Encouraging my daughter's learning

Hello, bore da pawb,

My daughter started learning Welsh during lockdown with SSiW Bedtime Welsh, she’s kept it up with the gamefied app. I took her to the eisteddfod this year - she loves literature, and music and plays instruments, and culturally, she feels very Welsh. She’s really into her Cymraeg at the moment and starting to think about GCSEs and asked whether doing a GCSE in Welsh is possible. We live in England. It’s not on the curriculum here so that’s something we’d have to do outside school. But I’m not sure if getting a GCSE is necessarily the right path to take. Any thoughts?

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I can’t speak in any authority on this, I’m just a mum in England. I think it depends on what her future career may be (if she knows what she may want to do) and whether that piece of paper that says she is qualified to GCSE level Welsh will be helpful or not. Would you be planning to move to Wales in the near future? it may be worth looking at the types of jobs she might be interested in and what qualifications they want.

If the GCSE qualification is for fun, rather than essentials, I would consider whether the pressure of working towards a qualification will be helpful or a hindrance whilst also doing the other subjects. You don’t need that piece of paper to prove you are good and potentially it could be obtained later on. If she’s really interested, she could give it a go and see how it goes and drop it if it proves too much.

I’m not sure how old she is, but there is a new online Welsh school that has just started this month called Ysgol Sadwrn. It is for children age 3 to 14. We have done this for two terms now as part of the pilot scheme and my son really enjoys it. that might be worth considering if she is still in the age range I would recommend it to anyone. My son has met children from all over the world and he thinks it’s brilliant. It was funny to say good night to the children in Australia who are off to bed when we were just starting out all day! Happy to answer questions or email Sioned the head teacher. She’s lovely. We have only just started this term so you can probably join in now if you are interested.


GCSE’s in Welsh do, of course, exist, but in Wales are only directed towards school children. I believe there are two types, one for native speakers and one where Welsh is a second language. The teaching for the second one, which your daughter would take, generally has a poor reputation, but obviously your daughter is more motivated than many, who feel it is foisted upon them. It is, was, treated as a half GCSE by some. When my children sat them, 15 or so years ago, there were portions of the exam which required group work so the practicalities might be a little complex.

Adult learners are directed towards exams related to the level of language they have been learning, if they have been following ‘conventional’ courses, Mynediad, Sylfaen, Canolradd and Uwch, the final one being equivalent, so I’m told, to an A level.

@Novem, now on SSIW staff, looked at taking exams in Welsh from abroad several years ago. In the end some of the ‘powers that be’ wouldn’t, couldn’t co-operate but since then they have graduated in Welsh, from a Welsh university, so a determined mind can achieve a whole lot! Pob lwc iddi hi, Good luck to your daughter.

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Thank you Ruth. I’ll definitely check out the online Welsh school. That’s so helpful.

Knowing my girl I think that it’s really valuable for her to be learning a language and to be finding it fun, and I wonder whether doing a GCSE might create unhelpful pressure. I think her positive attitude to learning languages will help with the other languages she’s learning with school, French and German.

Thank you so much Margaret.

I think I’ll encourage my girl to keep on with Duolingo as she’s enjoying that. I guess once she’s completed Duolingo we can address further learning. And I will talk to her more and more in Welsh at home. I’ll check out the online Saturday school too because friends to chat with are way cooler than your Mam. And keep taking her to cultural events where she can experience Welsh within context. We’ll see how it goes.

Here are some extra ideas, as I learn online & use lots of resources I find across the internet to keep things interesting:

There are free online informal online Duolingo chat & reading sessions here - at least one home-educated schoolboy attends some of these, so you might like to try your daughter on one & see if it works for her: Sgwrsio /Chat .

When she’s a little older, the Dysgu Cymraeg adult courses are free for young people so she could join those online after taking her GSCEs etc: Young people | Learn Welsh . There are a number of free Saturday & other events they run that she could dip into before then if she’s really keen - the providers are really helpful if you contact them & have newsletters of local events, including some with other organisations, which are often online (https://learnwelsh.cymru/about-us/providers/).

Museums in Wales have educational sections with worksheets & other materials in Welsh (there are even ones on the Houses of Parliament site) & if you get a free membership of schools’ resource site Twinkl (https://www.twinkl.co.uk/), they give you a free download most months after their free trial, so you could pick some interesting topics for her that link into her hobbies or existing school subjects.

She can join Welsh libraries for free online & borrow books & audiobooks electronically using Borrowbox & magazines via Libby (several of my classmates live in England & are members of Cardiff or RCT libraries: Join a library - Libraries Wales). I regularly borrow some excellent children’s books (including illustrated encylopedias, dictionaries & other educational resources as well as teen fiction); Amdani beginners’ series (includes vocab) & Stori Sydyn (Quick Reads). I found a really nice new factual illustrated children’s series on there called ‘Cyfres y Gwybodyn’ just this week.

S4C Clic online has great programmes, with English & Welsh subtitles (Clic & also in the S4C part of BBC iPlayer) - the Stwsh section has teen programmes, such as Y Goleudy , which is a good drama (Clic) My other fave children’s progs include Ein Byd Bach Ni (for younger children) - visits different countries around the world & talks about the people, food, places etc; Amser Maith Yn Ôl - historical show of family village life (Tudors, WWI, Victorian, Celtic, Princes of Wales), Efaciwis & Mabinogiogi.

Am happy to answer questions & give more specific titles.


Free online Top Up Your Duolingo Zoom session:

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The Urdd has a centre in Llangranog where many primary school children spend a few days and are immersed in Welsh, certainly mine did. I believe in the holiday period they have family holiday provision. It may be worth investigating.

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Waw! Thank you so much for posting so much information. That’s awesome. I’m very grateful. :heart_eyes:

Thank you Margaret. That’s great. x

No problems. It can be lonely learning online, especially when you don’t live within a Welsh-speaking community. Hopefully you can find good ways for your daughter to get safely involved in suitable enjoyable additional activities so she can continue her great progress. Pob lwc :blush:

PS A new bilingual S4C Learners’ Newsletter has just been launched - sign-up here: Mailchimp Survey

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And they produce several magazines - digital copies are free (back issues available too): Magazine subscriptions | Urdd or you can subscribe to print copies if any of the levels suit her.

Pursuing a GCSE in Welsh sounds like a fantastic way to further immerse herself in the language and culture, even if it means exploring options outside of school. However, it’s also important to consider her overall educational journey and whether a GCSE in Welsh aligns with her long-term goals and interests.