A case study of how attitudes and ability influence the use of incidental Welsh amongst Year 5 and 6 children in a south Wales valleys English-medium primary school
Jones, Lisa Sian
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The case study investigated the use of incidental Welsh in a Year Five/Six class in a south Wales valleys English medium primary school over a six-month period. Its aim was to determine the amount of incidental Welsh spoken by the pupils during lessons and to ascertain whether there was any link between pupils' attitudes and ability and their readiness to speak Welsh unprompted. The research began with the distribution of questionnaires to pupils, parents and staff. The purpose of these questionnaires was to collect data concerning attitudes towards Welsh and the learning of Welsh as a second language. These were followed by semi-structured interviews with pupil groups and a small number of individual teachers and parents. An observation schedule was used to collect quantifiable data on the pupils' use of incidental Welsh at both the beginning and end of the research period, while field notes were used to record significant developments. This research found that the pupils most likely to use incidental Welsh were those who had a strong desire to learn the language and also a considerable amount of oral confidence. All pupils preferred speaking Welsh for an actual purpose as opposed to chanting phrases during lessons. The girls were more likely to use incidental Welsh than boys, and were motivated by praise, certificates and a general feeling of achievement; the boys frequently used incidental Welsh to manipulate a situation to their advantage. However, a small number of boys proved extremely difficult to motivate and remained hostile to the language. As well as making judgements on the actual teaching and learning of the Welsh language as a subject, inspectors are also now asked to consider: "As appropriate, are pupils confident and competent in using Welsh in a range of situations beyond their Welsh lessons?" The research concludes with the recommendation that schools adopt a structured programme for the use of incidental Welsh in order to maximise progress in this area.
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