Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, Chair in Ancient History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University, has learnt Welsh to help improve his students’ learning experiences.
Lloyd, 51, grew up near Bridgend in a non Welsh speaking family, but has had a strong interest in the language for around 25 years, since working within the costume department for the Welsh language soap opera, Pobol y Cwm, produced by the BBC and broadcast each weekday on S4C.
“I knew very little Welsh before I started working on Pobol y Cwm. I gained a good understanding of the language and was able to learn quite a lot by ear – the cast and crew were really helpful.
“However, when I moved to Scotland where I lived for 15 years, I naturally didn’t have as much opportunity to continue building my Welsh language skills.”
Lloyd moved home to Wales two and a half years ago, settling in Taffs Well, when he took up his current position of Chair in Ancient History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University.
Moving home to Wales and starting this new position is what inspired Lloyd to reconnect with the language he loves.
Lloyd enrolled on a Welsh course with Learn Welsh Cardiff, run by Cardiff University on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh. Lloyd joined the Canolradd/Intermediate Course, as he already had an understanding of the language from his days at Pobol y Cwm.
“As well as the connection to Welsh culture and the sense of belonging it brings, the main driver to study and improve my Welsh language skills was my students.
“We have a lot of students at the university who grew up in primarily Welsh-speaking communities. I can now do more to accommodate them, whether that be in verbal discussions or written exams.
“Many students arrive at university and for the first time are being taught in English – I think it is hugely important that students should be offered mentoring, support and marking in their first language.
As a result of hard work and encouragement from his tutors at Learn Welsh Cardiff, Lloyd is now fluent in Welsh, which he also classes as his preferred language.
Lloyd encourages anyone, regardless of their skill level, to make the Welsh language a part of their daily experience. He says, “Even if you don’t speak Welsh, use the little you know. It’s a great way to feel a connection with your country and engage with your community.
“Say ‘bore da’ to your bus driver, or ‘diolch’ at the supermarket checkout; I’ve found everyone is very supportive and appreciates you making the effort.
“If you want to learn Welsh, my main piece of advice would be to take it practise anywhere and everywhere that you can, as it’s very much a living language.”