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Welsh Medium Learning Problems - socpie.uk  


      Education is a deep science. What most of the public do not appear to appreciate is that the language that children are educated through is fundamental to what they achieve in school. If the standard of children’s English reading attainment can be improved even by 10%, for instance, then this will have a massive impact on children English medium education school attainment (Quigley, 2018).

      There is a myth that exists across the English speaking world that a new languages are easy to learn. This is because our native language is learned at such an early age that most people do not appreciate how hard they are to learn. New language learners are learning the same language as adults. Readers are invited to actively reflect on how extensively they and young children use their native language in their everyday lives.

      An indication of how much work is needed to learn a new language can be worked out by trying the following.


       In the Welsh language nouns are given gender, a table may be a ‘he’ and chair a ‘she’. When we refer to them as ‘it’ English, Welsh speakers refer to them as being he or she.


       Readers are invited to randomly give 100 English nouns in English gende, he or she, and see how quickly they will be able to learn and fluently recall them.

         Professor Sarah Eaton (), who went to Spain to learn Spanish as an adult, contends that:-

     "The reality is that language acquisition is a complex process that involves communication, grammar, structure, comprehension and language production along with reading, writing, speaking and listening, just to name a few of the simpler aspects of language learning.”

 Although children absorb language like sponges, they must learn the same language as adults. Readers are invited to reflect on how much language very young children use in their native language.

      Quigley (2018) refers to children needing to develop a 50,000 vocabulary  thrive in school and that much of that vocabulary is learn implicitly outside the school gates. Many children in Wales will not hear much Welsh outside their school gates. Quigley states that children from birth to 48 months whose parents are professional spoke 32 million more words to their children than parents in welfare families.  

       Children primarily develop their language skills through negotiation with their parents, siblings, family and friends. When children do not clearly speak what they want to say in established through negotiation with those speaking to them. They also assist children to understand something that they have said to them that they have not understand. English speaking parents cannot give this support to children who are learning Welsh to enable them to be educated through it.


     Although it accepted that children absorb languages like sponges, they still need to encounter a vast amount of language to develop their new language.


          Welsh language are very emotional issues in Wales. There are English speakers who are prejudiced against the Welsh language. The Welsh language is not the intellectual property right of those who speak. Welsh speakers are not entitled to demand how other people's children should be educated. The language that children are educated through is integral to their learning success.

         Professor David Reynolds and Mujis (2010) called for education to resemble medicine. This is socpie.uk view. Education is a deep science. Deciding which language a child should be educated through should not be taken lightly, there are issue of whether a child is dyslexic to consider, and it should not be considered a superficially as choosing the colour of a car.


           Colin Baker (2011) contended there tends to bias in bilingual research. There would be public uproar if the Welsh Government decided to insist that all children should learn through the medium of English. A proportion of Welsh speakers have been demanding that all English children should learn and then be educated through the medium of Welsh. There is issue of what right have Welsh speaking parents have to demand what should happen to the children of English speaking parents.

        Children in Wales have human right to have the opportunity  to reach their full educational potentential. This no different to fact have a human right to enjoy good health. The issue of health in terms of treatment is primarily the province of educationalist and those who inform on learning. The concerns that are raised in these papers need to researched and openly debated. All parents must surely have a human right to be make informed decisions about their children's future education without political 'marketing' and 'coercision'.

           It has been claimed with the HS2 high speed initiative that the evidence that people in future will not need to commute two work, they will either work from home or go to local hubs. This also means that they could even work for countries abroad. Unless considerations are given to children's future employment there will be no employment opportunties to enable Welsh speakers to live in Wales.

 hgunn.uk Presentations

Welsh Medium Education Revisited - hgunn.uk

The Future of Welsh Medium Education - hgunn.uk 

Factors that Need to be Considered

     The issue with Welsh-medium Education for English speaking learners is that:-

·         children will always learn more effectively in their most fluent language;


·         children learning potential is not equal, 35% will struggle to learn through their native language;


·         most parents will not be able to offer the Welsh language support that Welsh-speaking parents can;


·         it takes around five-years for an average child to develop sufficient fluency to effectively learn through a new majority language;


·         children will be given attention to learning a new language will not be devoting their time to developing the English language, which is increasingly becoming the academic language and language of commerce throughout the world.





Key Points
1.  However passionately people feel about the Welsh language in Wales, the language that children are educated through is fundamental to their learning success.

