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Paths to fluency: the role of Welsh- medium education in Wales Dr Catrin Redknap Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg/ Welsh Language Board, Cardiff, Wales

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Presentation on theme: "Paths to fluency: the role of Welsh- medium education in Wales Dr Catrin Redknap Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg/ Welsh Language Board, Cardiff, Wales"— Presentation transcript:

1 Paths to fluency: the role of Welsh- medium education in Wales Dr Catrin Redknap Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg/ Welsh Language Board, Cardiff, Wales

2 Wales and the Welsh language: background facts Population of Wales: 2.9 million Welsh speakers in 2001: 20.8% (582,400) [18.7% in 1991, 19% in 1981]

3 % able to speak Welsh

4 Percentage of Welsh speakers amongst children years old: 40.8%

5 1944 Education Act: gave pupils the right to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents 1947: first local authority-funded primary school 1956: first local authority-funded secondary school

6 2008: 20.6% of primary-aged children in classes where Welsh the only or main medium of education 2006/07: 40,702 pupils received their education in Welsh-medium secondary schools (corresponding figure for 1991: 27,897)

7 ‘Paths to fluency: the role of Welsh- medium education in Wales’

8 Paths – one or several? Paths – providing and maintaining them, and keeping pupils on the path Fluency – what is it and how do we achieve it?

9 Paths – one or several? Welsh-medium/immersion from the early years: recognised route to successful acquisition of skills Late immersion Are there alternative models of delivery?

10 Providing and maintaining paths, and keeping pupils on the path Planning availability of provision and access to it Clear routes of progression, and planning for continuity

11 Fluency Challenges of the Welsh-medium learning setting: pupils from non- Welsh-speaking backgrounds Pupils with variety of linguistic needs Welsh and English in contact Willingness / reluctance to use Welsh Crucial link between fluency and usage

12 Recurring themes: Strategic planning Structural / organisational mechanisms Teaching methodologies Practitioner supply and expertise Support materials and resources

13 Paths: one or several? Recognised benefits of Welsh-medium and immersion education from the early years 1971: Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin (Welsh-medium pre- school Playgroups Association)

14 Welsh-medium Early Years Provision: Challenges Varying linguistic needs of children Working in a mixed economy Resources and staffing (initial training and INSET)

15 Need for further work on our understanding of principles of immersion education To inform all developments, including training European-funded project to clarify principles of early years immersion methodology, and share good practice Immersion education units in early years qualifications

16 Late immersion Established practices in Wales Centres for Latecomers

17 Language Learning through Immersion and Intensive Methods: Welsh Assembly Government-sponsored project, developed by the Welsh Language Board

18 Findings and implications: Dedicated structures and support mechanisms Partnership between primary and secondary sectors Continuity and Progression Teacher Training Materials and Accreditation

19 Are there alternative paths? Welsh as a ‘second language’?

20 Providing and maintaining paths, and keeping pupils on the path Availability and accessibility of provision: Strategic planning Identification of gaps in provision Transport Working in partnership Transition from one sector to the next

21 Is the Welsh-medium option available? Are pupils aware of the importance of continuity? National, local authority and school policy

22 Welsh Language Board Project on Linguistic Continuity Small number of pilot schools Transition from primary to secondary school and within secondary provision Identify factors limiting take-up of Welsh-medium provision Work with local authorities, schools, pupils and parents to increase levels of continuity

23 Welsh Language Board Project on Linguistic Continuity Local authority and school policy Availability of provision: teacher supply and expertise – training needs Parental awareness and pupil engagement – attitudinal factors

24 Fluency Aim: to produce pupils who are functionally fluent in as broad a range as possible of skills and sociolinguistic contexts

25 Challenges: Welsh in constant contact with English Welsh limited to language of school for significant proportions of pupils Attitudinal factors and influence of social networks

26 Fluency: Classroom-based considerations Curricular planning and teaching methodologies Principles of immersion education Intensity of Welsh-medium input Linguistic balance between Welsh and English Catering for pupils’ different linguistic needs

27 Teacher Training Accurate assessment of numbers required: national strategy Methodology: principles of immersion and Welsh-medium delivery

28 Materials Equal availability of Welsh-medium resources Speed of production Corpus planning and terminology

29 Fluency: Extending beyond the classroom Promoting Welsh as the language of the playground and social networks Welsh Language Board Project: Promoting and Supporting Language Use

30 Working in Partnership within the Community

31 Welsh as the language of employment Perceptions of the value of Welsh Opportunities to use Welsh in the workplace

32 Welsh in technology and the media

33 Communicating with pupils and their parents: Information to parents Advice, guidance and marketing Careers advice

34 Conclusions Successes of Welsh-medium education provision Early years Welsh-medium provision / Late immersion

35 Conclusions Journey to fluency: rewarding but challenging Combined effort of school and community

36 References Further Information on Welsh-medium Education: Welsh Assembly Government Welsh-medium Education Strategy (Consultation Draft): en.pdf

37 Resources:


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