Welsh second language teaching - Donaldson report

The Donaldson report is out today, It has a lot to say about welsh second language teaching. Ever since 2010 it has been known that welsh second language teaching in our schools does not give young people the confidence to use Welsh outside the classroom. In July 2012 a review body was set up on this matter. The report was published in September 2013. The government sat on the report for 8 months before commenting. They said nothing could happen until Donaldson had reported on the wider Welsh education system. Well he has now reported. He has given his recommendations.

In his ten recommendations he says…

  • There should be a renewed focus in schools on learning Welsh
    primarily as a means of communication, particularly oral
    communication and understanding.
  • Significantly better and more creative use should be made of technology in the teaching and
    learning of Welsh and also modern foreign languages.
  • The Welsh Government should realign Welsh language qualifications at 16 with
    the proposed focus on speaking and listening and application in the
    workplace.

I am pleased with these recommendations but it has taken 5 years to get to this point. Any user of SaySomethingInWelsh could have told the learned professor how to improve standards in the use of Welsh. Take the SSIW approach into schools and stop teaching Welsh in the same way as French is taught. It could have been in place by now.

We now have to wait for the bods in WJEC to rewrite the Welsh Second Language curriculum which will take another 2 to three years which will take us up to 2018. Then it will be 2020 and beyond before we actually start to see any progress which will hopefully been in time for the next census in 2021. How slow things move!

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I share your frustration, Les. And in the meantime, the numbers that have been released with this report are truly upsetting - just 35 people attempted the Uwch exam last year, throughout the whole of Wales - alarm bells should be ringing loudly and clearly everywhere.

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Very interesting. We were discussing this at the weekend wiith my daughter (who was educated in Buckinghamshire) she was saying that in spite of having an A* at Gcse level in both Spanish and French she remains unable to have a conversation in either!
The same applies I think with a lot of other courses in Welsh. Both for adults and children. The SSIW way seems a much better approach. Perhaps they should be advising the schools?!
The system as it stands means you can be an excellent student with a large vocabulary but still not be confident to have a conversation.
I am hoping to put this right myself and am lucky enough to be in quite a Welsh speaking area. Must try harder to get my friends to speak Welsh to me even when I don’t understand. It’s a good job learning Welsh is such fun! :blush:

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I often attempt to give reports an overview: but having read a few pages the other 114 pages will remain unread…(It’s a bit waffley) Look bottom line is there anything in the report that suggests they’ll be a realistic increase in the number of speakers, rhywle i lawr y ffordd ? If anyone knows please post…

That only 35 people sat the Uwch…If not alarm bells… heads should roll.

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Depends entirely on whether or not the government choose to pay any attention to his findings… [uncertain-looking-face-smiley]

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From my sixty years of life experience and my gradual growth into cynic I doubt any growth will come through government. When any politician/goverment tells me their listening I say: “Pardon! I can’t hear you.” Yet, can’t say why, I’m still very optimistic for the Welsh language.

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I can’t comment about your government, education, and the ability up correct something when it clearly isn’t working…and I hate to be a cynic, but I was someone who suffered through the US No Child Gets Ahead…err… Left Behind system in our schools. It was abundantly clear ten years ago that that approach was doing WAY more harm than good. People argue that standardised testing is the only objective way to truly measure progress, so they can’t change it and know if they’re getting results. Some changes have begun to occur, but who really knows when the average underfunded public school will once again be about learning more than just how to take a multiple choice test. The most effective changes have occurred through parents and concerned parties going around the system to create places to learn. All this is my long way of saying getting children in Wales using what they’ve learned may require creating a weeklong summer holiday boot camp or similar. It might be blind leading the blind, but I’d happily volunteer to help with that! :slight_smile:

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Learning any second language as a separate subject taught in school is spectacularly inefficient, the same problems exists in Ireland with Gaeilge. If the Welsh Government is serious about promoting Welsh, I think it should look at treating Welsh not as a subject, but as the medium for education - i.e. full immersion. In all schools.

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Yowch. That’s frighteningly low. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for those dizzying heights, but I am absolutely determined to sit a proper Welsh exam when I am good and ready. I know it shouldn’t matter but sometimes having a certificate on the wall confirming that you can do what you already know you can do is a warming comfort on cold winter nights! :slight_smile:

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I agree with you Megan. Welsh language bootcamps in Tresaith for them all!

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Thanks Louis. It had taken me a long time to get there but I agree with you. Tinkering with second language will not change anything. We need to increase the amount of welsh medium teaching

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It’d be good if they started teaching French in the SSiW way as well!!
Also, sorry to be so ignorant but what is the uwch?
Also… at school in French and even Latin, we had an oral exam. I have a notion you couldn’t get OLevel if you failed the orals. When I first went to Paris, it was years since my Olevel, but I managed… in fact I was the only one of our group of Wales supporters who spoke any French!! So how come kids now pass Alevel and can’t converse???
I took O-levels in 1958.

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Thank, God, Gabby’s taking the exam this year!

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If you got an A that’s the equivalent to a first class degree today. :wink:

I know you were joking, but we got marks not grades, and the pass mark was 40%. I managed 45% (I was a scientist, Bach, not a linguist!!). So definitely not in the top quartile!!

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“Uwch” means “higher”, in this case, the Higher Level course/exam.

Grovel!! I should have known that and here in Yr Alban, all advanced level are called ‘highers’, but I was raised with A-levels!

Forgetting of course that all children (and all adults) are individuals. Standardised testing will work perfectly the day that the Good Lord (or Science) decides that children will be standardised.

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Because they don’t get chance to hear enough of the language spoken by natives, and even less chance to speak it. Of course, they now each carry around with them probably as much computing power as the whole country possessed when you and I were at school, so they could use some of it e.g. to listen to French, Welsh, Spanish, etc, podcasts and try recording themselves speaking the language, instead of updating Facebook, or whatever it is they do with them.

I agree with you, although I fear there would be stiff opposition from some quarters.

A slightly different point: It may be beyond the scope of the report in question, but I don’t think any reforms will work unless they can also somehow persuade all the parents to be fully on board.

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There would be marches in the Marches!!! Of course you are both right, but until monoglot English speakers everywhere in Wales start to see Cymraeg as a gift to be treasured, as an asset to be proud of… as Kurds see their language which is currently illegal in most of their territory, if not all…as something to be fought for and worked at…well it will not be the medium of instruction everywhere! But we all know that is the way that works, lets face it, our ancestors were taught in English which they did not speak until arriving in school and look at us now!!! (Not just ancestors… some of my age group too!)

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