Helo, sut mae pawb?
Dw i wedi bod yn meddwl. I’ve been thinking.
Speaking to learners of any language, especially those who have just started, is a skill.
I’ve often wondered whether there should be more made of this in Wales, a country in which the act of saving the language is always at the front of our minds and it would be in the nation’s interest to do as much as we can to help our learners.
I often hear from students, who’ve tried to have a conversation with a native speaker, that it wasn’t successful because of (enter a multitude of reasons, mainly to do with the fact that the native speaker just doesn’t know how to speak to beginners, although partly to do with confidence on the learner’s side too, which can be knocked down further after an unsuccessful conversation).
I am of the belief that there should be materials available to help native Welsh speakers (who are not teachers or tutors) to know how to encourage and help our Welsh learners. My dad, for example, hasn’t a clue how to speak to beginner learners and will drop into the most thick ‘Rural Cardiganshire Welsh’ that only the sheepdogs and some other local farmers understand, and of which I’ve grown more accustomed to by repeated exposure throughout the years!
The reason why so many native Welsh speakers turn back to English is that because speaking to a learner, if you’re not used to it, requires a different type of conversation skill that they’re just not used to. They want to exchange a message as fast as they can, and many people actually feel a bit rude speaking Welsh to learners as if they were putting undue pressure on them to perform.
There’s a lot more than this though - I think it runs deeper. In Aberystwyth, for example, we’ve been brought up to speak English first in shops in case the person in the shop doesn’t understand Welsh. This doesn’t happen in, say, Porthmadog, in North Wales, so the mindset is different there.
By the way, as you progress through the language, I think that it’s really important to converse with and to be exposed to all manners of accents, dialects and conversational styles, but my main thoughts here are with beginners and early intermediates.
What advice would you give to native Welsh speakers? Have you had any good/bad experiences? What would be helpful?
Diolch yn fawr i chi i gyd!
Mererid (tiwtor Cymraeg ar Skype ac yn y gymuned - and in the community).