Following a Call for Evidence, three Edge Hill University students are helping shape policy on minority languages, having submitted their findings to a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Inquiry.
Max Tinkler, Anthony Walker and Sean McEvoy conducted research specifically looking at Welsh, including interviewing a native Welsh speaker to better understand first-hand experience of using the language, as well as the challenges it faces.
And they made recommendations to protect the language including greater support from public sector organisations, Welsh-medium media aimed specifically at young people, and encouragement of using Welsh in the workplace.
Max Tinkler, BA (Hons) History & Politics student, said: “Upon researching the Welsh language we came to realise how neglected it has become.
“Despite the recent efforts of the Welsh government, statistics indicate that the number of native Welsh speakers has gradually declined over the past 10 years.
“This issue became especially alarming when we interviewed a native Welsh speaker who professed her concerns about the loss of the cultural heritage as a consequence of the decline of the spoken language.
“When conducting our research, we understood the significance of the language as a staple of the Welsh identity which is currently at risk, which influenced our verdict.
“After assessing the costs and benefits, we ultimately concluded that the government should invest further in the promotion of languages in order to preserve Welsh culture but also to further the effort to diversify Britain.”
Anthony Walker, BSc (Hons) Professional Policing student, added: “This report highlights the need to improve the disparity of Welsh speakers in the North of Wales (the highest) and the South of Wales (the lowest), by increasing the number of Welsh speaking employees in public sector organisations and include Welsh into the secondary school curriculum.”
The most recent UK census found a decline in the number of people who speak Welsh as a first language – with 538,300 people compared to 562,000 in 2011.
The Senedd has highlighted one of their future goals is to increase the number of Welsh speakers within the country to one million by 2050.
This has led to initiatives and related projects to both support and increase the number of Welsh speakers within Wales.
The students cited lessons to be learned in Norway where the government passed legislation to help protect and support the Sami languages, spoken by between 20,000-25,000 people across Finland, Norway, Sweden and parts of Russia, in the 1990s.
“The work the students did on this submission gave them valuable experience and is part of our approach to provide as much real-world experience as possible.
“Students really gain from looking into a topic and learning how the research they have done could influence policy is an important lesson which will inform their future work. There is no substitute for this.
“Our Politics Lab will continue actively seeking-out opportunities for students to find ways to contribute to real-world politics and policy-making.”Paula Keaveney, Programme Lead in Politics
June 5, 2023