving back to England. However I'm so glad we stuck it out. Half way though reception my ds became fluent, although I admit he did struggle in the first term, well refused to talk either English or welsh, socially he was fine. To be honest I don't think children find it a problem at all, it us as parents that over think things and find issues with it. To live in the area of Wales that we do and not speak welsh would be a huge disadvantage to my children. Swimming teachers, shop keepers, bus drivers etc all speak welsh around here. My biggest regret is not being able to speak welsh, although I am learning. I guess it depends on what area of Wales you live in as to the extent you 'need' the language, but no matter where you live in Wales I think being bilingual puts you at an advantage.

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 23:42:15

I guess I have a different standpoint as I can't see us staying in Wales until DS leaves school. I admire you for sticking it out and adjusting. Well done you, and your DS! I suppose my question now is would you still have put him in Welsh medium if an alternative had been available? Given where you are I can see that you might say yes.

bacon Thu 07-Mar-13 23:43:37

Sorry I am not a fan of WAG. I luckily escaped Welsh in school and now my son is being talked to (not much though) in welsh and its pointless. I cant teach him and I have no intention of either. Unless he stays and works for the LA or WAG I cant see it having any benefit and rather the extra time was spent on learning english and maths. I would not consider a full welsh education. Higher ed/university is english. The teachers cant stand doing welsh and the time spent on training isn't acceptable. Welsh should not be compulsory but an option in schools. Does the WAG spend £5m on the language (may be wrong)???

gaelicsheep Thu 07-Mar-13 23:46:05

I don't mind it being compulsory but I think they do a day and a half a week which is far too much imo. I guess (I hope) they are actually learning other stuff at the same time.

Startail Thu 07-Mar-13 23:56:34

The trouble with this debate is Wales is not homogeneous.

The mid Wales of my childhood is not Welsh speaking, in 18 years I heard Welsh spoken once outside school. That was a tourist from North Wales who decided to answer our Geography survey in Welsh. Sadly even my locally born and bread DF couldn't get past "Where do you live?"

To parachute WM education into this area is about as sensible as expecting everyone to do their lessons in Martian. Actually I think there is more chance of meeting a Martian than anyone reading the Welsh side of a leaflet.

Yes, I'm being flippant, but I'm also very serious. None of this comes cheap and rural sheep farming country does not have the resources to run two school systems or translate every tiny thing.

I went 12 miles to my nearest secondary school, I can only assume that DCs who want to choose to EM or WM will be forced to travel even further and as Gaelic sheep says 6th form can be even worse. I simply cannot see how the councils can afford the buses and duplication of staff at a time when rural schools are closing.

hippo123 Fri 08-Mar-13 00:36:17

Gaelicssheep, to be 100% honest I probably would have put dc in an english school if I had the option as it would have been easier for me. School plays etc are quite hard to follow and you sometimes feel a bit of an outsider at the school date as everyone speaks welsh around you ( there not being rude, its just their first language). That said I'm glad we didn't have the option as it wouldn't have been in my dc's best interest, only mine. They need to be fluent in welsh in order to be involved in this community and the best way to be fluent in any language is to be around it as much as possible. I also think they will have an advantage when it comes to learning other languages. I can't speak beyond primary level but I really don't think having a welsh medium education is disadvantaging them at all. That said if we lived in an English speaking part of Wales I wouldn't be bothered about them learning welsh, but I'm surprised at how many welsh people on here don't see it as being important. We plan to stay here, in a very welsh speaking part, so to us it's very important.

Takver Fri 08-Mar-13 09:09:05

"The trouble with this debate is Wales is not homogeneous."

^^ this

Though I would say to be fair in Pembrokeshire the schools do reflect the historical realities. Primaries in the south of the county are English medium, in the north Welsh medium - our town is a bit of an anomaly as a 'planted' english town in the welsh speaking north.

gaelicsheep Fri 08-Mar-13 09:13:01

Well precisely. So wasting money on Welsh medium provision in such areas is really not justifiable. Ditto to having Estyn inspectors comment on the use of Welsh in a school outside of language lessons. It's just political gesturing.

