Offering 0pen and Honest Professional Advice
H.G. Welsh Language Book - hgunn.uk
This book "Political Dreams, Practical Realities. The Future of the Welsh Language and Welsh Language Learning" by H.J.D. Gunn (2017) presents a series of papers and an extract from Howards third book. The are now a second of edition of the book available in pdf form.
The future of the living Welsh Language is a very emotional political issue in Wales. There is a failure to understand that, as this research book illustrates, that the learning of the Welsh language and the future of the Welsh language will be dictated by science.
There is a failure to understand that when English speaking children learn a new language so they can be educated through the medium of it the new language will not be learnt instantly and children will always learn most effectively in their most fluent language. If children attempt to learn a language while they are learning a curriculum content, this will reduce their learning capacity.
The research on working memory is so established that this cannot be questioned. There is a seven years spread in working memory capacity. Research also illustrates that working memory and intelligence is related to brain efficiency, the white matter that links brain hubs. The evidence are fixed. It will be more difficult for around 33% of children to reach any level of learning success in any language than other children.
The fundamental problem with adults learning Welsh is that new languages cannot be learnt exclusively in classrooms. They are no even learning real Welsh. Learners need to go out to use the language they are learning to achieve anything resembling fluency. There are too few Welsh speakers in Wales and opportunities to allow learners to achieve this. It is virtually impossible to develop even basic level of Welsh language fluency unless learners live in Welsh speaking families.
There is a notion that new languages are easy to learn. They are not. They are much more complicated they most people appreciate. Research illustrates it takes around 10,000 hours to develop mastery, develop fluency in a new language. It is not an exact figure, but it gives and indication of the scale of learning a new language. It not significantly different to time need to become a concert pianist. They practice for four hours a day.
Welsh medium education is preparing children to exclusively live their lives through the medium of Welsh, but Wales has been a bilingual country since 1535 and it is important that Welsh medium education prepares children to live in bilingual Wales. They face a very uncertain future. The one certainty is that developing English language will be important for their futures. Literacy is always a matter of degree.
The harsh reality of the Welsh language is that at 67%, which is the tipping point of a living language, the Welsh language is not living, but technically it not dead either. Most English speakers have respect for the Welsh language. No one has a choice of the language they are brought up with. There is no evidence that encouraging more adults to learn Welsh or children will save the living the Welsh language.
The future of the Welsh language can only be achieved through modernising it and making it more user friend so it can be retained with less practice. Languages are living things. They are shared like viruses. Unless they adapt to change they will become extinct.
Click here to have a copy of the main points
Shah (2014) provides detailed researched overview of the state of the Irish language. It provides a detailed insight into the problems that exist in heritage minority languages. There is no evidence that the Welsh language activists have had interest in such issues.
Click for pdf of the Shah Paper. (Link currently not active)
Howard has avoided claiming that learning through the medium of Welsh damages children's education. This is because there is the issue of how hard children work in Welsh medium schools and the extent that they develop fluency. Intelligent children will more likely to succeed in schools that those with less learning potential.
There are parents choosing for their children to learn through the medium of Welsh so their children can learn the Welsh language, but they must be aware that their children go to school to be educated. Whatever children achieve in Welsh medium schools the question remains would they have done better if their children learn through the medium of Welsh.
The research that Howard has undertaken is very deep. Valid research is that accepted by a range of authorities in their fields. There are areas that Howard is uncertain about, such as the transferablity of learning learnt in one language to another.
Very often when people claim Welsh medium damages children' s education in the media they often get castigated, but those who make the claims are offering their unqualified prejudices, and those who castigate them do so also. What is presented here are researched professional opinions. The 67% living language statistic is the university of Galway.
There is new edition of the book that has been prepared.
Howard is prepared to publish any papers that anyone would like to submit that directly challenges what he has written, but they must be professional written and provide convincing counter arguments. They can be provided as pdf at the bottom of this page. ,