What are the problems? What needs to happen differently?

now if you’d misread that as “the prevalence of Welsh”… :smile:


I was actually thinking of giving Germany as another example! We had a roommate from Germany and we talked about this a lot :slight_smile:

Diolch @amandalaing :blush:
Diolch @aran for adding me!


Too many people worry about the standard of their Welsh. My mother in law recently compiled a list of Welsh speakers and the number of “I went to Welsh school but am too nervous to use it” was huge!!

Plus, large organisations are not incentavising learning. Attending bootcamp does not yet qualify you for study leave because “it’s not for professional development”. Thinking is too rigid.


So far we’re at:

No external NEED to speak Welsh
Unclear routes to community involvement
Evening classes lead to slow results
Difficult to change the established language of communication
Learners often lack confidence (scared of mistakes, looking stupid)
Benefits of Welsh language culture not clear
Little exposure to Welsh language TV
Speakers worried about the standard of their Welsh
Large organisations not incentivising learning

[See https://trello.com/c/BI7LmKAT/1-problems]

Anything else we’re missing?

I’m on Trello with my gmail account I think the username shows up as leiafee1

I think the barriers are:

Kids put off in school because the mandatory shortcourse is rubbish and teaches you lots of not very useful formulaic stuff. You get very good at filling in the right sort of YES in a box and reciting a few set phrases about your hobbies and that’s your lot.

Adults who start learning put off because the default way of doing it a night or two a week Mynediad-Sylfaen-Canolradd-Uwch is SOOOO SLOOOOWWW! I mean it literally feels like you’re five years in and still listing the weather and component parts of your family and house.

The attrition rate from WfA is also enormous, possibly due to the above.

The percentage of WfA learners who take part in the Welsh activitie outside the classroom is very very low. In my group of 12 or so in Mynediad there were about 2 of us who did. In Canolradd it was the SAME two and all but 3 of the others had alrady dropped out.

I’m not sure ALL tutors of WfA understand how important that is, or the don’t feel confortable pushing it - we were given a log to keep of when we spoke Welsh outside but you got a vibe thst it was a form which had been imposed on them that they weren’t entirely comitted to themselves in some classes.

Quality of WfA varies wildly across the country - the Estyn reports are extremely mixed.

WfA for hysterical raisins (;-)) follow the school terms - many of the big Welsh language events like the steddfod are in the BREAK in the course which doesn’t help at all with encouraging learners to go.

Not all towns have a focus - place everyone knows you can go and speak Welsh Those that do, tend to either be in the hear tof the Bro Cymraeg already or big cities Swansea, Cardiff etc - nothing to the best of my knowledge in e.g. Neath.

FINDING other speakers in some areas is hard which means that learners have to overcome both the “talking a second lanaguge” AND the potential embarassment of pysching themselves up to so do then finding they haven’t got a Welsh speaker to talk to after all. The various badge schemes have mixed success so far - Ive had Welsh speakers ask me IN WELSH "Beth yw’ comma oren 'na / what’s that orange comma thing)

There’s a common weird UKIsh hangup that languages are a) hard and b) something you’re fundamentally good at or not which doesn’t match the reality of how brains work.

Due to the history choosing to learn Welsh is seen as a political act in some quarters, (Which works both ways I suppose)

That’s kind of a laundry list of moans I suppose I haven’t even started on possible fixes but I can see space for SSIW and volunteers there and it’s an exciting challenge. (Much better than arguign with trolls on Twitter who don’t get it!)


And contrariwise I was refused funding for bootcamp from Chwarae Teg because it was TOO useful to my employer and they thought me employer should pay! (A few years ago this was)


I’d add:

  • People who only speak English often don’t really believe they could speak another language
  • Welsh people who don’t speak Welsh can feel the language threatens their identity
  • English people who move to Wales often don’t realise it’s a real community language until they arrive (which can then feel very disorientating/threatening for them)
  • Lack of Welsh language media (one TV channel, one-ish radio station, plenty of songs but not much: YouTube videos, graphic novels, films etc)
  • Lack of Welsh-speaking communities
  • Unawareness of opportunities to speak Welsh

Meet ups seem to happen as “sgwrs a choffi” neu rywbeth. They happen in work hours (I know there are evening ones but that’s a minority). The most successful non-SSiW learners I’ve met have been retired. WfA is not targeting those who’ll pass the language on.

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Not sure how to word this one without sounds mean or ranty, but there’s no “societal expectation” that people living/moving here should have some Welsh.

In France or Spain or anywhere else if you move there’s that expectation - which isn’t to say everyone DOES, the fact there’s the stereotype about monoglot Brits abroad shows that. But the fact that the “monoglot Brits abroad” is an on whole disapproved of behaviour I think counts for something.

I don’t mean “be horrible to those who don’t learn” but some level of gentle surprise is perhaps due…


I’m @bobi53

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Yes lack of cool silly stuff - things like Hansh are changing that, but slowly.


What’s interesting is that I have friends who live here in Cardiff, are fluent in Italian and French because they’ve lived there but have said they “won’t send their kids to Welsh language school because they won’t be able to help”. With the inherent implication they have no desire to learn Welsh. They’re open minded people…but not to the Welsh language.


Awesome work here folks.

We’re now up to:

No external NEED to speak Welsh
Unclear routes to community involvement
Evening classes lead to slow results
Difficult to change the established language of communication
Learners often lack confidence (scared of mistakes, looking stupid)
Benefits of Welsh language culture not clear
Little exposure to Welsh language TV
Speakers worried about the standard of their Welsh
Large organisations not incentivising learning
Kids put off in school
Low involvement in activities outside class
Quality of Welsh for Adults variable
Courses follow school terms
Lack of known places to speak Welsh
Identifying other speakers is challenging
Perception that learning languages is difficult
Perception that you are either good/bad at learning languages
Learning Welsh seen as political
English monoglots struggle to believe they really can achieve fluency in Welsh
Welsh people can feel the language threatens their identity
English people who move to Wales often don’t realise in advance that it is a real community language
Lack of (varied) Welsh language media
Lack of awareness of Welsh language bands/writers
Lack of Welsh-speaking communities
Unawareness of opportunities to speak Welsh
Lack of social expectation to learn
Parents concerned they won’t be able to help their children if Welsh medium ed

And apparently I have to go and put the recycling out.

