I think SSiW could have a huge and positive role to play in this. Publicising this wonderful system where you quickly learn to speak the language without having to read or write anything, would surely “hit the spot” with many potential learners!
Absolutely, Tatjana. And a good place to start would be with Wales’ monolingual railway!
I recently spent a short holiday in North Wales and travelled a number of times up and down the North Wales main line (Chester - Llandudno Jct - Bangor - Holyhead). I was amazed to see that virtually everything seemed to be solely in English. The information screens on the platforms and inside the trains - all English. The pre-recorded announcements of the station stops - all English.
I was chatting to the staff member of Arriva Trains Wales at the ticket barrier at Bae Colwyn/Colwyn Bay station, and asked her whether she is able to speak Welsh, and the answer was “no”. I expressed surprise and said “is it not a requirement then, as you come into contact so much with the public?”. Answer: once again “no”.
One day I was on a Conwy Valley line train. and when I presented my “Explore Wales” pass, the conductor asked me where I was going. I said “Betws y Coed” and I KNOW I pronounced it correctly. He looked puzzled and I had to repeat myself. (Perhaps he was used to hearing it pronounced Betsy-Co-Ed, as per a previous forum posting!!)
How on earth does Arriva Trains Wales get away with running a monolingual railway? Surely a key condition of the franchise should be that staff should be able to speak at least basic Welsh, and all public announcements (recorded or otherwise) should be in both languages?
On that topic and something that would costs nothing at all - I took an Ariva train from Cardiff to Manchester Picadilly - a very slow train indeed. On the way up the recorded anouncements on the train for the stations etc were in both languages, but on the way back they were only in English. As someone who lived in England for years and used to get excited by the Welcome to Wales signs and the sight of the severn bridge or the Brynglas tunnels, I would have been thrilled to hear the announcements in Welsh on reentering Wales. It would be a very simple thing to do and send out a message that the train is now in Wales. Maybe a recorded “Croeso cynnes iawn i chi gyd i gymru, wlad o beirdd a chantorion” or something else like a couple of bars of Calon Lan on entering Wales would be really nice little novelty thing??
Yes, just looking at how important people in Wrexham (a border county) rated the importance of ’ Supporting and promoting culture and Welsh language’ last year, they rated it 26th out of 26 areas of possible concern (see page 20 of, http://www.wrexham.gov.uk/assets/pdfs/consultations/council_plan/wity_key-findings_2016.pdf).
18 posts were split to a new topic: A quick collection of off-topic stuff from the Government opinion thread
Cracking Cardiff should be a key aim. If the capital can be converted then it gives a huge incentive to the rest of the country.
At least I didn’t get any “hostile” looks or responses when starting talking in Cymraeg and (hehe) when I said from where I come from the thingys got even “softer”. If I’d push even a bit further then I did … who knows … maybe I’d be able to convince more people to start learning it. Although I was a bit disappointed not to hear more Cymraeg where I wandered around. I’ve heard a lot of it from the people walking the streets but not in the shops, services and what’s more to it. BUT I was very pleasantly surprised with the fact that people who are not originally from Cymru (like one guy in one suvenier shop) speak Cymraeg very well and they reach out with response in Cymraeg if they hear you speaking the language. That’s why I say we have to use Cymraeg wherever we think they might speak it and in particular if we’re in Cymru.
I wonder if they actually tested that form on Chrome…
So I may be speaking out of turn… being over here in the States renders my input questionable, I’ll admit. Also, my one visit to Wales was a cycling trip from Holyhead to Cardiff back in 2009. So I may be ignorant of a fair bit of nuance.
But as an American it’s my civic duty to give an opinion whether its wanted or not [really, it’s in our Constitution, I think].
Anyway, I grew up just south of Quebec in the 80’s. Montreal was where I went for concerts and cultural events through all of my adolescence. At that time there was a great deal of concern and strife about preserving the French language and culture. Advertising was mostly in English, most announcements were made in English first, and studies showed a decreasing usage for French in day to day life. It was a stressful time for the province because many felt that French culture was dying.
Over the summer, I visited Montreal for the first time in 20-some years and found a complete change. All ads and most signs were in French only, announcements were primarily given in French, and I heard the language being spoken everywhere. Even little things like being greeted by the waitstaff in French had me trying to cast my mind back to the few (polite) phrases I could remember.
