7 reasons why learning Welsh is still so important
March began with St David’s Day, which highlights all that is good about Wales and is celebrated in honor of the country’s patron saint. The Welsh language is central to our national identity and dates back thousands of years.
According to Visit Wales, more than a fifth of people living in Wales today can speak or use Welsh. This figure doubles in children, specifies the tourist organization.
Since the Welsh language is so central to its culture, it is vitally important to continue to teach this historic language. Here are seven reasons why.
Read more: From the home of a medieval king to lavish feasts at a mansion – the untold story of the Gorddinog Estate
The history of the language
Welsh is Britain’s oldest language. It is also one of the Brythonic languages alongside Cornish and Breton.
Visit Wales says historians have found some of the earliest Welsh poets writing between the fifth and eighth centuries. Unfortunately, the language went into decline after the Act of Union of 1536 where it was forbidden to use Welsh in public administration and the judicial system.
It is important to learn Welsh to appreciate its history. It also helps keep Britain’s oldest language alive in our communities.
Culture of Wales
The Welsh language is central to Welsh culture and identity. Every August the national Eisteddfod festival takes place – this is described as ‘a celebration of culture and language in Wales’.
The festival includes all aspects of the arts such as music, dance and visual arts. It attracts Welsh speakers, as well as many people learning the language.
The Eisteddfod festival can trace its origins back to 1176. Additionally, the Cardiff-based Sŵn festival was started in 2007.
Sŵn celebrates the best of local and national rising stars. It is a three-day festival that takes place in the autumn and aims to celebrate new music originating in Wales.
Learning Welsh is important to better understand and celebrate Welsh culture.
Welsh has international connections, especially in Patagonia, Argentina. Dr Walter Ariel Brooks said the language arrived in the region in 1865.
The first Welsh-language primary and secondary schools were founded in Patagonia. There are now three Welsh-Spanish bilingual schools in the area.
It is estimated that there are 50,000 people in Patagonia with Welsh heritage and 5,000 of them speak Welsh. The Breton language, spoken in the most northwestern region of France, is also very similar to Welsh.
So learning Welsh will help to understand and communicate with people internationally, not just in Wales.
Sing the songs and understand the beauty of Welsh literature
Actor Rhys Ifans, who fronted Super Furry Animals for a short time in their early days, once said: “In Wales singing and storytelling are party skills, not professions.”
Wales is a nation known for its beautiful music and literature. The Welsh national anthem called Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau is admired for its beauty.
The song is known as the ’12th Man’ in sport because it is so emotional that it is blamed by other teams as the reason for their loss to Wales. Wales has also produced many talented poets, such as Elan Grug Muse who wrote ‘Holwyddoreg Ar Iaith’.
Learning Welsh enables people to truly appreciate the beauty of the country’s songs and literature.
It will help with employment
Being able to speak Welsh will be very useful in finding a job, especially in Wales. The Careers Department on the Welsh Government website states that many jobs advertised in the country will specify that Welsh is essential or desirable.
The Welsh government has also recently published its Cymraeg 2050 plan which aims to increase the number of Welsh speakers to one million. The plan includes the requirement that candidates applying for Welsh government positions must be able to speak at least a basic level of Welsh.
Looking beyond jobs in Wales, TARGETjobs says: “Many employers will look at your CV more than once if it has a second language on it.”
Having Welsh language skills will increase your chances of employment in Wales and also look impressive on your CV.
The pleasure of learning a new language
It has also been claimed that speaking Welsh has health benefits. Professor Antonella Sorace is the founder of the Bilingualism Matter Center at the University of Edinburgh and studies the potential benefits of speaking minority languages.
So far, his research has shown that being multilingual can help improve thinking, learning ability and may reduce mental decline with age. It is important that governments encourage the learning of languages such as Welsh as it is beneficial to health.
In January 2016, DuoLingo launched the Welsh language on its app. It is estimated that around 1.5 million people worldwide have used the app to learn Welsh. Welsh has also become the fastest growing language learned on DuoLingo in the UK.
Be able to say this super long place name and impress all your friends and family
Perhaps the most important reason to learn Welsh is so you can say and pronounce the name of the Welsh village which is the longest in Europe – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. It’s guaranteed to impress friends and family and become a new favorite party thing.