Donaldson Welsh Language Concerns

25+ Points.

Why Compelling All Children to Learn through the

Medium of Welsh will

damage Children's Education

Most children in Welsh medium schools speak English in the school yard and at home.

1. Welsh medium education was introduced because Welsh speaking children did not have the fluency to learn effectively through the medium of English. It was not introduced to teach native English-speaking children Welsh.

Parents, sibling and families offer intense face to face language support to develop young children’s native language skills on a one to one basis from birth and it is difficult to conceive how native speaking English children can enjoy such early and continuing support from their parents in Welsh.

3. Native English speaking will have immigrant status, they will need to learn a new language to be educated through it and they will need to learn a language that their parents cannot speak and they will be unable to help them learn.

4. Children will always learn more effectively in their native language, because of working memory (Sweller). They will need to fluently learn a dictionary of Welsh words, before they will be able to effectively learn through the medium of Welsh.

5. Research suggests it will take around five years before an average child will be able to learn effectively through a new language. It could be much longer.

6.  There are children struggling to effectively through the medium of English in Wales, the learning of a new language would have a potentially disastrous impact on children with low working memory capacity, especially dyslexic children.

7. Research suggests it takes 10,000 hours of practice to develop mastery, such developing native like new language fluency, and whilst the figure is notional, it illustrates the scale of the task of learning a new language.

8. The Welsh language is that is a minority language in Wales, the opportunities for children to intensively use the language outside of school is extremely limited. Fluent new languages cannot be learnt in classrooms, they need to be lived through which makes it difficult for English speaking children, parents and teachers to learn.

9. The English language is increasingly becoming the academic language and a language of commerce throughout the world, the British council claim that two billion people will be learning it throughout the world by 2020.

10.   The English language is one of the most difficult languages in the world, but it is one of the most useful to learn, children learning through the medium of Welsh, learning a new language will not be developing their English language skills.

11. When children attempt to learn a new language and learn thorough it at any age they will be multi-tasking, they will not be able to give active attention to learning a new language and subject content simultaneously. (Sweller) 

12. Young native English speaking children will be learning a new language a dictionary of new words at a critical time in their formative learning, The time they devote to developing their new Welsh vocabulary could be devoted to expanding their English one.

13. Research suggests that children's early language development has a profound influence upon their later reading and general educational development. Children will need to acquire a vocabulary of 40,000 words English words for their secondary education.

14. Spoken language is the fastest cognitive skill the brain can process, which is why it needs a vast amount of practice to bring it into fluency, it is process like trying to learn and instantly recall thousands of arbitrary security codes.

15. Research illustrates that many children in Welsh medium education in Wales speak English in the school yard and at home (Dr. Margaret Newcombe, Cardiff School of Welsh).

16.  The development and retention of any new language capability will be related to the extent it is used, the tipping point of living language is 67% speakers of it, which reflects the fact that it must be used intensively by the individual and as society for it to be retained. (University of Galway).

17.  The language of the school different to the language of the home, social language, that is applied on a face to face basis in the home.

18.  Although Welsh medium schools will create Welsh speaking environments over the 67% speaking those not living in Welsh speaking families will experience difficulty in bathing themselves in such environments after they leave school.

19. Research illustrates that 40% of non-native Welsh speakers who learn thorough the medium of Welsh loose it after they leave school.

20. Alan Cairns, Welsh Secretary claimed that there is elitism in the Welsh language where proper Welsh speakers are looking down on the Welsh speaking youth, many of whom do not view themselves as fluent proper Welsh speakers. Many Welsh speakers are speaking slang.

21. The boundaries between home and school learning is blurred, if children are living through one language, but are being educated through another, they may lack the vocabulary to translate their experiences between languages.

22. Most bilinguals speakers in the world use each of their languages for different purposes.

23. Native speaking Welsh children and adults are no going to deny themselves the opportunities that exist through using the English language.

24. There are children learn French to be educated through it in Canada, but because there are millions of French speakers in Canada and the wider world there are more opportunities for it to be used there, such libraries of books that do not exist in the Welsh language. French learning is not compulsory there.

25. A recent report from teachers in the Times Educational Supplement that claims that children’s native language English fluency in England is declining and there are concerns about their ability to able to do cope with the language of G.C.S.E. examinations.

26. The clear aim of Welsh medium education is to prepare children to live their everyday lives through the medium of Welsh, the curriculum is simply translated into Welsh. Children will find it extremely difficult to live their lives through the Welsh language. if the Welsh language is not spoken in their homes and it is rarely spoken in their communities.

27. Children are required to do maths exclusively in the Welsh language, including using Welsh numbers. The ideal is children should be able to fluently recall their multiplication tables, for instance, but if they know that 7 x 7 = 47 in Welsh, for instance, this will not mean they will automatically know the sum in English.