In the pitch black.

Tripping over sheep, no doubt.



At the Cymdeithas yr Iaith Ysgol Undydd in Machynlleth recently about welcoming people into communities, a number of points came up. I wouldn’t want to attribute them to individuals (particularly since my notes (yn y Gymraeg) may not be a correct interpretation of what was said!). One of the points that I particularly noted was when someone said that Cymry di-Gymraeg (Welsh people who don’t speak Welsh) don’t appear in Welsh for Adults classes.

This does chime with my experience, but then I have mainly been to classes during the day, which most people at work would not be able to attend (unless they work for an employer who is willing to send them to classes in work time). In the classes I have been to over the past few years, I can only think of one person who has grown up in Wales and was attending the classes.

Evening classes might be more convenient, but not for shift workers, families or people who are just tired when they get home from work.

This got me thinking about whether I would want to attend formal classes in that situation, when most of the other learners would be newcomers approaching retirement age (I retired early and am the ‘baby’ in one of my classes!).

Also, even if someone is ‘sponsored’ by their employer to go to classes, the employer will probably need to show that the time and money spent has been good value - and that is done by people gaining qualifications and therefore having to sit exams to show progress (unless assessment methods can be changed).

I also had some conversations with someone locally last week on the same subject last week and they put forward the opinion that local Welsh people didn’t want to be bothered with learning Welsh, because they had managed without it up until now. In fact, if they grew up in the local area, they would have learnt Welsh in school anyway. This means there is also a group of people who understand a lot of Welsh, but don’t speak it. And if they understand, they can follow everything that’s going on and so ‘take part’ without speaking Welsh.

They also suggested that in a mainly rural area like the Dyfi Valley, it was difficult to get people to come into town for Welsh events from the villages, because people prefer to go to activities in their own villages, rather than go to a Welsh ‘centre’ some miles away.

Sorry, rambling, I’ll try to do some summary points for the Trello board.

I do of course know of quite a few younger people, with families and work commitments who have learned through SSiW :slight_smile:


I think for me the thing with the “No NEED” reminds me of my continued failure to speak Portuguese. (Bear with me.) My partner is half Brazilian and both her English and Brazilian parents are fluent in both languages. I already speak enough Catalan and Spanish that I can pick up and read most things in Portuguese that aren’t too colloquial/idiomatic. If I worked at it and got properly to grips with the differences I ought to (should, could) find it pretty easy to get up & running in Brazilian Portuguese - but I don’t. Because everyone I know personally who speaks the language is bilingual, we can communicate so much more & so much more subtlety/nuance in English :for me to persevere and learn would require us all to dumb it down a bit, and would require them to persevere, too. We could do it, if we chose to work at it, together, and we might yet, to help get their grandkids on board, but it will require an active effort both on the part of the learner and of everyone else… I’m probably rambling, and my family dynamics needn’t scale up to a whole small nation, but that’s my two-penn’orth.


Agree - non speakers tend to be surprised how often I do it and how much “stuff” I go to.

Living in Wales without speaking Welsh is a bit like living in the “Film of The Book” I’ve decided - even if if’s a good film you’re missing huge chunks of background and depth…


There have been some good suggestions already, but I feel that some of them have involved an element of compulsion which I personally think would be unlikely to be effective.

At a local level, I have actively encouraged neighbours (through Coffi a Sgwrs etc) to share my enjoyment of learning Welsh but have never suggested that they ought to. When I first invited my most recent neighbour to our home he said almost apologetically that it was his duty to learn Welsh. He saw me (quite rightly) as a Welsh-learning Welshman and was clearly surprised when I said that duty was a very poor motivator.

If @aran in particular feels that my “passive” approach disqualifies me from participating in this worthy project or if there is a consensus from other contributors, I will fully respect that and just continue learning and leading in my own way hopefully towards the same end result. The most important thing surely is that the SSi team should all be on the same page to be effective.

To respond to @DaveHedgehog 's post concerning Higher Education, I was formerly responsible for Aberystwyth’s incoming and outgoing exchanges of staff and students under the EU’s ERASMUS programme (the brainchild of an Aber graduate :smile: ). I am glad to reflect on the staff and students who came from the European Union old and new with the aim of studying and teaching in English and our own staff and student who went to places like Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and many others where they were able to teach and be taught in English.

I don’t believe that there are a sufficient number of Welsh speaking young people to sustain one multi-discipline university let alone the burgeoning number who are currently struggling to survive. Besides, I think it would be against the whole internationalist university ethos.

On a positive note, I am happy it is still possible to pursue your studies in many of Aberystwyth’s subject areas including my own field of Physics through the medium of Welsh. I believe the same is true of many of our other universities.


I have just signed up as HelenLindsay

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All input from everyone who would like to see this project succeed will be hugely valuable… :slight_smile:

At the moment, we’re focusing on identifying the problems, rather than starting to generate possible solutions.

So - looking at the list as it stands - do we have an over-arching set of problems - broadly speaking:

  • Not enough people learning

  • Not enough learners achieving conversational confidence

  • Not enough people using their Welsh



I’m seeing a helenlindsay ‘hasn’t logged in recently’ with a picture of a dog, and a helenlindsay1 - I’m thinking you might be the latter? :wink: