Making the Million – A team effort
Tips from learners
- Play simple games to learn vocabulary (your provider will have lots to share)
- Take up every opportunity possible to practice speaking – in-person
- Join the Siarad Siarad scheme (once you’ve got to intermediate level) to find yourself a fluent buddy https://learnwelsh.cymru/learning/siarad/
- Go on a residential course (e.g., in Lampeter, Nant Gwrtheyrn or Llangrannog)
- Attend weekend courses on top of your weekly lessons
How Welsh speakers can help learners
Believe it or not, some Welsh speakers don’t have a clue when it comes to helping learners. Here are some tips on how to improve your supporting skills:
- Speak a bit more slowly than you would usually.
- Be patient – wait for answers, don’t jump in, don’t finish sentences for learners.
- Only tell them a word if they ask you to.
- Don’t turn to English (unless they are thoroughly exhausted and request a break).
- Become a buddy in the Siarad Siarad scheme.
- Support learners of all ages and levels by being, well, supportive! Encourage, offer to help with homework/ pronunciation, send basic text messages in Welsh.
What Welsh Speakers can do to help us reach a million
This may seem obvious but if you can speak it, use it! Use it or lose it folks. Speak the language in public so that it is heard in your community. This will demonstrate that the language exists and is alive and well.
If people are curious having heard you speak the lingo, tell them about the language and how/ where they can learn it (see Resources below). Spread the word.
How non-Welsh speakers can support the goal of reaching a million
- Sign up for Welsh lessons (goes without saying)
- If you can’t learn it yourself, be supportive of those who are attempting it.
- Learn about the language – its origins and history (look up Henry the 8th, The Treachery of the Blue Books and The Welsh Not)
- Don’t perpetuate myths about the language – stand up for it – the most common one being that Welsh has no vowels. In fact, it has more than French, Spanish and English. Welsh has 7 thank you very much: a,e,i,o,u,w,y.
- Learn the correct way to pronounce your local place names – come on it’s not difficult!
- Learn how a lack of evidence-based research into bilingualism saw people abandon the language in days gone by and how evidence now exists to support its growth.
- Keep the Welsh name your house came with, or if you don’t like it find a good Welsh alternative.
- If your house is called ‘Tŷ’ something-or-other (Welsh for house) then be sure to keep the circumflex above the y when you’re having your new slate sign made. Without the circumflex Ty is meaningless (missing circumflexes are my pet hate but I’ll save that for another time).
All of these steps may seem small but as Saint David said – “Gwnewch y Pethau Bychain” – Do the Small Things.
As for resources for learners there are so many out there nowadays it’s difficult to know where to start. Here’s my top ten:
Top 10 resources
- Duolingo https://www.duolingo.com/course/cy/en/Learn-Welsh a fun and simple way to keep on top of vocabulary and pronunciation – you can also compete against your classmates if you’re into that kind of thing.
- learnwelsh.cymru / dysgucymraeg.cymru https://learnwelsh.cymru/ Covering every provider in the country so that you can find lesson options in one place with learning resources to boot.
- Say Something in Welsh https://www.saysomethingin.com/welsh providing a different way of learning, concentrating on speaking skills.
- Radio Cymru https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_radio_cymru you may not understand much to begin with but find a programme you like and immerse yourself in speech and music from time to time.
- S4C https://www.s4c.cymru/en/ have an online channel for learners, as part of their on-demand service, Clic. You can use English subtitles or simplified Welsh subtitles. S4C also broadcast programmes specifically for Welsh learners every Sunday morning, including a simple Welsh language news programme.
- Regional language initiatives https://mentrauiaith.cymru/en/find-a-menterfind-a-menter/ there’s one in every part of Wales so find the one in your area and ask about events which are suitable for learners.
- Mudiad Meithrin https://meithrin.cymru/?lang=en the organisation for pre-schoolers who run Clwb Cwtsh for parents to start learning with their babies, plus Cylchoedd Meithrin (playgroups and nurseries)
- Urdd Gobaith Cymru https://www.urdd.cymru/cy/ the Welsh language youth movement which organises the kids’ national eisteddfod, residential camps and after school and holiday clubs across the country.
- The National Eisteddfod https://eisteddfod.cymru/eisteddfod-genedlaethol-cymru (for the big kids) the mecca of Welsh language and culture where you can catch a gig or attend a ceremony, see a play or read poetry, sing in a choir or look at some art – whatever you like you will find it here.
- Music festivals – music is a great way of learning a language so look out for all the festivals returning in 2022.
Do you have any to add? What are your favourites? What else can we all do to help reach a million?
*Bethan’s Friday afternoon conversation club for intermediate and advanced learners ‘Siawns am Sgwrs’ can be found in Duolingo’s events section, during term time, or you can email her at: Bethan.Harrington@coleggwent.ac.uk