2.  Research illustrates that children and adults will always learn most effectively in their most fluent language, because they will have more working memory capacity available for learning. If all children's English reading fluency could be increased by 20%, for instance, this would have a dramatic influence upon children's attainment across the curriculum. 

3. Native Speaking Children who are taught through the medium of Welsh will need to learn a new language to be educated through it. Baker, an authority on bilingualism, claims it will take around five years of schooling for children to reach the fluency of native speakers of a new language. (This refers to an average child).

4. English speaking parents will not be able to offer the intense early Welsh language learning support that Welsh speaking children can offer their children. Quigley refers to the xx 
5. Professor Dylan Wiliam, who lectures on education throughout the world, contends that educational outcome research is very unreliable, because there are so many variables that influences children's educational performance. Baker refers to the being bias in bilingual education research. Top down assessment of  children's claimed Welsh medium learning success is not straightforward.

6.  There are children with low working memory, including those with dyslexia which arises in 10% of English speakers, who will find it extremely difficult to develop their literacy skills in their native language.  It must be seriously questioned whether it is i ftn native English speaking children interests in those with generally low working memory and even average working memory to learn a new language to be educated  through it, especially a minority language that is not all around them.

7. All Welsh speaking children have been born into a bilingual Wales and it is essential for them to develop a suitable English language fluency so they will be able to live fulfilled educated lives. The notion that children can enter the professions and obtain degrees without being fluent in English is a myth. Not every academic book or paper can be translated into Welsh.

8. The English language is the academic language of the world and increasingly of commerce. Children in India, South Korea and China. No one knows the type of world our children face, especially with impending automation. The evidence is the ability to fluently speak English will be a vital essential skill for our children's future.

9. The English language is one of the most difficult languages of the world, but it can also be described as one of the most useful. The fact most children who are educated through the medium of Welsh are speaking English in the school yard and at home suggests that they are voting with their feet.

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10. In strain future. Preparing


Does this Mean that Socpie is Against Welsh Medium Education?

       Socpie is dedicated to representing children's learning needs. The problem with educational research is that it is unreliable because there are so many variables that influence children attainment. Developing cognitive research is providing a clearer insight into all learning issues.

       The foundation of the education system have been major government resports. Bullock 1975 investigated languages. Cockcroft 1982 investigated maths. It took five years for Cockcroft to research and write his report in one of the most researched subjects in the curriculum. There has never been a major government report into children learning being educated through a minority language   and children learning a new language to be educated through it.

        The language that children learn through is the motorway of their education. The more fluent they are in any language, especially literteracy, the more effectively they will learn. There are children who are struggling to develop their native language skills to enable them to be effectively educated through them.

      Colin Baker (), who is an authority on bilingualism and learning through minority languages contends that research into the subject tends to have political bias. He contends that whilst there has been a history of certain children in Canada, who chose to learn French so they can be educated through it, does not mean that it can be easily transferred to other countries. Professor David Reynolds () contended that education practice in certain countries will not be questionably transferable to others

       There are a minority of Welsh speakers who dream of living their everyday lives through the medium of Welsh. All Welsh speakers were born into a bilingual Wales and this is not going to happen. Dr. Margaret Newcombe (), Cardiff School of Welsh, contended that English as always been a langauge of law and commerce in Wales since the Act of Union in..

       The notion that a singificant of proportion of English speaking will be able to develop a secure Welsh language fluency is also not going to happen. Colin Miles () claims that it is impossible for adults to learn proper Welsh. Gunn () contends it virtually impossible for an adult to learn fluent Welsh unless they live in a Welsh speaking family.

          The fact that children are educated through the medium of Welsh does not necessarily use or retain their language in adulthood. The brain is very plastic.
The majority of Welsh-language students, half of whom lose fluency when they leave school, are sequential bilinguals, they were born English speakers.

        Children in our schools are facing a very uncertain future. Professor Dylan Wiliam () contends that we do not know what the future world will be like. Ford () refers to an army of English speaking graduates in India, who are trained in United Kingdom tax and  general law, who are trained to offer services to those countries from India. Many Chinese are learning English also.

        English is the academic language of the world. Children will not be able to become doctors, lawyers and teachers if they cannot read the English literature. Even if they are taught through the medium of Welsh in higher education, they will still need to read read the literature. An increasing number of degree course are promoted through the medium of English in Europe.

