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To send DS to Welsh speaking secondary?

128 replies

HeartShapedBoxes · 26/09/2022 23:16

Recently had to move in with my mum and found that the English speaking secondary school in catchment is awful. Really, really bad. There is a Welsh speaking secondary school - but DS doesn’t speak much Welsh. Would I be completely mad to send him there if I can? He’s in year 6 so it’s a pressing problem right now

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

Brechdanjamcaws · 27/09/2022 14:18

DownNative · 27/09/2022 08:23

70% of people in Wales don't speak any Welsh or have no skills in it. 29% speak Welsh to varying levels of proficiency, but fluent speakers are less than 29%.

Very, very different to France where French literally is the majority language.

Vice versa for those outside the UK who come here with no English language skills - they're fully immersed in a country where English literally is the majority language.

That helps with picking up skills relatively quickly.

Do you live in Wales? Are you Welsh? I’ve just told you I live in North Wales, there’s no point quoting me statistics when I’m telling you, where I live most if not all daily stuff is done through Welsh language. I go to the shop, I speak Welsh. I go swimming, I speak welsh. Go to a cafe, I order in welsh.
Cardiff is mainly English speaking (I should know, I used to work there).
Gwynedd is very welsh. That’s why Plaid always get in. The OP’s situation really does depend on where in Wales she lives which is why I said in North Wales…
anyway, @HeartShapedBoxes my welsh language secondary allowed me to do all my work in english despite me being fluent. The teachers had english and welsh sheets and pupils could choose for themselves. Think you should visit the welsh language school to get a feel for it before you are put off!


KimberleyClark · 27/09/2022 14:25

RedHelenB · 27/09/2022 11:39

Interesting. Could you give me some examples of more modern words? My friend was Welsh and when she spoke with her friends the more modern words were English so I assumed there weren't new Welsh words but I stand corrected.

Cyfrifiadur - computer
Ffon symudol - mobile phone
Cluniadur - laptop
Gwefan - website
ebost - email

There are more.


KimberleyClark · 27/09/2022 14:28

@RedHelenB have you been reading/listening to Janet Street Porter? She talks a lot of bollocks about the Welsh language.


iolaus · 27/09/2022 14:33

Can he go to Welsh medium primary for year 6? Depending on how he goes depends on whether I'd send him to welsh medium secondary (and all my kids go/went to welsh medium secondary - but they started in Welsh medium education at 3 - previously not bilingual)


funtycucker · 27/09/2022 15:26

brianixon · 27/09/2022 08:56

Reading posts about Welsh and Irish schools prohibiting social conversations in other languages.
Thinking about schools in Whitechapel trying to stop kids from using Urdu or Sylheti.
They would find themselves in Human Rights Court for Oppressive policies.
How does it escape that kind of scrutiny?

My thoughts exactly


KimberleyClark · 27/09/2022 15:31

Thinking about schools in Whitechapel trying to stop kids from using Urdu or Sylheti.

This is exactly what was happening in schools in Wales a century ago. Children being punished for speaking Welsh in school


Wafflesnsniffles · 27/09/2022 15:34

If hes a confident learner, doing well at his current school and is keen to do his best in Welsh theres no reason why he wont do as well as any other new starter - preferably with an immersion class to start with. I wouldnt rule it out altogether.


GogLais · 27/09/2022 15:40

@RedHelenB , Welsh isn't a dead language, and I can't think of English words in it, never mind a lot of them. There are parts of Wales where Welsh is the everyday language, and younger people and children use the Welsh words for things.


purplecorkheart · 27/09/2022 15:43

How does he feel about it?


GogLais · 27/09/2022 15:51

@RedHelenB , so you base your opinion on one person, and choose to share your knowledge on here.

There are words for modern things like computer, broadband, mobile phone and so on. The terms will have been coined, but so were the english words.


Musti · 27/09/2022 15:55

Plenty of kids move countries and start schooling in a new language. They soon pick it up. Speak to the Welsh school and see what their experience of kids with little Welsh is and what they recommend. (I moved to the UK when I was that age with barely any English). A year later I started secondary school and was put in the top sets including English. (However, I already spoke 2 languages as had been raised bilingually).


MrsSwnllyd · 27/09/2022 16:01

There's a Welsh immersion programme where I live, starting in year 6 and aiming to have the children fluent and fully integrated by year 9.
DS1's girlfriend's best friend (sorry for tenuous link!) did it successfully. I'd have liked mine to do it but they weren't keen unfortunately.


fdgdfgdfgdfg · 27/09/2022 16:06

Don't do it. You'll be hurting his chances far more by having him in a school where he doesn't understand the language, than in a school that isn't great.

You'll be hurting his academic chances, as well as harming his ability to make friends etc.


Darbs76 · 27/09/2022 16:13

Don’t do it. I did Welsh every afternoon throughout primary - I didn’t go to the Welsh secondary as it would have been a disadvantage as I wasn’t fluent


RedHelenB · 27/09/2022 17:18

GogLais · 27/09/2022 15:51

@RedHelenB , so you base your opinion on one person, and choose to share your knowledge on here.

