This month, John talks about the number of adults and young people learning Welsh and links this to a review of an excellent new book called “Talk Welsh”.
Within Wrexham Maelor over the past five years, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of adults of all ages learning Welsh. This increase shows a clear link to the rapid rise in the number of children attending Welsh medium schools, the building of new Welsh medium schools and the increased emphasis on teaching basic conversational Welsh in all primary and secondary schools.
In addition, the use of excellent bilingual signage within supermarkets such as Lidl, Aldi, Tesco, Home Bargains; council centres such as Waterworld and Ty Pawb; utility companies such as Dwr Hafren Dyfrdwy (Severn Dee Water) and BT; Arriva buses, the Saith Seren and publications such as Love Wrexham (Ed – his words, not ours!) have all contributed to raising awareness and more active use of the Welsh language within the community. An increasing number of people of all ages and from all backgrounds are taking the opportunity to “have a go” with terms such as “bore da” (good morning), “diolch”(thanks), “croeso” (welcome), a “hwyl fawr”(all the best).
A Change Was Needed
In the past, many Welsh learners started their journey to learn Welsh on courses organised, in the main, by colleges of further education on college sites or within the workplace. Unfortunately, statistical and anecdotal evidence show that a considerable number of learners become frustrated with the “academic grammar” content of many of the courses. Many, initially enthusiastic, learners gave up without completing courses since their desire to learn “real spoken Welsh” was not fulfilled with the sufficient speed to fulfil their needs. Evidence shows that an increasing number of learners are using books combined with online app programmes. Say Something in Welsh has 60,000 regular app users and Duolingo has 38,000 people using its Welsh course this year. Many learners of the language outside Wales are active participants.
A Different Approach
In direct contrast to the academic grammar-based courses offered by colleges and adult education providers, Heini Gruffudd has produced an easy-to-read text with the emphasis on the reader gaining actual spoken Welsh skills in a short period of time and provides excellent help with pronouncing key words. He has divided the book into relevant sections, such as “meeting someone”, “saying what you can and like to do”, etc. The key feature is that each section promotes real-life conversational skills with realistic dialogue for Welsh language interaction with others. As the author emphasises, there is no complicated grammar and the reader is encouraged to put in English words if they cannot remember the exact Welsh word.
This is a superb book which will motivate Welsh-language learners to boost their confidence and vocabulary skills to put sentences together and actually speak the language. It will be particularly helpful for parents and relatives of children attending Welsh medium schools and for learners of all ages and backgrounds who have realised the advantages that speaking the Welsh language can bring.
To all those people who say to me “Oh, I really wish I could speak Welsh properly because I know so many Welsh words”, Heini Gruffudd has produced an accessible, high-quality book which will allow you to speak Welsh with confidence.
This book offers a cost-effective opportunity to gain the skills and vocabulary to start to speak Welsh so “ewch amdani” (go for it!)!
Heini Gruffudd has written several books for Welsh learners. He was brought up and still lives in Swansea. He’s on the forefront of the campaign for Welsh education.
Talk Welsh by Heini Gruffudd ISBN: 9781912631056 Price: £6.95 Department: Learners, Beginner Format: Paperback Language: Welsh