      There is notion amongst a minority of Welsh speakers that the English language is a threat to future of the Welsh language. The tipping point of a langauge is 67%. speakers of it. Languages are shared between people like viruses. English is super virus that is spreading through the world. This is not going to change.

     Yule () a linguist contended that:-

At the individual level language tends to be a feature of the minority group. In this form of bilingualism, a member of a minority group grows up in one linguistic community, primarily speaking one language, such as Welsh in Wales. Gaelic in Scotland or Spanish in the United States. But learns another language, such as English. in order to take part in the larger, dominant, language.

It possible for native English speakers to live fulfilled lives in Wales without needing to speak a word of Welsh. This is not intended to suggest that Welsh language should not be taught in Welsh schools. But it will be impossible for Welsh speaking children to live educated and fulfilled lives without developing fluency in English. Most children being educated through the medium of Welsh speak English in the school yard and at home. This is the harsh reality.

           The issue of the language that children should be educated through remains a deep educational one. It would be a crime against humanity and breach of children's human rights to deny them to reach their full learning potential if they are encouraged to learn through a new language simply to learn it or to contribute to saving a minority language.

         Children will always learn more effectively in their most fluent native language. The learning potential of children is not equal.


        There has been a tendency that anyone who questions the validity of Welsh medium education to be 'put down' by a minority of Welsh speakers. Children's education is too important to be left to mere chance, optimism and guesswork. The must be openness and informed professional debates about the appropriateness of Welsh medium education in a world where children's needs are changing and what is known about learning is growing.

           Welsh speakers have been born into a bilingual speaking Wales. None of us have a choice of the language we are brought up with, nor the parental and other support we were given to support our language learning in our formative years. English speaking parents will struggle to give their children Welsh language support.

        The guiding principle of the Cockcroft Report was the purpose of education is to prepare children to live their everyday lives, Socpie is not convinced that Welsh medium education is currently preparing children to live in  a bilingual Wales. Sadly, it cannot be assured that anyone will be using the Welsh language in 2050. The future of Welsh language is unlikely to be achieved through retaining the status quo.

           Scottish Gaelic

There is a dispute about whether Scottish Gaelic should be exclusively taught through the medium of Gaelic in their early primary years to attempt to save the living Gaelic language. Socpies view is that children's educational intersts cannot sacrificed to save any heritage language .

       Living Languages are shared like viruses between people. If a language is to live, then there must be sufficient people to speak that language to. The tipping point of a living language is 67% speakers of it.

     If there are 11% of speakers of languages as in Wales the probability of someone meeting someone at a bus stop to speak Welsh with is remote. In Wales the 11% fluent speakers of Welsh is not evenly distributed across the country.

     The problem with all top down learning issues and policies is that they are easy to assert, but what will be the lacking is the how. Although languages are spread like viruses, they are not very virulent, they are difficult to catch, learn, and they are difficulty keep suffering from them, retain.

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The problem with heritage languages like Welsh and Gaelic languages issues is that they tend to be clouded with patriotism and emotion. People are very nostalgic about steam trains. I am not sure they will want to live next to a steam railway because of the smog they create.

      If the Welsh Language is considered, it used to be the language of the village, the local butchers, grocer and black Smith's. This is why there is no standard Welsh language. In pure terms there is no such thing as 'a' Welsh language.

     In Ireland they attempted to introduce a new unified Irish language to resolve the problems of the different dialects, but the initiative failed. Cognitively it requires a vast amount of time for learners to learn to apply a new version of a language accurately and fluently.

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The fundamental problem is most people in the street do not understand how difficult new languages are to learn. The brain is very plastic. Even when new languages are learnt are not fixed in time.

        Harris contends that only 50% of 16-24 year olds in Wales consider themselves as fluent Welsh speakers. 50% of Welsh medium learners lose their Welsh language when they leave school. Most are these are native English speaking children who learn Welsh to be educated through it. 

       It takes around five years for an average child to learn a new language to reach the fluency of native speakers in a class. This research relates to their learning of majority languages.

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Mot people do not understand bilingualism either. These extent that bilinguals are fluent in each language will reflect the extent each it is used overall. Usage can also reflect the context that the language is used In within each language. This can arise when children use one language in school and a different one at home.

.      whilst there are common processes in bilkingualiwm, there are also distinct elements. Lebanese who have balanced fluency, will have equal fluyency in each language. The fact that fluency different in each language means languages are not totally related. It takes around 10,000 hours to develop native like fluency in a new language.