The general secretary (GS) of the Celtic League returned from Wales this month where he undertook a study visit of Welsh medium preschool provision as part of a wider project that will contribute to the development of Cornish language education in Cornwall.
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot visited a number of Welsh medium preschool settings in the Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerffili areas of south east of Wales to gain a better understanding and awareness of language immersion methodologies and practice at preschool level in Wales. The Welsh language early years service Mudiad Meithrin (MM) helped to coordinate Mr Tal-e-bot’s visit by arranging for him to visit preschools (clychoedd) in the area and to undertake interviews with MM staff and practitioners during his week long study.
Mr Tal-e-bot’s intends for his research to help inform education language planning in Cornwall at the preschool level – an area of the Cornish language revival he has been involved in since his return to the country in 2009. Educational provision in the south east of Wales was specifically targeted by him for the research because English is the community speech language in this area as it is in Cornwall and was therefore able to make some interesting comparisons. The GS however pointed out to members of the Cymru branch of the League following his visit that the situation of education language provision between the two Celtic nations is quite distinct, with one of the main differences being the enhanced status that Welsh enjoys in Wales, which has contributed to the high levels of investment in the language in all areas, especially in education:
“Even though the Cornish language has official recognition and governmental financial support, it is minimal in comparison to the status and provision that is available in Wales. In Cornwall we still have a long way to go.”
Talking about educational provision in the south east of Wales specifically, the GS added:
“Wales has a long tradition of Welsh language education provision even within the English language community, such as the south east; one Welsh language preschool I visited in Caerffili for example had been open for over fifty years. Welsh language education provision is growing exponentially in that part of Wales, with virtually every new school opening being Welsh medium education. Even my old English medium secondary school has closed down and is reopening as a Welsh medium school.”
Nevertheless Mr Tal-e-bot argues that there are still many lessons to learn from Wales about how language education planning can be developed in Cornwall:
“Welsh language immersion has proved itself to be the most successful educational methodology and Cornwall should be aiming to emulate this experience. We have set up a Cornish language Saturday preschool that has run successfully for the last year and a half, but we now need to develop this provision. Mudiad Meithrin is engaged in some extremely good early year’s practice that is fairly easily transferrable to the Cornish situation for little cost and I aim to be exploring ways how this can be done with our partners over the summer.”
In March 2011 the GS visited Mannin/Isle of Man to undertake a similar study with the Mooinjer Veggey early years Manx language settings and a report on that research will be available on the internet soon. Both research trips to Mannin and Cymru have been funded by Cornwall College and Plymouth University.
This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification please contact him directly:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information