If you’d like your child to speak Welsh, then there’s plenty of support available at an early age.
Ti a Fi ac Amser Tyfu
There are over 500 Ti a Fi parent and baby groups in villages and towns across Wales. Babies and toddlers up to two years of age get a chance to play together, listen to stories and sing Welsh songs.
Both Welsh speakers and non Welsh speakers are warmly welcomed and it’s a great place to make new friends – for both grown-ups and children. Mudiad Meithrin, a key organisation supporting early learning in Wales, runs the Ti a Fi groups.
Mudiad Meithrin also organises playgroups – Cylchoedd Meithrin – for children age 2-4. It’s an important age for learning a language and children get an opportunity to learn through play. Parents don’t stay with their children at these groups.
Language and play
There are plenty of opportunities for babies and young children to strengthen their language skills by socialising and playing in Welsh.
The Mentrau Iaith or local Welsh language initiatives organise a range of activities through the medium of Welsh – whether swimming sessions for babies or keep fit buggy fitness classes for mums. There are Mentrau Iaith across Wales and their activities are all listed online.
There are several Welsh language music groups for young children. A number of Welsh language chapels and churches also hold informal play sessions for young children and their parents.
Storytelling sessions are held in libraries across Wales. It’s worth looking online to see what else is organised by your local authority.
A number of private nurseries offer child care either wholly through the medium of Welsh or bilingually. And child-minders registered on local authority websites will usually note if they’re Welsh speakers.
An easy way of introducing Welsh to the home is through the television. Sali Mali, Sam Tân and Pentre Bach are among the colourful programmes broadcast each day on Cyw S4C’s Welsh language service for children. There’s a Cyw website and several free Cyw apps and the Cbeebies website also has Welsh language games.
Books and apps
Welsh language book shops sell a range of Welsh language children’s books, CDs and DVDs and you can order online if you don’t have a shop near you. More and more Welsh language apps are available – including Cymraeg for Kids that helps to learn the alphabet, numbers and colours and the new Magi Ann app, which helps young children learn to read.
What’s important is that you speak as much Welsh as possible with your child – even if you aren’t fluent or feel unsure in your Welsh. If you want to strengthen your Welsh language skills, then a range of courses are available.