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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Welsh needed outside school walls
Owain and Michelle Davies with Ffion and Aron
The Davies family are among a minority who speak Welsh at home
More young people need to speak Welsh outside school to help the language's future, a report has warned.

The Welsh Language Board has delivered its "most comprehensive presentation ever" into the future of Welsh at the national eisteddfod in Swansea.

Chief executive Meirion Prys Jones wants to ensure Welsh speakers can communicate fluently at work and home.

The research found that although the number of speakers has increased, the number who are fluent has decreased.

It also shows an almost 15% drop in the number of Welsh-speaking households.

More opportunities to help people who wish to speak Welsh are being explored by the board.

It's great to see the language having the profile that Glyn's giving it
Meirion Prys Jones, Welsh Language Board

Mr Jones told BBC Wales: "It's great that the number of children speaking Welsh is increasing, but we are concerned that there is less Welsh being used at home.

"We want to see many more parents transferring the language to their children, but also parents who send their children to Welsh-medium education actually learning Welsh themselves so they can help and support their children as well."

He was pleased Welsh was being spoken on Big Brother by Welsh contestants Glyn Wise and Imogen Thomas, adding: "It's great to see the language having the profile that Glyn's giving it.

Janet and Vivien Williams with Steffan and Amber
Grandmother Janet Williams would like more Welsh classes for parents

The board said research revealed 21.7% of those aged three and over could speak Welsh compared to 20.8% in the 2001 census.

But although Welsh-medium education is growing, there is concern that frequently the language is not the main one used in pupils' homes.

On the maes (field) of the eisteddfod festival Vivien Williams, from Llanelli, who speaks Welsh to his grandchildren, said when one parent is English and the other Welsh, the home language invariably becomes English.

His wife Janet added that their daughter-in-law had taken classes, and is now able to speak Welsh to her one-year-old son, Steffan.

She said more Welsh classes for parents would be a "good thing".

2004 survey results
Eisteddfod maes
57% (315,000) of Welsh speakers considered themselves fluent in Welsh
Of those who could speak Welsh, 62% spoke Welsh daily.
88% of fluent speakers said that they spoke Welsh daily.
Welsh was the language of their most recent conversation in the case of 58% of fluent speakers
Source: Welsh Language Board

Owain and Michelle Davies, from Burry Port, said their household was Welsh speaking, although Mrs Davies' first language is English.

The couple said they made an effort to speak Welsh to their children Ffion and Aron and were helped by the children's school.

Linda Roberts, from Cardiff, who is learning Welsh said there was a lot of support for English speaking parents, including subtitles on television programmes.

She said more "specifically Welsh" events in local areas would encourage people to speak the language.

Later on Tuesday, Plaid Cymru launched its recommendations for the future of the language.

The party's range of proposals included a new Welsh Language Act; a Welsh language commissioner and social and educational measures which it would introduce if it gained power in the national assembly.

The Liberal Democrats also want a commissioner while Welsh Conservatives are looking at how the Irish language commissioner works.

Labour, however, opposes new legislation and a language commissioner, and wants to merge the Welsh Language Board with the assembly government.

Labour's proposals would see the creation of a regulator known as dyfarnydd to make sure organisations follow the rules on the Welsh language.




SEE ALSO
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29 May 06 |  Mid Wales

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