A scheme that matches Welsh speakers with learners will be relaunched on 15 October, Shwmae Su’mae Day, during BBC Radio Cymru's week-long celebration of learning Welsh (Wythnos Dathlu Dysgu Cymraeg).
The voluntary scheme, called 'Siarad', aims to raise learners' confidence by giving them the opportunity to practise informal conversation with Welsh speakers. The scheme, first launched in 2018, also introduces learners to opportunities to use and enjoy the Welsh language in their areas.
With the constraints of the public health situation reducing the opportunities for face-to-face meetings, the National Centre for Learning Welsh, which is responsible for the scheme, is keen to encourage participants to meet virtually and to recruit more to take part.
Helen Prosser, Director of Teaching and Learning at the Centre, explains:
“Conversation is at the heart of this scheme, which means we can use multiple media, whether it's a phonecall, Facetime, Whatsapp, Skype or Zoom, to support it. The recent situation has transformed the Learn Welsh sector, with our lessons taking place in virtual classrooms and a host of informal activities such as quizzes and coffee mornings also taking place online. Now we have an opportunity to extend the ‘Siarad’ scheme into the virtual world, attracting learners and speakers from far and wide to be a part of it. ”
The scheme is suitable for learners following courses at Intermediate level or above and participants are expected to meet for 10 hours of informal conversation during the scheme.
Lyn Llewellyn, a Welsh speaker from Caerphilly who has participated in the scheme, says:“I became involved with the scheme two years ago and now my 'Siarad' partner and I are good friends. We meet every week in a virtual coffee morning, and I've made many other friends too. It's good to be able to practise speaking Welsh and have fun together.”
Colin Williams, who is learning Welsh and comes from Cardiff, also feels the scheme has helped raise his confidence. He says, “The scheme has made a huge difference to my confidence in using the Welsh language. I enjoy the opportunity to chat to someone informally and I don't have to worry about mutations or grammar! When I speak with Siôn, my 'Siarad' partner, I can relax and talk about everything without having to worry if he understands me.”
If a Welsh speaker or learner is interested in participating in the scheme, find out more and register on our website here: https://learnwelsh.cymru/learning/siarad/