Welsh Language passes the identity test: Learning Two Languages At The Same Time

Source: This is South Wales

Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bryn Tawe
Heol Gwyrosydd, Penlan, Abertawe, SA5 7BU

• Phone 01792 560600
• Fax: 01792 560601
• Email: ygg.bryntawe@swansea-edunet.gov.uk

YSGOL Gyfun Gymraeg Bryntawe is a perfect example of the boom in use of the Welsh language.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Last month the Swansea school received its first GCSE results since opening five years ago. And results day proved to be a successful one, with Bryntawe emerging as one of only two schools in the city to score a 100 per cent pass record.

The achievement seems even more impressive after head teacher David Williams revealed that the majority of pupils are from English-speaking families.

He said: “They are the vast majority — I think we are probably around 90 per cent.

“The number of homes where Welsh is spoken is very few.

“It is quite surprising and a great achievement that the exam success that they are doing is in a second language.”

Last month it was revealed that the number of children in Wales being taught in the Welsh language had risen.

The figure has gone up from 20.3 per cent last year to 20.6 per cent in 2008, which translates as 480 more children. The news was welcomed by shadow culture minister Paul Davies.

He said: “These figures show there is a growing confidence in Welsh language education. This is incredibly positive news, and proves that parents are happy to send their children to Welsh medium primary and secondary schools.

“The number of pupils in Welsh schools being taught mainly in Welsh has been rising steadily now since 2001.

“To think, a fifth of our children are now being taught principally in Welsh is a massive boost for our language.”

And it is not just the young people of Wales who are embracing the historic language.

South West Wales Welsh for Adults Centre (Canolfan Cymraeg i Oedolion De-Orllewin Cymru), based at Swansea University, is offering popular adult education classes in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

Aled Davies, who is the centre’s director, said more adults were taking Welsh classes than ever before.

He said: “The classes are very popular. It is an area where there has been a year-on-year growth. Three thousand people are currently enrolled in South West Wales.”

Mr Davies said the growth in the number of children learning Welsh had a positive effect on adults.

“One of the biggest areas is parents and grandparents wanting to learn with children.”

He added: “The majority of people we have had, had Welsh in their families a generation or two ago. There’s still an emotional attachment to the language.

“But now people are seeing that Welsh is a living language and a language of the future.”

According to the most recent census (2001), 582,400 (20.8 per cent of the population) were able to speak Welsh and 457,946 (16.3 per cent) could speak, read and write it. This compares with 508,100 (18.7 per cent) in 1991.

Increasing use of the English language had led to a decline in the numbers of Welsh speakers.

However, since the introduction of the Welsh Language Act 1993, giving Welsh equal status with English in the public sector, the Welsh language has enjoyed a revival.

And it is not just at home that moves are being made to increase the use of Welsh.

In June this year Plaid MEP Jill Evans launched an appeal for individuals and institutions in Wales to support moves to make Welsh a co-official language in the European Parliament.

Llanelli AM Helen Mary Jones said: “It is clear that we have got more and more young people being educated through the medium of Welsh.

“As someone who learned myself, and an adult, I am a witness to what a rewarding experience it can be.

“I’m someone who has a learning difficulty related to dyslexia, so if I can do it, anyone can. What we need to do is ensure that these young people go out and use Welsh in other parts of their lives.”

Mrs Jones added that the popularity of the language had a great deal to do with the Welsh identity.

She said: “Thirty years ago people were saying that in a generation there may be nobody left speaking Welsh.

“The other thing about the Welsh language is that whether we speak it or not, it is something that belongs to us all. It is something that makes the place we live special.”

Neath Port Talbot councillor, and Plaid candidate for Neath Alun Llewelyn said the increased use of Welsh was helping to unite Wales as a nation.

He said: “It is a reflection of what is happening internationally.

“Across Europe there’s an upsurge in traditional languages, such as Catalonian in Spain.

“Here in Wales we are creating far more of an identity.”

<a href="Bilingual in Chile: An Impossible Dream? “>Bilingual in Chile: An Impossible Dream? [Paperback]

“We have some of the most advanced commercial accords in the world, but that is not enough,” Sergio Bitar, the minister of education, said in an interview here. “We know our lives are linked more than ever to an international presence, and if you can’t speak English, you can’t sell and you can’t learn.”

The initial phase of the 18-month-old program, officially known as “English Opens Doors,” calls for all Chilean elementary and high school students to be able to pass a standardized listening and reading test a decade from now. But the more ambitious long-term goal is to make all 15 million of Chile’s people fluent in English within a generation. “It took the Swedes 40 years” to get to that point, said Mr. Bitar, adding that he sees the Nordic countries and Southeast Asian nations like Malaysia as models for Chile.

“It’s going to take us decades too, but we’re on the right track.”

Though the main focus of the program is young students, the government has also sought to reach adults by encouraging businesses to offer English courses to employees. As part of the program, tax credits are to be offered to companies, and Rodrigo Fabrega, director of the effort, talks of “flooding the country with English-Spanish dictionaries and English-language textbooks.”

Government officials say that their biggest problem now is a lack of qualified teachers.

But they hope to recruit volunteers from English-speaking countries to come here, and are also sending Chilean teachers to places like California and Delaware.

“The first thing we have to do is train an army of English teachers,” said Mr. Fabrega. The quality of the English that will eventually be spoken here may not rival Shakespeare’s, he conceded, but he said that did not matter.

“We’ll speak English Chilean-style, because the important thing is to understand English and to be able to use it as a tool in our favor.” Dedication This book is dedicated to all the teachers in Chile, and the entire world, who believe that English can be learned to a high level.

The most successful English learners begin from an early age, regardless of whether we are looking at Canada, Singapore, or Chile. Yes, in Chile, we have bilingual students.

