Welsh for Speakers of Other Languages! | Adult Learning Wales

Welsh for Speakers of Other Languages!

26-September-2023
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Sharon Warren was recruited in 2021 as Adult Learning Wales’ first WSOL Tutor.  WSOL (Welsh for Speakers of Other Languages) is part of the AMIF programme and to date Sharon has taught Welsh to almost 100 learners, including those from Afghanistan, Turkey, Peru, Hong Kong, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Iran and Ukraine.  Sharon has broken new ground in the field of Welsh for Adults, developing her bespoke provision and curriculum over the past two years, widening access to and participation in the Welsh language among the diverse communities of Wales.  Sharon delivers classes face-to-face as well as online, the latter including bespoke North Walian Welsh courses to Ukrainian learners. 

Sharon came to Adult Learning Wales from the Senedd where she oversaw the development from a new, and delivery of, Welsh language training amongst Members of the Senedd and their staff.  Prior to that Sharon was South Wales Police’s first Chief Language Officer, again responsible for the development and delivery of Welsh language training, as well as developing strategies to promote the use of the language throughout the Force.  Although Sharon had taken early retirement from the Senedd, it wasn’t long before she had itchy feet to get back into the classroom teaching Welsh!  And when she saw Adult Learning Wales WSOL Tutor position advertised, she thought, “new challenge!”  And although Sharon has extensive experience in the field of Welsh for Adults, this role was indeed a wonderful new challenge for her – delivering Welsh sessions to learners where English was not their first language.  However, because many of Sharon’s WSOL learners are already multi-lingual she found it to be a very different teaching experience, with new challenges compared to teaching monoglot English speakers.  In fact, some of her learners speak languages where there are very similar sounds to the Welsh alphabet, such as in Arabic, and therefore many of her learners can easily grasp the language.  Sharon also reports that she has often witnessed her Welsh sessions helping many of her learners with their ESOL studies!

In addition, learner feedback has shown the hugely positive impact learning Welsh has had on Sharon’s learners’ mental health, their sense of belonging and connection with the wider community in Wales, including 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.

In 2022 Sharon led a visit to the National Eisteddfod in Tregaron, which attracted 38 adults and children. On the Maes, Sharon delivered a 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!  That same summer, Sharon delivered Welsh language, history and culture sessions at the Urdd Centre in Llangrannog to the many Ukrainian refugees who were being housed there.  This year Sharon also led a visit and delivered a Welsh taster session to female refugees from Afghanistan in the old schoolhouse at St. Fagans, with very positive feedback.

 

Sharon really hopes that she inspires her learners to continue studying the language by informing them that she herself has learnt Welsh as an adult! In fact, Sharon was shortlisted as a finalist for this year’s Inspire! Tutor Awards.  Sharon tells her learners that she went on to study the language at University, gaining a 1st Class Hons degree; and often brings to class her National Eisteddfod Learners’ Chair that she won in 1999 for her poetry, in order to promote the vast opportunities of their own Welsh language learning.

We’d like to thank Sharon for her valuable work and helping so many of our learners learn Welsh!

If you would like to learn more about our courses, click here.

This project is part-funded by the European Union Asylum Migration and Integration Fund. Making management of migration flows more efficient across the European Union.

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