Our new “Adopt a Learner” program

What is the “Adopt a Learner” program?

“Adopt a Learner” is a brand new, totally free service we offer here at useyourwelsh.com, which aims to pair up keen learners with more experienced Welsh speakers in order to help the learner improve their Welsh and to develop friendships that primarily operate through the medium of Welsh.

The idea is to bring like minded people together and to give learners the vital experience of speaking to confident and more fluent Welsh speakers outside of a classroom environment.

The level of contact you have with your adopted partner is totally down to you, and your preferences that you select are used when matching you up with a partner. Some people may want to stck to email contact only, some people may be happy to chat over Skype, some people may prefer to chat over the phone, some people would be happy to meet for a coffee every so often. It really is up to you!

How does it work?

So the idea is that you can choose to register with the programme as either a “Welsh Learner” or a “Welsh Speaker”.

If you register as a “Welsh learner” you will be paired up with someone on our database who is more experienced with the language, this could be a first language speaker, a fluent Welsh speaker who has learnt the language but doesn’t speak it as a first language or someone who is still learning the language but is very confident and is likely to be further down the line than yourself.

If you register as a “Welsh speaker” you will be paired up with a Welsh learner who could come from any part of the world.

You will be asked a series of questions about what type of person you would like to be put in contact with, things like interests, hobbies, location (those learning the northern dialect may prefer to meet a fellow north Walian etc) and what methods you are happy for your Learner or Speaker to communicate with you through.

As a Learner, what should I expect from my partner?

Although you will be paired up with a more experienced Welsh speaker, their role is not to teach you to speak Welsh, their role will be to offer you a helping hand, offer you guidance and to offer you the opportunity to get chatting practice – whether that is over the phone, over Skype or in person.

To take part in the programme, you should be following your own plan of action to learn Welsh. This is not a replacement for an educational course and it would be unfair to expect someone to teach you in this manner.

As a Welsh speaker, what should I expect from my partner?

Your partner will be a Welsh learner, but they will be following their own plan of action for learning the language, this may be via night classes at a local college, using tools like Say Something in Welsh and Duolingo or using other methods available.

Your job is not to teach your partner how to speak Welsh, but rather just to be there as a source of guidance and practice every now and then. You can contact each other via email, phone, Skype or even meet for coffee if you so wish.

By doing so, you will be helping to further secure the future of the Welsh language and helping ensure that the language continues its recent growth.

When I sign up, what happens next?

When you sign up, your requests are entered into our system and we will pair you up with someone who meets your requirements as closely as possible. If you’ve requested that you’d rather be paired up with someone who likes football and is happy to chat weekly over Skype, we will try our very best to set you up with someone who likes football and doesn’t mind Skyping on a regular basis. If you request to be matched up with someone who likes chess and only wants to chat over email, then you will get matched up with someone who likes chess and only wants to chat over email.

How is this free?

It just is. I thought this would be a pretty good idea, and so I did it. It’s completely free. The only thing I’d ask is that I hope for this process to be quite cyclical. I.E If you sign up as a “Welsh learner” and you find the programme useful, I would be so appreciative if you’d then consider becoming a “Welsh speaker” later on down the line when you’ve become a confident Welsh speaker, this way the programme grows in a more “organic way” If this year’s “learners” become next years “speakers” then the programme will grow and help the Welsh language grow.

How fluent do I have to be to offer my services as a “Welsh speaker”?

The people joining this programme as learners are going to be relatively new and inexperienced learners, so even you still consider yourself a learner (albeit a quite advanced one), you are more than welcome to join the programme as someone offering their services as a helper. If you can get by on a day to day basis through the medium of Welsh without any trouble, you are a perfect candidate to fulfil the “Welsh speaker” side of the deal!

What are the rules?

The rules are pretty simple, just be nice and behave. Any reported instances of the following will result in instant dismissal and blacklisting from the programme.

  1. Offering of paid services – i.e A tutor joining the programme and then offering paid tutoring services to their “learner”. This programme is completely free and there are already channels offering this sort of thing, please use them.
  2. Abuse of any kind. Any reports of bad behaviour, timewasters and so forth will result in instant dismissal

What if I don’t like my partner or if my partners goes missing/loses contact?