They became bilingual without sacrificing the mother tongue, or the Chilean culture, or the heritage that identifies them as members of a particular linguistic community. In the case of this book, I refer to the special nature of being Chilean, and speaking English.

It is not a dream, bilingualism in Chile, it is reality… but only for a few.

“English for Everyone” is a task the teachers, parents, students, and nation of Chile must get serious about. We need to study our Chilean experience, and replicate our success in the private sector in the public sector. This book, again, is dedicated to every teacher in the world who is involved in this noble endeavour.

May God Bless You All.

<a href="Bilingual in Chile: An Impossible Dream? “>Bilingual in Chile: An Impossible Dream? [Kindle Edition]


<a href="White Nights & Dark Days: Quyana Quinhagak! “>White Nights and Dark Days: Quyana, Quinhagak!

“White nights and dark days” is not ordinarily something to be giving thanks for. In the case of Alaska, however, I’m sure you will forgive me for calling the bright night of the white midnight sun, “breathtakingly beautiful”, and the dusky days, “delightful”. Therefore I say in the Yup’ik language, “quyana”.

Quyana is the Yup’ik Eskimo word for, “Thank You” in English.

Thankful, appreciative, and grateful is what I feel each time I remember the 10 days of my life that I spent in the Yup’ik Eskimo village of Quinhagak (pronounced kwin-uh-hawk). In March 1998, I volunteered to go to Alaska as a member of a joint-service, military, medical team. The mission was a humanitarian one: to provide no cost medical service to the Yup’ik people of the village of Quinhagak.

Each year for the past 18 years, Operation Arctic Care brings approximately 300 military personnel, and 70 thousand pounds of cargo and medical supplies, to rural communities throughout Alaska. It’s a military field exercise that provides free medical care to underserved populations in Alaska. In 1998 we were in Southwest Alaska, and my team was assigned to Quinhakak.

In return for providing care, servicemen and women from several branches of the military would be learning to adapt medical services for unfamiliar field conditions. And so it was that we entered the village in the only way possible, by air.

Riding in on the Alaska National Guard Blackhawk helicopter one thing was clear: ahead of us lay long days and difficult working conditions, bitter cold in a harsh, unforgiving environment, hardships to be endured, and medical emergencies to deal with. Would we rise to the challenge?

In a moment of horror, involving a shooting that would leave one person dead and another badly wounded, we would find out some very profound answers to these questions. Our actions would capture headlines all over the state of Alaska, and leave us changed for the rest of our lives.

Fourteen years later, I revisit, retell, and reflect on those white nights and days of darkness.

“Waqaa” and “Quyana” remain the only words I can remember in Yup’ik:

Waqaa means “Hello”. Quinhagak, I greet you again, this time from within these pages: Waqaa… Hello Quinhagak, a treasured memory…

<a href="White Nights & Dark Days: Quyana Quinhagak! “>White Nights & Dark Days: Quyana Quinhagak! [Kindle Edition]


Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha & ELT

I saw my first Pecha Kucha over three years ago. It was when I was working at Universidad Andrés Bello at Campus Casona in Santiago with the students in the English Pedagogy program. I admit I’ve been fascinated by “Pecha Kucha” ever since that first time. I remember being very impressed by the performance I watched. There were a number of reasons for this. For now, let me share with you why I find Pecha Kucha to be so impressive and fascinating as a presentation technique.
Firstly, when we speak of our first time doing something enjoyable, it’s always a good feeling. We like what we like, we know what we like, and because of that, we return often, to what we like.

As you can tell by now, I like Pecha Kucha.

Secondly, its principles are easy to understand and apply. It’s fast, it’s efficient, it’s effective, it’s collaborative, it’s visual, it’s easy to prepare, it’s fun. However, it does require practice, lots of it, to do this really well. Practice, oh what a sweet word in the ears of any EFL teacher. Students practicing what they are going to say, again and again, going over their own words, to speak about images they themselves have selected. Volumes of practice, huge quantities of practice, helping the students to achieve the eventual automaticity that is the hallmark of mastery.

Having said that, of all the principles of the Pecha Kucha, the most important principle is this: images are powerful.

Images convey meaning and emotions. In fact, the whole range of the human experience can be conveyed by images. For example, think of the images left on the walls of caves by cave men. No one needs a cave man to verbalize what you are seeing. You feel it – through your eyes – to your brain – to your emotions. It’s visual storytelling. That’s what the Pecha Kucha is, visual literacy in its purest form…

Pecha Kucha & ELT

The International Baccalaureate [Kindle Edition]

The International Baccalaureate [Paperback]

The global search for high-quality education, embedded in high-performing education systems, has taken on mythical proportions, almost resembling the alchemists’ quest to turn common metals into gold.

It is my hope that the present day search for global education, equitable and providing equality of opportunity for all, shall not cease until the “gold” we seek, has been found.

I therefore dedicate this book to all the educators, researchers, parents and students the world over, who strive to achieve this elusive goal,high-quality education for all the citizens of the world.

In this endeavour, it is my belief that the International Baccalaureate merits a closer look, based on their more than 40 year history of delivering consistently excellent results.

I add that all of the reflections and views in this book are mine alone, unless otherwise noted, and can not be attributed to my employer or any other organization I am affiliated with, past or present. For any errors or oversights, I bear the complete responsibility.


Amazon Author Page: Thomas Jerome Baker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Head of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile.

He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago.

Thomas is also a member of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he also serves as a reviewer and as the HETL Ambassador for Chile.

Thomas enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. Thus far, he has written the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He has published a total of forty four (44) books overall.

The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.



About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
This entry was posted in Baccalaureate, Connectivism, Culture, Debates, Education, EFL, Reading, Reflections, Research, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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