Home educated children & the Welsh language

I am a Welsh learner - the SSiW way and now on an intensive course twice a week through Trinity St David, I am also the father of three home educated kids. There’s quite a sizeable home ed community in Carmarthenshire and I would certainly like my kids to be able to learn some Welsh. Has anyone any thoughts about how we might better bring Welsh to, in my experience, an almost entirely anglophone community?

It should be noted that home ed kids couldn’t be expected to respond well to a formal course - this might be where we need SSiW (Kids’ edition).

Also it’s worth noting that at least one of the families I know took up home ed because of the stress the kids felt being at a Welsh language school; if the little ones hear Welsh spoken, they call it “School” as in “those people are speaking School, Mummy”. They know Welsh but won’t speak it!

So, it may be that a special approach is needed and I know that ideally that’d be that the home ed kids would all make friends with Welsh speaking ones and learn through play… easier said than done I’m afraid.

Thanks very much for your post, Paul - this is a field I’m particularly interested in, and I hope very much that we’ll be able to do a lot more in this direction as we iron out the wrinkles in our new course creation tool.

I know that we already have a few home educators whose children are using the course as is, and making good progress - but I’m sure there’s a lot more we could do to make it more directly interesting and relevant to children. How old are your kids? Have they heard you doing the lessons? It would be really interesting to hear what they thought if they gave the first session a try…

The kids are 16, 13 and 5. They have all heard me doing the lessons. I used up a lot of fatherly capital encouraging, badgering, the two older ones to learn French when we lived in France (we have only been back 2 years after 6 in France), so whilst they are now bilingual, my urging them to learn a third language is meeting a lot of resistance. Still, Hope, 16, started at Coleg Sir Gar this autumn gone - her first brush with “mainstream” education - and has encountered the Welsh Bacc and so, Yr Iaith a little; I think that as she realises the practical value of Welsh in her chosen field of performing arts she’ll carry on with it one way or another. At lunch just now I asked Robin to do the first lesson so that we could send you his reflections on it, and to my astonishment he agreed. As for Alfred, I think I’m going to get him sitting down to watch ‘Ti Fi a Cyw’ from time to time and see how he likes that.
As for my Welsh, I got so cross the other day in Sancler; heard the woman in the pharmacy speaking Welsh, spoke Welsh to her and she immediately replied, having understood me, may I add, in English!! Infuriating!! Aaaaargh!!

Ah, yes, the frustration of people trying to be ‘help’ learners in the worst possible way - go for some ‘Dwi’n moyn siarad Cymraeg!’ next time…:wink:

Great that Robin is up for giving us his thoughts - superb. No need to badger at all if Hope doesn’t feel like doing the same - but any input will definitely be very valuable as I keep on thinking about how we can fine tune for teenagers, and also for younger learners :star:

And well done you for giving them bilingualism! I’m sure they’ll appreciate it and thank you - by the time they have their own kids, maybe…:wink:

Ah, something I can meaningfully contribute to. We’re home-educating ours (girls 11 and 9; boy 18 months). My comments here only relate to the girls, of course.

At first they were a little resistant to learning Welsh, but now they happily chatter away to each other in their own particular creole of Welsh and English. They normally do anything from 10 to 30 minutes of a lesson a day.

The elder is on lesson ~23 of course 1, the younger further back in the early teen lessons, so they’re not very far through, but they’re so much more fluent in what they do know than I am, and they pick things up from my later lessons very easily (almost annoyingly easily sometimes) and weave those into their speech too. They’re also happy to apply words and rules from one situation to another, but just as happy to throw those rules out if we eventually find they do not suit. Obviously a lot of this comes from the natural ability of children to learn languages, but also just using it naturally and completely un-self-consciously with each other really accelerates their learning. This latter point is probably the only home-ed specific part of this entire post: if they were at school all day they almost certainly wouldn’t be liberally sprinkling Welsh through their English.

