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Book Reviews Newcombe - hgunn.uk
Newcombe (2009) Think Without Limits you CAN speak Welsh.
This book written by Dr. Margaret Newcombe, Cardiff School of Welsh, offers one of most interesting and honest appraisals of the state of Welsh learning and the Welsh language,
The book commences with the claim that ancient 1947 Wlpan methods that has been applied to teach adults Welsh does not suit all learners needs pg. 45. it is unclear what research she was referring to that illustrated learners benefitted from using it. It not referred to in Coleman and Klapper (2005) a researched book on university language teaching.
Astonishingly Newcombe even claims that Wlpan is failing in Israel pg. 100, "Many cannot hold a conversation in depth", and why she is claiming "Wales is bursting with talented tutors who could perform on the world stage.
Newcombe declares that only a limited number learners attain fluency and become integrated into Welsh speaking communities. pg. 42. She advises that Welsh classes only provide the foundation into the world of the Welsh language and culture pg. 43. She also concedes that learning Welsh require a lot of time and effort pg. 52.
Newcombe refers to 'exagerrated' claims being made how easy languages are to learn pg.52
Newcombe also refers to the problem of dialects in the Welsh langauge, she refers to R.F. who reported that "There were many bugled attempts before he was eventually able to converse with his wife in Welsh on a regular basis, although for some time previsously he had been converting confident with first language speakers in west Wales." pg. 7
Newcombe explains that the Welsh adult learners learn in Wales is a synthetic language and that it would be impossible to teach Welsh learners every Welsh dialect, slang that exists in the Welsh language. pg. 93/5. She claims there is controvesy about the standard of Welsh used in the media in Wales. pg. 94 She quotes Kim saying "Learners face almost an impossible task when they try to using Welsh outside the classroom if first-language speakers respond with dialect and slang'. pg 8
Newcombe contends that the main hinderance that Welsh learners who establish a command of the Welsh language is the lack of opportunity to learn Welsh in the community. pg. 57. She claims that many Welsh speakers insist on switching to English, even in the Welsh speaking heartlands, when they attempt to speak Welsh to them and this upsets advanced learners most. p.63
She quotes a source that suggests that Welsh speakers in North Wales will not speak in Welsh to Welsh learners who have an English accents. pg, 78 (H.G. It is virtually impossible for older learners of any langauge to develop native accents).
Newcombe claims that "While protestations and claims campaigns for language rights have been effective in the past, if there is to be a radical revical of the Welsh language, protestors should consider giving more time to helping learners to coneverse in Welsh..Welsh speakers tend to transfer the problem to other, hoping those in authority will change matters". pg. 42
Newcombe claims even when Welsh learners live in Welsh speaking homes they stumble upon problems pg. 88 and that "Many learners are happy socialising in Welsh, but they are hesitant about using Welsh in work". pg. 106
Newombe quotes Elwyn Hughes Welsh tutors is quoted as saying it take 'Guts to Learn Welsh'. pg. 90 She quotes Fiona claiming that "The Welsh learner does not always feel accepted in Gwynedd". pg. 122. She claims that "Fiona is right in the seeing the Welsh learner as the 'joker in the pack' who does not fit neatly into either 'English' or 'Welsh' .
Newcombe admits there will always be fewer opprotunties to use Welsh than the majority language English and that in south east Wales Welsh is not a community language. Only determined learners can seek out Welsh speakers in Cardiff. pg. 131/5
School Welsh Learning
Newcombe states "As happens in Wales, many school children are educated in Welsh and they then use their first language Spanish, when playing in the school yard and at home". pg. 40 (H.G. What language are children learning in the school yard and at home and in Wales? Their first or second langauge any langauge).
She quotes a mother who said, "My children to go Welsh medium school and are regarded by my neighbours as being indistinguishable from first language speakers. However, (My children) find my attempts at speaking Welsh excrutiatiely amusing, but refuse to explain where I am going wrong. Conversations last for a few minutes before collapsing into English" pg.77