North West Wales

Gwynedd primary heads meet over 'informal' Welsh bid

Pupils at Ysgol Cwm y Glo
Image caption Pupils are Ysgol Cwm y Glo are 'enthusiastic' about both languages says their head teacher

Head teachers in Gwynedd are being asked to look at ways of encouraging more use of the Welsh language by primary pupils outside the classroom.

Using Welsh in everyday settings, from the playground to the workplace, is seen as important to its survival.

The 'C Ffactor' conference will hear messages from the world of TV, music and business.

A report has shown the use of Welsh varies markedly between formal and informal situations.

Debbie Jones, the Welsh language officer for Hunaniaith (meaning "identity") and Gwynedd Council said the aim was to show pupils the Welsh language was "cool" to use.

Children would also be shown that people can work and be successful through the medium of Welsh.

Hunaniaithwas set up in 2009 as a partnership to lead language planning and promotion in Gwynedd.

Meirion Prys Jones, chief executive of the Welsh Language Board said Thursday's conference, to be held at the Nant Gwrtheyrn language centre, is important because it looks to the future.

"If the Welsh language is to survive then we need, obviously, speakers of the language," he said.

"We can only ensure people speak the language if they not only learn the language in school but are able to use the language outside the classroom, and that is the acid test," he said.

He said that in terms of "progressing the language" he would like to see each school in Wales, which teaches through the medium of Welsh, having a plan.

This would look at both supporting the language not just in terms of the curriculum, but also outside the classroom in the playground and in the wider community.

Ysgol Cwm y Glo community school is one school which has already been addressing the problem, and head teacher Garem Jackson said it was important for the children to see the worth in using "social" Welsh.

He said his school was slightly different to others in Gwynedd as he had a higher proportion of children and families from a non-Welsh speaking background.

The school's efforts were being supported by parents and the wider community and by "enthusiastic" children, he said.

A reward-based system encourages but does not force the use of Welsh, he said.


"The parents are quite glad we are developing perfectly bilingual children, who appreciate the values of both languages and when to use them," he added.

As well as rewarding the children for using the Welsh language he said there were more structured activities to provide the children with a grounding in the history and context of the language.

Pupils at the school said they enjoyed being able to speak both languages.

"I think you want to achieve something by doing it," said year five pupil Faith.

Elinor agreed, she said it made her happy that she is able to speak Welsh.

Well-known personalities from Welsh-language TV, literature, sports, arts, music, education and business have shared their experiences of the language on a film commissioned for the conference.

Bryn Fôn said: "I wouldn't be where I am today without the Welsh language."

'Great pleasure'

He said he decided "way back" in 1977 that he wanted to be an actor and entertainer.

"Yes, I had offers from the like of Warner Bros to sing in English, but I decided it was more important and natural for me to pursue my career in Welsh," he added.

Businesswoman Angharad Gwyn, who owns online store Adra, said her company got feedback from customers who like the fact they can now understand the process of shopping online in welsh.

"This is what customers want more and more and it is interesting to see the wide range of products making use of Welsh now selling online," she added.

TV presenter Morgan Jones, one of the faces of S4C's football programme Sgorio and the Urdd eisteddfod coverage, said the Welsh language had given him "unique opportunities".

"I have been able to stand side-by-side with some of the biggest stars in football," he said.

"Then be able to report in Welsh for a Welsh-speaking audience back home who love football like I do gives me great pleasure," he added.

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