Research Articles (English)

'Everything we do revolves around the exam': What are students’ perceptions and experiences of learning Welsh as a second language in Wales?

Authors: Mirain Rhys orcid logo (Cardiff Metropolitan University) , Kevin Smith orcid logo (Cardiff University)

  • 'Everything we do revolves around the exam': What are students’ perceptions and experiences of learning Welsh as a second language in Wales?

    Research Articles (English)

    'Everything we do revolves around the exam': What are students’ perceptions and experiences of learning Welsh as a second language in Wales?

    Authors: ,

Abstract

In 2017, the Welsh Government introduced Cymraeg 2050, an ambitious strategy to increase the number of Welsh speakers in Wales (Welsh Government, 2017). The Welsh education system is a vitally important feature of this strategy. In 2013, a review of Welsh language instruction in Key Stages 3 and 4 (Davies, 2013) identified considerable gaps in teachers’ preparation and training for teaching Welsh as a Second Language, a poor Welsh language ethos at many schools, and a general lack of resources to support the instruction of Cymraeg (or Welsh). Recommendations included several dimensions including curriculum content, pedagogical practice, and teacher assessment, training, and resources. With the advent of a new, national curricular framework (Welsh Government, 2015), this study builds on the Davies (2013) review and provides unprecedented detail into student perceptions of Welsh language instruction. Data produced through focus groups with students were analysed in consideration of Dörnyei’s group dynamics theory, providing a poignant critique of the aims for Welsh language instruction, teachers’ pedagogical practice, and what students suggest is a general disconnect between Welsh language instruction and its use in their everyday lives.

PRACTICAL ABSTRACT

The Welsh Government aim to increase the number of Welsh speakers to one million by 2050 and the Welsh education system is a key feature of their strategy. This article provides an insight into the experiences of secondary school children in Wales learning Welsh as a second language. The study took a closer look at the teaching of Welsh as a second language, as well as what students thought about the lessons, and the Welsh language itself. Focus group data highlighted that students felt there was a disconnect between the Welsh lessons they were receiving at school and their experience of Welsh in everyday life. With a new curriculum currently in development, this research provides an insight into current student perceptions.

Keywords: Wales, bilingual education, Minority languages, Language maintenance, Language revitalisation

How to Cite: Rhys M. & Smith K., (2022) ““Everything we do revolves around the exam”: What are students’ perceptions and experiences of learning Welsh as second language in Wales?”, Wales Journal of Education 24(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.16922/wje.24.1.1

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Published on
31 May 2022
Peer Reviewed