Whatever language you speak at home, Welsh-medium education can give your child additional opportunities, experiences and skills.
Here are some frequently asked questions that may help you decide whether you’d like to take advantage of what Welsh-medium education has to offer.
So what does Welsh-medium education do?
Welsh-medium education has a very simple aim – to enable children to become fully fluent in both English and Welsh while teaching all the other subjects across the curriculum. Young children learn languages remarkably easily – it’s by making the most of this potential that Welsh-medium education has become so popular.
Why do people choose Welsh-medium education?
Research shows that it’s by far the best way we have to get children to be bilingual in both English and Welsh.
Being bilingual has many advantages. It’s very useful as a skill in the workplace: the ability to speak Welsh is either an essential or a desirable skill for a growing number of jobs.
The Welsh Government has also committed to developing a bilingual Wales through its Welsh-language strategy ‘Cymraeg 2050’ with a vision for reaching a million speakers by 2050.
There is more demand today than ever before for bilingual skills in a variety of fields such as health, education, leisure, childcare, retail, and public services.
Any other reasons?
Speaking Welsh can help children build a fuller understanding of their wider community and their place within it.
Welsh provides children with access to a culture – including literature, music, digital media, and a host of other things – that might otherwise be unavailable to them.
For some people, the choice of Welsh-medium education is based on personal experiences: they know people who are bilingual or have bilingual children, and so want their own children to be able to be a part of the Welsh-speaking community, while also being completely at home in English.
Do families like mine choose Welsh-medium education?
Every family – and every child – is unique, of course. But all kinds of families take advantage of Welsh-medium education: families who don’t speak Welsh and those who do; families from all kinds of ethnic and religious backgrounds; families from Wales and those who’ve moved here from elsewhere.
We don’t speak Welsh at home– would that make my child stand out?
Not at all. In fact, the vast majority – over 70% – of children in Welsh-medium education in Cardiff do not speak Welsh at home. And for some of those, a language other than English is the main language of the home.
So coming from a non-Welsh speaking background is absolutely normal and the curriculum is designed with that in mind.
Welsh-medium schools do not expect that children speak Welsh when they start but will help those children to become fluent in Welsh before the end of their first year.
We’re not Welsh – would it be strange for us to choose Welsh-medium education?
Not at all. You don’t have to be Welsh to speak Welsh. Parents of children in Welsh-medium schools in Cardiff have come from all over the world: Wales, the rest of the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America.
While some might consider themselves to be Welsh, others might not – the key point is that learning Welsh is open to all.
Does Welsh-medium education have lower standards for English?
Absolutely not. Children leaving Welsh-medium primary schools are expected to reach exactly the same standard of English as those in English-medium primary schools. And in secondary schools children in Welsh-medium education sit exactly the same GCSEs and A-levels as those in English-medium schools. (The reverse is not true: children in English-medium education do not reach the same standards or sit the same level of exams in Welsh as those in Welsh-medium education.)
How can I help my child with homework if I don’t speak Welsh?
As most children don’t speak Welsh at home, Welsh-medium schools are very experienced in supporting both pupils and parents.
For younger pupils, homework instructions will be given in writing in both English and Welsh. At a later age, children will be able to explain their work to their parents themselves. In fact, research suggests that dealing with their work in two languages can actually help children understand the subject that they are studying.
The education website Hwb also gives access to a range of nationally provided digital learning tools and resources.
Will learning Welsh make it harder to learn another language?
Not at all. There’s almost no limit to a child’s ability to learn languages. In most European countries, young children can commonly speak two or three languages. Speaking one language can help reinforce the other, making it easier for the child to learn more languages later on.
Will it be difficult to get my child into Welsh-medium education?
All Welsh-medium schools in Cardiff are community schools. So the application procedure is exactly as it is for English-medium community schools – the child’s home language or religion or national identity are not considered in the application process.
If my child were in a Welsh-medium school, would he or she have classmates from our area?
The number of Welsh-medium schools in Cardiff has increased significantly. There are now seventeen primary schools and three secondary schools across the city. This means that your community will have a Welsh-medium school whose pupils will come from your local area and who can easily meet up outside school if they want to.
What about their education after they leave school?
As pupils from Welsh-medium schools are fully bilingual, they can choose to follow college and university courses in either language (or both). Recently, the work of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (the national Welsh-medium college) has ensured that more and more university degrees are available (partially or completely) through the medium of Welsh.
A growing number of Welsh-medium courses are available in Further Education as well. Even so, students from Welsh-medium schools commonly follow English-medium courses at college or university, in Wales and beyond.
Can I learn Welsh alongside my child?
Some parents, after choosing a Welsh-medium school for their child, decide to learn Welsh as well. It’s a great opportunity to learn together, to practice your language skills on each other and spend quality time together.
Welsh for Adults courses are available throughout Cardiff, and are suitable for learners at all levels. For further information, please visit the Learn Welsh website