By choosing Welsh-medium education, you’ll be giving your child an additional life skill — the ability to communicate in two languages, both spoken and written. Studies show that people who are bilingual find it easier to learn other languages – a clear advantage for your child in school. Linguistic progression also makes the change from primary to secondary much easier for pupils.
Across Wales more employers than ever before are looking for staff with bilingual skills
Just over a third of employers think Welsh language skills are important for their customer service, and over a quarter of employers think they would benefit from more Welsh language skills. Children’s bilingual skills develop best if used daily, and Welsh-medium or bilingual education gives a child a daily opportunity to develop their language skills, becoming increasingly fluent and confident.
With over 65,000 children in Welsh-medium or bilingual primary schools in Wales, why do parents consider the Welsh language important for their children? Read some of their stories below.
Sharon Ackroyd and her family moved from Yorkshire to Pembrokeshire, and decided to send her children to the local Welsh-medium school.
“I wanted a smaller school in a community where my children will not just be a number, and the research shows bilingualism is a great asset to them. I believe that if you live in a country where another language other than English is used, you should make a great effort to learn and use it.
“Of course I had worries, as my children had only heard the English language and I had family and friends who thought the idea of them going to a fully Welsh-medium school was crazy, but in my heart I knew what was best for them.
“As the children are so young, sending them straight into Welsh stream means that Welsh will come more naturally to them and they will never know the difference. At home we try to use Welsh by singing nursery rhymes and going through the boys’ homework. They also watch Welsh children's TV and, and as I am learning I will often watch S4C, as I think television is a big help when learning a language.”
For more information, watch the video here
Research shows that the valuable skills learned at primary school are quickly lost if the language the pupil is taught in is changed. A number of Welsh-medium and bilingual secondary schools perform well, with some amongst the best in the country. Your child will study most subjects through the medium of Welsh or bilingually.
Hear from parents on why they chose to send their child to a Welsh-medium secondary school:
Stu Barter from Penarth chose to send his daughter Millie to a Welsh-medium primary school, and has recently moved on to a Welsh-medium secondary.
“A few of Millie’s peers from primary school have chosen to move to English-medium secondary schools, which seems such a waste. Millie was helped by a fantastic transition from primary to secondary and couldn’t wait to continue her education journey through the Welsh language.
“My Welsh is quite limited, and I wish I had paid more attention to Welsh in my own schooling, so there was a concern about being able to help with homework, but the school was very supportive of all parents, be they Welsh speaking or not.
“We made an effort to make sure she read a lot of Welsh in her early years, as I knew that being able to converse in two languages would help Millie later in life as well, in terms of career options and learning additional languages. Choosing a Welsh-medium education is something I would definitely recommend to other parents.”
Rebekah Tune and her husband from Cardiff don’t speak Welsh, but decided to send their two daughters to Welsh-medium schools.
“We currently have one daughter in a Welsh-medium primary, and the other in a Welsh-medium secondary school. When we were looking at secondary schools for our eldest, it was a natural choice for her to go on to a Welsh-medium secondary after attending Welsh-medium primary.
“Looking at all schools in our catchment area, and not really having considered Welsh-medium as an option, we were really impressed with the school. We were welcomed warmly and shown around, we met pupils who were all so friendly and polite, and came away with a great feeling about it. We then did some thinking and researching about the benefits of bilingualism and were convinced to go for it. I think it’s the best decision we’ve ever made.
“The main concern was whether we’d be able to provide the right support with schoolwork, and whether we’d fit in with other parents. However, we haven’t had any problems as the school is used to communicating to parents in both languages and there are lots of other parents there who don’t speak Welsh. I have learned some Welsh myself as a result of reading along with my girls, and their homework is always explained bilingually so we can help as necessary. I also worried a bit that their English would suffer, but they are equally good in both languages.
“It has been absolutely fascinating seeing them take on another language. It’s like the thrill you get from their first words all over again when they start to speak it. It’s a cliché but they are like sponges and have no problem adapting to a new language – I wish it were that easy at my age! There are proven benefits of bilingualism in any language in terms of brain development, and my feeling is that if you can give this to your child at no cost, why wouldn’t you? They are both very proud of speaking Welsh, and at the end of primary school my eldest daughter was awarded the Chair in the school Eisteddfod which was a very proud moment for us all.”
For more information, watch the Youtube video here
Information for parents
My child currently goes to an English-medium school. Is it too late to change to Welsh-medium education?
“All Welsh-medium and bilingual schools welcome non-Welsh speakers. In some areas your child could be taught in a language immersion unit. Here, they’ll receive focused linguistic education until they are able to speak, read and write in Welsh and transfer to the Welsh school.” Aled Jones - Head of language unit, Cardiff
How can my child get to our local Welsh school?
Don’t worry if your school is not within walking distance. Contact your local council for details of the support available to help transport your child to school.
How do I start learning Welsh?
There are a variety of courses available for learners of all levels, available across Wales through the National Centre for Learning Welsh - https://learnwelsh.cymru/
To find your local Welsh-medium primary or secondary school, go to http://mylocalschool.wales.gov.uk/?lang=en