28. There is also the issue of whether children learning technical term like 'disgyrchiant’ the word for ‘gravity’ in Welsh equips will children to automatically recognise or recall it in English. The issue us not in learning any given Welsh language technical terms, but in learning so many of them.

29. The boundaries between word meanings and knowledge are blurred, the frequency of encountering them influences their development and retention. The “heart” is more likely to be heard that “spleen”, for instance, which is called “gwenyn” in Welsh. Lack of use of Welsh is going to make the retention of such terms unlikely. Spleen is unlikely to commonly known in English.

30. The majority of bilingual speakers are not balanced bilinguals. The balance between the languages will be dictated by the need to use them. Language are shared between people like viruses. The English language is a super virus. Even if all children are compelled to learn Welsh and educated through it, it is only human nature that children will use the language that is most useful to them and the one that they are most fluent in, the one they can use with ease and flow.


  The proposal to compel all native English speaking teachers and children to learn through the medium of Welsh has been ill-conceived and ill-thought out. It appears to have been based upon the naïve assumption that new languages can be easily learnt and retained by children for the rest of their lives. The complexity of learning languages has been ignored and the full implications of the proposals never actively considered.

        There is no evidence of any country in the world that requires its native speakers of the countries majority language to learn a minority language one to be educated through it, especially one where only 11% of the population fluently speak it.

      Children who learn English to be educated through the medium of English are referred to "E.A.L." - English as an Additional Language Learners - and English medium children who learn Welsh should be referred to "W.A.L." - Welsh as an Additional Language Learners. Their status will be similar to immigrants coming to the United Kingdom, but unlike immigrants they will not be learning a language that is all around them.

Media Wales Report       Kirsty Williams Response

25+ Cognitive Reasons

Why Compelling All Children to Learn through the

Medium of Welsh will

damage Children's Education

1.  First and second languages are cognitively processed in the same way, words must be learnt by rote and brought into fluency through distributed practice. The problem lies in learning and bringing into fluency so many of them.

2.   The evidence is that bilingual speakers will know fewer words in each language vocabulary than monolingual speakers will have. It is difficult to estimate the vocabulary of bilingual child.

3.  Children develop their native language in the hear and now, words are directly to referred to things and events. The word ‘eat’ may be referred to what a child is doing or going to do in it in Welsh ‘bwyta’ or English ‘eat’.

4.  Even balanced bilinguals normally have a dominant language, which will reflect language usage, one language may be a dominant language at home and another in education or, for instance. These will be associated in developing fluent vocabulary for each context. H.G.A a rugby commentator will build up a technical vocabulary such position of players and specific moves, but they will develop regularly used phrases that they will use to describe what happens. The same applies to those who regularly listen to commentaries they will hear a predictable vocabulary and typical phrases.

5. It is indisputable that children learn their native language like sponges in their everyday language, because it is all around them and they have intensive early face to face communication in it from birth.

6.  When learners learn a language sequentially, not from birth, the development and retention of that language will be less secure.

7.  The later that children learn a new language and the more fluent they become in their native language, the more their first language will influence the development of the second, new language. The problem with adult second language learners when they apply positive language transfer is that they will want to say more than in their new language than their limited vocabulary.

8. A child who asks what is the Welsh word for ‘mountain’ will be translating rather than creating it from the object, they will not ask “what is that?” in their second language. They will develop their Welsh from their familiar new, first language,  into their fluent. This not biologically primary learning. The word ‘have’ has a scattered Welsh equivalent, there will be tendency of learners to use the general ‘have’ translating to every Welsh language ‘context’.

9. We use translation to make sense of our world, translation will provide a scaffold for new language sequential acquisition than can be gradually removed over time as learners will become able to apply the language directly, but this development will only occur gradually and unevenly across a new language. Translation makes demands upon working memory. If leaner's have a dominant first language, then even Welsh medium schools, translation will be applied to some degree at all ages.

10.   Written language can be stopped in time and it can be given greater attention. It makes less demands upon working memory. It requires the development of written word fluency and decoding fluency if children are to learn it effectively through it. It does not make such instant demands upon working memory as oral language production and reception.

11.  Spoken language is the fastest skill the human can process.. Young children who sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ will fluently know what they are singing about. Any requirement to process a language through translation will impact upon working memory and comprehension, learning is a step beyond comprehension, especially when is being learnt needs to be understood.

12.   If a child goes on a trip to mountain, then they will hold the concept that word in their memories, before, during and after their visit. They encounter a whole range if words referring relating to that mountain, such sheep, on that visit. Words are stored in the brain as complex integrated schema that light up when individual words are used.