From what our hosts said, the change really started with The Charter of the French Language, which might be worth a look for ideas that could be adapted to Wales.
I realize it’s different since Quebec was/is majority French-speaking, however there are some things that might be applicable. I’m thinking specifically of the fundamental language rights. Also, our hosts said that new immigrants to Quebec (whether coming from other parts of Canada or outside the country) has to learn French as part of the immigration process.
So that’s what I’ve got, for what it’s worth.
I have been mulling on this. The way I see it there are three areas to address:
the people di-Gymraeg who value the Welsh language but for some reason don’t want to learn it. My suspicion is that many try (if the number of second hand Cwrs Mynediad books is anything to go by) but the experience of going to endless night classes for very little gain is daunting. Ditto the people who move to Wales. The present system with its emphasis on classes and books is uninspiring. They need to be offered an alternative (like SSiW). This needs to be advertised on non Welsh speaking TV and radio.
there needs to be an earnest attempt to create a sense of play and participation in relation to the language. At present, it would appear to me that the language is an incredibly emotive issue. Non Welsh speakers resent what they perceive as an implication that they are less Welsh than Welsh speakers. If they don’t speak Welsh fluently, they will not use any Welsh, in case people expect them to continue in Welsh. It is like, you either have to be fluent or not speak at all. I think the emphasis should shift from ‘you have to learn Welsh’ to ‘we can all use some Welsh.’ To this end, small language teaching packages should be developed for bus drivers, railway staff, cafe and supermarket staff - anyone who is dealing with the public - so that they can learn some basic greetings and interactions. I figure that if you take away the ‘you have to be fluent’ attitude and give people permission to participate and enjoy small language exchanges, they may just decided to keep learning. Companies like Arriva, Lloyds buses, Coop supermarkets etc. should be encouraged to roll out such packages. The aim being that simple purchases and greetings should be able to occur in Welsh, anywhere.
Cymru Cymraeg need educating - on how to speak in simple sentences to learners, how not to roll their eyes or mutter dysgwr to their colleagues under their breath, or tell learners a that they only speak Welsh at home with their families, or point out that they don’t say it that way around here. I’ve had all those things happen to me. Yet, at other times, I’ve experienced incredibly generosity and patience. If Cymru Cymraeg want the Welsh language to continue they need to be taught how to help learners.
Those are my thoughts for what they are worth. v
Sorry if I wasn’t clear. I wasn’t asking for reasons why people should speak welsh. We, you and me and most people on this forum know them. I’m asking for the government to make them clear in their documents. Otherwise we will get nowhere.
Half a million new speakers will necessarily include people, or the children of people, who currently don’t see the point. That should be our first goal. To get the sceptical and the people who have never even really thought about it to think “Oh, yeah, actually, this is something we should all be taking part in.”
I agree. This is the biggest challenge. Many of them (in the valleys) are socially and economically disadvantaged. Education may not have been a good experience for them.
I agree too. I think we need to provide inspiration before education.
Thanks, I get your point now and really must read the document. In isolation I suppose it is difficult to say to sceptics to explain why and maybe it has been sidestepped.
The target of 1million Welsh speakers could come across as a nice wish, no different to I’d like a train set for Christmas. It could be justified on the basis of giving people what they want if the evidence is there to back that up or perhaps it should be part of something bigger that people buy into for different reasons and accept that the language is an element of it. Perhaps it would be simpler to explain why on the basis that it is a key pillar in an overall strategy or plan whatever that may be. Ideally this would be part of an economic strategy. That could work, but it is a difficult one alhtough raising the profile of Wales in the world and providing a hook to engage people from around the world in something unique and interesting might work. Culture probably comes low down in people’s everyday priorities, even if you could convince people it was important culturally. Health and well being, you can build a case, but will a sceptic be won over by it. To be honest I’m not sure what the overarching thing should be, but it would be easy to support and explain the target of a million speakers if it was essential for achieving something bigger perhaps. Basically I suppose we need to explain this as part of a vision of where we want to be. We don’t have that vision from what I can see and so stating why is going to be a hard one - hence it isn’t there.
I was just coming to the same conclusion while reading your post, and this sentence took the words out of my mind! Spooky!
