I can’t answer this for you, but I can answer it for me, and hopefully that contributes in some way to the discussion.
I like languages, and I tend to think (and other people, too) that I’m good at learning them. In part, this probably goes back to starting to pick up some French on holiday, from the age of about 4: although I’m not properly bilingual in anything, it’s a long time since i was ever wholly monolingual English.
But being able to speak other languages, perversely, makes me aware of just how much I am rooted in English: English is the language I mostly make silly jokes and bad puns in; English is the language I do, say, Maths in; English is the only language I can do cryptic crosswords in. Sometimes, when I look at the behaviour and attitudes of some of my fellow-countrymen, I might not be proud to be English, but it is what I am, and I can’t (and wouldn’t) pretend not to be.
But that awareness of how central English is to my identity, of the extent to which I will never be as fluent in any other language, is precisely why I recognize the value and importance of other languages, including (perhaps especially) minority languages: other people may be just as deeply, to-the-core, Welsh, or Catalan, or whatever, as I am English, including not being quite as at home in any other language, no matter how bilingual they may be. (A Catalan writer once said that speaking Castilian was like wearing smart shoes – interview shoes – whereas speaking Catalan was like walking in espardenyes – comfortable, informal, homely, and moulded to the shape of you, rather than stiff and posh and unyielding.)
And there is no reason on Earth why those people should not have the same rights and expectations of the world as I do, but yet that is often not how it works: years ago, I was chatting to a presenter for Radio Perpinyà who told me that his grandfather was monolingual in Catalan – but that the rest of his village now spoke French. He hadn’t moved, hadn’t changed, but the world had moved on around him, and I find that sad.
As an Englishman, living here in Oxford, it is arguable that the comments you received about the pointlessness of learning Welsh would go double for me. But I don’t think they do. Yes, I’m learning Welsh for purely personal reasons; yes, at this point in time everyone with whom I speak Welsh could actually communicate with me more efficiently in English. But every time I buy a book from Y Lolfa, every month that I continue to subscribe to SSiW, every time I go to Welsh-speaking areas of Wales to practise my Welsh and spend money there, every time my kids tell some random stranger that their dad’s learning Welsh, I’m contributing in some very small way to a Welsh ecosystem, if you will; I’m contributing in some tiny way to a world in which Welsh continues to exist. And I think that’s important, and worthwhile, whether I am ever personally terribly fluent or not.