People have different reasons for wanting to learn Welsh - to support children in Welsh medium education, perhaps, or to widen job choices.
Welsh teacher wins Inspire! Tutor Award for her song-filled classes in the Vale
Welsh teacher wins Inspire! Tutor Award for her song-filled classes in the Vale Just give it a go, nobody cares if you drop a mutation - that’s the message from a passionate Welsh language teacher who’s just won a national award. Vale of Glamorgan tutor Ann Davies starts her lessons with a song and takes students on treasure hunts on her days off earning her an Inspire! Tutor Award for her commitment to making more people fall in love with her mother tongue.
The Inspire! Tutor Awards celebrate the achievements of exceptional tutors and mentors in Wales who have shown outstanding passion and commitment to encourage, support and teach other adult learners to pursue their goals and transform their lives, whether it’s in their community or the workplace.
Run by Learning and Work Institute, with support from the Welsh Government, they reward outstanding individuals whose commitment, knowledge and communication skills have given adult learners the tools to transform their lives. The 54 year-old is employed by Learn Welsh The Vale and teaches Welsh at community venues, including Palmerston Adult Community Learning Centre in Barry three times a week, mainly offering fast-track Welsh courses to adult learners. “I encourage students to see Welsh as a living language,” said Ann, who lives in Penarth. “From the beginning, I tell them we’re all in this together, we’re a family. It’s everyone’s job to get everybody up to speed in the first few weeks, and it works. It’s quite magical.” Classes start with a rendition of Calon Lân or Ar Lan Y Môr, and Ann, who takes her learners on treasure hunts to St Fagans, introduces the learners to Welsh via poetry, music and literature. She said: “I’ll bring in a poem or play, Welsh band, Brigyn’s version of Hallelujah which was given Leonard Cohen’s approval, or Adra by,singer Gwyneth Glyn, which is a brilliant song for learners as it’s bilingual.
“I’m invigorated by my students. At 54, I’m still learning and it’s wonderful to be able to learn with such a great group of people who have become friends.” Ann, originally from Drefach Felindre in Carmarthenshire, studied Welsh and completed a PGCE at at Swansea University, teaching at Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Bro Dur at the start of her career in the ’80s. She has spent a decade privately teaching fast-track Welsh courses for students preparing for their exams, as her daughters, Megan, 22 and Elen, 20, were growing up. While she’s a mentor to many, Ann credits her parents, Menna and John Tudor Jones, both aged 92, with giving her a love of Welsh language and culture. “Mum was a brilliant pianist and all the family loved performing and telling stories - that brought Welsh to life for me and that’s what I try and pass on to my students,” she said. “I want to give my students the magic I had. I see Welsh as a treasure - something that belongs to all of us. It’s given another dimension to my life that only language can. It’s the greatest feeling to help someone who had no Welsh to pick a reading for their sister’s wedding or meet someone years later who is now fluent.” Inspire! Adult Tutor nominations were invited for ‘outstanding individuals’ who give ‘over and above’ what is expected of them, from areas including higher education, further education, the workplace, community education and schools. “If someone’s unwell, I’ll visit them at home with their work if they want me to,” said Ann. “I’ll do anything to keep them coming to class. I want everyone to feel welcomed by the Welsh language and I make it my mission to encourage as many people as I can.” Fast-track courses available with Ann run from Mynediad (Entrylevel) to Hyfedredd (Proficiency) and she’s taught everyone from parents in their 20s wanting to help with homework to retired professionals in their 90s. “I’m certainly not a purist,” she said. “If you can’t remember the word ‘cyfrifiadur’, then say ‘computer’, and missing a mutation is fine if it means you’re learning.”
She said: “This award is one of the most exciting things to happen to me professionally in a long time. It’s encouraged me to carry on for a few more years! I want to be doing this when I’m well into my 60s.” Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education, said: “Good mentors are important at all stages of our lives. The role of an adult tutor comes with additional challenges in helping someone returning to education achieve their goals. “The Inspire! Tutor Awards are a great way to thank people like Ann whose skills, time and commitment continue to support so many journeys in learning, often with life-changing results.” David Hagendyk, Director for Wales at Learning and Work Institute, said: “Behind every successful adult learner are the tutors, lecturers and support staff who work every day to help individuals unlock their potential and fulfil their ambitions. “The Inspire! Tutor Awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise the excellent work of the individual winners, as well as to thank everyone working in our colleges, universities, schools, workplaces and communities for their hard-work and dedication.”
The Inspire! Tutor Awards are funded by The Welsh Government and the European Social Fund and organised by the Learning and Work Institute Wales. For more information about the Inspire! Tutor Awards, adult learning or becoming a tutor, call 0800 028 4844. For more information about learning Welsh, go to www.dysgucymraeg.cymru or www.learnwelsh.cymru