First of all I want to say a huge thanks to everyone at SSIW. Less than a year and a half ago I started SSIW, and this year after moving back to Wales I started straight onto the Welsh for adults course ‘Hyfedredd’ level which just shows how well SSIW can produce confident speakers!
In January I am going to start volunteering at a Welsh medium primary school in Abergavenny, and I’m so excited about being able to spend time working with children (which I am already doing in an English medium school) and doing it in Welsh, and I think SSIW is largely responsible for how quick I have arrived this level, even if I do not use the lessons anymore, the style of learning and approach to the language are still invaluable, so huge thanks
I wanted to move onto the subject of Welsh medium teaching jobs. The headmistress at the new school hinted there might be work when the school expands as there is a huge shortage of teaching assistants who can speak Welsh in the area, and this got me thinking about Welsh medium teaching jobs, and the possibility of one day teaching through the medium of Welsh if I reached a high enough standard, as I am currently volunteering in schools with the view to do a PGCE in the near future. Whilst talking with someone on my course this weekend, they mentioned that Welsh medium schools are often quite ‘cliquey’ in the teachers they hire, and generally only hire those from first language homes or those who went to Welsh medium schools, and that those who are fluent speakers, qualified to teach through the medium of Welsh but have learnt as a second language etc. find it very hard to find Welsh medium teaching positions. I was wondering if anyone had any opinions on this, or any experiences of their own?
Sorry this became so long, was meant to be quick, but turned into an essay! Thanks for reading
I’m sure there will be some teachers on here who can answer this. However, just in case, I will ask some teacher friends if they happen to know how it works with language proficiency and history of speaking in Welsh.
Hi again - just had this back from a friend, although he works in a more Welsh speaking area -
If there is a child with special needs, eg behavioural, there could be some flexibility. Otherwise, a second language speaker could be employed as an assistant if fairly well advanced in the language.
Thanks for the response, though I don’t quite understand the response in regards to second language teachers, maybe it makes more sense with the question? I have seen second language teaching assistants, but not spent more than half an hour in a Welsh medium school
There are a couple of second language teaching assistants in my kids’ school, but in my limited experience I’ve never come across a second language teacher. (Well in primary at least. I think I heard a second language secondary maths teacher on the radio once.) Which isn’t too say it’s not to be done, when your Welsh is really good.
It is of course quite hard to get a teaching job in English in the Cardiff area. There may be slightly less pressure on Welsh medium ones.
That’s a HUGE level of success - which wouldn’t have been possible without an ENORMOUS amount of hard work from you - so many, many congratulations!..
[And thank you very much indeed for your lovely words, which mean a great deal to us… ]
Several teachers at my daughter’s high school have taken official courses to ‘convert’ them from Welsh-speaking English medium teachers to Welsh medium teachers. Generally, it’s a matter of taking a confident second language speaker and adding a bit of polish and some subject-specific vocabulary. Where there has been a recognised need (I live in an area with big recruitment issues) this process has been sponsored by the local authority, I believe.
confidence is the key word isn’t it - I knew someone who had been through welsh medium education and did a PGCE, but opted not to train for the Welsh medium option, because of lack of confidence really. They were prepared to train him up, but he thought that learning to teach would be hard enough as it was, without the extra lessons that they have to do to ensure their Welsh is top draw. That was despite being offered a bit more money in the training.
I also knew a deputy head in an English medium junior school who quite proudly told me that he couldn’t spell, because he had been taught in the age when it was all phonetics and spelling was not thought to be that important. So bad spelling didn’t put him off, but I think the bar is quite rightly set high for Welsh medium teachers.
Thank you for all the responses, very interesting. I guess you do get second language Welsh medium teachers, but the number will be in the huge minority because;
level needed to reach takes a lot of study, and only a small percentage of those who study Welsh second language reach full language proficiency/fluency, and the number of those taking Welsh second language beyond GCSE is low.
The number of those that do meet reach this level will be in the huge minority compared to the number of students coming through Welsh medium schools or from Welsh speaking families.
Those who have studied as a second language may find jobs more related to Welsh second language, such as Welsh second language in English medium schools, or as Welsh second language tutor roles etc.
Plus I’m sure in some cases a first language Welsh speaker will be preferred, especially in highly Welsh speaking areas. Where there is more competition for jobs this may play more of a role.
Thank you, I do feel like I have done a lot to reach here, but not necessarily an ENORMOUS amount of hard work, it has been so much fun! (Though sometimes has felt like a bit of a slog!)
Sorry to but back in, but just a thought. When you start your voluntary work in the school, who knows where it will lead? The thing is, you will be known by your merits and achievements within the school, so talk of how you got there might become somewhat irrelevant. If after some time, the school has a desire to promote you, it will find a way.
