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Help.....moving to Wales....teaching in Welsh to a child that only speaks English

(50 Posts)
Wales2015 Sun 16-Nov-14 10:24:30

Hi,

This is my first time posting on the forum. We are planning to move from Berkshire to Wales next summer. Our little one is currently in year 1 and will be moving into year 2 at the time of the move. The research that we have done gives us a lot of confidence about the local school but the main language in the school is Welsh. None of us speak Welsh (although we all hope to learn) and I am worried about how easy it will be to adapt to being taught in a new language. Also, how could we support with homework?

Does anyone have any experiences that they could share or things that we should be thinking about.

Thanks so much!

Celticlass2 Sun 16-Nov-14 10:28:08

Why don't you send her to an English medium school?

kelda Sun 16-Nov-14 10:31:01

Many people will tell you that children pick up a new language like a sponge.

In my experience, this is not often true.

It will take a lot of work from all of you in the family. Language lessons, studying, immersing yourselves in the language, speaking as much as possible in the language to whoever will listen. And that is for all of you, not just your child.

And it will be so worth it in the end, when your child, and hopefully you as well, are bilingual.

fattymammy Sun 16-Nov-14 10:32:53

Hi i livei n wales my husband is from a first language welsh family in mine its second language both of our children have gone to bilingual schools .They do speak welsh but not strong enough we feel to go a full welsh school even though it does mean a 4 mile each way school run .Hope you enjoy your move and welcome to Wales .

Wales2015 Sun 16-Nov-14 10:57:02

The local schools are all Welsh medium. We are looking at the closest English medium school too and hoping this will be an option.

Cherriesandapples Sun 16-Nov-14 11:01:07

Some children are fine in Welsh medium schools and some struggle. I think as parents you should also learn Welsh if you are considering sending them to a Welsh medium school. Otherwise send them to an English medium school. I'm welsh/English and send my children to English medium school. They will learn Welsh until they are 16.

LemonySnug Sun 16-Nov-14 11:36:44

Maybe also post this in 'Living Overseas'.

The good thing is that roughly speaking the curriculum and school life will be similar to what he is used to, he will need to learn Welsh of course. Could he start Welsh lessons already now? Is there a Saturday school or online?

I would not reject it out of hand, but agree that learning another language properly is hard work and requires perseverance and commitment.

Cherriesandapples Sun 16-Nov-14 11:55:55

Really "living overseas"?????Wales is attached to England you know!

SeaUnicorns Sun 16-Nov-14 12:06:34

I think the post in the overseas section was more from the point of view that it's likely that posters will have children who have moved from their first language medium school to a new language median school that is unspoken by either parent cherriesandapples. So are more likely to be able to give tips on how they and their children coped with the transition and how to help with homework. Rather than the suggestion that Wales is overseas.

LemonySnug Sun 16-Nov-14 12:07:13

Thanks, yes I am aware of that. But Welsh is a proper language in its own right. In the Living Abroad section of mumsnet you will come across many people who have faced similar situations (e.g. sending children to local school or British school).

Celticlass2 Sun 16-Nov-14 12:22:03

We live in Wales. DD is in high school and will learn Welsh till she is 16. Interestingly, a few of her friends went to a Welsh medium primary, but decided not to continue Welsh medium education in secondary school. None of them speak Welsh at home anymore. Apparently this is not uncommon.

Cherriesandapples Sun 16-Nov-14 13:45:33

No Lemony, it is not like being abroad because state schools in Wales can be English medium, welsh medium or bi lingual depending on whereabouts you are. Where I live, there aren't any good private day schools within reasonable distance so private may not be an option. Lots of children decide to learn in welsh medium schools (the behaviour can be better) or study in English medium schools. Socially if in primary, the parents/ children may struggle with making friends as some areas of Wales are a bit insular! I say this as this is more important in perhaps the rural parts if wales where it is quite a distance to the nearest big town. It is nothing like living as an expat abroad because in those circumstances one is immersed in the language!

amothersplaceisinthewrong Sun 16-Nov-14 13:49:44

If I wanted my child to be bi-lingual Welsh is not the first language that I would concentrate all that effort on. Send

Celticlass2 Sun 16-Nov-14 13:58:45

My DD has got on very well with Welsh, despite coming to it late. and is actually in Set1. Interestingly her two friends who went to a WM.primary are in the next set down. I'm not sure what that says, but I quess that's another thread.
She is however choosing Spanish and French over Welsh when she needs to chose options next February.
I think those two modern Foreigh languages will be a lot more useful tbh.
We live near Cardiff. I have heard more Eastern European languages spoken here than Welsh.

