Welsh Language Expert Wants Parents to Learn, Too

For languages like Welsh, which almost died out in the early 20th century before making a strong comeback, reaching the next generation is seen as key to its survival. Teaching children in Welsh is a big part of that effort, and Welsh-medium schools have become increasingly popular as more and more parents encourage their children to treasure and preserve their Welsh heritage.

However, many of the parents that send their kids to these schools want their children to be fluent in Welsh but don’t speak the language themselves. Lisa Jones, a Welsh language expert, told Wales Online that this situation is far from ideal, and called on parents to learn the language, too.

According to Jones, who teaches Welsh to other parents at her child’s school:

“There is no doubt in my mind that this is the way forward for the Welsh language…Children pick up Welsh faster, are more likely to choose to use Welsh outside school, if they hear family members and friends speaking Welsh.”

Jones has produced her own home-study course to help parents who want to learn Welsh with their children, and also wants linguists to be available on site at Welsh primary schools to help educate parents.

But is this really necessary?

Welsh Language Board spokeswoman  Meinir Jones says no. She told  Wales Online that:

“In many parts of Wales the vast majority of children in Welsh-medium schools come from non-Welsh-speaking homes, so the schools are experienced in dealing with such situations. We would advise any non-Welsh-speaking parent who’s thinking about sending their children to a Welsh- medium school to talk to the school’s headteacher on how they can still be involved in their child’s education, even though they don’t understand the language.”

In other words, parents: if you want to learn Welsh (or any other language) with your children, go for it. But if you can’t make the time, don’t worry: odds are they’ll do fine without you.

2 replies
  1. Macsen
    Macsen says:

    I think this is an important point. Not only does the parent learning Welsh give some practical help to the child, but maybe just as importantly it shows that the parent is also part of he language journey. It gives a positive attitute towards the language from parent to child which then means the child has a positive attitude to the language too.

    One challenge for a language like Welsh (or an immigrant language in another country) is if the father speaks Welsh but the mother doesn’t. The child will become very comfortable in the mother’s language and may not pick-up a minority language from the father or wider society.

    As well as the obvious linguistic need and benefit for the parents to ‘invest’ in a language like Welsh there’s also the wider educational benefit. My guess is, if the parent learns some Welsh and feels compelled to do so, they are also taking an active interest in their child’s education which is very very important for the child’s development and support.


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