There has been a boost to the numbers of adults learning Welsh during lockdown, with over 8,000 learners starting new digital learning courses with the National Centre for Learning Welsh.
New national ‘blended learning’ courses, which combine tutor-led distance learning on video conferencing platforms with independent online study, have attracted 1,300 beginners.
The free, 10-week courses have just started, with learners from Wales and beyond joining 89 virtual classes, which are taught by enthusiastic and experienced tutors based in all parts of the country.
Since mid March, almost 7,000 learners have also followed the Centre’s free online ‘taster’ courses, which introduce everyday words and phrases. Several courses have been tailored for different sectors, including Education, Health and Social Care.
The Centre has introduced other digital initiatives during lockdown, including daily Welsh lessons live-streamed on its Facebook page, which have attracted viewers from as far afield as Dubai and Argentina and are now available to watch again.
New online video clips have also been introduced, to complement the 1,500 video, audio and interactive learning resources already available on the Centre’s website, learnwelsh.cymru
Future plans include live ‘drop in’ Q&A forums on Facebook, weekly sessions for parents and carers of young children and the introduction of ‘blended learning’ courses at other levels. The Centre will also re-launch its voluntary ‘Siarad’ scheme, which pairs Welsh speakers with learners, with the aim of helping learners build confidence to use the language.
Efa Gruffudd Jones, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Learning Welsh, said: “The Learn Welsh sector has responded positively to the challenges of lockdown with a variety of digital initiatives to enable adults to continue learning and practising the Welsh language while at home.
“Learning a new skill gives people confidence and motivation and joining a class can help people connect with each other, as well as providing routine and structure. We look forward to welcoming these new learners to our community and supporting them as they learn and enjoy the Welsh language.”
Cheryl George from Pontypridd, who is following one of the new national ‘blended learning’ courses, adds: “Learning Welsh has been on my list of things to do for a long time. I have had a go before but work and life took over.
“As I am furloughed from work, I have the gift of time. I saw this course was available online and thought this is perfect. I was a bit nervous and worried about it being online – how would it work? The first Zoom session was brilliant! The tutor is fun and full of energy, which was felt by me and the group. We had time all together and break out sessions. I felt more ‘raring to go’ to learn more than perhaps I would have after a classroom session. I’m really looking forward to the next nine weeks and beyond developing my knowledge of the language.”