13.   This reflects the fact that languages need to be lived through to develop fluency in them through developing the fluent interrelationships. This can be viewed like walking down a street where there is a range of streets we can chose to proceed along. The word banana can cause us to go downs the fruit street, the yellow street, the food street than lead a meal street, or a diet street. Once we go down a given street further choices emerge.

14.   The problem of all learning is irregularities, all learners tend to over generalise and apply regularities to regularities, it is pre-requisite to developing regularities. Many irregularities need to be learnt my rote. They require to memorised as individual items. Even in English many of low frequency irregularities, such as spellings, will not be mastered.

15.   The problem with the English language is a lot of irregularities between the English phonology and its written language in English, which makes English reading difficult to develop, whilst comparison Italian is a very regular language. It is difficult to detect dyslexia in Italian. It will be an easier language to learn to read it. Welsh appears easier to learn to read than English, but children need to learn to read in English. Pasi Salsberg, Finish Education has claim that if countries want to do poorly in Pisa that should do it in English!

16.   There are irregularities in all language, there are irregular shortened verbs in Welsh, for instance, these tend to arise because they tend to get worn down through usage to enable them to spoken quickly. These will be difficult to learn unless there is sufficient immersion in a new language in an appropriate range of contexts. Fluent speakers of English will not notice that there irregularities are irregular, because they are so familiar with them.

17.   Although there will be common ground between languages, where there will be direct equivalent words or grammar, there is been irregularities within a language, such as:- 

(a)   words that may have more limited applications in the second language or vice versa.  

(b)   words that have a range of different language forms to account certain words in one language and not in another, there is not equivalent word ‘have’ in Welsh is applied with a different range of words to account it, which is context specific where is not explicitly clear what a given form is used; 

(c)   Preposition that differ from the English; 

(d)   Affixes and prefixes who boundaries do not accord with English like anti- or un- translations will not correlate with the English boundaries anti-social many be un-social in another language, and separate adverbs that do not have a -ly prefix in English, may have the Welsh equivalent to -ly.(e)

(e) Most plural endings in English are -s and -es, they are easy to learn but whole range of sets of different plural ending in Welsh, such as "-au, -i, -ydd and -oedd" and not all of them conform to specific regular rules, many will need to be learn by rote.

(f) nouns and some other words are subject to mutations, that apply to words beginning with certain letters, this masks the recognition of them, in pure terms that will need to be learn as separate words. i.e. The English word 'cat' would be mutated to 'gat', 'nghat'
and 'chat'. 

18.   Research suggests that simultaneous language learners will never develop as pure a language as native speakers, there will be an influence on their second from their native language. Learning is process of cognitive growth and Grosjean and Ping question whether new language learners will ever develop the accuracy of native language speakers of the new language concepts.

19.   The problem is that when some spent years growing the association we need to “Go by bus”, then it very difficult for them to learn to “Go on a bus” somewhere. The curse of the Welsh language ‘hi’ is sound ‘he’ but it refers to ‘she’ in Welsh not ‘he’. It will be extremely hard and take a lot of work to break automatic reaction to the masculine. When English hear ‘he’ then sense what it means rather than think about.

20.   Although English is one of most irregular languages in the world, most fluent speakers of the English language will find it difficult to list them. It will take a very long time for them to be developed into fluent accuracy for someone learning Welsh.

21.   Saville-Troike contends that most new language learners, never complete final miles to succeeding achieving native like fluency. They will be more inclined to overgeneralise with the lower frequently arising irregularities. There will be the temptation for children to ‘sheeps’ as opposed to ‘sheep in English, for instance.

22.   One of the problems the Welsh language is Dr. Margaret Newcombe Cardiff School of Welsh contends, adult Welsh language learners get frustrated, because they learn a purer Welsh than many Welsh speakers including those in the media do not use. Many speakers do not use certain mutations. Unless sequential Welsh learners are intensively bathed in accurate Welsh language, then they will not be able to apply it.

23.   Language communication skills and accuracy is grown in face to face interactions where negotiation will take place. Either party will seek clarification if they cannot understand each other. If both speakers are novices, new to language, then uncertainty will arise in such a process. There are few opportunities to use Welsh outside the home for those who do not live in Welsh speaking families.

24.   There is the issue of autobiographical memory, the memory of everyday life events. Words are embedded into it. There is evidence that the memories and experience encoded into the different languages depending on what language mode speakers are in. Language can be a memory cues to access that memory. Memories stored in one language, may not be easily recovered as the other

25.   There is clear explicitly evidence that language capability correlates with maths and science attainment. The definition of a good lesson is that the lesson learning aims must be explicit to all those who observe it. If children are developing their Welsh Language capability in a maths lesson, then the primary learning aim will be to learn Welsh, because they will always learn maths most effectively in their most fluent language. The cannot learn the lesson effectively if they do not have a relevant fluent vocabulary. This will apply to whole of Donaldson curriculum that presented to children in their not their most fluent language.