Their spelling of Welsh when they type to me on the computer is atrocious, though :wink:


Thank you so much for sharing that brilliant success story, Dave - it sounds as though the girls are doing extraordinarily well - I bet they’re several hundred miles ahead of any kids who’ve been doing the equivalent amount of time in mandatory Welsh lessons at school :star:

Brilliant to hear that they’ve done so well with the original material - would you mind asking them for their thoughts on doing a child-friendly version - unnecessary or worth considering? It would be particularly fascinating to hear if there’s anything they’d like to be able to say that we haven’t covered yet… :sunny:

They are as many hundred miles as you can imagine ahead of where I was after having mandatory Welsh lessons until the age of ~14. I think I came out of that with about six sentences.

I wouldn’t have thought a version tailored to children would be necessary – they need to say all the same things that we need to say. But I will certainly solicit their opinions for you. Something that are very fond of that isn’t in the course is “mochyn fawr” and “mochyn fach”. Although now I ask Google it seems that should be “mawr” and “bach” respectively, so maybe they’ll say they’d like some more (gentle) insults.

Fantastic - diolch yn fawr iawn i ti… :sunny:

When I spend time thinking about this, I tend to think that the actual content might not be all that different, but that maybe we’d benefit from having some stories wrapped around it somehow…

Great to hear from another home educator, Dave!!

So we have this great tool, SSiW, and all these home ed kids in Wales… hmmmm

Diolch yn fawr, Dave, dw i 'n gobeithio bydd fy mab i joio yr cwrs hefyd.

(Is that an acceptable way to write enjoy? I realise that I’ve only ever heard it and never seen it written :smile: )

It’s how Iestyn does :sunny:

If we can fine tune it, I’m sure we could do more in this direction. We’d be happy to make access available to home educators without a pay-wall if we could figure out the right way to do it.

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Well I’m doing the South Wales course, so Iestyn is my master! :smiley:

I was just talking to a guy today who has received some funding to run science events for hard to reach groups and home ed families fall into that group. I wonder whether there might be some money just lying around somewhere for good folks like you at SSiW to develop a resource for home ed people too.


“Joio” - I think it’s also the way they write it in the Welsh subtitles on “Rownd a Rownd”, so you can get away with it in the north as well, or at least parts of the north.

It’s a thought that often crosses our mind, but we’ve never found any of the pots! So we’re happiest ploughing ahead and developing stuff anyway :sunny:

And you do a really good job. Thanks.

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I asked the girls what they thought and gave them a day to mull it over. They say they’re happy with the course and don’t think there’s a need for a particular version tailored towards children. I mooted your suggestion of adding stories to the lesson, and one thought that would be a distraction, the other had no strong opinion on the subject.

They did say they’d tried to come up with good suggestions but had been unable to. I reassured them that “it doesn’t need to be altered for children” is as useful an opinion as “do [x] for children”.

Obviously children vary and others will likely hold contrary positions. I would expect younger children to be more likely to want a different approach, but that’s just a guess really.

We did initially start SSIW a couple of years ago and didn’t get very far, but I think that was more an effect of the way we were trying to do it rather than an artefact of their ages at the time.


That’s hugely interesting input, Dave, diolch yn fawr iawn i ti - please tell the girls that I’m very grateful to them for thinking so carefully about it, and that their opinion is extremely helpful to me :thumbsup: :star2:

My friend in Cwm Gwendraeth, you may know Staci, sends her daughter to school just 2 days a week. Her son also goes to Meithrin I presume for a couple of days,or mornings a week as well. They pick up Welsh that way. I understand perfectly if you don’t want them to go at all, but for other SSIWers there are often more options than we think. I’m not saying that she didn’t have to do a whole load of negotiations first, and renegotiaions later on, because she did.

Ah, just found this thread - very interesting!
How is everyone getting on with SSIW with their children?

I’ve only just come to this thread too (and my kids are now all grown up and gone away). But just thought I’d share a comment from an old school friend of mine, who studied acting at the Royal College in Cardiff almost 30 years ago. He now works as a website developer, having never really managed to establish a dramatic career (despite being a damn fine actor). He said that the people who were on the course with him who had learned Welsh during their time in Cardiff had never been out of work as actors in the years since they’d finished their course. Food for thought?