Jonno94 Fri 08-Mar-13 09:21:10

with regards your comments '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'

I totally agree! We all hate it and we live here. Wales has become very inward looking and nationalistic

Takver Fri 08-Mar-13 10:21:41

"So wasting money on Welsh medium provision in such areas is really not justifiable."
confused - but they don't - as I've pointed out, in the English speaking areas the primaries are english medium. Most secondaries are also English medium the exception being one designated bilingual school (in Crymych, where frankly you NEED to speak Welsh) and a Welsh stream covering 6 subjects for KS3 in one other school.

TBH I would say that in Pembs the schooling reflects the reality on the ground of what people speak pretty well. Maybe the council in your area needs lobbying/persuading that they are making the wrong decisions?

gaelicsheep Fri 08-Mar-13 10:36:06

I have no doubt that our council makes the wrong decisions on many things. But it is down to the Welsh Assembly at the end of the day. And they should not be sending out Estyn inspectors with a Welsh speaking agenda, yet they do.

LutherGravy Fri 08-Mar-13 12:22:27

This is an interesting thread, but I think debating with gaelicsheep is a waste of time, to be honest. Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion and those opinions will be different.

However, more than once on this thread, gaelicsheep has posted something that is simply factually incorrect. This has been pointed out by others (fairly politely, I would say), but gaelicsheep simply doesn't register it.

For example, the assertion: "I find it hard to believe that anyone under the age of 80 would seriously consider Welsh to their first language."

That's just plain wrong, as has been pointed out by plenty of others. But later in the thread, gaelicsheep posts:

"I think these languages are brilliant as second languages, but that's what they are."

So, this is someone who is not going to allow factual accuracy to cloud their pre-determined judgement.

I suggest all those attempting to debate with this person just give it up, switch off the computer and do something useful like have a nice cup of tea.

NK2b1f2 Fri 08-Mar-13 12:55:11

LutherGravy I agree, which is why I haven't posted on this thread. brew

mejon Fri 08-Mar-13 13:51:29

Ditto Luther and NK - others like moondog and the OP have said what I'd like to say far more eloquently than I could. Those wondering why so much is being 'wasted' on Welsh language education would do well to consider why there are now so many oversubscribed Welsh primaries in Cardiff - and not only in the usual middle-class, media-centric areas either.

Amser brew nawr.

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 08-Mar-13 13:52:32

Surely we all have some preconceived ideas based on our own experiences which are factually incorrect? Because they are based on direct experience we stand behind this. However, there is a bigger picture and within that picture lies the truth.

When I lived in Flintshire I rarely heard any Welsh, when I did, it was by very old people in the market. I hadn't done lots of research on the language, i'm an incommer, and assumed (wrongly as it turns out) that the language was essentially dead and WAG were flogging a deadhorse sending out school letters etc billigually.

Now i'm married to an English first language Welsh man. Born in Denbigshire but essentially schooled through English with only English, by parental choice, spoken at home.

Welsh here is first language for many and very much in use.

Welsh assembly priorities and spending in these hard times does all need debating and as such a high percentage of Welsh people are English first language this diversity within the country needs to be recognised, and whilst the Welsh language needs to be supported we only have the one pot of money to support Education, Welsh NHS and Culture.

I'm very concerned by some of the recent statistics being banded around like if you are diagnosed with cancer in Wales your chances of survival and lower, more premature babies die in Wales - in North Wales SCBU is going to be in Liverpool I believe, that doesn't seam right.

Its one pot of money that needs to cater for all. Whilst some money should go towards language, healthy debate and education of each other is far more effective than an expensive WAG initiative on language. I'm sadened that people are staying away from a thread.

I don't find Gaelicsheep overly confrontational but then I'm not Welsh first language.

Jonno94 Fri 08-Mar-13 15:34:21

yes but that is not the point. The Welsh language is fine for those who want to speak it, however for those that don't or can't speak it, still by law, have to speak it in schools.

There should be a choice. I think the kids would be better off learning to read and write first, let alone try Welsh. Don't misunderstand me, I'm born and bread Welsh and have represented my country on numerous occasions and very proud to be Welsh but Wales is becoming highly nationalistic and insular. As for education, its falling behide the rest of the world and well behind England.

