Thinking about learning Welsh, or having to take it at School? Tutorhub has online tutors that will be able to help you get to grips with what can be a challenging subject from the comfort of your own home.
So let’s lift the lid on the Welsh language and take a look at it’s place in the National Curriculum.
Learning a minority language may sometimes feel like a somewhat fruitless task, especially for young people who are constantly being reminded of the terrible job market and employability. Therefore, if you are a student studying the compulsory Welsh short course GCSE, you may be having doubts about the qualification and wish that you were focusing on learning a widely spoken language like French or Spanish instead. And you wouldn’t be alone in this mind set. Indeed, there has been discussion that the teaching of modern foreign languages such as French should be made compulsory in primary schools in Wales. The British economy is very dependent on international links so some fear that the lack of focus on modern languages in Wales is endangering the job prospects of young Welsh people as well as the British economy as a whole.
Is Welsh relevant in today’s society?
Learning languages isn’t purely about being able to communicate with the largest majority of the population possible and neither is it all about employability. Concerns about the economy and the UK job market aside, learning a language is first and foremost about communication, understanding and appreciation of different cultures. The Welsh language and culture is somewhat underrepresented in Britain and is often not taken seriously so it’s extremely important for British people living in Wales to have the opportunity to learn about Welsh language and culture. The compulsory teaching of Welsh is arguably the only reason that the Welsh language has not died out completely.
Additionally, becoming proficient in this language seems to bode well for the academic careers of Welsh students. In fact, a study conducted in 2013 showed that “up to 40% of those who can read, write or speak Welsh have a degree-level qualification, compared to an overall average of 33% for Wales”. Additionally, learning Welsh as a second language still teaches primary school students important language skills which equip them to learn other modern languages later in their academic careers, if they choose. Therefore the focus on learning the Welsh language does not necessarily disadvantage students. Also being able to speak both Welsh and English increases a student’s chances of having a successful career in Wales, which benefits the Welsh economy.
Should Welsh be taught in all British schools?
Diversely, there is also debate concerning the view that there should actually be more focus on teaching Welsh not only within Wales but across all primary schools in Britain. Indeed, recently an article was published on the Guardian website arguing that the fact that English schools do not teach Welsh exemplifies England’s dominance over Wales. The article points out that Welsh is an important part of British culture and history and therefore should be valued and respected enough to be included in the UK curriculum as, despite being an official British language, Welsh is rapidly dying out. Whether or not young British people are learning the language comes down to what you could call a ‘postcode lottery’, considering the amount of Welsh people living in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland
So, as you can see, there are mixed opinions concerning Welsh. Personally, I think that learning Welsh is culturally enriching for young people and important in terms of respecting the place of Wales within the United Kingdom. Either way, the amount of debate about the role of Welsh subject within the British curriculum shows that change is definitely on the horizon.