6. Open up new opportunities

Broaden Your Horizons

The Welsh language and bilingualism can open the door to a multitude of new opportunities. In an evolving Wales, the Welsh language is reaching out to new audiences, is being taught to an increasing number of children and learners and entering new professional, vocational and recreational fields. The ability to develop skills in a minority language should be embraced and viewed positively rather than being considered a challenge.

FACT

  • Bilingualism is extremely widespread and is the norm in today’s world (and not the exception).
  • ‘The older, monolingual, view of bilingualism has had many negative consequences, one of the worst being that many bilinguals are very critical of their own language competence and do not consider themselves to be bilingual.’

EVIDENCE

  • Within the new European Community there will be about 100 minority languages, spoken by millions of people. Around 65% of the world’s population use at least two languages in their everyday lives. 50 million people use a language every day that’s different from the language of the country in which they live.

EMPLOYER FEEDBACK

The increase in demand for Welsh medium education in areas which are traditionally non-Welsh speaking offers clear evidence of the way in which parents consider that the language will provide new and further opportunities to future generations.

"Here in south east Wales, generations of families have had some form of contact with the Welsh language, but the language has been lost over the last 2 to 3 generations. Many of our parents send their children here because they are eager that their children receive opportunities which weren’t available to them. They understand that in a modern, bilingual society that the ability to communicate in both languages, not only safeguards our heritage, but can also improve the prospects of students as they leave school.”

(Alun Thomas, Head of ICT at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw, where 97% of pupils speak English at home, not Welsh. However, they all speak Welsh as their first language at school, and all subjects, apart from other languages are taught through the medium of Welsh. 75% of Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw’s pupils progress to further and higher education which is much higher than the national average.)

Sources: Francois Grosjean, Interview on Bilingualism, 2002.
Welsh-medium education for your child: The best start possible , The Welsh Language Board.
Welsh Language Interface supporting Welsh Immersion Education at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw: Welsh Language Board and Microsoft 2010.

The Welsh Language Board with the help of Careers Wales commissioned Trywydd Cyf to carry out research on how being bilingual could give you the edge.

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