What are the problems? What needs to happen differently?

One of the things I have found fascinating about the Beca a’i Phobl podcasts in the advanced section have been that Beca always asks people about their history with learning Welsh. A picture is building up of how attitudes have changed over time ( from the 1950s to the present day), and in different parts of Wales. Different things tipped the balance and made Welsh ‘cool’ for people as they grew up - be it politics or music or just finding themselves in a community where it was a living language.

It’s always good to hear people from Caernarfon and the surrounding towns talking about Welsh being the default, which is how I experienced it visiting Anglesey in the 1970s & 80s ( though frustratingly at second-hand via my relatives, as I couldn’t speak it then).

I also think there are a lot of people ( like the friend Nicky was talking about the other day on the Mynd am Beint Gyda thread) who will switch back and forth between Welsh and English even within one sentence, and not think twice about it. You even hear that in the dramas and comedies on BBC Radio Cymru.

But yes, I think the tipping point comes when kids see it as a living, breathing thing with a culture they can relate to - and not as a school subject devoid of relevance.


Really interesting, thanks for the link


Finally managed to find time to watch this. Fascinating. But I felt as if they missed one important point.

One of the critical reasons the kids in the south who valued the language but weren’t speaking it out of school was that their parents didn’t speak it. But presumably those same kids will grow up have kids of their own, send them to Welsh medium schools because they do value the language, and unlike their parents will be able to speak Welsh with their children. So it starts to become the iaith adref, the language of the home, again, as it is in the north.

Cause for hope, surely?


It seems that in a lot of instances, the Irish and Scottish are what people associate with Celts. It’s popularized in media such as books, TV shows, movies, etc. But there’s not a lot of attention paid to the rest of the lot. We know fairly little about Wales, and even less about everything else. Who are the Manx? What is this Breton language you speak of?
What I also find interesting is that there’s actually more Breton and Welsh speakers than there are Irish and Scottish Gaelic speakers, yet Breton and Welsh don’t get a lot of attention. If we’re going to focus on Celtic languages, culture, etc., why not focus on all of them?


As part of my SSIW “homework”, I’ve been listening to Radio BBC Cymru. This morning they were talking about SSIW, I think?! Possibly related to the million speakers project, politics and Europe.

Sadly my Welsh is at an early stage so I’d be grateful if someone who heard it could clarify!

Only loosely connected to the million speakers project - it was about the fact that due to its galloping success the revenue of SSiW is now over the VAT threshold meaning that SSiW will have to pay 20% VAT now on its revenue but HMRC does not charge VAT on companies teaching English as a second language, i.e. it discriminates against companies teaching Welsh as a second language. The Welsh government issued a statement supportive of SSiW but without appearing to do very much else but HMRC said that EU rules do not allow them to exempt every language teaching company form VAT, which of course is missing the point - it’s not all languages, but an official language of Wales which puts things in a different category (and bearing in mind the UK government tendency to use ‘EU rules’ as an excuse for not doing something, it’d probably be worth checking very carefully whether EU rules do actually say this!)


Sounds like double standards.



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Which radio programme was that? @GowerRanger or @johnwilliams_6

It was Post Cyntaf on Radio Cymru - in the news headlines and with an interview with Aran a few minutes after (maybe around 8.05am?)

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At 1:05 in from the beginning


I did try to have a look at the EU rules and, as you might expect for anything related to tax, they are complicated. As far as I could see it may be that the UK didn’t charge VAT on EFL courses before the unification of VAT rules across the EU. Things that were exempt before could continue being exempt. Now it’s quite possible that no private company teaching Welsh reached the VAT threshold in the past. Most Welsh courses are run through the Welsh for Adults scheme which is done via universities. Tutors working free-lance would be very unlikely to earn enough to reach the VAT threshold. The only other company that I know of offering Welsh courses that might have sufficient income to reach the VAT threshold seems to be a registered charity. So if no one fought for an exemption in the past, rules probably can’t be changed retrospectively.

However, there is a lower rate of VAT at 5%. I don’t know who decides what rate is payable on what. It could be worth pursuing this with the EU. Despite the accusations of it being undemocratic, it can and does change things if you make a good enough case. A writer friend was involved with the negotiations to change the rules regarding VAT for tiny companies or individuals selling things online. It took a lot of patient negotiation, but the EU did realise the problem and changed the rules.

Of course the further complication is that SSiW doesn’t just teach Welsh. Really it’s the zero rate of VAT for EFL courses that is the anomaly.

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That’s interesting - and, yes, complicated! :slightly_smiling_face:
Given that the EU has provided support to Welsh language teaching in the form of renovation of Nant Gwrtheyrn and has allowed use of Welsh in some circumstances in EU institutions, hopefully they would respond positively to any requests to reducing the VAT burden.

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I suppose it depends on whether French language courses in France, German language courses in Germany, etc. etc. are exempt from VAT or not. I suspect that they’re not and that it’s the EFL that’s different. But if native language courses elsewhere are exempt, then there is a good case for saying Welsh should be too.


Part of the problem seems to be that even for English teaching (outside of a school or college or non-profit organisation) the exemption for EFL, by definition, only seems to be for teaching English to non native learners.

So, I suppose the hurdle to get over in having the VAT law changed, would be how to define Welsh and its learners, bearing in mind that it is an official language of the UK (even though most UK citizens don’t speak it).

Perhaps there is a better chance of sorting it on the back of the Million Speakers Project. I realise that I’m stating the obvious, here.

Although there are some compensations to be had from registering for VAT, eg claiming back the VAT on goods paid for, that’s not a lot of comfort as any small business owner knows.

Many years ago we ran a small publishing company. It was beneficial for us to register for VAT even when we were well below the threshold because there is no VAT on books, but we paid VAT on the paper and printing supplies. Every quarter, we got money back from the VAT. :smile:

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In Italy we drown in bureaucracy since the day we were born. :laughing: we’re used to try and figure out how to navigate laws cause we have to do it all the time. :roll_eyes:

So I happen to be doing searches for other reasons and came across what I believe is the same EU directive that is actually quite generic.

Then each country decide about who “deserves” it and who doesn’t (sorry I don’t really know the proper vocabulary of Law in English!) - that I guess it’s what @JohnYoung’s referring to?

In Italy it’s not which language you teach, but the fact the school has to be “officially recognized”.
As it always happen in Italian laws, it’s not too clear what this means exactly :rofl:…but it seems that even getting any form of funding or deal with any public institution is enough.

p.s. of course everything I’m writing would need extra checking, I’m not a lawyer!


Just thinking out loud. 1 million will be great. However, it seems to be that 1.5 to 2 million soon afterwards would be fantastic. Just because it seems to me that 50% or more Welsh speakers in any area leads ato Welsh on the street. Just my limited experience.


It doesn’t seem like anyone has posted in this thread for almost a year, but I’m not going to repeat what most people have already said. Instead, I wonder if there could be a campaign to request S4C to have a series on learning Welsh. Or would that just be a waste of time.


Wouldn’t it be interesting if there was a series using the SSIW method - perhaps accompanying people and taking the viewers through the six month course?!

There is an argument that something like Radio Wales might attract more (ie more people who would like to speak Welsh but don’t) than a Welsh station? Hmm :thinking:

Rich :slight_smile:

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