Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Welsh Language & Schools

My daughter goes to a school where Welsh is taught as the first language. My Mum and I decided we'd like to learn it too, dyn ni dysgu Cymraeg! We have been trying for three years now - without much success I have to say. My Dad tried for a year then gave up with the lame excuse that he has too much to do! (Wish I'd thought of that one).

I ask my daughter about the mutations, she assures me it's just to make the words sound better, but I'm an adult, I need rules and it panics me, she doesn't worry about it and is fluent. Hmmmm.

I am continuously astonished at how easily she has picked up this very difficult to learn second language. It struck me that we ought to do this in the English schools, the Canadians do it with French - this immersion technique and it appears to work, perhaps because a young child lacks self-consciousness and negativism? My daughter did have some intensive language lessons for two days a week for a little over a year, outside of her normal schooling (we didn't move until she was in year 2). Since then she has been simply immersed in the language at school and has gone from strength to strength. She has not lost ground in the standard subjects, in fact she is as bad at maths as she would be in England :).

One other brilliant positive, is that Welsh schools don't have national testing HURAH. My daughter is always the very youngest in her year, we were still in England when at just a few days older than six she was being prepared for the SATs. After two years of enjoying school she started to dislike it, this was serious stuff. The pressure was on; spellings every week, homework for the weekend, reading every night. We had parental guidance notes about what to encourage when we were working with our child so that they would jump through the hoops and pass the tests. I felt pressure and put pressure on my child - I tried not to, but I did. Why do we do that? Surely if you allow children the space to enjoy learning - they will actually learn.

No testing here, but the school my child will end up in is far, far better rated then any of the local senior schools in the area we left. Says it all really.

1 comment:

Preseli Mags said...

G8 picked up the language so fast - what a genius. I've been trying to learn it for 25 years now and I'm still a beginner.

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