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‘Too much time and energy wasted’ on Welsh language standards, ex-Welsh Language Minister suggests

02 Mar 2022 3 minutes Read
Alun Davies AS / MS. Senedd Cymru

A former Welsh Language Minister has suggested that “too much time” and “energy” has been “wasted” on Welsh Language Standards.

Alun Davies, the Labour MS for Blaenau Gwent, questioned the measures, which were created to ensure that the Welsh language is not treated less favourably than the English language in Wales.

The standards mean some organisations in Wales, such as public bodies, have to provide some services in Welsh as well as English.

During a debate in the Senedd, Alun Davies said: “When I was learning Welsh, there were concerts in Blaendyffryn—the Llywydd will remember these too—and that did more for me in terms of promoting the Welsh language, enjoying the Welsh language, than any lessons that I attended. I didn’t have lessons in school, but that’s a different issue.

“But we have to create the opportunity where people can enjoy the Welsh language, and where the Welsh language isn’t the language of the classroom, but the language of people’s daily lives. And I wonder, Minister, how we can achieve that.

“I do become concerned that we’ve wasted too much time, too much energy and too much resource on creating standards that generated bureaucracy, rather than promoting the fact that we can enjoy our language, and I think that’s extremely important.”

‘Broader question’ 

The Welsh Language Minister, Jeremy Miles replied: “In terms of the broader question of promotion, I’d say that promotion is a general term, but there are many things that are happening within that.

“Part of it is advice to business, part of it is creating single-language spaces, empowerment of communities through the work of co-operatives and so forth, technology—I’ll come back to that in a minute—and also behavioural aspects.

“People who can speak Welsh language don’t use it—why? What can we do to encourage them to do so? Transmission, training leaders, outreach with communities of refugees to learn Welsh and so forth—all of these are elements in that process of promotion.

“But, in looking at the individual elements, it draws attention to the fact that the responsibility for those things are with a number of bodies. So, it is vital, I think, in terms of transparency and people seeing their responsibility, that we do look at those elements individually.”

The Welsh language standards are enforced by the Welsh Language Commissioner. They were brought in after the Senedd passed the Welsh Language Wales Measure 2011.


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Erisian
Erisian
2 months ago

Perhaps more can be done to encourage people to sing in Welsh.
More Welsh language music on Radio Wales would help.

Calum
Calum
2 months ago

Cytuno’n hollol. It’s fantastic news everytime I see an article about more ysgolion cymraeg being built, but I will say as a learner the lack of opportunities to use the language outside of formal and educational settings has been tough. Also, you do hear a very common story from people (especially from the valleys) who went to Welsh schools, learnt the language to fluency, but then never had an opportunity or drive to use it outside of school, or after they left school. We need more Welsh language jobs across the board, not just degree level jobs, and we need… Read more »

Richard
Richard
2 months ago

Alun yn gywir Iawn ✅ standards are fine and enhance quality but and it is a but – enjoyment and fun are worth more to those learning or moving their Welsh usage upwards. a focus on offering choice and opportunities for sure but less focus on ‘ translation ‘ of micro info and more on clubs and groups who work in the community to maximise usage opportunities please. the local Welsh language partnerships in each county need to be replicated at local levels through engaging locals – not well meaning x teachers from western Wales.to lead and mentor them. there… Read more »

Geoffrey ap.
Geoffrey ap.
2 months ago

I speak now as an English only speaker, with Welsh speaking children and grandchildren. What we must be carefully to avoid is creating a degraded language, a sort of wenglish, similar to that which I hear from some contributers on S4C. I can pretty well understand them without the subtitle, they use so many English words.
Let’s plan for a reasonable standard without being pedantic.

Llywelyn ein Llyw Nesaf
Llywelyn ein Llyw Nesaf
2 months ago

So maybe the answer is to create more opportunities for learners and fluent speakers to mingle in every-day and social situations? Perhaps the sort of thing that was done very successfully by the organisation CYD? For peanuts incidentally (£80k p.a.). Made use of a large network of willing volunteers to help learners to ‘croesi’r bont’ – cross the bridge.

Labour Welsh Govy axed their funding some years ago. Diolch guys.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
2 months ago

I am monoglot English but it seems to me that unless you sharpen the axe of language you might as well use a hammer. Usage is crucial but correct usage is equally important.

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
2 months ago

Maybe the Standards are only a temporary expedient until the language is more firmly re-embedded in the workplace and other situations outside the classroom (i.e. a generation down the line)?

Last edited 2 months ago by Rhosddu
Llefain
Llefain
2 months ago

If staff of shops etc. greeted people in Welsh first that would probably help people use it and see it more often. It would also give learners an opportunity to use the basics. This could be more easily done in government roles obviously, but still… It is often a perceived lack of opportunity that prevents people from using what Welsh they have, and thus losing it once leaving school. This should be easily achievable for most people who are under 40, since it was made a real subject in school. They passed a bill to do this in Quebec. And… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
2 months ago
Reply to  Llefain

In Scandia, shop staff often have rectangular lapel badges with flags on. American flag means English etc. Graded bonus from Welsh Gov per language? Tourists really love that sort of thing, and staff get work satisfaction.

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