Welsh Conservatives are warning the Welsh Government to “take local communities with them” as they proceed with plans to expand Welsh medium education by a third over the next 14 years.
Shadow Welsh Language Secretary, Suzy Davies AM, is supportive of the plans which (if successful) will increase the fluency of the next generation using Welsh.
However, she is also urging the Welsh Government to do more to give adult learners opportunities to converse in everyday settings.
“We support the Welsh Government in its goal to reach 1 million Welsh speakers, but changes to the education system need to be introduced in such a way that they can take local communities with them.
“People in wales don’t have an homogenous relationship with its language and success will depend on persuading our different communities, different individuals why it is so valuable to be bilingual, to have skills in both our languages.
“Clearly, the more pupils learn through the medium of Welsh, or hear and see more Welsh as a normal part of school life, the better the prospect of increasing fluency among the next generation of Welsh speakers. So we do support this.
“But we also need to look at challenges faced by the current generation – in particular, adults in work – and I want to see more opportunities to upskill the Welsh workforce in their actual workplace.
“We all recognise that self-consciousness is the enemy of learning a language. I think the high street and, more broadly, businesses are a perfect place to encourage employees and customers to practise their Welsh without fear of being judged. Beyond that, though, bilingualism, linguistic agility, excellent communication skills are increasingly sought by employers who will be competing in a post-Brexit world where multi-lingualism is the norm”.