Although this is my first post, and I feel that maybe I should get into my personal whys and why nots of blogging, I’m just going to jump in with a few thoughts on teaching Welsh.
I’ve just finished a 4 hour complete beginner course in Welsh for the unknown language component on a Trinity cert course. As “little things” go (see About me for more about “little things”) I guess this is a pretty little course, but I love teaching it. And I always feel a sense of anti-climax when it finishes. So this time round, instead of brushing it off I decided to try and pinpoint why I get so much out of it.
Complete beginners – I’ve had very, very little chance to teach English to complete beginners, to learners who’ve had no exposure to the language, and who might actually not even know what it sounds like. It’s definitely a different kind of teaching. And teaching Welsh to people who know nothing at all about the language is a blast! At the end of our little experiment I’m just warming up – I want to keep going for another 90 hours 😉 . It reminds me of how fulfilling, and how challenging teaching beginners can be. Hats off to all teachers out there who are doing it (and a little bit of “healthy jealousy” too).
Tangible progress – from the very first few minutes in the first lesson there’s tangible, measurable progress – Welsh sounds come boucing back at me, sounding very, well , Welsh. I don’t know why that surprises me so much! Maybe it’s from having heard the sounds mangled by non- Welsh speakers back home 😉 .
By the end of the first class they’re introducing themselves as Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews and Charlotte Church (not so sure about Lady Di – but the celebs come from the students not me – gave me a great excuse to teach “not Welsh”) and counting from 1 to 10. We all felt good about how far we’d come in 50 mins.
Exploring a new identity – I’ve been teaching English for 25 years and am very very used to my English teaching persona. Teaching in Welsh is a whole new take on teaching. It accesses another me. My Welsh is very much kitchen Welsh, spoken at home, with my family about day to day issues. I’ve never really worked in Welsh. Grading and controlling my teacher talk and classroom instructions has been like going back to being a novice teacher. Great, inspiring, energising stuff.
and lots, lots more besides – but I think I might just save that for another time.