It’s an exciting time for us in Wales in terms of the future of the Welsh language. Our Welsh language strategy Cymraeg 2050: A million Welsh speakers, sets the ambition clearly. The aim is to:
- increase the number of speakers
- increase the use of Welsh; and
- create favourable conditions for the language
We’re all aware that our education system has a significant contribution to make to achieve the long-term vision to reach a million speakers by 2050.
We’ve made it clear that we want to transform the way in which the Welsh language is taught. Quite simply, all our young people, from all backgrounds, should come out of the education system ready and proud to use the language in all contexts. It is a matter of equity, and we as Ministers and as Welsh Government must set the direction and provide leadership.
Of course, in order to achieve this, we will require a high-quality education workforce that is vibrant, engaged and committed to ensuring quality learning for all. An education system cannot be more than the standard of its workforce, and our curriculum cannot be delivered without an ambitious and well-supported teaching profession.
At the end of June, I held a symposium to discuss how we can improve the experiences of our learners. It was a great opportunity to bring teachers, training providers and partners together to discuss on a practical level, how we can improve both in the short and long term.
We want to ensure that our teachers are trained and supported to be confident educators who have the right skills. As well as focusing on general teaching methods to support the new curriculum, we are already beginning to improve our understanding of signature pedagogies – the styles of teaching and instruction that are common to specific disciplines, areas of study or professions. The symposium provided a great opportunity to start this journey and to focus on effective pedagogies in second language teaching.
We were fortunate to have two research reports to inform our discussions at the symposium. It is imperative that our work is informed by research and evidence about effective language teaching and learning, including language immersion methods, as well as the role of bilingualism in supporting multiliteracy and the linguistic and cognitive development of learners. You can view their presentations below.
And read their reports as below. (link to reports)
Whilst there is a need to consider the long-term development of the workforce in preparation for the new curriculum, I am also keen to ensure that learners who are currently in school are experiencing positive experiences of learning Welsh and other languages.
There is no need to wait for the new curriculum to change approaches to teaching, and therefore I set the challenge for us to start this change straight away.
Taking advantage of the researchers’ input, we have a golden opportunity to learn and adopt the most effective teaching methods to create Welsh speakers of the future.