There are words for modern things like computer, broadband, mobile phone and so on. The terms will have been coined, but so were the english words.

Yes but what I was meaning is broad and band have meanings in English so they put them together to form a compound word. But it seems to me in Welsh, and I m ready to be corrected, they'd just use the English word broadband?


Brechdanjamcaws · 27/09/2022 17:29

RedHelenB · 27/09/2022 17:18

Yes but what I was meaning is broad and band have meanings in English so they put them together to form a compound word. But it seems to me in Welsh, and I m ready to be corrected, they'd just use the English word broadband?


Relocatiorelocation · 27/09/2022 17:40

Bluntly, is he bright? I live in a mostly English speaking part of Wales. I've seen lots of young adults go off to uni from the Welsh medium schools and really struggle, especially if they aren't naturally academic.

Being bilingual is a wonderful thing, but you have to be realistic about aptitude and ability trying to pick it up at secondary age.

Do you have a faith, is there a church school you could apply to instead?


MrsCarson · 27/09/2022 17:44

My Dd didn't move to UK till she was 8, never spoke Welsh or heard it. She did the Welsh emersion and became fluent and into mainstream classes for year 8. Some friends didn't join mainstream till year 9.
I was born and raised in Wales, learned Welsh from age 4 to high school ,still can't speak it, only bits and pieces.
Some kids do better than others.


MrJi · 27/09/2022 17:54

RedHelenB · 27/09/2022 08:46

If you live in Wakes why wouldn't you want him to speak the language. Kids pick it up so fast, plus as its a dead language there is a lot if English words in there. After a year I think he'd be more or less fluent

A “Dead language” ?? Welsh isn’t a dead language, it isn’t Latin !
OP I know children who have been ok after immersion but a significant number
of those have then either started in the English stream at a dual stream school for year 7, or switched to that school later. Some of those children resented speaking Welsh.
You know your son, will he be really happy to learn another language and to have all his lessons in Welsh ? Or will he find that too stressful ?
I agree with a pp in taking a good look at the English stream school as well as the welsh language school, schools go up and down quite rapidly with changes of head etc.
I suppose it also depends on whether you are going to stay in Wales or not ? Are you Welsh with other family members who speak it ? As then he will have other people to help with going over homework etc.


Darbs76 · 27/09/2022 17:56

All children in wales learn the language, but some schools teach 100% in Welsh and that’s not the best idea if you can’t speak a word of it


Bottomofthepileasusual · 27/09/2022 18:48

Our local Welsh comp doesn't allow English speaking at all. So if the English comp really us that bad he needs to do a lot of Welsh learning asap. There should be private tutors around who could help him or get him int lo a Welsh primary now


Brechdanjamcaws · 27/09/2022 19:46

@HeartShapedBoxes i know I’m repeating myself but you need to find out how strict the welsh school is. Lots of welsh medium schools don’t bat an eyelid and kids using English and kids can do their work in either language. As I said I attended welsh medium secondary but spoke English with friends and did all work apart from Cymraeg through English. English books, English worksheets. I know of a welsh medium school about 45 mins away that is hellishly strict about no English being used, so you need to find out!


klipwa · 27/09/2022 20:22

If he is going into Year 7 AND the WM school has an immersion stream, I would go for it. He wouldn't be the only one in his situation. It Worked well for my relatives who did not speak Welsh at home. They made the choice based on poor standing of the EM catchment school and didn't regret it.


GogLais · 27/09/2022 20:27

@RedHelenB , @Brechdanjamcaws has already answered you before I had a chance. We have Welsh words for everything, even jam (cyffaith but most people say jam). The language is alive.
You will hear people slip in the odd english or welshified word (telly, fridge etc), but younger people tend to use the Welsh word.


Glitterandglue · 27/09/2022 20:59

BadGranny · 26/09/2022 23:38

My daughter went to an ordinary school in France when she was in Y8 for a year. She spoke a tiny amount of classroom French when she started. By the end of two terms she was completely fluent in French without an accent, and had a big-ish speaking part in the school play.

Kids are WAY more able to do that than adults.

Speaking as someone who's learned French and Welsh, French is much easier to learn. It's a much stricter language in the sense they don't tend to allow nineteen ways to say the same thing (whereas English...) and grammatically it's simpler. Apparently there's something to do with the more people who develop a language the more simple it gets and the fewer people the more complex it gets, if I've remembered that correctly.

Anyway yeah, I learned French because I had to at school and have retained a fair chunk of it despite not using it since (which very much isn't the case for German or Latin). Welsh I've learned deliberately as an adult and it's still more complex. Good thing is though there are much better resources to learn with than the old 'parrot back this sentence about going to the swimming pool'.
If you do decide to put him down for the Welsh medium school, I highly recommend SSIW, supplemented later by Duolingo (you learn to speak much more naturally with SSIW and then Duo can be used to fatten it out and learn the spellings and more about why the mutations exist and so on. But I think you could give him even greater benefit by getting him a tutor, and also by learning alongside him.

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