In response to the challenge posed by the Coronavirus epidemic, all formal and informal Welsh classes have been moved online.
With a substantial number of Ceredigion County Council staff working from home, a new pioneering approach was required to teach Welsh and support learners.
Face to face teaching at Ceredigion ended towards the end of March. Dewi Huw Owen, the Council’s Work Welsh Training Officer and the Council’s Learning and Development team began work on an Action Plan to ensure the continuation of the classes into the summer term.
The classes restarted online using the ‘Zoom’ platform on 4 May. This enabled 63 of Council’s staff to return to their weekly intensive Welsh studies at Entry, Foundation, Intermediate, and Advanced levels.
The response from the learners to the new arrangements has been very positive. One Intermediate level student said, “I have enjoyed the return to Welsh lessons, because it has given me the opportunity to improve my Welsh language skills. The use of ‘Zoom’ is great as we do not need to be in class during the Covid 19 lockdown. It still feels like we are in the classroom, as we can still do what we normally do in class.”
The Council’s Work Welsh informal learning provision has also returned via ‘Zoom’. Every Friday since 29 May the Work Welsh Training Officer has run a weekly online Clwb Cinio. This is a conversation society that gives staff the opportunity to practice the language they learn in the formal classes in an informal setting.
The Clwb is attended by an average of 12 students weekly. An Advanced level student commented, “Thank you very much to Ceredigon County Council for making it possible for us to continue learning Welsh during Covid 19. I enjoy the classes and the Clwb Cinio. I get to study, practice and meet my fellow students, and have fun while learning.”
Commenting on the success of moving the Work Welsh provision online, Carys Morgan, the Council’s Welsh Language Policy Officer said, “We’re delighted that the Work Welsh provision for Ceredigion staff is continuing online in spite of the Coronavirus epidemic. Ceredigion County Council is very proud of the partnership we have developed with the National Centre for Learning Welsh through the Work Welsh scheme. Through cooperating we are able to continue in our efforts in providing a range of online courses and learning experiences that are tailor-made for the needs of our workplace. Through this, we are able to support our staff to further develop their skills in order to be able to work naturally bilingually.”
With the formal and informal learning opportunities now up and running for the summer term, work has already begun in the Learning and Development team on planning for the start of the next academic year in September, and the next step in the staff’s language journey.