So, in the ‘problems’ thread, we’ve done an excellent job of rounding up all the things which currently go wrong, in a wide range of different contexts.
I’m about to open up some more specific idea-generating threads…
But in the meantime, in the spirit of looking for potential tipping points, can we think of any magic bullets?
At the moment, if you read the problems thread, you think ‘Okay, we need about 8 million different projects’ - which is fine, and partially true, and something that I think we can move towards…
But if we as a community could only manage, say, 3 core projects…
What do you think they should be?
Where can we trigger the most change for the least effort?
All people-facing businesses and services encouraged /incentivised to get Welsh speakers to wear orange comma badges.
I love it when I occasionally come across them, and trying to speak Welsh stops being a stressful lottery (with all the baggage that comes with that).
I think a lot of it will need to be person to person and creating “stuff” to support that - nothing is more convincing or more likely to work than a mate helping you along the same route they took to learning.
I think this is a great idea @leiafee . Using mates rather than “teachers” would mean that the large target could be achieved if we can devise and suppprt a sort of pyramid initiative. We wouldn’t need to aim for a milion proficient speakers just a large core of motivated people who are on the first rungs of the ladder.
Yes, someone with more experience/expertise is a great help but how about a ‘buddy’ at about the same level so that you can help each other, share experiences and pool ideas.
More clubs/groups that operate through the medium of welsh or at least bilingually. The theory being people go to groups that interest them, eg choirs, but also knitting groups,tai chi, yoga etc.
If everyone could do their interest activity in Welsh we would all come on a lot faster and have a lot of fun doing it.
If we are going to attract more people to SSiW how about each of us who have finished the levels linking with a new learner for email/ Skype support and practice?
I think this has value twice over. Firstly, retention is usually a more effective use of effort than recruitment. (Can someone tell us the approximate drop-out rate from SSiW, please?) Secondly, does the ‘helper’ need to have finished all three levels? Would it be sufficient to have completed the level above? If so, helping someone may also help the helper.
It’s tricky to measure that sort of stuff - hard for us to know if someone downloads the lessons and uses them offline - we’d like to do more with this, but it’s not at the top of the list right now…
The idea of anyone having finished a level being qualified to mentor someone on the level below is a great one…
Perhaps one place to take inspiration from is the “hipster” movement.
20 years ago finding a real ale, a vinyl record, speciality cheese/bread took some effort. These days city and town centres and suburbs are full of shops and pubs selling artisan produce.
What are these doing right that’s caught the public imagination?
Could Welsh be marketed as the ciabatta with olives to the English wholemeal sliced?
Or, perhaps target these independent shops that are clustered together to see if there’s interest in making small Welsh language havens. for example the arcades in Cardiff. If people thought you could wander into these and speak and hear Welsh would it increase footfall from speakers and learners but also tourists?
There’s something in there somewhere about reasons and rewards, isn’t there? And a sense of belonging? Maybe a ‘Welsh speaking businesses’ angle would have legs… but then of course you have the complication of Welsh speaking not being a neat overlap with ‘local’…
But if there was some kind of grouping that you could gain access to with not-all-that-much Welsh…
I think the beginnings of it are there with the SSiW learner meets. Are there connections between the groups and proprieters and staff that can be built on?
That’s a good thought. Does it need to be something a little more than a group of learners, though? Some kind of external reward beyond simply learning the language?
Reasons, rewards and incentives. These are, I think, the key.
Successful learners (at anything, not just Welsh) will always have one or more of these in mind, and usually will have come up with them themselves (i.e. reasons such as family heritage, rewards such as personal satisfaction in gaining another language, incentives such as job opportunities, etc).
The people who haven’t found their reason/reward/incentive are the ones we ideally need to tempt - somehow we need to show that speaking Welsh can provide so many more benefits than the one you first think of.
Welsh as a superpower - suddenly you can double the amount of opportunities available to you. You can see previously ‘invisible’ literature. You can hear previously ‘inaudible’ music. You can experience previously ‘secret’ events.
I think you’ve got the core of a brilliant campaign there…
Great idea. I think we have to be a little bit careful with the word ‘secret’, as it could play into the hands of the ‘Welsh is a closed secret elite club’ lobby.
But still, I really like the overall idea.
Yes I like the idea of a superpower. And the idea of opening up worlds. After I went to Tafwyl I thought of the “two worlds” thing as being a bit like Harry Potter - that there is this whole culture hidden in plain site. And all my life I thought I was a muggle, but I am a wizard after all! Because what else is speaking Welsh but making magic.
Sometimes it is best to just ignore critisism, but I’m not sure we can on this one.
Some people question the existence of Welsh. This is especially true in British Wales (North East Wales and Coastal resorts), in which a not insignifcant amount of the population live.
For many in this area, the idea that the Welsh government might want to increase the number of Welsh speakers is a mystery. Why do they want to do that? Why have Welsh at all? Why would a GOVERNMENT want to increase numbers? Shouldn’t they focus on schools/hospitals etc?
Perhaps the Million Speakers project could look at answering this question. Possible answers;
- Increased quality of life (two world viewpoints)
- Preserve tradition
- Preserve and devlop a culture
- Developed sense of self for citizens
- Internal market for Welsh goods and services
- Allowing people to have academic and family reasons for using/learning the language.
The project could also look to displace these reasons for not increasing numbers;
- Misunderstanding (road signs etc)
- Doesn’t help promote a united UK
- Potentially lower globalisation
P.S. This has been discussed to some extent here: Welsh language on BBC R4's Today programme million speakers
yes, it’s the same in SE Wales where I’m originally from. I think the main reason for this is that Welsh history has been whitewashed from the school history curriculum for so long. In my opinion that is the source of ‘Welsh is a dead language’ and ‘all Welsh speakers are Nationalists’. Once you enter the ‘parallel universe’ of Welsh speaking, that history is there and everything starts to fall into place and of course those myths are debunked. I’m sure there must be bits of Welsh history that can be utilised for encouraging uptake of the language - rather than always defaulting to the bits often referred to to explain/blame its decline (such as the Blue Books for instance) which will be discovered by the learners eventually anyway.
We don’t just need to focus on the ‘how’ (important though that is), we definitely need to build a solid, encouraging base of ‘why’ by reinforcing the points you’ve made above.