Originally from Porthcawl, 24 year old Seren Walters felt there was something missing in her life until she started learning Welsh.
Seren first started feeling this way when she went to Warwick University to study for a degree in French and German. Living in England strengthened her connection with Wales and made her reflect and consider the unique culture and language she had left behind.
Seren said, “Because I studied French and German, I thought it was a bit ridiculous that I’d lived in Wales all my life and couldn’t speak Welsh.
“I also did a year abroad in Germany and had to make a presentation, sharing my culture with the German students. I felt embarrassed by how little I knew, and I got a lot more invested in my culture and history around that time.”
When Seren returned to Wales to study for her Masters degree, and then her PHD, which she’s currently following at Swansea University, she decided that she wanted to learn Welsh.
She said, “As I was learning more about my culture and history, I kind of felt there was something missing – and realised that it was the fact that I couldn’t speak Welsh.
“So when I saw an advert for Learn Welsh courses with an early bird offer on Facebook, I decided to go for it.”
Seren started learning Welsh in September 2021 with Learn Welsh Swansea Bay Region, which is run by Swansea University on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh.
“I love the way that they teach it and respond better to a more structured approach to learning, “ Seren explains.
“I’d started learning before then with Duolingo, and I’m now enjoying having regular classes – it’s good for me. I’ve started an Entry level course for beginners, and there is a lot of focus on pronunciation – which is really useful.
“We also go over the dialogue and practise as a class, and in smaller groups, which is great.
“There are different social events on offer and when I’ve got a bit more time, one of the events I would really like to attend is the singing group. I haven’t got a good voice, but I think it would be nice.
“I also think that listening to songs in the language that you are learning is really helpful – the rhythm helps the phrases stay in your mind. It’s lots more fun and doesn’t feel like hard work!”
In September 2022, the National Centre for Learning Welsh will be offering free Welsh courses to young people aged 18-25.
Seren added, “I would tell any young person considering learning Welsh to just do it. There is a lot of stuff out there these days on social media that makes the language more relevant to your life, and maybe if that had been around when I was younger, I would have felt different about the language in school.
“It’s a really big positive seeing Welsh content on social media – I’ve seen some great comedy and get Welsh video pop-ups on my Facebook feed.
“All this adds up to make young people realise that the Welsh language is alive and relevant to us in every part of Wales.”
For more information, and to register your interest in Learning Welsh, please visit learnwelsh.cymru.