The Welsh Government has announced that free Welsh lessons will be made available to anyone between 16 to 25 years old and to all education practitioners.
From September, 18 to 25 year olds will be able to enrol free-of-charge on courses with the National Centre for Learning Welsh. Most courses are currently held online in virtual classrooms, using Zoom or Teams, with in-person courses also available.
Learners will be able to access courses tailored to their own level of Welsh, from taster and entry courses through to advanced and proficiency levels. 18 to 25 year olds will not be asked to pay when registering.
A new e-learning resource will also be piloted for 16 to 18 year olds who attend school, college or an apprenticeship scheme, to improve their oral Welsh skills. The resource will be provided by Say Something in Welsh and the National Centre for Learning Welsh from September. It will complement a wider package of training for 16 to 18 year olds, whether they are in education or not.
All teachers, head teachers and teaching assistants will also be able to access free Welsh lessons, as part of Welsh Government efforts to strengthen the teaching of Welsh in the new Curriculum and increase the number of practitioners who can teach in Welsh.
The National Centre for Learning Welsh launched a successful online taster course for teachers and leaders in February 2020, with around 2,800 registrations. Other courses available will include the well-established Sabbatical Scheme for school practitioners. A new digital portal will also be developed by the summer to support the education workforce to choose the course that best suits their needs.
The Welsh Government has committed to provide free Welsh language learning for all 16 to 25 year olds in its Co-Operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said:
I want everyone to have the opportunity to learn Welsh. Not everyone has the chance to learn Welsh from a young age and many of us decide after we've left school-age education that we'd like to speak Welsh more often. It's important we increase the opportunities to learn our language so more people can use Welsh in their daily lives.
Many young adults may decide they want to start learning Welsh, build on their existing ability or simply want to increase their confidence so they can use Welsh more, whether in the workplace, with friends or going about their day-to-day lives in their local community.
We also want to increase the number of learners in Welsh-medium education and training. There is therefore an increasing need for more Welsh-speaking educators, so I want to make it as easy as possible for them to have access to Welsh courses for free.
Welsh belongs to us all. This is another step towards giving a chance to everyone to speak Welsh and help us reach our goal of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
Cefin Campbell MS, Designated Member, said:
Everyone should have the right in our country to learn, work and live their lives in Welsh, the language belongs to us all. The announcement today is another step forward as we plan for a million Welsh speakers and beyond.
By offering all 16 to 25 year olds free Welsh lessons, we are removing another barrier to accessing the language, and all the many benefits it brings to people's lives.
Providing easy to access free lessons is a small but crucial contribution in our efforts to expand Welsh language citizenship to everyone. I hope that very many people will benefit from this new policy forged in the co-operative Welsh spirit. Together, we are making a difference.