An intensive care nurse who has described working through COVID-19 as mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting, says that learning Welsh during this time has been a wonderful, much-needed distraction.
Rachel Williams, who lives in Neath with her husband and two sons, started learning Welsh in September, and has already found the confidence to speak Welsh at work, both with patients and colleagues at Morriston Hospital.
She said that she had previously often found it “frustrating” when caring for Welsh-speaking patients as she couldn’t communicate in the language which they preferred.
“Now I can practice my Welsh at work and my goal is to enhance my Welsh-speaking patients’ experience during their hospital stay,” she said.
“I always inform them that I am a beginner and they always appreciate the effort being made.’’
Rachel attends an Entry level course for beginners with Learn Welsh Swansea Bay Region, which is run by Swansea University on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh.
Learn Welsh courses have been held online since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic and learning Welsh through Zoom has suited Rachel, she said.
‘‘I make myself a fresh cup of tea, I log into Zoom and thoroughly enjoy my Learn Welsh class,” she said. “It is laid back, easy going and we often have a bit of a laugh together. My tutor is very friendly and cheerful as are my fellow classmates, so it has been an enjoyable distraction during a difficult time.’’
Rachel’s tutor is Catherine Davies-Woodrow, who says; ‘‘It’s wonderful that Rachel attends the class after working so hard during the day. She clearly wants to ensure that patients are given the option to communicate in their first language. Rachel has shown such a positive attitude towards learning Welsh during what must be a testing and tiring time.’’
Rachel believes that her knowledge of Welsh has increased dramatically since September and she practises her skills at home with her husband, Dean, who’s also learning.
‘‘Dean and I try to use as much Welsh as we can at home,” she said. “We are both beginners at the moment, but we try to use it where possible.
“As long as we keep up with the classes, and increase our exposure to the Welsh language via apps, television and radio, our goal of using conversational Welsh will become possible.
“I would encourage others who are learning, to find time to practice, whether it be half an hour or two hours, your knowledge will build over time. Slowly but surely!’’