Seriously though, economics is a great driver (not the same as being materialistic, in my view … more like being realistic).
A little hobby horse of mine is arbitrary targets (not just in this, but in any public endeavour).
What is special about 1 million except that it is a nice round number?
The real target is 100% in my opinion. Ambitious, yes, but you could fail to reach that, and still reach 1 million, so why not?
Just to add an additional comment vis a vis ‘marketing’ of Welsh teaching in schools: the benefits of bilingualism (or more) has by now been well researched and documented. In Wales we have an excellent opportunity to give our children this head start in development.
Parents need to know about such benefits so that they can encourage a positive attitude to the use of Welsh at an early age in both schools and at home.
The rapid growth of Duolingo would suggest a latent interest in the language around the world. £120000 people in the US have been attracted to learning something of the language in little more than six months and interest in the language leads to curiosity about the country. The same has happened here so increasing the profile of the language outside Wales could lead to export and tourist opportunities not to mention a potential new outlet for authors and writers.
I really think that increasing knowledge and access to the language outside Wales will strengthen the language and increase pride in the language here in Wales and be beneficial to the economy.
Just to say, when I sent my response to the Government on line, I had awful trouble and lost what I was trying to send once. It seemed to work in the end, although I thought it promised an e-mail acknowledgement which I did not get. Has anyone else had problems or is it my laptop blinking again?
A lot of money is spent on evening classes and having done classroom based learning in other languages I’m sceptical that many people gain much proficiency through them as the progress is galatial at times. I think they should be radically altered with a much bigger expectation that people put more of their own time outside of class into learning and using the classes as support rather than the primary means of learning. The classes could use resources such as SSiW and/or computerized learning system that people systematically work through and are expected to keep pace then once or twice a week they come into class to practice what they have learn’t with others and gain further support. This system would also be supported by tutors that people would have access to online outside of class. By making things more intensive like SSiW I think the results would be much better. I dread to think how much money is wasted on evening classes, leaving people thinking that they are no good at learning languages, where in reality the odds were stacked against them because of the poor learning method they were presented with.
There are a lot of highly educated people that put together these class based courses who could learn a lot from much less educated people who actually learn multiple languages with relative ease. I will never forget a conversation between some Pakistani friends of mine who each spoke half-a-dozen languages and an Indian-Mauritian friend who could only speak French and English. The Mauritian guy was learning Hindi using a teach yourself book and from what I could tell he seemed to be making good progress, but he never spoke it to anyone. The Pakistani guys couldn’t understand why he never tried it with them. They were saying that he just had to speak it with one saying something along the lines of “you’ll say something, we’ll laugh, you’ll laugh and then we’ll work out what you mean.” From what I could tell learning a language was just a big game for them not something they took seriously. It seemed to consist of lots of gesturing, pulling faces, laughing and not worrying. Looking back at it now that I have children, it’s much the same way that children learn. One slight difficulty with Welsh is that for most learners there is the temptation to revert to English rather than try to get the point across if they aren’t 100% sure how to say something in Welsh. One answer to this in a class setting could be to have activities that have to be completed using only Welsh so that people are forced to find a way to get across what they mean with the Welsh they have. I know that there are some immersion classes, but I think they are in the minority.
One other thing that I would really like to see is the choice to have welsh sub-titles for Welsh language programmes on iplayer. Often I think I have nearly caught what someone is saying but with the support of Welsh sub-titles I think that would really aid progress. There are some great programmes on S4C, it would be great if they could be promoted more to non-Welsh speakers using the English sub-titles. I think that would help people feel more connected to the Welsh language and may inspire more people to learn it. This would also increase the money available which could intern help raise standards.
I have already submitted my response to the Senedd, but I was reading @LawrenceWoodman’s comments and thought of cariad@iaith on TV and the learning methods they use. They are not quite the same as SSiW but seem similar but tailored for a class environment. IoanTalfryn could surely advise on the subject of teaching adults in ways which work and are fun, and children surely already learn… well in Primary or Playgroup surely its all fun? Not grammar or lists of words to learn or reading Taliesin? (Not that reading Taliesin isn’t lovely, just not at age 5!).
Can someone who has yet to comment to the Government maybe mention this sort of thing? @aran, as an expert, what do you think?