Wales First Minister Calls For Half a Million New Welsh Speakers

In a surprise announcement, Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for the doubling of the number of Welsh speakers by the year 2050.  An ambitious goal given the governments on-going hesitation in introducing Welsh medium educational reforms.  The Welsh Government's Minister for the Welsh Language, Alun Davies, describes the statement by Jones as  "deliberately ambitious".  Plaid Cymru characterized the First Minister's statement as " another superficial stunt".

Placing the statements made by the first Minister into context is not an easy task. Transceltic reported in April 2014 that the Welsh government’s response to issues raised in two separate independent reports on the future of the Welsh tongue were attacked by the Welsh Language Society (Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg) and the Party Of Wales (Plaid Cymru). At the time Robin Farrar, Chair of the Welsh Language Society, characterized the government’s response to the findings of two separate commissions as a “complete farce”, stating: “...the Welsh Government continue to delay and refuse to make important changes.  They have chosen to ignore or reject any recommendations that would make a real difference …Carwyn Jones continues to delay and ignore the fundamental changes – needed – it’s high time he took the Welsh language seriously.”  Plaid Cymru Welsh Language spokesman Simon Thomas also attacked Jones at the time saying he was deeply disappointed by the insignificant response by Jones to the issues raised in the reports.  

Whatever the motives or sincerity of the First Ministers' call for doubling the number of Welsh speakers in 34 years, his words are encouraging to those who seek to restore the Welsh tongue to its proper place.

According to the BBC,  Government  Ministers gathered this week at the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, where Jones made is statement, cited a growing demand for Welsh-medium education as a reason to be positive. 

Discussion points laid down at the National Eisteddford during the First Ministers' visit include:

  • Planning - how to make the Welsh language part of every aspect of life
  • Everyday life - encourage people to use Welsh and respect those who speak it
  • Education - how to introduce people to Welsh in school, college and adult learning
  • People - passing the language on to children and using it in the workplace
  • Support - through dictionaries and digital tools and Welsh language media
  • Rights - ensure laws promoting the official status and use of Welsh remain effective

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