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Celebrating our Welsh learners on St David’s Day

15 March 2022

Written by Catrin Jones, Academi Gymraeg Manager 

This year, a brand new event took place at the Temple of Peace on St David’s Day- ‘Celebrate our Welsh Learners’ – which was an opportunity to come together to celebrate Welsh speakers and learners from across the university. It was important that this event was special, with interesting guests who could share their experiences of learning Welsh.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and it was nice to see new faces in the audience. The event was opened by Pro Vice-Chancellor Damian Walford-Davies, with Gwenllian Grigg (BBC Wales Radio) chairing a panel discussion featuring actress Joanna Scanlan (who has just won a Bafta!) and Welsh tutor Joseph Gnagbo, who is originally from the Ivory Coast.

Speaking to Joanna and Joseph

Joseph with our event organiser Catrin Jones

Joanna spoke about her recent challenge of filming a new drama series in Wales, in both English and Welsh, with a language mentor helping her to learn and understand the script. She told us she had to adjust to reading the script with the dialect written into the lines – unlike English scripts where the actor adds the dialect/accent to their performance. She discussed her struggle with mutations, and it was interesting to hear Joseph respond that there were mutations in all languages, even in spoken English, but that mutations was more formalized in Welsh. Suggestions for learning habits were shared by Joseph, such as repeating words over and over to get used to pronouncing them, and committing to doing half an hour every morning on one of the apps like “Say Something in Welsh” or Duolingo. This was an inspiring talk and a great success and the ambition is to host a similar event on St David’s Day every year.

Organising the event and thanks

In terms of the day’s arrangements, it was experimental for several reasons: – this was the first time a live social event had been held for staff since the start of the pandemic; it was fully bilingual, with guests speaking in both English and Welsh, with the choice of simultaneous translation for the audience; and at the last minute the event had to be converted to a ‘hybrid’ format for Joanna Scanlan to join virtually. Thankfully we had an excellent technical team including the Drake sound company, with Andy Hilbourne and Lewis Treen from the Learning and Teaching Academy filming. I would like to thank Elliw Iwan, Huw Williams, Gwenfair Griffith, Robin Hughes, Alaw Hughes, Carys Bradley-Roberts, Llywelyn Lehnert, Ali Carter, Mary-Kate Lewis and Owen Spacie for all their hard work in making the event a success.

Contact us

For more information on our Academi Cymraeg (Welsh language Academy), visit our intranet pages or email academi@cardiff.ac.uk