SSi Forum

What are the problems? What needs to happen differently?


Can anyone tell me what subjects can be studied to post graduate level in Welsh now? Back when, my friends who were raised in Welsh were forced to learn in school in English. I know more and more secondary schools are now teaching through the medium of Welsh, but what happens at Uni? Because if your specialised subject was learned in English, you likely won’t have the vocabulary in Welsh to explain it to others or discuss it with them. Medicine, Psychiatry, Psychology particularly need interaction with the public.


It’s obviously dependent on where you are. Here’s some info about my uni (Cardiff):

I suspect the choice will be wider in Aberystwyth or Bangor.

The Coleg Cenedlaethol Cymraeg supports learners in higher education across Wales who want to study through the medium of Welsh, and I was recently at a postgraduate seminar they had arranged with students (not just from Cardiff) who were studying a big range of subjects in Welsh, including biochemistry and business.

I agree we need more Welsh-speaking psychologists … and social workers, nurses, doctors…


Mmm. In my experience “Welsh essential” meant that the interview was conducted in Welsh so fluency was required


Whilst my point doesn’t cover the more professional end of undergraduate studies through the medium of Welsh, this does bring to mind something that made me very sad indeed.
Whilst trying to find out some information from back in the mists of time concerning my university (St David’s at Lampeter) I find out that there are no longer any degree courses in Welsh, and by that I mean that I couldn’t find any undergraduate courses concerning Welsh Language, Welsh Studies, nor any other undergrad courses through the medium of Welsh (save for one course in Religious Studies held on the Carmarthen campus of Trinity). What happened? When I was there, there was a thriving Welsh language department. There were opportunities to learn other languages - Breton, Cornish and others. There are summer schools for learning Welsh, but no longer any university courses in or about it. How can that be?
I’m completely prepared to have someone tell me that things had to change (and there is probably a good long list of reasons why it happened), but why did a university steeped in the Welsh language, in a Welsh speaking town turn all it’s courses over to English?
It was a place small enough, that if you had a burning urge to find out about cynghanedd, you could just get a tutor to make you up a module and away you would go.
I can’t tell you how sad it has made me to find out that my wonderful (and perhaps eccentric) place of learning has changed.
And what on earth was I doing that I didn’t notice until now?
Sorry - a moan and a rant rolled into one. I don’t know if this is the place for it even, but having been asked the question ‘What needs to happen differently?’ I just needed to say how I felt about this. :disappointed:


When I did my undergraduate degree in Biology in Aberystwyth, I could have done a good half of it in Welsh. At the time you could request a Welsh speaking tutor, submit all course work and do all exams in Welsh. There was also the option to do courses through the medium of Welsh, Well, the Welsh speaking tutors were prepared to do parallel courses in Welsh, sadly no-one signed up for them when I was there. My tutor (Welsh speaking, but I wawn’t at the time) was incredibly keen to find someone to sign up as he planned to video the lectures and have the excuse to provide slides in Welsh. If only I could have my time again!
I would hope this is still the case, but budgets are really squeezed at the moment.


As I have said a few times, it is still possible to study much of a Physics degree through the medium of Welsh at Aberystwyth. This was confirmed by the current Head od Department (Cymro Cymraeg) when I met him at last year’s Eisteddfod in Y Fenni.

but budgets are really squeezed at the moment

This, as with most things in education, is a major source of “the problem”. Decreasing demand is another, of course, which is what our current discussions are trying to address. :slight_smile:


One of my good friends in Aber has just completed a PHd in Physics through the medium of Welsh. He did a Masters in Maths before that through the medium of Welsh too. Which is all the more impressive because he only started to learn Welsh when he turned up here to do his initital Bachelors degree.

He is a scarily clever man though!


I can’t speak to St David’s, but I know that recruitment to courses in the Welsh department here at Cardiff is an ongoing worry. The question, of course, is ‘why?’, and that I don’t know…


Do you mean at St. David’s or anywhere? Surely, at other Universities in Wales it is possible to study Welsh, Welsh Literature, Welsh History etc.?? Isn’t it that Trinity St. David’s got shunted into other things? Not sure why though!


Yes, I’ve had one of those (where the application & interview were in Welsh - needless to say, I didn’t get the job!). I’ve also had one where I could apply & do the interview in English, but had to do part of it in Welsh to show I was fluent. But these were jobs where complete fluency was required. Here’s a random example of a job where conversational Welsh (but not fluency) is required:

If anyone’s interested, the Commissioner’s guidelines for how to decide whether a post is Welsh essential are here, and some examples of different types of requirements are shown on pp.16-17:


@henddraig - I was looking just at Lampeter, which now seems to have been absorbed into Trinity. Trinity has campuses at Carmarthen and Swansea too, but I think the same holds in terms of language study there, although I’d love to be proved wrong. The provision at Aberystwyth (and further up) seems to be really good, but I think it always was.
My shock came from my daft assumption that an old, Welsh speaking university college, in a Welsh speaking part of Wales, would continue to educate in Welsh and about Welsh. I thought that would be safe.
What do the proportion of the million hoped for Welsh speakers who want to study at Trinity campuses do when they get to degree level? Stop?


