Welsh speaker numbers up in government survey of Wales!

Some good news.
It’s a rather dry and long winded document, but it claims that the % of welsh speakers over 3 now at 30%


Very interesting, and I wonder where some of these new Welsh speakers are coming from :wink:


I really can’t imagine.:wink::upside_down_face::slightly_smiling_face:


As long as they are not all Lieutenants Kijé…

The document at the top of the thread refers to the annual population survey of people who say that they can speak Welsh. It’s very interesting (for those who like statistics). Here’s a separate link just to the statistics report(s).


The survey has reported every 3 months since 2005, and before that annually since 2001. The numbers seem to give an inflated value as to the actual number of Welsh speakers, mainly it seems (as discussed in the article), because figures are collated from those who have responded to the survey, and this presumably skews the figures upwards as Welsh speakers are perhaps more likely to complete it. Nevertheless, for comparitive purposes, the figures are very useful and they do show a marked increase in the number and percentage of Welsh speakers in all areas of Wales over the past decade. I won’t go into all the stats, however, the latest figures (Dec 2018) indicates that 898,700 (29.9%) could speak Welsh. This compares with 834,000 (30.0%) back in 2001. i.e. roughly similar in percentage terms, but this had dropped to 769,000 (26.3%) in 2011. A more accurate figure of the number of Welsh speakers is of course the census. For comparison the figures are: 2001: 582,000 (20.8%) and 2011: 562,000 (19.0%). So, as you can see, the values in the annual population survey overestimate the number of Welsh speakers by a factor of around 1.4. (1.44 in 2001, and 1.37 in 2011), and there had been a drop between 2001 and 2011. So, how many welsh speakers will the census record in 2021?. The number recorded in the survey appears to be rising rapidly year on year since 2011(well 2012 actually). For example, there were 871,000 speakers recorded in Dec 2017 and then 898,000 in Dec 2018. If this trend continues, we can expect at least another 50,000 speakers by 2021, and probably more. Perhaps it will even reach the magic 1,000,000! Let’s be conservative and assume not, and guesstimate that the survey will report 950,000 speakers. Taking into account the overestimation factor of (around) 1.4, I would estimate the census figure to be 678,000 (which would be back above the numbers recorded in 1961.

What is certain, is that is that the number of Welsh language speakers has been rising steadily, especially over the last few years, due in no small part to SSIW! What’s more, the figures do not take into account the Welsh ‘diaspora’, not least among the SSIW learning community where we have learners who communicate regularly from all over the world. There are still huge pressures on the language of course, especially in the Welsh speaking ‘heartlands’, and as a language of day to day communication. But at least there is hope. Felly, dal ati!

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The Census 2021 results for the Welsh Language are due to be published on the 6th of December I believe. So, how many Welsh speakers will there be? The annual population survey recorded a drop after Dec 2018 and thereafter, an upward trend was re-established. The latest figures for Jun 2022 recorded 899,500 Welsh speakers which is marginally above the figure for the end of 2018. Covid had an impact on data collection I’m sure. Anyway, given my earlier approximation of the ratio between the annual population survey and the census results for 2001 and 2001, (which was approximately 1.4), the guesstimate for the 2021 census is 643,000. Let’s see what the real result will be in a few days time!


Oh dear, the census results published today were very disappointing and a little surprising. Despite so much optimism surrounding the future of the language, together with ambitious targets, just 538,000 speakers were officially recorded which is a significant drop from the figure of 562,000 in 2011. It was largely put down to a decline in the number of 5-15 year olds being able to speak the language despite an increase in the number of pupils in Welsh medium schools. There is a lot more work to be done to reach the target of 1 million speakers by 2050!

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Is there any data for each age group on the change in percentage of speakers between 2011 and 2021? If there were e.g. fewer 5-15 year olds in 2021 than 2011, the numbers of speakers could have gone down even if the percentage was the same or had slightly increased.

Also slightly tongue in cheek: How many non-confident speakers (of all types) modestly, but incorrectly identify (self or by parents) as not being able to speak Welsh, when they actually are able?


I’m sure that the raw stats will be refined and presented in different ways as time goes on. In the meantime, this report from the chief statistician indicates that 'the percentage of 5 to 15 year olds reported as being able to speak Welsh decreased between 2011 and 2021, from 40.3% in 2011 to 34.3% in 2021, a 6.0 percentage point decrease.’ It’s worth a read!

Chief Statistician’s update: understanding Census 2021 data about the Welsh language | Digital and Data Blog (gov.wales)

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If you want to look at detailed ward maps, look at this link from the census. Yiu can drill down to ward level.

Welsh language skills - Census Maps, ONS

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