Willkommen in the Valleys

April 12, 1996

Modern language departments at the University of Wales, Swansea, are planning to extend their Welsh-medium teaching of European languages.

They are bidding for funding to create a Welsh-medium lectureship in French to complement the provision in German developed by Mererid Hopwood over the last three years. They are also seeking some extra tutorial support in German, where provision so far has been dependent on Dr Hopwood.

The first students offered the opportunity of taking Swansea's joint honours degree in German through the medium of Welsh will graduate next year. By then there should be about 30 students on the four-year programme.

Rhys Williams, head of German, said the development of Welsh-medium teaching was a consequence of the growth of Welsh-language secondary schools: "We became aware a few years ago that the number of students taking A level German was falling in Wales as a whole, but increasing in the Welsh-language schools. Middle-class Welsh parents in traditionally English-speaking areas are increasingly opting for the Welsh-language schools. They are relatively traditional and academic and have to some extent taken the place of the old grammar schools."

He said that it was very important that Swansea, the largest German department in the University of Wales, rated 4 in the last Research Assessment Exercise, should be able to attract the best Welsh students.

The success of the programme has been confirmed recently with the appointment of Dr Hopwood, previously in a research post, to a full lecturership. There are also plans to create a masters course in Welsh-based translation.

Professor Williams sees this as a logical progression for some of the students coming out of the joint honours programme: "They are gifted, literate, hard working students with a serious interest in poetry and other literature."

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