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‘See, hear, learn, use and love’: Council approves new Welsh language strategy

02 Mar 2022 2 minute read
Newport City Hall. Picture by Roland Turner (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter 

Newport City Council has confirmed plans for the future of the Welsh language in the area.

The five year education-focused strategy was approved at a full council meeting held on Tuesday, March 1 – St David’s Day.

Through this strategy, the council aims to make the Welsh language something that the people of Newport can “see, hear, learn, use and love”.

By September 2032, the council aims for 11.1% of pupils in Year 1 (aged five to six) to be educated through the medium of Welsh. Currently, that figure is 5.1%.

At the meeting, Cllr Jason Hughes, the council’s Welsh language champion, said: “I would say to the young people in Newport who are learning Welsh; who knows where that journey will take you.”

A public consultation, which received 600 responses, found there was a reluctance to learn the language – 55% of respondents said they did not see the purpose in learning Welsh.

In June 2021 the Annual Population Survey revealed just 20.3% of Newport residents can speak Welsh – below the Wales-wide figure of 29.2%.

The Mayor of Newport, Cllr John Williams, said: “For those of us whose families – for different reasons – failed to pass on the Welsh language, I think we do regret it to varying degrees and I personally welcome the council’s ambition for the language.”

‘One million Welsh speakers’ 

All local authorities in Wales are required to promote the language as part of the Welsh Government’s aim to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

Welsh language school places are currently under-subscribed in Newport, but the council has appointed an officer to encourage uptake.

Another part of the council’s strategy is to increase visibility of the language in informal settings outside of school and work. An example of this is the council’s partnership with Dragons Rugby region, where bilingual match day programmes will be introduced.

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