This is a free programme, so if you and your partner don’t get on, or you lose contact with them – just come back here, enter your details, make sure everything is back up and date and we will quickly pair you back up with someone!

Your data

Your data will be held securely and in an encrypted format on our servers under current GDPR regulations. This data will only be stored until the point where you are connected with a partner. Once this process is complete your information will be deleted.

When a connection between partners is made, you will be informed of their email address. It will then be up to yourselves to initiate further contact.

How to sign up….

To sign up, please go to the “Adopt a Learner” page, or find the new option on our menu bar.

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Tiliau Hunan-wasanaeth / Self-service tills

NOTE: There is a Welsh language version of this article, which is suitable for learners on the Welsh language version of our website. To access this click “Newid i’r Cymraeg” in the menu above, or browse to www.defnyddiwcheichcymraeg.com 

Tesco1

Love them or hate them? Sometimes if you want to Use your Welsh! Self-service tills are the only option available to us as customers.

A lot of people struggle with the moral dilemna of using these machines because it has been pretty well documented that every self-service machine potentially replaces a human worker.

But where do you stand if these machines are your only option for using Welsh?

In my local smaller Tesco (the high street type that sells a smaller range of goods) there are unfortunately no Welsh speakers, despite being in a town that is still very Welsh-speaking. The situation is different in the bigger Tesco supermarket on the other side of town, where most days of the week I can still be served by a Welsh speaker, who are largely easily identifiable as they all wear the orange “Cymraeg” badges to show that they can speak Welsh.

As someone who wants to use Welsh at every single opportunity this presents a bit of a problem, as not only do I want to use Welsh in order to complete my transaction but I suppose there’s also a part of me that is also using the machine through the medium of Welsh in order to show someone higher up in the office at Tesco that there is a need for staff to speak the language in Welsh-speaking areas.

Maybe I’m fooling myself but I know somewhere, in an office in Luton or something, that someone is looking at the statistics for how many people actually chose the Welsh option on these tills.

You also get these little lovely moments when you hear someone else using one of these tills in Welsh and you exchange a knowing glance and a nod!

Tesco2

The thing is, I actually had a reason to raise a complaint with Tesco (yes I am THAT person!) last year. I took exception to something the machine said to me, I can’t even remember what it was that set me off but it was some kind of spelling mistake or similar.

So I raised my complaint and I was disappointed to find that according to Tesco Customer Services, I had been the first person to EVER complain about the quality of the spelling on these machines.

Which got me thinking… how many of us are actually using the Welsh option on these machines? I thought about asking a cheeky question back to Tesco Customer Services, “Can you tell me how many people actually use the Welsh language option at my local store in Aberystwyth?”

I was thinking “May as well ask it?”, after all they probably didn’t know or they’d ask me to complete a Subject Access Request or write to Head Office or something similar…

Actually, they came back to me within about ten minutes..

“Approximately 1 in every 5000 transactions on our Self-service machines are conducted in Welsh”

Which really deflated me. Now admittedly Aberystwyth isn’t the hotbed of Welsh language that it was 50/100 years ago, but there are still thousands and thousands of Welsh speakers here and I believe Ceredigion as a county still has a figure of 57% of people being able to speak the Welsh language.

So, why are so few of us using the Welsh language option on these machines?

Obviously the answer is that we’re all fluent in English as well, but does it run further than this? Is there anything these supermarkets can do to highlight the availability of these options? Take a look at the photo above? “Cymraeg” appears as a small button tucked away in the bottom right hand corner.

Comically in towns such as Caernarfon, where something like 85% of conversations happen through the medium of Welsh, English is still the default option and you’d be just as unlikely to find someone actually using the machines in Welsh.

So what is the answer? Should companies like Tesco, Asda and co look at making changes to these machines in order to better represent the areas in which they operate? Should these supermarkets be looking to employ more Welsh speakers in these areas?

Let us know your thoughts on the subject.