Cymraeg at Grasshopper: From Beginner to Fluent

It all started with a ‘Bore Da’…

Wales is our home – it’s where we started, where most of our team are located and where we make a difference. That means the Welsh language is super important to the team and the work we do.

In 2020, Bethan joined the Grasshopper team to improve our Welsh facilitation for clients – at the time, she was the only fluent Welsh speaker in the team. Since then, we’ve hosted bilingual webinars, consultations, and run a blog series on Welsh and Covid.

But something else happened. Fast forward 18 months, and just under half the Grasshopper team now have Welsh language skills ranging from beginner to fluent. That’s one huge leap.

So, how did that happen?

It started with pronunciation. We’d have a lot of fun in team meetings perfecting the pronunciation of place names in say, Blaenau Gwent or Ynys Môn (Anglesey) and greeting each other in Welsh (Bore da!)

Soon after, Molly and Clare started learning Welsh. Hannah, who previously took lessons for 5 years, found her interest rekindled, and Iwan decided to pick Welsh back up after going to a Welsh medium primary school.

We’re hoping other linguists in our team (Julie has a degree in French and an A-Level in German) will join us on our Welsh journey too.

How does this show up in the work we do?

The truth is, the Welsh language is everywhere – from the consultations we facilitate, right down to translating our email signatures. Take a consultation event for example – having a friendly face, a ‘Bore da!’ and a conversation about the project in a person’s first language can make someone feel more confident about coming to these events – because they can be their authentic selves.

But it’s not just face-to-face. Zoom’s slick translation function allows for stakeholder engagement to be done bilingually, with the ability to listen and engage in the language of their choosing. Because if someone’s first language is Welsh, it’s only right that they should be able to live as much of their lives as possible speaking it. It’s an important step in engaging Welsh communities honestly and enthusiastically, and something which can often be overlooked by organisations outside of Wales.

Y Dyfodol (the future!)

And this is just the beginning! There’s more we can do to grow Welsh within the Grasshopper team and in our work – especially with Welsh Government aiming to increase the number of speakers to a million by 2050.

The Welsh Language Commissioner has many schemes such as Iaith Gwaith and Cynnig Cymraeg (the Welsh Offer), the latter of which provides companies with a development plan for their Welsh language services to work toward an accreditation. From a simple Bore da to encouraging more Welsh language participation – we hope to inspire!