Capacity Building and Language Skills Transfer in the Welsh Digital Economy (Presentation)

Student: Jennifer Marshall
Company: Nant Gwrtheyrn Trust
Academic Supervisor: Prof Colin Williams & Dr Adrian Price

My name is Jennifer Marshall and I am a PhD student at Cardiff University. I am working in partnership with Nant Gwrtheyrn, a language centre in North Wales which provides Welsh lessons to adults. My field of research is electronic learning and I am currently developing online learning resources for Welsh learners at Nant Gwrtheyrn. The inspiration behind the project is the story of the Welsh language. The journey begins with the significant fall in knowledge of the Welsh language which occurred during the last centuries.

By the middle of the 20th century, the decline was so obvious that a number of initiatives were set up in order to stop the language disappearing and keep this important part of Welsh culture alive. Amongst other efforts, Welsh courses for adults were provided across Wales, to help increase the number of new speakers. In 1982, Nant Gwrtheyrn was established as a residential centre, and since then over 25,000 people have attended Welsh classes there.

In 2011, a partnership between Nant Gwrtheyrn and Cardiff University was formed, through the KESS programme. The intention was to combine years of experience in the field of teaching Welsh to adults with skills and knowledge in the fields of research and digital technology. Our vision is that e-learning will help to increase the number of successful Welsh learners. It is therefore important that the e-learning draws on research which shows which techniques result in successful learners.

I have worked closely with Nant Gwrtheyrn tutors, in order to understand the needs of Nant Gwrtheyrn’s Welsh learners. I have used the tutors’ expertise, along with recommendations from the relevant literature, to plan a series of online resources which will complement the face-to-face provision. Nant Gwrtheyrn learners have also played an important role in informing the creative process.

The next steps of the journey are to ask Nant Gwrtheyrn learners to trial the new resources which have been developed for them. E-learning resources could tick every box in terms of research literature recommendations, but the users must be satisfied with the resources and motivated to use them. Collaborating with Nant Gwrtheyrn learners has therefore been essential to this project – by getting their feedback we will know whether the resources are successful.

We do not yet know, therefore, what impact our work will have – the results are unknown at present. The journey of the Welsh language has led to a situation where only 19% of Wales’ population speaks the language. Evidently, we hope that our efforts will help to create new speakers, and to continue with the work that was begun back in the second half of the last century.