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Colin Jackson ‘frustrated’ at being able to understand Welsh but not always join in the conversation

03 Sep 2021 3 minutes Read
Colin Jackson. Picture by Ludovic Péron (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Colin Jackson has said that he’s frustrated at being able to understand the Welsh language but not to have the vocabulary to join in with a conversation.

The former sprint and hurdling athlete who won golds for Wales at the 1990 and 1994 Commonwealth Games said that many members of his family spoke Welsh fluently so that he sees and hears it all the time.

When asked by Female First about his involvement in S4C show Iaith ar Daith he said that while he “thoroughly enjoyed the whole series” but wished he could always find the words to respond.

“I think one of the problems is if you don’t use the language, you don’t speak it, is that you hear it and you understand some of the things of what people are saying but you haven’t got the vocabulary to be able to join in a conversation and for me what was one of the most frustrating things when I was working on the show,” he said.

“People were talking to me, and I could understand virtually 70% or 80% of the conversation fully but I didn’t have the vocabulary to speak back to them in Welsh. It is so frustrating when that happens.

“But I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series and doing it. It’s an experience I think people want to continue doing. I still live in Wales, so I see Wales all the time, I see the language all the time, my sister speaks fluent Welsh, my nephew speaks fluent Welsh, cousins of mine speak fluent Welsh so it’s around me quite a bit.”

‘Not difficult’

He added however that he felt that as a Welsh speaker he felt that he could “embrace the country more”.

“I think that goes for any language, if you know the language quite well anywhere in the world you see that place very differently,” he said. “It was nice to see Wales in a different light and it was fun to do. I think people should embrace the language the way they want to.

“And I think programmes like Iaith ar Daith are really good to try and encourage people to understand the country that they live in and to potentially have a go at Welsh as a language. It’s not as difficult as it looks or sounds by the way!”

He added: “Certainly in some counties in Wales you learn the language when you’re four, you’re taught it at least two hours a week, so it’s not too difficult to get into and you see the language everywhere.”

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Jonathan Edwards
3 months ago

What CJ is describing is the big problem for learners – “croesi’r bont/crossing the bridge”. Catch 22. You get to moderate standard, but not quite idiomatic or fluent. Sounds like CJ. Still much easier for the Welsh speaker to switch to English when talking to you. Takes determination, and maybe one good formal/informal tutor to break the sound barrier. Grade 5 Piano is exactly the same!

Joyce Audus-Williams
Joyce Audus-Williams
3 months ago

You took the words right out of my mouth ( credit Meatloaf). I don’t miss much but feel really challenged when trying to hold a conversation in Welsh. I hear my mistakes over and over again afterwards too. And people are kind. They try to help by speaking English or finishing off sentences or correcting as you stumble along. It’s a job as they say.

O Rob
O Rob
3 months ago

All primary schools in Cymru should be teaching Welsh. I find it astonishing and criminal mis-government that not all primary school children in Cymru are able to speak the native language

Vaughan
Vaughan
3 months ago
Reply to  O Rob

They do.

The point is only 7% of children speak Welsh on entering primary school and to a large extent this is because literally thousands of Welsh-speakers fail to pass the language onto their children for whatever reason.
We cannot reallistically expect schools to do all the heavy lifting as far as the language is concerned and turn all the remaining 93% into bilingual citizens. The home is the starting point for the transfer of any language.

arthur owen
3 months ago

Very honest appraisal of his own position by Colin,especially for a top sportsman.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
3 months ago

Da iawn Colin, I have the same problem myself…..not enough people close on hand, to practice with!
Dal ati!
PS You were great in IAD!

Vaughan
Vaughan
3 months ago

Daliwch ati Colin!
Fe ddaw – dyfal donc….

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago

This man cleared a lot of hurdles earlier on in his life, achieving Olympic and World champs medals, and a world record if my memory serves me well.

So Colin, yet another set of hurdles, get the disciplines in place and practice, practice, practice intensively in short bursts and you’ll crack it. Dymuniadau gorau.

Sian
Sian
3 months ago

It’s incredible how much people learnt in such a short time on the programe. Learning a language is a journey that takes effort & confidence but can be a hugely rewarding experience and yes access to any language opens new windows to the world. Regretfully in Wales far too few people are taking up learning languages but being bilingual Welsh/English in early childhood is a great start in life. Be patient with yourself Colin and don’t give up.

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