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Noddir gan Lywoadraeth Cynulliad Cymru
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Welsh medium schools
There are many myths about education in Wales. One of them is that your English speaking child can become bilingual simply by attending a few hours of compulsory Welsh a week in an English medium school. How many students of foreign languages such as French or German achieve fluency by GCSE level? Yes, there are a very few dedicated pupils or hard-working adults who eventually master the language, but the truth is that the easiest, most natural way of becoming bilingual (if not at home) is by “immersion” in a designated Welsh medium school where all lessons are in Welsh and pupils are encouraged to use the language in as many situations as possible.

Welsh medium education is equally important for children from Welsh speaking backgrounds. Without the academic input throughout their formative years, they can begin to lose confidence in their ability to speak the language.

Welsh medium teachers ensure that their pupils learn the English translation of Welsh terms in all subjects, so their English does not lose out. If anything, this double linguistic approach reinforces pupil's understanding of the underlying concepts.

Welsh may be the indigenous language of Wales, but incredibly only since the Education Act of 1944 have education authorities had the right to designate Welsh medium schools and ever since then the number of these schools has been increasing. Unfortunately, this is almost always due to pressure from parents rather than forward planning by education authorities.

As well as designated Welsh medium schools, there are the “natural” Welsh medium schools, so called because they are located in areas where a high percentage of the residents are already Welsh speaking. This is the ideal situation, of course, because children are exposed to the language in the wider community just as much as at school. Yet the status of these schools is not always assured when the influx of English speakers can change the character of the school in a comparatively short time. RhAG is in favour of designating more schools as specifically Welsh medium. Such schools exist in many Anglicised areas of the country and enjoy the confidence of English speaking parents just as much as Welsh speaking parents because of the standard of education they offer.