Jazz Langdon, a former Welsh Language Sabbatical Scheme student at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has been named Welsh Learner of the Year as part of this year’s Amgen festival, a competition organised by the National Eisteddfod, BBC Radio Cymru and the National Centre for Learning Welsh.
Jazz, who lives in Narberth and teaches in Tavernspite, came to UWTSD in September 2018 to study with Rhagoriaith, the University’s Centre for Welsh Language Services to undertake a year-long Welsh language course for teachers. Having very little knowledge of the Welsh language when she started the Sabbatical Scheme course, a year later she was fluent, and last weekend, she was awarded the prestigious title of Welsh Learner of the Year 2020.
“I’ve always felt proud to be Welsh, but sometimes I felt guilty I couldn’t speak the language too,” says teacher, Jazz.
“I can see how important the Welsh language is, especially with children in my area who don’t hear much Welsh around them. We, as teachers, have to inspire them and demonstrate the opportunities that speaking Welsh offer.
“Our Welsh Coordinator left two years ago and no one else in our school had Welsh language skills, and I was worried that the standards would fall and I wanted to do something to help,” continues Jazz. “So I volunteered to go on the Welsh in a Year course at UWTSD in Carmarthen as part of the sabbatical scheme for teachers.
“Learning Welsh has changed both my personal and professional life as well. Welsh has already opened many doors in my career. I’ve moved to a new job at Tavernspite School in Pembrokeshire and am now the Welsh language co-ordinator so I’m responsible for the development of the subject and supporting other teachers.
“Before I went on the course, the children’s attitude was quite negative towards the Welsh language but now, because I make the lessons fun, they often ask ‘can we do Welsh now?’ which is lovely to hear!”
Jazz learned Welsh through the Welsh Language Sabbatical Scheme which is offered by UWTSD in Carmarthen, Swansea and Newtown.
The Welsh Language Sabbatical Scheme is a programme of language training courses designed for teachers, lecturers, and classroom assistants, aimed at increasing the number of practitioners that are able to teach through the medium of Welsh or bilingually.
Dr Lowri Lloyd, Director of UWTSD’s Rhagoriaith is very pleased to see Jazz’s development and is extremely proud of her success.
“Jazz was fully committed to the course and went over and above by reading challenging books, listening to the radio and watching S4C daily in order to succeed,” says Dr Lowri Lloyd. “She inspired and encouraged her fellow learners and she is now completely fluent and is teaching children through the medium of Welsh.
“She was born and raised in south Pembrokeshire and regretted not having more contact with the Welsh language before embarking on her journey to learn the language, less than two years ago,” continues Lowri.
“Jazz had taught through the medium of English throughout her career but after completing the Welsh in a Year course, she was given responsibility for teaching Welsh at Key Stage 2.
“During the lockdown period, she prepared new and innovative resources to teach Welsh to pupils across schools in Pembrokeshire. Pupils throughout the County who will come into contact with Jazz and her resources will certainly benefit,” adds Lowri.
“Jazz first came on to the course for professional reasons but she is fully committed to integrating the language into her personal life. Jazz has not only learned a language, but is committed to Welsh life and its traditions. She is so passionate about the Welsh language and, without a doubt, Jazz has achieved so much in a short space of time and is a fine example of a champion of the Welsh language.”
So, having learned the language in a short space of time and having achieved such success, what advice does Jazz have for those considering learning Welsh?
“Remember that learning Welsh is a journey,” she says. “It won’t be easy all the time but it’ll definitely be worth the effort!”