Welsh Language Activism - hgunn.uk

The Welsh         

        The vast majority of English and Welsh-speaking people in Wales are primarily interested in getting on with their normal lives. They have mutual respect for each other.

 

       The Welsh Language Society is a direct action pressure group. The English-speaking population have been very understanding about the demands made by certain Welsh speakers.


         This respect can be lost unless Welsh speakers are not fair and reasonable about all Welsh language issues.

 

        The Welsh language only has equal status to the English language.  We live in a democracy where freedom of speech is one of its most cherished values. English speakers have  a human right to have their interests represented, to have their say about their language interests without them being slandered, harssed and humiliated.

      None of us have a choice of the family that they are brought up with, their core learning potential and the native language(s) that they speak. It is much easier for Welsh speakers to learn and develop fluency in English than it is for English speakers to learn Welsh which is not.

     All people born in Wales are Welsh. The Welsh language is not the property of those who speak it. Many English speakers devote more time and money attempting to learn Welsh that those bleating that they should learn it. The English speaking Welsh after not English.

     




 

        There have been political activists like Aaron Jones, who have no legal teaching qualifications,  who demonstrate a lamentable lack of understanding of the most elementary principles of teaching and learning, who has been deliberately deceiving the Welsh public, English and Welsh speakers about how easy it is to learn Welsh. He appears to be engaging in a war against Welsh English speakers for no good reason apart for his personal, political and money making interests.

 

         Aran Jones wrote a Manx version of his S.S.I.W. website lessons, where he was simply providing phrases for learners to memorise like parrots. He claimed to have learnt to speak Manx from scratch to a basic conversational level in seven binge learning hours in 2016. He demonstrated his learning of it on a podcast. He claimed that this could be done in any language. 

     The gullible Isle of Man islanders believed him. What he was claiming is cognitively impossible.

       The fundamental problem for Welsh learners is that Welsh is a minority language which is not all around to them. It is exceedingly difficult for Welsh learners to use Welsh outside the classroom in most parts of Wales. It is virtually impossible for an adult to learn Welsh unless they live in a Welsh speaking family.

 

         None of us have a choice of language(s) that we are brought up with from birth. There has been a tradition of cheap websites providing second language learning opportunities that exploits the word 'speak a language' to make out languages can be easily learnt. Hurd and Murphy Open University (2007) state that: -     

    “Often as learners we set off with unrealistic assumptions, some of which may be fostered by the advertising employed by some course providers of language learners, along the lines of 'Learn a language in three weeks!" 

English and Welsh speakers have learnt their native languages naturally. Very few people possess an understanding of how difficult and how long it takes to learn a new language.

 

            Learning a new language can be viewed as an everlasting journey as opposed to a destination that can be reached. Professor Sarah Eaton in Calgary School of Education, who was in a language research centre in Canada, contends takes 10,000 hours to develop native-like fluency in a new language.  It is a notional figure. Some people will learn a new language easier than others, but the figure illustrates the scale of learning a new language.  The figure is accepted by cognitive scientists as applying to all mastery.

           

         Heini Gruffudd, who is a respected Welsh language tutor, contended that it takes 1,500 hours to develop a confident Welsh Language fluency. He makes the important point that after 300 hours of classroom learning that learners need to devote 1,200 hours of actively using the Welsh language in their everday lives to develop a confident Welsh speaking capability.

 

    Aran Jones was claiming this could be achieved through practising for two hours a week for three months in his brain shock method of language learning. 52 hours. He claimed his course was insanely intensive.

 

            Professor Sarah Eaton claim is in a researched reference.  The problem with all educational issues can be huge debates over what is meant by simple words like 'flunecy'.

     

        Another Welsh for Adult tutor dreamt up the Welsh language could be learned subconsciously if he gave them a children’s pantomime. He claimed they could absorb a thousand words in their first lesson.  He admitted that most teachers introduce 12 words. His claims were sheer to fantasy.


         We all accept services in good faith because we do not have the expertise to evaluate them. The consequence of such conduct as Aran Jones is that there are Welsh speakers accusing English speakers of being too lazy and apathetic to learn Welsh. The harsh reality years it is far easier for Welsh speakers to learn and actively use English because it is  all around them, though it is for English speakers to learn Welsh which is not.

 

Plenary

 

      The evidence is the term racial prejudices is often misused. It does not apply to white people. When white people are being prejudiced against another race, it is xenophobic prejudice, “a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries”.

 

      There are people who are prejudiced against Welsh speakers, but there is also Welsh speakers who are prejudiced against English speakers. When Welsh English speakers refer to English speaking people as being English, it is a grossly offensive prejudiced remark. Those who make the claim are bigots.

 

       Dr Margaret Newcombe (2009) questions whether the Welsh Language activists are really dedicated to saving the Welsh language. Alan Cairners in a Media Wales article on 25th February 2015 titled:-

 "Welsh speakers must be more tolerant of learners to counter 'elitism' claims, warns Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns"  (click)

where he argued Welsh speaking youth did not view themselves as proper Welsh speakers. They are the future of the Welsh language. If there is a real interest in promoting the Welsh language, then I expect Welsh speakers to be interested. Welsh language response to th statement was digested Alan Cairns should use more Welsh.

     
       There is the issue that certain Welsh speakers are inclined to brand anything they disagree with or is negative about the Welsh language as being grossly offensive. If someone makes a valid claim about the Welsh language, such as the fact that Welsh speakers are reluctant to speak Welsh learners in Welsh and insist on speaking English to them, for instance, then it is a factual statement. (Source Dr Margaret Newcombe Cardiff School of Welsh).
    

        
        Political windowdressing is not going to save living Welsh language. In Dr Margaret Newcombe must be commended for giving extremely honest account of the state of the Welsh language in 2009. Statements like that very few learners succeed in developing Welsh language fluency. There are a whole range of problems associated with securing the future of the living Welsh language but no one's appears interested in Wales of omitting them or addressing them.

           Summary of Newcombes book (click)