Offering 0pen and Honest Professional Advice
Welsh Language Learning Retardation - hgunn.uk
Determining the precise learning deficits that native English-speaking
children will experience when they chose to learn Welsh and be educated through it will be
very difficult to evaluate, but what cannot be questioned is that new languages cannot be learnt instantly.
Very young children absorb language lie sponges, but their language is slow, it takes intensive time, and it is developed in the ‘here and now’.
It develops from babies first babbling. Even when children develop two languages from birth, the development of each language will not necessarily be equal.
Even if native-English speaking children attend Welsh language nurseries, they will not be as comprehensively be bathed in the Welsh language in comparison with children who live in Welsh speaking homes. Even children in Welsh speaking homes will not be bathed in the Welsh speaking environments outside of their homes, as much as they
will be bathed in English. This reflects the fact that Welsh is rarely heard on the streets of most of Wales.
A formula for all learning can be defined as learning potential multiplied by time. The formula is notional. No precise figures can or should be calculated, but time is a critical factor in developing fluency.
If children are to develop native like fluency in Welsh, then they will need to apply it to an intensity resembling their English usage for significant periods of time.
This is why native speaking English children, who learn through the medium of Welsh, will be able to develop some form of Welsh language fluency, but children living in native English speaking homes will not be able to be bathed in the language of the home or motherees in Welsh in what they would their early lives. Welsh speaking children will rarely be able to be exclusively be bathed in the Welsh language, such as when they go to shopping to their local towns or cities.
It requires around 6,000 hours to develop basic language fluency and 10,000 hours to develop native like fluency.
Children with higher working memory capacity will learn more effectively in accelerated timescales, than those with low working memory.
Bakers (2011) research reviews top down researched bilingual evidence,
what outcomes are achieved. Most of that research refers to children, who speak
minority languages, who need to learn a majority language to be educated through it and normally, to use the majority language to live their everyday lives. There
are even Spanish speaking communities in the United States. This is the reverse situation to the Welsh language in Wales.
The fact that only 11% speak the Welsh language in Wales means that is it is a very small minority language, especially as the tipping point of a living language is 67%. However politically unpalatable this is, the harsh reality is the opportunity hear and use the Welsh language in Wales in limited. It varies across Wales.
Plants cannot grow in deserts without water, language can't be easily be learnt when there is scarcity of speakers of it.
There is the issue of what Welsh language fluency children will develop. If children are speaking Welsh in the school yard and home, then the Welsh that they will be required to use in the classroom will be limited. .
Children, who emigrate to new countries must learn and use the majority language to live and be educated through their new language. In Wales native speaking English and Welsh speakers have an alternative language, English, that they will be able to communicate through. Unless native Welsh speaking children use Welsh frequently, they will not develop well rounded Welsh language fluency. Many young 18-26 Welsh speakers do not view themselves as proper Welsh speakers.
Irrespective of what native English speakers achieve in Welsh medium schools, there remains the question of whether they would achieved more in English speaking schools. There cannot be direct comparisons, because there is only one option children can take. Cognitive research, which bottom up, suggest there will be learning deficits.
The fundamental issue is how effectively children will develop Welsh language fluency. The language demands will increase in secondary schools. Hard work and the school ethos may eliminate some of these, but there are serious questions that must be answered
Baker (2011) also refers to their being up to a seven year learning deficit when children need to learn a new language and then need to be educated through it. It accepted that English language support may be offered to children in Welsh medium schools, but they expected to learn through the medium of Welsh.
In pure terms, the Welsh language is irrelevant to the issue, the language fluency children achieve, especially in reading, is strongly related to the learning success they will achieve whatever language they are educated through. The degree of fluency could be viewed as a learning point on a thermometer that is independent of the language being used to learn through.
The five years deficit relates to an average. Baker (2011) refers to research that suggests the deficit relates to up to seven years. The standard distribution curve would suggest that roughly some children will experience a three year deficit and other a seven, but the average may not necessarily apply to the Welsh language. It is unlikely to be less, because of the limited opportunities to use Welsh outside the classroom in Wales, especially in places like Newport.
Unless children spend flying time using Welsh their fluency will be retarded, this will apply to native English speakers, who have learnt Welsh and even fluent Welsh speakers. Professor Sioned claimed that only the majority of native Welsh speakers achieve Welsh language fluency and a small number of others.
Native language fluency is often applied automatically, habitually without giving much active thought to it, which can only arise through very intense practice in applying it everyday life contexts. The fact that many children are choosing not to use Welsh in the school yard and at home, raises serious questions about the Welsh fluency all children achieve.
There is a scales of justice issue about all learning issues, the simpler the language that is applied to teach concepts, the more fluent it will be received and the more secure learning will take place, because learners will be able to give more thought to what they need to learn. Visual representations will often be used to support this.
if learners are learning a new language, then the easier the concepts are that they need to learn, the more attention they will be able to give the language they are learning. The balance between the two will be different in each class.
This raises concerns about the validity of the concept that engaging in higher order improves second language skills. Even it does, it unlikely that children will be efficiently learn what is taught to them.