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Wrong to cast Welsh language as the villain.

JOHN Roberts is quite right to stress the importance of language skills after Brexit (WM letters, April 6) but he is wrong to castigate the Welsh language as the villain and that, by implication, modern language learning diminishes as a consequence of teaching Welsh.

There is a wealth of evidence that supports the view that fluency in one additional language makes the learning of other languages that much easier. Take Switzerland, where most people are fluent or have a good working knowledge of the native languages of German, French and Italian, as well as a high level of fluency in English.

There are more similarities between Welsh and other Latinbased languages (French, Spanish, Italian) than there are between English and those languages.

The similarity of vocabulary and sentence structure that Welsh has with those languages makes language learning easier. I know from my own experience, as I am fluent in Spanish, as are my children.

Welsh has not been a hindrance, it has been a positive advantage.

If there was no teaching of Welsh do you think that suddenly we would have a generation of students fluent in modern languages? Sadly, this would not be the case. In England, where there is no Welsh teaching, only 5% of students are learning languages (source Eurostat). This compares with 99% in France and an average of 50% across the EU as a whole.

The problem is not the Welsh language. The problem is the British state attitude to language teaching as well as our notorious insularity. The ability to speak Welsh, at whatever level, can be an advantage in facing the challenges that lie ahead.

Ian Symonds Dinas Powys

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 9, 2018
Words:277
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