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Japanese American says learning Welsh has been a ‘life changer’

20 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Hiroshi Bowman

A trainee teacher from Chicago has said learning Welsh changed his life.

Chicago born Hiroshi Bowman came across the Welsh Government’s initiative to increase the number of Welsh speakers after moving to Wales with his wife.

Even though he had no prior knowledge of the language, he felt that learning Welsh would set a good example and encourage students whilst he trained as a teacher.

Before moving to Wales in August 2022, Hiroshi enrolled in an online Learn Welsh or ‘Cwrs Brys’ course run by the University of South Wales on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

As well as completing the first part of the beginners’ entry-level course, Hiroshi has been learning on his own using the popular language app, Duolingo.


Speaking about his experience on the Cwrs Brys, Hiroshi highlighted the importance of learning with others.

He said: “The intensive course helped put into context some of the things I had already learnt.

“It was a great motivator being part of a community of learners, and to hear the tutor as a native speaker.”

Hiroshi grew up speaking English, Japanese, and Spanish at home and learnt English at school.

For a while he refused to speak Japanese due to being bullied but as he grew up he felt saddened at the loss of his language.

Now he wants to encourage young people to learn their language in Wales.

Hiroshi worked as an attorney in Chicago but he and his Scottish born wife made the decision to move to the UK.

Fantastic challenge

They looked at several places but were attracted to the beauty and cultural diversity of Aberystwyth’s stunning coastline

Hiroshi said: “The Welsh language is a huge part of the community and society in Wales and of course in Aberystwyth.

“It is the whole cultural experience. Selfishly, I want to drink deeply and dive in. It would be a shame to leave anything untouched.”

Between 2020 and 2021 almost 15,000 adults signed up for Learn Welsh courses.

Hiroshi said: “Learning a language, any language, and learning it as an adult is a fantastic challenge, and I think it is important to be in a community of learners to keep motivation up.

“I’m hoping that as the strange American teacher, who shows an interest in learning and speaking Welsh, it will be helpful as I progress my career as a teacher in Wales.”

The new courses for Welsh Entry level learners (Mynediad) will be starting in January. You can sign up for it here…

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

‘Iku Hoko’ Hiroshi…

1 year ago

Let’s hope he can encourage the lazy Welsh people to get off their backsides and learn the language instead of making pathetic excuses like they are too old or don’t have the time. Being able to sing the anthem or Yma o Hyd is not good enough.

Arthur Owen
Arthur Owen
1 year ago

I do hope he is not disillusioned when he gets to know us better.

Richard Morse
Richard Morse
1 year ago

Anyone who is learning Welsh is of course to be commended. So well done Hiroshi Bowman! There are however some inconsistences in this press release from the National Centre for learning Welsh. Firstly Hiroshi is quoted as saying that:- “The intensive course helped put into context some of the things I had already learnt” There is no mention of how Hiroshi had already learnt some Welsh apart from the reference to Duolingo, which by the way is not an app but a platform since the course is also available using a browser (on a website using a computer/tablet/phone if the… Read more »

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