The following is an e-mail conversation (real) between me and another Welsh learner, although now really a speaker:-
I think what needs to be done more than anything is an HONEST appraisal of the situation.People need to understand that whatever their personal feelings with regard SSIW, it currently is a bit part player in the big scheme of things.
OK, I agree!
What is required is a coordinated approach with the following:
ALL learning providers
The welsh government
Welsh language societies
Excellent point about Societies!
The fact is that many people do not feel comfortable or confident speaking Welsh in public. Equally Welsh has for a long time been given second status. I know only too well how my own lack of confidence hinders this yet I’m still determined to improve.
If you lack confidence, heaven help me!
There are very quick wins in showing how the language is important. If, for example, I shop in Aldi, I know before most of the people in the shop whether a till is opening or closing because they announce things in Welsh FIRST. This is an easy win with legislation. It shows that Welsh is important and that those of us who can understand do not have to wait for the English.
Like me hearing the Referendum on Devolution and knowing we’d just won before the Returning Officer for Sir Gar stopped mangling Cymraeg and gave the numbers in English!
Well, incentive is I think a very important thing – it means it is not compulsory. Compulsion will not work but showing that there is a difference to be had by understanding Welsh may mean people are more inclined to learn.
Well, I have suggested one free drink for anyone in a pub who orders in Welsh!
Seriously, on to Adult education. It matters not what course, for the figures are hideous. I would like to know how SSIW compares. Personally for those it has been a success for, it does provide a great platform for moving forward. However, it would be helpful to know just how many have started with Level 1/Course 1 and how many have gone on to subscribe. If this is a small percentage then all these ideas are just a VERY small number of learners voicing an opinion.
If many courses are like ours on Gower – why were they learning? 2 to understand Grandchildren who were at Welsh Medium school (not on Gower!), 1 (me)-trying to ‘keep my hand in’, rest, incomers with a vague interest but no real incentive.
What we need to do is to be honest about the state of adult education. If as I suspect it is mostly hobbyists or retirees we will do nothing other than increase the number of welsh speakers by a handful if that.
See above! In Swansea in evenings there were courses supported by employers, but I knew from experience the perils of that road at night in winter!
One of the problems here is the availability of courses – the majority are during the day! Pity the worker who wants to learn but has no access. It is a ridiculous situation – millions are ploughed into adult education for little return.
So Swansea in late 90s was unusual, or just a few employers got evening courses organised?
The courses themselves are also inaccessible to many – sure – many unemployed can access these course for free – but the SSIW 5 day intensives at out of the reach of nearly everybody. If SSIW as with other providers want to make welsh education available to all they need to find a model that is affordable for all.
As I said, folk's fees were paid for by employers like Countryside Council and Local Government!
Personally, IF widespread support for welsh learning is a priority I would be looking at ways of providing education in the welsh language at an affordable cost. For SSIW I would argue that if they want to support the project, they have to make SSIW available for NOTHING provided the company owners get rewarded by the welsh government by doing so. Maybe a number of tutors can offer the intensive course for not profit provided they are paid by the government for doing so, in the same way teachers are paid for example. A programme across Wales offering this would be huge.
O.K. agree, all adult education in Welsh in Wales should be government funded.
Now onto the tricky thing....how do we reward SSIW for this. Well I think that by retaining the intellectual property of the course they have HUGE potential for future revenue. Also they could do this for a sum of say £60,000 per annum provided Aran and Iestyn offered 20 weeks of residential courses each with the commitment to train others in the SSIW method.
I guess an annual fee is more sensible than lots of little ones, but what do you do about drop-outs. On line education is difficult to fit into funding. Negotiation would be needed!
With regard the media, how about legislation in Wales that makes sporting events free to air on S4C – difficult overseas I know but a great potential for anything in Wales – provided of course that its made available in WELSH first.
With subtitles available, so folk can understand, do a bit of subliminal learning and have a huge incentive to learn properly! And S4C can do more teaching than it is doing just now!
I can think of lots more but best stop now!
That was enough for me, I’m quite mentally drained keeping up with you!