Our tutor of Welsh for Speakers of Other Languages, Sharon Warren, has sparked joy in Welsh language learning and receives a nomination for the Inspire! Tutor Awards 2023! | Adult Learning Wales

Our tutor of Welsh for Speakers of Other Languages, Sharon Warren, has sparked joy in Welsh language learning and receives a nomination for the Inspire! Tutor Awards 2023!

29-January-2023
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Our tutor of Welsh for Speakers of Other Languages, Sharon Warren, has sparked joy in Welsh language learning among marginalized groups who would not normally be able to access it. Sharon is the driving force behind Adult Learning Wales’ WSOL (Welsh for Speakers of Other Languages) programme, teaching Welsh to adult learners from migrant and sanctuary-seeking backgrounds, and the reason for its success. She has broken new ground in widening access to and participation in the Welsh language among the diverse communities of Wales, having now engaged over 60 learners from places including Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Russia, Egypt and Morocco. The programme has grown from a small pilot launched online in 2021 to a major pan-Wales provision, including courses in North and South Walian Welsh.

Learner feedback shows the hugely positive impact learning Welsh has had on their mental health, their sense of belonging and connection with the wider community, job prospects and family relationships. Ukrainian learners newly arrived in North Wales are thrilled to speak with their hosts in Welsh, and to be able to help their children, many of whom attend Welsh-language schools. That to date 15 learners have progressed to mainstream Welsh courses with Y Ganolfan Dysgu Cymraeg Genedlaethol (the National Centre for Learning Welsh) is testament to Sharon’s talent for imbuing learners with her own infectious enthusiasm for the language and culture.

Sharon threw herself into the challenge of developing a curriculum and adapting resources to meet the needs and contexts of her learners. Highly adept at making language learning directly relevant to learners’ lives, she also always injects a sense of fun. She has been successful at creating a sense of community in her classroom, encouraging learners to support and help each other, and inspiring them to inspire others to learn the language.

In 2022 she participated, along with four of her learners, in a YouTube video about the WSOL programme, and she also led a visit to the Welsh National Eisteddfod in Tregaron last year, which attracted 38 adults and children. On the Maes, Sharon delivered an amazing Welsh taster class in the learners’ pavilion, and at the end of the day many of the children didn’t want to leave, asking when they would be able to come back to the Eisteddfod again!

Sharon’s activities have had a decisive impact on the wider professional community. She is often called upon to share best practice with stakeholders keen to develop their own WSOL, and Dysgu Cymraeg have built on her insights in their development of new digital resources allowing learners to learn Welsh through the medium of several different languages. Furthermore, Dr Gwennan Higham drew on discussions with Sharon to win an AHRC grant to research ‘Pathways to the Welsh Language for International Migrants’. Gwennan has now established a national steering committee to develop and bring together best practice in Welsh language teaching for adult migrants, in which Sharon is an active collaborator.

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