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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 07:11 GMT
Uni place for USA Welsh learner
Chris Cope and his wife Rachel
Chris Cope admits he and Rachel are stepping into the unknown
An American has won a place to study Welsh at Cardiff University after learning the language on a BBC website.

Chris Cope, 30, who lives in Minnesota, had no connections with Wales, but took up the challenge after seeing the Learn Welsh website in 2000.

The copy editor for American TV and radio practised his language skills by writing a daily online blog in Welsh.

Mr Cope, who has visited Wales only six times for no longer than a week, will move to Cardiff in July.

"It all started when I was playing around on the internet in October 2000 and came across the BBC languages website and thought it would be fun to try Welsh," he explained.

She's been watching repeats of EastEnders, but I keep telling her that the accent in Wales is a lot different!
Chris Cope on his wife Rachel

"I was able to set up my own learning schedule through the audio files and work sheets and from there it led to reading novels and listening to BBC Radio Cymru.

"My friends weren't really surprised with me learning Welsh - one asked if it was to have a better understanding of Dylan Thomas.

"But I was once on a bus with a friend travelling through north Wales and there were some girls on the bus who were talking in Welsh about us.

"I joke to my friend now that the only reason I learned Welsh was so that no girls from Dolgellau could laugh at me again without me knowing."

BBC Wales Learn Welsh website
Chris Cope logged onto the BBC's Learn Welsh website

Mr Cope and his wife Rachel plan to move to Wales after gaining a place to study Welsh at degree level at Cardiff University.

"I used the website every day, that's how I learned Welsh - I would never have been accepted by Cardiff university without the help of the BBC," he said.

Understanding the accent

"I am a bit nervous because I'm not totally comfortable just yet with my own ability.

"But I'm thinking about entering the Welsh Learner of the Year competition and maybe I will one day achieve a PhD in Welsh and possibly write novels in Welsh.

"My wife is from a small desert town and is a little bit nervous about understanding the accent when we arrive there.

"So she's been watching repeats of EastEnders, but I keep telling her that the accent in Wales is a lot different!"

He admitted they were stepping into the unknown.

"I have to confess that I have a lot to learn about Wales. But Wales is in my heart," he said.

"I'm sure my wife and friends would say that I must be a bit bonkers, but I feel strongly that my future is in Wales," he added.



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