I'd rather the kids learnt French then Spanish followed by Mandarin

CecilyP Fri 08-Mar-13 16:34:31

Those wondering why so much is being 'wasted' on Welsh language education would do well to consider why there are now so many oversubscribed Welsh primaries in Cardiff - and not only in the usual middle-class, media-centric areas either.

I'm wondering. Perhaps you would like to tell us.

adeucalione Fri 08-Mar-13 17:20:57

I'd be interested in the answer to that too.

As I understand it there is a huge reorganisation taking place in Cardiff, due to 9000 surplus school places that cost over £3m per year to fund (30 primaries and secondaries with more than 25% surplus, 20 primaries fully or over subscribed). I've looked at the schools involved here but it doesn't appear to be the case that WM schools are oversubscribed whilst EM schools are empty. Indeed I selected a school at random from the list and found that it is in an area of Cardiff where demand for EM education cannot always be met Mt Stuart

gaelicsheep Fri 08-Mar-13 18:10:49

Oh goodness, I'm really not interested enough in this topic to have a proper debate. I thought Welsh people might be interested to know how their country portrays itself to people who are not Welsh. Perhaps that's why the Welsh question gets people's backs up. Do I care if Wales wants to marginalise itself? No I don't.

gaelicsheep Fri 08-Mar-13 18:23:12

I.would also like to bet that the reason WM schools are oversubscribed is because they are better resourced.

gaelicsheep Fri 08-Mar-13 18:28:09

Honestly though, I'm backing out. It really is none of my business. I'm glad DS is getting a second language but I'd be just as pleased if it was French or Spanish or Gaelic. I probably am very ignorant of Welsh issues.

ZZZenAgain Fri 08-Mar-13 18:39:56

Saw this documentary on Welsh medium education in areas where Welsh is not widely spoken a while ago, found it quite interesting to see when the dc actually use Welsh and how they get on communicating with native speakers from North Wales:


I've pretty much always wanted to be able to speak Welsh just because it is our British heritage but I have never wanted the actual work involved in acquiring it. I think it is important to do as much as possible to retain it as a living language. IMO it is definitely worth holding on to it.

gaelicsheep Fri 08-Mar-13 18:57:10

I will just say that I too am very worried about poorer outcomes, health and education wise, in Wales, as mentioned by MisForMum. And now we hear that patients sent over the border are not to be treated quicker than the maximum time limits because the health trusts have no money to pay for it. That is just dreadful. I dread any of us becoming ill in this country. Well actually, DH already is and I have no faith whatsoever in the health system.

Roseformeplease Fri 08-Mar-13 19:15:23

OP interesting to note that you are a Secondary English teacher, as am I, but in Scotland. Pupils who have gone through Gaelic Medium here, about 1/4 of our pupils, only learn Gaelic up to p5 and then begins learning to read and write English. At High School level, we find that this handicaps the English of all but the brightest or those with lots of support /books at home. So, in fact, it is socially divisive in a way. The middle class children or those with brains become fluent in two languages; the weaker children or those with limited support at home have very poor spelling, punctuation and reading skills in English. Many of them test as dyslexic or have trouble with spelling.

My own children have gone through English Medium for this reason. Also, here, GM education ends, except for 4 lessons of Gadhlig per week in secondary. Very, very few schools have the option to study other subjects through the medium of Gaelic and resources are scarce. It is also only the language of a small, sparsely populated part of Scotland and very few pupils speak it at home.

However, it does not seem to open the doors that Welsh does, from reading the posts above. My sister is about to move to Powys so I will watch her progress (no children, yet) with interest.

maishoffwcingras Fri 08-Mar-13 19:56:59

I am under 80 years old, Welsh first language, went to a Welsh medium school then to an English university. I had exactly the same degree results as my English privately educated DH. Surely that is proof that it didn't hold me back.

I now live in SE England & have 2 DDs. I speak to them in Welsh & my DH speaks to them in English. A lot of people would probably think 'What's the point? They don't live in Wales, Welsh is a useless language, nobody speaks it', well I speak it, their relatives in Wales speak it, it's part of them. It would feel completely unnatural for me to speak to them in any other language. My eldest is at school and her (English) reading and writing is as good as any of her classmates.

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