Welsh Medium Learning Problems - socpie.uk
Research into working memory clearly illustrates that children will always learn more effectively in their must fluent, native language. This cannot be questioned.
Welsh medium educated in Wales was not introduced to teach native speaking children Welsh. It was introduced, because native speaking Welsh children were struggling to learn through the medium of English, because they were lacking in fluency in it. This cannot be questioned also.
Wales has changed radically since Welsh medium education was introduced. The harsh reality is as Dr. Margaret Newcombe, Cardiff School of Welsh contended, is that many children in Welsh medium education speak English in the school yard and at home.
This means that most native English speaking children who choose Welsh medium education will be learning a new language merely to be educated through it. There is an issue of how fluent even native Welsh speaking children are, especially when they are living in parts of Wales, where Welsh is rarely heard on the streets of their communities.
The language that children are taught through is fundamental to their learning success. If children are to learn a new language to be educated thorough it, then they must bring a new dictionary of words into active fluency to enable them to learn through a new language.
Very young children learn their new language through negotiation. Parents will negotiate language meaning when they communicate with them. If their children do not say something clearly, then they will seek clarification from them. Their questioning them will also have an important role in their language development also.
English speaking parents cannot offer the early and continuing language support in the Welsh language.
Native speakers of languages including Welsh and English native speakers are so fluent in them that do not understand how complicated they are. Language are not designed from a learning perspective. They are designed to cover every aspect of our everyday lives. This why it takes thousands of hours to develop them, essentially a dictionary of words, into fluency
An indication of how hard languages are to learn can be gain by apply this simple test.
There is pronoun equivalent to the English 'it' in Welsh. A chair may be masculine, referred to as 'he' and table may be femamine and needs to be referred to as 'she'. Sadly, there is no pattern to them. They are aribrary. They can only be memorised by rote.
Try labeling 50 or 100 objects in a room with gender in English and this should provide you with a indication of how difficult a new language is to learn. Learners will apply a new sound and letter pattern in an unfamiliar language phonology for each object. If learners are to apply proper Welsh, then will need to learn the gender of the nouns they learn.
Time is a factor in developing and retaining language fluency. When people are bilingual they will have a choice of which language to use in the contexts that are languages are used. Welsh is primarily a language of home. Welsh speakers need to use English to communicate with the English speaking population of Wales and to live everyday lives.
The balance of bilingual speakers will reflect the time that bilinguals will devote to each language. This will reflect the time native Welsh speakers will be subjected to Welsh and English in the home. It will also apply to the extent each language used outside the home. Welsh speakers in many parts of Wales will not be able to use Welsh to go on a shopping trip.
When children and, or parents chose for their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh their children will attend schools where they will be bathed in the Welsh language around the 90% in the classroom, but if they are speaking Welsh in the school yard and at home, which Dr. Margaret Newcombe, Cardiff School of Welsh claims happens, then 0% Welsh is spoken in the school yard and at home.
When children do not learn through the medium of English that will not experience the concentrated development of their literacy skills. Children develop basic fluent oracy around the age of five. Developing literacy improve children understanding of the ingredients of the English language that will enable them to develop a larger vocabulary and accuracy in all their language applications. This takes thousands of hours to develop.
Welsh medium education is designed to prepare children to exclusively use Welsh to live their everyday lives. Even maths will be learnt and practiced in the Welsh language. This is why children will need to bring a dictionary of words into active fluency in the Welsh language. This takes thousands of hours to achieve. Research suggests that it takes around five years for an average child reach native like fluency in a new language, but this refers to majority languages, languages that will be all around learners
It will be extremely difficult for parents to learn Welsh sufficiently to support their children's Welsh language development. Alun Cairns, Welsh Minister, referred to the fact that many of the Welsh youth, who have been educated through the medium of Welsh, do not view themselves as fluent, proper Welsh speakers.
This raises the issue of what is the quality of Welsh that children are learning and whether they are sustaining the Welsh that they are learning into adulthood. The brain is very plastic and the fact that children may learn to speak Welsh to a given level does not necessary mean that will retain the capability for the rest of their lives.
Monolingual speakers will use their language for everything they do. Monolingual speakers will not. They have a choice of the language that they use in everyday life contexts. The level of fluency speakers will achieve in each language will reflect how much each language is used. The fact that there are only 11% fluent Welsh speakers in Wales makes it difficult for even native Welsh speaking children to develop well rounded Welsh language fluency.
Children will always learn more effectively in their most fluent language. Many children in Welsh medium schools speak English in the school yard and at home. Children will need to develop an increasing dictionary of fluent new words to be able to learn through the Welsh language. The time they will devote to it will retract from their development of their English vocabulary. Bilingual speakers have generally lower overall vocabularies.
Children go to school to be educated, not to learn Welsh. The two are not the same. It appears that if the Welsh Government compels all children to be educated through the medium of Welsh that it will be a breach of children's legal human right to have the opportunity to reach their full educational potential. English speaking parents will not be able to even support their children's Welsh language development.
Overview of Papers
1. Can the Donaldson Curriculum Deliver its Promises?
2. The Role of the Welsh Language in the Donaldson Curriculu
3. What is the Purpose of the Welsh Medium Education
4. Does the 21st School Curriculum Need to be Radically Different
5. Epilogue - Welsh Language
6. Epilogue - General Educatio
7. Final Conclusion: Will the Welsh Government Betray Native Speaking Children
Key Issues - School Welsh
Governments and parents must consider whether they want English speaking teachers in Wales to devote their time learning Welsh or developing the new curriculum and their teaching to world class standards. The issue is what will happen to those experience teachers who do not learn Welsh sufficiently to able to successfully teach through it.
There have been Welsh language political activist who have being playing being teachers and researchers, who have been making out that Welsh can be learnt in short time scales to a communicative level. One claimed it could be done in seven hours!
The Guardian article below illustrates that the problem with the United Kingdom, as whole, suffers in Pisa in comparison with Finland, because there are more children not been educated in their native language.