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Australian conductor learns Welsh over Zoom after work dries up during lockdown

29 Mar 2021 3 minute read
Jen Bailey

An Australian conductor whose work dried up during lockdown used the time to learn Welsh.

Jen Bailey said she had no connection with Wales apart from being “intrigued” by the country after reading ‘The Grey King’ by Susan Cooper, which is set in Wales, as a child.

When the Covid pandemic hit, Jen turned her hand to teaching music online, and learning Welsh in her spare time. The conductor said she has now fallen in love with the language and its history.

‘‘Lockdown has been difficult for musicians as orchestras have stopped rehearsing and performing, and making plans for the immediate future has been impossible,” she said.

“I’m glad to have been able to use this time to learn Welsh and get to know some of the wonderful tutors who clearly love what they do.

“From a young age, I was intrigued by Welsh and I’m thrilled that I am now in the process of learning the language. It’s a wonderful time to learn Welsh online and I make the most of every opportunity to practice speaking Welsh by attending virtual coffee mornings, cooking sessions and much more.’’

‘Go for it’

Jen Bailey, who lives in the Netherlands at the moment, already spoke eight languages after her time working as a conductor in France, Germany, Czech Republic and Libya.

But she decided to add Welsh to her list and began by using Duolingo. Jen then signed up to Learn Welsh lessons and now attends an Intermediate level course with Learn Welsh Swansea Bay Region, which is run by Swansea University on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

‘‘It’s hard to use any language if you’re only familiar with a few words,” she said.

“My advice would be to go for it and use your Welsh as much as possible! Sign up to a course with, read as much Welsh as you can and keep in touch with other learners.’’

Jen’s tutor, Catherine Davies-Woodrow said: “Jen is an absolute joy to teach. Her colourful character and flair for languages shines through in our Zoom sessions, and it’s obvious to me that she will soon go on to become fluent and add Welsh to her repertoire! It’s heart-warming to see the appeal of the Welsh language all around the world.”

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