DharmaBumpkin Sun 16-Nov-14 14:04:40

We live in Wales, I'm a Kiwi so definitely not first language though I do speak it now. We are in southern Snowdonia in a very Welsh area, no English medium primaries or secondary schools.

However because of this there is a local language unit attached to one of the schools, as kids from non Welsh speaking countries come to the area they do a term or two at the specialist unit so that they are up & running with Welsh before they get to the actual school. Most seem to be fluent within minutes! unlike me

WalkingInMemphis Mon 17-Nov-14 00:58:03

This will cause some very specific 'problems' IMO, which are completely different to moving abroad and dc going to a local school.

If you moved to...I don't know...Germany. And dc were in a local school. If dc struggled a bit, the teacher/support staff may well indulge the dc and (if they're able) translate for them to English for instance. Some German dc who speak English may also like/be encouraged to practice their skills and speak in English to the new student.

You're unlikely to get this in a Welsh-medium school, because a high % of dc come from English speaking households. It's the aim of the school to totally immerse them in Welsh from the get-go so that they're fluent (because they're already battling uphill from English being spoken at home), and NO English is spoken at school at all. In some schools they also discourage/ban English from being spoken at play and lunch times. You'd have much more chance of your dd settling into an overseas school in Year 2 than a Welsh-medium one iyswim because at least teachers and pupils would be willing and allowed to speak English to her. Not so in Wales.

All schools in Wales will learn Welsh to an extent, and some place more focus on it than others...our school is English medium but the dc can already hold and understand basic Welsh conversations. But to put a 7 year old in a class or school which is entirely in an unknown language, and where none of the other dc will even be allowed to speak English with her is unfair IMO. Yes there will be many other dc there from English speaking households but they will have been immersed in the language for 3 years by then and already fluent.

Celticlass2 Mon 17-Nov-14 09:09:36

I agree with you Walking I think it would be very ill advised to send a seven year old in to an environment which will be completely alien to her.
I would seek out an English medium school, even if that means having to travel further.

prh47bridge Mon 17-Nov-14 09:53:22

You need to check out the arrangements for non-Welsh speakers. Some LAs such as Gwynedd initially send such children to a special school where they will learn Welsh. They will only go to a normal school once they have sufficient grasp of the Welsh language.

Celticlass2 Mon 17-Nov-14 11:52:53

prh47bridge not the case in South Wales. Plenty of non Welsh children come to primary with no Welsh at all and grasp the basics fairly quickly . ( thinking of my DD's friend from Poland) I also know a couple of people who live close to the English border and send their children to a school in England because they don't lke the compulsory element of Welsh in English medium education.

Cherriesandapples Mon 17-Nov-14 18:20:39

Yes, I agree it is worth contacting the local authority and finding out more about the options local to you.

LingDiLong Mon 17-Nov-14 18:23:59

Actually celticlass2, I'm in South Wales and sending older children to a unit dedicated to catching them up in Welsh is exactly what happens here. They usually spend some time in the primary school they are going to but with a certain amount of time in the unit. OP, you need to ask the school what their arrangements will be to catch your child up with the Welsh language. In the Welsh school my kids go to the majority are from English speaking schools. The homework has English translation on it for as long as you need it for and there are always loads of free courses for parents to learn Welsh.

Definitely talk to the school about your concerns and see if they can allay them - they should have plans and provision in place for people in your position.

Viviennemary Mon 17-Nov-14 18:25:49

I'd think twice about this. Wesh is a very very minority language. I wouldn't be keen on sending my child to a Welsh speaking school. In fact I think it would be totally traumatic for a child to be placed in this environment even more so as neither of you speak Welsh.

hippo123 Mon 17-Nov-14 18:29:02

Is it gwynedd your moving to by any chance? Your dc will be fine, within a year they'll be fluent. You may find they send her to a language unit for her first term here, there great though. I'm English with 2 kids in welsh medium primary, feel free to pm me.
I think a lot of posters on here don't realise that in some parts of wales you can't just go to an English medium school - there aren't any.

LingDiLong Mon 17-Nov-14 18:29:57

Whether or not Welsh is a 'very very minority' language depends entirely on where the OP is moving. There are some parts of Wales where it is very widely spoken and it'll be a distinct advantage for the whole family to pick it up if possible. I'm not sure why it should be 'traumatic' though? That's a little dramatic I think! They won't just refuse to speak any English to a 6/7 year old you know!! They'll help them adjust.

Viviennemary Mon 17-Nov-14 18:32:30

I meant a minority language in the UK and the world as a whole not in Wales. I did know somebody who was passionate about Wales but felt being taught in Welsh did hold her at a disadvantage in later life. My post was influenced by this.

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