Eirini Sanoudaki, who is originally from Crete, Greece, has won a national award for her use of Welsh in the workplace.
A senior lecturer in linguistics at Bangor University, Eirini won the prize at the annual Work Welsh awards, run by the National Centre for Learning Welsh.
Eirini’s work looks at language in monolingual and bilingual speakers, focussing on children with developmental disorders such as Down syndrome and autism. She came to work at Bangor University as she felt it was one of the best places in Europe to study the development of bilingual children.
Eirini first started learning Welsh during her lunch hour, 10 years ago.
Eirini says, “When I moved to England, I learnt English and it was only natural then that when I moved to Wales, I learnt Welsh. I remember arriving in north Wales for the first time, seeing the sea in one direction, and the mountains in the other and thinking – I could settle here. It reminded me of home.
“Learning Welsh has been a long journey, and when I started 10 years ago, I only studied for an hour during my lunch break. But, today, I am working through the medium of Welsh and love the language.
“When you start learning, you must use every opportunity to practise your Welsh – maybe a few words or short sentences to start off with, but giving it a go and not being afraid to make a mistake is important.
“For me, as I love music, joining a local choir for Welsh learners and native speakers made a huge difference. I could then use the language while doing something I enjoyed.”
Eirini has an 11 year-old son, who speaks Greek, Lombard, Welsh and English. She feels strongly that parents should pass on the gift of a second or third language to their children.
“I have studied bilingual children for years and know that one of the best gifts you can give your child is a second language. I cannot understand why you wouldn’t. Numerous studies have shown that kids can cope with learning two, three or more languages.”