Too much Welsh wrecks balance

11th June 2004 at 01:00
I must respond to DT Jones's unwarranted comments about me in his letter "Bilingual aims healthy" (TES, May 28). I don't mind being called a "reactionary" but I do object to being called ignorant of Welsh language issues.

For the record, I have taught both boys and girls between five and 18 years of age from eight Welsh-medium schools both in north and south Wales - so I know what I'm talking about.

On the subject of bilingualism (so-called) some basic facts are ignored or go unmentioned:

* Children who go to the popular Welsh-medium schools in south Wales are getting not a bilingual but a heavily monolingual education, where every subject bar English is delivered in Welsh.

* As these children come usually from only English-speaking homes their education is thus one-sided and frequently, though not always, leaves them backward in their "native" tongue.

* This situation is at any rate chosen by parents in the south, but here in the north parents have to put up with a 50-50 language split despite the fact that their children are growing up in a world dominated more and more by the English language.

* A group of parents near Carmarthen, although initially supportive of Welsh-medium schooling, began to campaign for the main part of the curriculum to be delivered in English. But even this made them unpopular.

DT Jones' s response shows how difficult it can be to discuss this matter calmly. A number of parents have expressed to me their concerns about the relative dominance of Welsh in north Wales schooling but they are uneasy about "going public".

Nigel Probert

15B South Snowdon Wharf


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