Following the publication of the 2011 Census results where a decline was seen in the number of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire to 43.9% of the population (from 50.3% in 2001), we agreed to establish a Task and Finish Group of cross party elected members to research into the factors that have led to the decline and to formulate recommendations in order to address the situation. As part of the research, Dr Dylan Phillips was commissioned to prepare a detailed statistical report on the state of the Welsh language in Carmarthenshire.
The report and recommendations of the Census Working Group was presented to full Council in April 2014 and by accepting the report ‘The Welsh Language in Carmarthenshire’ (March 2014) we have reaffirmed our commitment to the Welsh Language in the county.
The Working Group’s report and the work of the Council focus on the following eight areas:
- Language and Economy
- Welsh medium workplaces and the Council’s administration
- The impact of organisations who work for the benefit of the Welsh language, such as the Mentrau Iaith
- Opportunities to use the Welsh language in the community
- Language Transmission in the family
- Marketing the Language
Going far and fast with two languages...
In Carmarthenshire the aim is for every child to have the opportunity to leave school and be fluent in Welsh and English.
More and more employers across the county and in Wales as a whole are keen to recruit staff able to work comfortably in both languages.
And being able to speak two languages helps in other ways too...
Research from several parts of the world shows that children who speak two languages confidently are able to think more creatively and tend to do better in IQ tests.
Having two words for everything helps! Research in the USA, Canada, the Basque Country, Catalunya, and Wales shows that children fluent in two languages have good exam results.
Researchers in Canada have also found that reading is made easier for young children who speak two languages; between 4 – 6 years they have a head start with their reading.
In Carmarthenshire speaking two languages gives children an opportunity to take part in a variety of activities, to become part of their local community and feel a sense of belonging.
According to Professor Colin Baker, an expert on bilingualism, “Being able to switch naturally between languages, and being able to talk to different people in those languages, makes children feel good about themselves ... it can do wonders to help raise a child’s self-esteem.”
World-wide, speaking two, three or four languages is completely normal. And by now research from several parts of Europe shows that speaking two languages makes it easier to learn other languages.
One of the aims of the European Union is to see everyone being able to speak their first language and two others.
With two languages come two cultures and a rich store of history, songs and music, stories, literature, folk tales. This can offer experiences and enjoyment which last a lifetime and which can be a real source of pride.
Will I be able to help with homework?
With homework it’s not your help but your interest and support which count. You don’t have to be a polished pianist for your child to enjoy the piano. The trick is to support and create a good atmosphere in which to practise. And the same goes for homework.
Will my children’s English suffer as they grow?
2014 Estyn figures show that children at key stage 2 and 3 in Welsh-medium schools do better in English than children attending English-medium schools. They do better by around 2 percentage points in key stage 2 and 5 percentage points in key stage 3.
Will my child need Welsh after primary school?
Nobody dreams of saying give up maths at 11 – that would mean leaving a job half done. To have the skills to be able to use Welsh at work later on and have all the opportunities which that entails, it’s important to continue developing Welsh language skills in secondary school. Continual use gives more opportunities.
So, give your children the very best opportunity – give them the opportunity to speak two languages. In Carmarthenshire, it’s an opportunity which is on our door-step.
Page updated on: 03/05/2016