      The evidence is bilingualism is not understood in Wales.  If a subject like maths is considered, then a child may be fluent in maths, but no in algebra. A child may also be fluent in certain algebra topics and not others. Monolingual speakers must be fluent or attempt to be fluent in everything they do in English. Bilinguals fluency is distributed like maths. Speakers have a choice of which language to use in each context, their fluency will reflect usage of it.

      The scales of justice will exist between English and Welsh in a whole range of contexts for bilingual spacers. If a child is brought up in a Welsh speaking home, for instance, the balance between Welsh and English will relate to the extent, the time that is devoted to using and encountering each language. It could 50-50. If children shopping in Cardiff the balance will be virtually a 100-0. The scales can view in micro and macro terms.

      Expecting all children to be educated through the medium will be heavily weighted against native English speakers, because there will be few opportunities for most children to use Welsh in their homes and communities. The more strongly a language is grown, the slower it will decline. Sequential Welsh learners Welsh will always be less secure.

      The science of bilingualism illustrates that attempting to create mono-lingual Welsh speakers does not appear to be in children’s interests. All children in Wales have been born into a mono-lingual Wales, but the balance of the language in terms of Welsh speakers is 89% to 11%. There are not enough Welsh speakers to easily rekindle the Welsh language. There not enough speakers for all Wales speakers to become a monolingual Welsh speaking country.

      The Welsh language is a very emotional issue. It future will be dictated by science. The understanding of bilingualism is increasing. If the moral high ground is considered, children go to school to be educated, not to learn the Welsh language. The difference between learning a language basically and developing fluency in a new language is huge. Compelling children to be educated through the medium of Welsh will mask the amount of time that they will need to devote to learning it, the narrow English G.C.S.E. examinations many not indicate children range of English language capabilities they will develop like the ability to apply English history terminology, and assessing children in their acquisition of the curriculum through the medium of Welsh may mask the potential to apply it in English.

          Intelligent children will survive in most educational systems. Children from higher socio-economic status will be more inclined to succeed in most educational systems. Working memory is understood. Children will always learn more effectively in their most fluent language. The fact that it may be claimed that native English-speaking children will succeed in Welsh medium, does not necessarily mean that would have not have done better in English medium education.

      I believe that Welsh medium education needs to be critically reviewed. The world is changing. Even in Canada where has been a tradition of children learning French to educated through it, the learning of it is not compulsory. I do not believe the Welsh Government can justified compelling all children to educated through the medium of Welsh. There is likely to be high teachers’ discontinuity. 

Socpie Aims for 2019

  Socpie addressed important issues in 2018 in respect of the proposal that all children in Wales should be educated through the medium of Welsh. There public had been misinformed and a lot of "Tom, Dicks and Mary's" became embroiled in the debate, who possessed an impoverished understanding of what a deep issue it was. Children will always learn most effectively in their native language.

Socpie first 2019 aim is to address the issue of Welsh for Adult tutors, who has been misinforming the Welsh public about learning issues and who are offering parents and even children impoverished and even reckless learning advice.

Accepting that there is and there will be simple answers to complex educational problems children's learning interests must always come first, however politically unpalatable tbst is. 

1. Welsh Language issues are very emotional issues in Wales, but there are no simple answers to how the Welsh language can be saved. Children's learning interests must come first. The issue of language learning and Welsh medium are deep educational issues.

2. The Pisa international rankings and estimated scores are farcical. They do not allow valid comparisons of children's performance in different countries. Doing well in Pisa should not be the sole focus of countries educational policies.

3. The taboo that all children's learning potential is equal most be cast to the history book. Children who are below average should not be viewed as failures. There are no simple answers to this problem.
4. The concept of a 21st Century Curriculum is a commendable one, but it must be based upon pure pedagogic foundations. There are a myriad of political educational initiatives that have been tried and failed. The classical curriculum should not unquestionably adandoned.

5. There are no other profession that has to confront "Tom, Dicks, and Mary's" misleading the public through playing being teachers, researchers and authorities on education. Legally only Q.T.S and Q.T.L.S. teachers in Wales and Scotland are entitled to call themselves teachers. These people need to be exposed.

6. The Welsh for Adult Service that Teachers must use to learn Welsh for Teaching purposes and parents, who do not speak Welsh, who want to learning Welsh to support their children's learning remains substandard. There has been 'fake news' disseminated about learning issues.

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