Day Care Aims to Teach Cornish to Toddlers

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Cornish toddlers can now learn the Cornish language through a Saturday day care program at Cornwall College in Camborne. The program teaches the tots language through play while their parents take an adult Cornish language class. So far, according to the BBC, seven children have been registered for the crèche, which is part of the Cornish for the Nursery Schools movement (Movyans Skolyow Meythrin in Cornish). The first lessons included some Cornish vocabulary as well as popular songs in Cornish.

Nursery school organizer Rhisiart Tal-e-bot told the BBC that:

“This is an idea which I have had for several years. This is about teaching parents how to bring up their children alongside our local heritage. There will also be classes run at the same time as the crèche so that adults can learn a little about the county.”

Cornish is a Brythonic Celtic language that used to be widely spoken in Cornwall.  In fact, according to Wikipedia, 39,000 people spoke Cornish in the 13th century. However, after that, use of the language began to decline in favour of English. Cornish ceased being used as a spoken language in the late 18th or 19th century; however, a movement to revive the language began in the early 20th century. Today, there are approximately 150 people in Cornwall who can speak it fluently. The language was recognized as a minority language by the government of the United Kingdom in 2002.

The nursery school is the first of its kind, so we will have to wait and see whether or not the movement takes off. Still, teaching children the language as early as possible, alongside English, is probably the best hope for a more widespread Cornish revival.