Here you go:

Not the Llambed campus, but we’re lucky that’s there at all after it nearly went out of existence a few years ago due to financial problems (hence Trinity-St David’s).


Sounds much more positive than I had hoped, although as you say, a shame this kind of support no longer happens at Llambed. It was a rum little place when I was there - unlike any other, and I had the impression even then that finances were an issue.
Diolch yn fawr @robbruce


If it is any consolation, there is an increasing trend for universities on the continent to offer degree courses, or at least parts of them, in English now, to attract more international students. This may therefore not be a negative reflection on the Welsh language, but just part of this growing trend … not that it makes it right.


I agree that it isn’t necessarily about the Welsh language itself - it’s that it’s easier and cheaper for universities to provide all the courses through English. And if I’m going to be really fair about it, part of the reason that I was able to get my degree was because they were the only uni at that time that accommodated people who did not have A level Welsh, or equivalent, and had a course where English speakers could learn Welsh and study partly through the medium of English! And there I am bemoaning the Englishness of it all!! If they hadn’t been friendly and flexible to the English speakers, I wouldn’t have been able to study there. :slight_smile:
Sucks for their now extinct language department though, especially in a very Welsh speaking bit of Wales - how nuts is that? :confused:


In some ways, the challenge facing us as Welsh speakers can be summed as ‘confidence’ As a Nation we lack confidence in our language. Too many Welsh speakers defer to English out of politeness because they don’t want to be seen as being ‘rude’ by speaking Welsh. We need to reverse this. We need to rejoice in our language and the fact that we, as a Nation, have a unique language. This isn’t a ‘magic bullet’ fix but a strategy that needs to be thought through by the Assembly to encourage everyone who can speak Welsh to use it as the default so that instead of apologizing when we speak to someone who doesn’t speak Welsh, they apologise to us because they cannot!


I like that! In France, if I can’t recall the word I need, I apologise for my poor Français. Would anyone, anywhere else in the world apologise for speaking their own language in their own country? Would anyone expect thanks for having learned some of the language of that country?


Just a quick recent observation that may has been touched on by others in the main forum.

I notice that the language of business (in the general sense) seems to be English. Although mobile phone conversations and other “closed” conversations might be in Welsh, as soon as an unfamiliar person joins in, the language seems to revert to English.

I don’t know if this is an unwritten convention or more to do with intended politeness or even the idea of a secret language.

I have noticed that sometimes this convention can be broken by simply by speaking Welsh in an attempt to change back, but that is not always the case.

Could it be that this convention breaking could be seen as slightly “other”?

OK so if this convention does actually exist, the total number of Welsh speakers (on paper) is not affected, but the use of Welsh would seem to be.

I’m not sure what the short-term answer is, though.


I used to work in an FE college where the majority of the staff spoke Welsh as a first language. They routinely discussed work in Welsh, especially once they realised that though I usually wasn’t up to replying in Welsh, I could follow what they were saying.

I did notice that when people visited from elsewhere, the conversation would always start in English until someone must have said something that made the other realise they were a native speaker, at which point the dialogue would shift into Welsh. (So even first language speakers can’t instantly recognise another Welsh speaker!)

However, the moment you put a non-Welsh speaker into a Welsh speaking business environment, the language will default to English. So as you say, you haven’t lost any Welsh speakers, but you have lost a Welsh speaking workplace.


So I’ve been wanting to post for a while. Personally I don’t think there is enough exposure of Welsh in the South East. In Caerdydd, there is not one advert I have seen on the tele, radio, magazine, bilboard etc advertising to learn Welsh (other than on S4C- talk about preaching to the converted!). It still boggles my mind, given we are in the capital. There definitely needs to be a big PR push for Welsh. Imagine a billboard in the centre of Caerdydd, Casnewydd or Abertawe which said ‘Start learning Welsh for free in you own home with SSIW etc’. What about SSIW leaflets in pubs, cafes, supermarket notice boards etc etc? I think a little bit of advertising could go a long way.

The Fro can’t keep it’s doors shut to housing and industry- this just isn’t sustainable. Instead of seeing each incomer as someone who is diluting the language, they could be seen as a potential learner. Welsh people need to stand their ground. First language Welsh speakers are going to need to help learners even if it means giving up their spare time, and even if it will piss off a few people. One of the biggest challenges will be getting more people to learn as adults. I feel this is what was lacking about the original plan of action for one million speakers. It was focussed too much on education, with little emphasis on adult learning, socialising etc.