Why is the Welsh language important? There are both emotional and practical advantages to using the language. According to experts, the Welsh language is the oldest language in Europe; a language that still survives after numerous threats over the last century or so. Without the Welsh language, cynghanedd would not exist; without cynghanedd the Eisteddfod would have no purpose. There is a saying in Welsh “Gwlad heb iaith, Gwlad heb Genedl” meaning A Country without language is a Country without a Nation.
Not everyone agrees that emotional reasons are sufficient to warrant learning the language, or to ensure linguistic succession to the next generation. There are plenty of economic and professional advantages to speaking the language. Research has shown that those who are fluent in the language are more likely to prosper in the job market, and the positions gained are likely to be well paid!
As the Government move to appoint a Language Commissioner the importance of using the Welsh language will increase.
Here in Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera we have appointed two members of staff to be language champions, to ensure that the pupils benefit from their ability in Welsh. Amid the duties, the two have beguna a Welsh competition for Year 7 – with the intention of expanding it into the rest of Key Stage three in the near future. There is a prize of a day out to Swansea in the summer for the victorious class.
In addition to this, numerous “CEI clubs” have been formed. CEI (Cadwch Eich Iaith – Keep Your Language) is a project that has developed with grants from the Welsh Language Board. One of the most succesful projects is Radio Gwifren, the first Welsh language school language to be set u pin the county, the radio has gone from strength to strength. The young presenters can be heard daily in the Great Hall and the refectory. A website, www.igamogam.co.cc has also been started, presenting stories and news about the school. The advantage of this website is the interactivity of having pupils contribute to it. The results of the Year 7 Welsh competition are regularly up-loaded.
Amongst the CEI clubs this year are: Chemistry Club, Cooking Club, Art and Photography Club, Fashion Club and Business Club. These clubs co-exist with the more traditional clubs such as rugby and football clubs, or hockey and netball clubs. During the year photographs of the various activities in different clubs will be uploaded to the Igamogam website.
The development of these different clubs is vital in order to develop all important skills amongst the younger pupils, skills such as communication and group work, in addition to this it offers leadership roles to the students in Canolfan Gwenallt (Years 12 and 13), as they are responsible for planning and leading the clubs.