Welsh should not spoil English

21st May 2004 at 01:00
Peter Wilby (TES, May 7) predictably excoriates the BNP, but he ignores the fact that this party, however abhorrent in some policies, also speaks some sense.

Its education policy for council elections states that "if minorities want to teach their own children their own native languages they should do so in their own time and at their own expense. Where foreign pupils have not achieved a satisfactory standard of English, they should be taught separately rather than being allowed to drag down standards and hold back native English speakers".

This appears entirely reasonable. In Wales we now have the situation that the minority language is being imposed on all children. The extent of this varies, but in this part of Wales (the north) Welsh occupies up to 50 per cent of available school time.

I am not at all hostile to the promotion of the Welsh language, but this should not be at the expense of English. Children are not just being taught Welsh but taught largely through Welsh, which is an artificial situation for most. It is treating children as mere vehicles for a culture to the detriment of their native language.

It is almost as though the old, infamous "Welsh-not" policy has been replaced by "English-not".

Parents are afraid to voice their concern in case of unpopularity and counter-accusations of prejudice. They therefore turn to private tutors to make up for educational deficiencies.

If politicians don't like the BNP they should be aware of, and address, parents' anxieties. Perhaps then people would turn out in greater numbers to vote for mainstream parties.

Nigel Probert

15B South Snowdon Wharf


PS: Small children struggle very hard to spell English words according to Welsh phonetic rules: what do you suppose that "siawting" represents?

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