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Ask Jacqui Spiller

Ask Jacqui Spiller

Here, we chat to Jacqui Spiller, a tutor with Learn Welsh Gwent since 2006.  Jacqui teaches Welsh to asylum seekers and refugees in Newport, as part of a project with the Red Cross, and recently won the Welsh-medium Tutor of the Year at the South Wales Argus 2021 Schools and Education Awards. 

How did you become a tutor?

I learnt Welsh on an Wlpan intensive learning course with Cardiff University, before studying for a degree in Welsh and Education with Cardiff Metropolitan University.  I worked as a secondary school teacher for a year, before applying for a post as a tutor with the University of South Wales and Coleg Gwent.

What’s the best thing about being a tutor?

Meeting people who want to learn Welsh and seeing them enjoy themselves is a wonderful feeling.  It’s also nice to see learners make friends with one another, and see how the Welsh language opens so many doors for them.

How did you adjust to teaching online at the start of the pandemic?

It was a challenge and very strange to begin with, but I’m fortunate to work with a team of supportive tutors, who were on hand to discuss and share their ideas, resources and experiences with me.

What’s it like teaching Welsh to asylum seekers and refugees?

I love teaching my students, who are all women and who come from different countries including China, Sudan and Eritrea.  I also hold fitness classes for the group, which is a lot of fun!

Tell us about the fitness classes?

I love exercise and hold two sessions a week, in a hall during the autumn and winter, and in Parc Penallta, near Ystrad Mynach, during spring and summer.  I also hold the weekly session in Newport.  These bilingual sessions are very popular!  I held some virtual sessions for Menter Iaith Caerffili and Menter Iaith Blaenau Gwent language initiatives during the pandemic.

What does this award mean to you?

It’s an honour, I’m thrilled and extremely pleased to have won.

Image: Jacqui Spiller, on the right, accepting her award.