Coun­cil in drive to in­crease the use of Welsh


Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Gareth Wyn Wil­liams

ACOUNCIL’S aim of in­creas­ing the use of Welsh among its work­force is gath­er­ing pace with sev­eral mem­bers of staff hav­ing en­rolled on gov­ern­ment-funded cour­ses to im­prove their pro­fi­ciency.

An­gle­sey, the county with the sec­ond high­est per­cent­age of Welsh speak­ers, has an­nounced plans to grad­u­ally make it the main in­ter­nal lan­guage as part of its Welsh Lan­guage Strat­egy 2016-2021.

The strat­egy forms the cor­ner­stone of the au­thor­ity’s plan to pro­mote Welsh and to fa­cil­i­tate more ex­ten­sive use of the lan­guage on the is­land, hav­ing set a tar­get to in­crease or main­tain the num­ber of Welsh speak­ers by the end of the five-year pe­riod.

As a re­sult of the vi­sion that has been set, its hoped that, by the 2021 Cen­sus, a 5% in­crease will be seen in the num­ber of Welsh speak­ers to at least the 60.1% it was in 2001.

Part of the strat­egy in­cludes in­tro­duc­ing Welsh as the main in­ter­nal lan­guage – be­com­ing only the sec­ond Welsh county to do so after neigh­bour­ing Gwynedd.

The six-year rolling pro­gramme in­cludes work­ing with in­di­vid­ual ser­vices and en­sur­ing that the nec­es­sary sup­port is in place to in­crease the use of the Welsh Lan­guage on an oral and writ­ten ba­sis.

No set tar­get has been re­vealed, but, while more Welsh would be used within in­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion, a bilin­gual pres­ence will be main­tained while deal­ing with the pub­lic.

A to­tal of 38 coun­cil work­ers are en­rolled onto Wl­pan Welsh lan­guage qual­i­fi­ca­tions, while an­other 80 have at­tended sup­ple­men­tary cour­ses dur­ing the year, in­clud­ing Welsh in the Work­place and Lan­guage aware­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­cently au­tho­rised by the port­fo­lio holder, Cllr Ieuan Wil­liams, part of the strat­egy will see the coun­cil run a pi­lot scheme on the use of Mi­crosoft Trans­late and the use of the Welsh Mi­crosoft in­ter­face amongst staff.

In ad­di­tion, a doc­tor­ate stu­dent from Ban­gor Univer­sity is work­ing with the Leisure Ser­vice on a change of lan­guage be­hav­iour project and en­cour­ag­ing staff to use more Welsh on a dayto-day ba­sis.

Of the coun­cil’s of­fice-based staff, 87% of re­spon­dents to the lat­est staff ques­tion­naire dis­played high lev­els of flu­ency when speak­ing Welsh.

How­ever, among com­mu­ni­ty­based coun­cil work­ers, this per- cen­t­age dropped slightly to 75%, 73% of res­i­den­tial staff and 56% of leisure cen­tre-based em­ploy­ees.

As a re­sult, sev­eral em­ploy­ees have been en­rolled onto cour­ses as part of the Welsh Gov­ern­ment funded “Work Welsh” scheme, pro­vided by the Na­tional Cen­tre for Learn­ing Welsh at Nant Gwrtheyrn.

The re­port noted: “One of the main de­vel­op­ments in the area of Lan­guage train­ing this year was the launch of the Work Welsh course at The Na­tional Cen­tre for Learn­ing Welsh.

“We mar­keted the Wel­come Welsh course, which is a 10-hour course for pure learn­ers which in­cludes use­ful el­e­ments such as speak­ing on the phone and ar­rang­ing meet­ings.

“Four­teen work­ers across the coun­cil took ad­van­tage of the five-day res­i­den­tial cour­ses

“We have also held an in­ten­sive course at in­ter­me­di­ate level be­tween Jan­uary and March 2018. This group will con­tinue dur­ing 2018-19 through fund­ing from Work Welsh.”

Nant Gwrtheyrn, Welsh Lan­guage Learn­ing Cen­tre

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