As he launched the Welsh Government’s new five-year Welsh Language Strategy A living language: a language for living, the Minister said:
“We need to breathe new life into the language. The Welsh government should lead the way, intervening with the largest players in the market to ensure a presence for Welsh on all platforms, in every aspect of our lives.”
“The Welsh language is an important and defining characteristic of Wales, and it belongs to all the people of Wales – Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers alike. In implementing this strategy, I want to invite new voices to help us with the challenging task of increasing the use of Welsh in the community.”
Mr Andrews will be joined by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, and Welsh rugby stars, Robin McBryde and Rhys Priestland, when he launches the strategy today at the WRU Centre of Excellence.
Keen rugby players from Ysgol Gymraeg Melin Gruffydd will enjoy a coaching session through the medium of Welsh with the rugby stars.
First Minister, Carwyn Jones, said:
“We need to provide more opportunities for children and young people to use the Welsh language outside school.
“A consultation by the Urdd found that children and young people were eager to see more Welsh-medium activities, and that sporting activities were most popular, followed by dance, drama art and outdoor activities. Through this strategy we will continue support activities like these, but most importantly we will consult with them to ensure we are delivering what they want.”
Wales forwards coach, Robin McBryde, added:
“I’ve been very lucky in my playing and coaching career in that all the rugby environments I’ve been involved in have been Welsh speaking in varying degrees.
“From Mold and Menai Bridge in North Wales to Swansea, Llanelli, the Scarlets and now with the Welsh national team there have always been Welsh speakers and that extends to my children as well, who are regulars at Tumble rugby club. The Welsh language has been a prominent part of the clubs I’ve been involved with and those clubs have also always been central points in any of the communities I have lived.
“Welsh has always existed in the more informal areas of my life, at home or on visits to your local shop and post office, but the one place where I have always been able to rely on the familiarity of my native tongue is in my local rugby or sports club.
“It may have been mixed in with different amounts of English based on the geography of the relevant area, but the Welsh language has always been there to make me feel at home in and long may that continue.”
One of the significant changes from the draft strategy originally published in 2010 is the additional focus on technology and new media.
“The traditional broadcast media and emerging new digital media will be crucial to the future of the language. New developments in media, technology and digital content need to be available in Welsh if the language is to be seen as a modern and living language,” said Mr Andrews.
“Our ambition and expectation is that Welsh speakers should be able to conduct their lives electronically. Some of the most exciting developments in Welsh materials online have been created by Welsh speakers themselves. We must harness that energy and commitment and give space to new voices to ensure this continues.”
To that end, a group will be set-up to advise the Welsh Government on how they can support this and a new fund will be created to support the development of new Welsh medium software and digital interfaces.
The strategy sets out six areas for action. They are:
- to encourage and support the use of the Welsh language within families.
- to increase the provision of Welsh medium activities for children and young people and to increase their awareness of the value of the language;
- to strengthen the position of the Welsh language in the community;
- to increase opportunities for people to use Welsh in the workplace;
- to improve Welsh language services to citizens; and
- to strengthen the infrastructure, including technology and media, for the language.
Mr Andrews said the future development and survival of the language will need fresh ideas and must be owned by everyone in Wales.