l Welsh Medium Learning Problems - socpie.uk
The issue of Welsh Medium education is a highly emotional issue in Wales. Most people do not realise that the language medium that children learn through is fundamental to their learning success.
Children go to school to be educated. They should not go to school simply to learn the Welsh language. The two are not the same.
There has been unwillingness of the authorities to make public that new languages are not learnt instantly. Research illustrates that it takes around five years for an average child to reach the language fluently level of a native speaking child in class in a majority language. Welsh is a minority language.
There has also been an unwillingness of the authorities to admit that the learning potential of children is not equal. This means that it will take some children a great deal more time to be able to reach any given level of Welsh language learning attainment. It will require more learning effort.
What many parents do not appreciate is that native English speaking children must learn the Welsh language before they will be able to effectively learn through the medium of it. There will never be an absolute certainty that their children will be able to successfully climb the continuing entrance hurdle of being able to successfully learn through the medium of Welsh.
Native Welsh speaking children will always have a head start in Welsh medium education. This is because they will have enjoyed intense early years face to face interactions with their Welsh speaking parents in the real world. English-speaking children who learn through the medium of Welsh will never enjoy that early or continuing Welsh language support.
Parent who use of the Welsh language in their homes will positively influence their children's Welsh language development throughout their schooling.
Working memory is a gateway to all learning. Fluency reduces it. The more fluent children are in any language, the more working memory space will be available to them for learn. Fluent tip of the tongue and point of the ear language fluency enables more effective learning to take place.
Research clearly indicates that learners will always learn most effectively in their most fluent language. The application of fluency requires less physical effort in the brain. Learning is a chemical process of growth.
The problem for all English-speaking children, who learn Welsh to be educated through medium of it, is that there will be very few opportunities for them to use Welsh outside the classroom. The fact that Welsh is a minority language has an influence on the fluency that even native Welsh speaking children will be able to achieve in the Welsh language, especially as most children in Welsh Medium schools speak English in the schoolyard and at home.
Native Welsh speaking children have plenty of opportunity to drown themselves in the English language. They must use the language in a whole range of contexts as an intrinsic part of their everyday lives. This means it is much easier for a native speaking Welsh children to learn English, than English speaking child to learn Welsh.
Children cannot learn through two languages simultaneously. Learning is a process of cognitive growth. The words in any language needs to be growing over thousands of hours of practice until they start living at the tip of speakers tongues and the point of their ears.
The brain is very plastic. Learning facts like words is like trying to fill a leaky bucket full of sand. Unless they are used sufficiently they will leak out the bucket. The fact that English speakers learn Welsh in a Welsh medium school does not necessarily mean that they will retain it for the rest of their lives.
The final issue is Welsh medium education is clearly designed to prepare exclusively use Welsh language throughout their everyday lives. Dr Margaret Newcombe of Cardiff school are Welsh states that commerce and law have been applied in English since the Act of Union in 1636. Welsh speaking children are born into a bilingual Wales, not a Welsh speaking one.
All children across the world are facing are very uncertain future. Wales is more than language, it is people. All real Welsh people, Welsh speakers and English cherish Welsh language as part of our national identity and culture, but children only one life. They can only have one education.
The fact that Welsh medium education does not appear to be preparing children to live children to live in modern Wales means the issue must be considered and discussed without political interference.
Sadly new research exists that suggests that Welsh Medium needs to be reviewed in Wales.