A similar thing happened to my sister, although not Welsh language related. She was working as a teaching assistant in an (expensive) area that was finding it very difficult to recruit teachers. She wasn’t able to take time off for the PGCE course, so after some time, the school decided to train her up in-house to PGCE level.
Really good points I think, it’s really easy to get sidetracked by other people’s experiences and general circumstances rather than focusing on what we are doing and seeing where it leads, too much ‘long term vision’
Llongyfarchiadau Flynn! To reach Hyfedredd level in 18 months is a fantastic achievement.
I don’t have any experience of welsh medium teaching, but I do have experience of working in a welsh medium environment. As others have said the key thing is to have confidence in your abilities, or at lease belief that you can reach the required standard of Welsh. If the Headteacher at the school where you’ll be volunteering has already hinted at potential work, then that’s a brilliant sign. There will always be ‘cliquey’ schools and workplaces, and I always find its easy to get a feel for that quite quickly and those places are best avoided. Having said that, there are plenty of workplaces that are hugely supportive of learners and second language speakers.
After I completed the Uwch course, I worked at S4C for 18 months doing a high-level administration job, which was exactly the same as previous jobs I had done in English. I was worried that it would be a ‘cliquey’ first language place, but it was the opposite. I was fully supported in my role with specialist training and my Hyfedredd course was fully paid for.
I’m sure that if you find the right training provider for PGCE or school to train in, you’ll have all the support you need to become a welsh medium teacher. There are specific training courses for teachers and teaching assistants that work in welsh medium schools but need further training, e.g: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/cy/welsh/courses/professional-courses-and-welsh-for-adults/sabbatical-scheme A friend of mine was a further education lecturer and she was able to follow this course in addition to the Welsh for Adults lessons.
Another interesting story, I guess this just depends from place to place, as in everything.
Thanks for the link, I do remember seeing something about this before. I wonder if there is anything like this but for the stage before doing a PGCE. I do understand it can be for TAs as well, but more conditions apply I think. i.e. something to get up to the standard before doing the PGCE, rather than doing an English medium PGCE followed by training to convert to Welsh medium
Hi, I’m looking for resources to help me - my ancient tablet struggles with this site so even if this question is dealt with else where I can’t find it.
Basically, I taught English as a foreign / second language in Europe for over a decade and have just returned home. As my qualifications are not transferable, I decided to work as a TA for a year before deciding what to do next.
Close to a year now doing TA work, I am still shocked how disorganized every place I have been to regards teaching Welsh.
I have yet to be in a class where the teacher responsible for teaching Welsh actually speaks Welsh.
What kind of messages are the kids getting? They are told that they must learn a language even though they don’t know an adult who can speak it!
I totally support teaching Welsh in schools in Wales, but children need to be instructed in why, and given more support in how. Too many teachers think it’s not important - that leads to children feeling it’s a waste of time.
I am looking for a good site to help me prepare for upcoming lessons. I’d prefer a Welsh speaker to do the job properly, but as that’s not happening. Any suggestions of sites to help me get pronunciation accurate, a good grammer background and quick translation?
For pronunciation, I’d recommend you work through our first five lessons or so as a base - for grammar, I’d recommend Gareth King’s ‘Modern Welsh’, and for translating quick phrases here and there, please feel free to come and ask on the forum…
That is shocking! I do not know about now, but back in the mists of time when I was in school, we had a Mademoiselle who came from France and those learning German had a Fraulein. Surely there should be a mechanism whereby a number of young first language Welsh teachers worked on a peripatetic basis touring schools in English speaking areas? They would gain experience and the kids would hear ‘real’ Welsh!
A friend of mine who recently did an undergraduate course at Bangor uni says that there was a fellow student on his course from south-east Wales who had done Welsh as a second language all the way through school. When he got to Bangor he was shocked to find out that people actually spoke the language in real life. He said he had thought it was just a ceremonial language that was put on for the tourists…
Oh Duw Mawr! Please, please, if you live in Gwent, or any other place where kids can grow up like that, please, can you ask your Councils to run trips to areas where Welsh is spoken, to schools which teach in Welsh to show these,poor kids their birthright! I took kids from an estate in Swansea to show them Gower, all of 20 miles away, because they had never been there and seen its beauty!
To be honest, I still have a hard time grappling with the idea myself!
I’ve read often enough that there are still areas where there are many first-language Welsh speakers (and that there are even quite a few in other areas as well even if the percentage is lower!)… but some part of me keeps assuming that (say) Rownd a Rownd actors must necessarily be second-language learners who simply happen to be particularly good and fluent at it.
Something in me hasn’t fully internalised the fact that there are children who grow up speaking Welsh “at their mother’s knee” and speak it simply “the way their beak grew” (as we say in German), without ever consciously assimilating grammar rules or practising vocabulary!