Self-Access Centre - Welsh

Welcome to the Self-Access Centre materials database. Here you can find out about the Welsh materials available in the SAC.

If you are interested in studying Welsh at UCL, please click here.

  • Flag of Wales

The SAC is here to provide you with opportunities to study Welsh outside class time. You may feel extra study is necessary in order to achieve the exam score you want, or you may just enjoy studying Welsh. Either way, the SAC could be useful for you.

If you have a very clear idea of what you need to study in Welsh, use the menu to look for the study topics which are of importance to you. If you need advice and guidance on what to study, you should talk to your class tutor, who will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations on what to study.

Please have a look at the External Language Resources page for links to pages where you can practice your Welsh. You can find online Welsh TV there, listen to Welsh radio, use online dictionaries and find more information about the Welsh language and the Welsh government.

What is Welsh?

Welsh is a language completely separate from English. A member of the Celtic family of languages, it is the oldest spoken language in Great Britain, and one of the oldest spoken languages in Europe (competing for the title with Irish and Basque), and its older form being the language that gave us many place names across the island, including London, Thames, Dover, and Kent.

  • Bilingual Welsh-English sign

It is still a community language spoken in Wales, used in all aspects of life in Wales, including government, media, music, and education, as well as being the everyday language in towns, villages, and communities throughout Wales. It is the second most spoken language in the United Kingdom, and along with English and Scottish Gaelic, an official language of the United Kingdom, with increasing use and recognition in the European Union, too.

It was used as a code language in the First World War.

J R R Tolkien was so inspired by Welsh, he based his language, Elvish, on Welsh, and once remarked that Welsh "is the senior language of the men of Britain" in an address at Oxford University.

It has had an influence on English, not just on the dialect of English spoken in Wales, but on the standard language spoken throughout the world, with grammatical features like tag questions (e.g. It's raining, isn't it?), and words like penguin, corgi, and Tudor coming from Welsh. Other cultural influences to have originated in Wales include trick or treating at Hallowe'en, male voice choirs, and eisteddfodau (literary and musical competitions that take place in many places throughout the Anglo-American world).

The National Eisteddfod of Wales is the largest cultural and folk event in Europe, with music, singing, free-verse, and poetry competitions happening over several days.

Many influential people speak, or have spoken Welsh, including Elizabeth I, David Lloyd-George, Dylan Thomas, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, Ioan Gruffudd, Rhys Ifans, and Huw Edwards.

Welsh is spoken by many immigrant families in England, Canada, the United States, and Australia. It is also a community language, used as the everyday language and medium of education in villages in the Patagonia region of Argentina.

Why learn Welsh?

Welsh is a little-known but integral part of British culture, identity, and heritage. Learning Welsh can give increased insight into the history, communities, and divisions that form Great Britain's society.

It has an increasing importance in the UK and EU, therefore there is more call for Welsh, and more opportunities for employment for those who speak Welsh. The Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Welsh Language Measure 2011 mean that all the public sector and all organisations that provide a customer service in Wales must provide a Welsh-language service.

  • St. David Day Celebrations

Career opportunities include:

  • Media (there is a Welsh-language television channel and several Welsh-language radio stations. Films are sometimes made in Welsh, with one film 'Hedd Wyn' being nominated for an Oscar in 1994.)
  • Journalism
  • Translation
  • Education
  • Civil Service
  • Legal Profession
  • Charities

This does not mean careers in Wales only, but also in London. The UK government must provide Welsh-language services, the legal profession in England and Wales is also based in London, and many companies that provide a customer service in Wales have their headquarters in London, including the BBC. There are also Welsh-centred organisations, which operate in London, such as the Wales Office, London Welsh Centre, and the London Welsh School.

As the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles attended Welsh lessons. Prince William in preparation for his future as Prince of Wales, is also known to have taken classes of Welsh. There are policies in place to ensure that every Prince of Wales in the future speaks Welsh, which could mean that the future Monarchs of the United Kingdom will be fluent Welsh-speakers, in an attempt to represent British Royal heritage.

Learning any language is good for making friends, brain training, and seeing and learning the world from a new perspective.

Why Welsh at UCL?

  • Railway station platform sign, for Europe's longest place name

UCL is already a globally-recognised provider of excellence in education, and experienced in language teaching, with a wide range of languages and linguistics courses.

UCL has identified the increasing status of Welsh, and the need for intensive and grammar courses. Welsh at UCL will offer you:

  • Conversation subjects
  • Topical discussions
  • Pronunciation
  • Grammar
  • Spoken Welsh
  • Formal written Welsh
  • Intensive training
  • Listening and reading
  • Welsh language culture and mannerisms
  • Social events

We currently offer Beginner's and Intermediate Welsh at UCL. Here is a description of what each course entails:

  • 'Hywel the Good', King of Wales introduced codified laws and made peace with England

Beginner's Welsh

Introduction to pronunciation
Introduction to grammar
Introduction to Welsh language culture and mannerisms
Learn to talk about yourself and others
Conversation topics, such as holidays
Introduction to formal Welsh
Introduction to Northern and Southern spoken Welsh
Some basic topical discussions / learning to talk about the world, e.g. people's living preferences - flat or house?

Intermediate Welsh

Work on your pronunciation, with techniques to make reading easier and make you sound more Welsh
Intensive grammar
Learn to converse in more depth
Structured speaking and conversation exercises
Guide to writing formal Welsh
Distinguishing "pure" Welsh from "Anglicisms"
Distinguishing Northern and Southern Welsh
Topical discussions / Describing and debating the world, e.g. the environment

Image credits: Wikipedia