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e-Petition: New Research Need for School Welsh Language Teaching & Learning

open quote / dyfyniad agored

We the undersigned call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to instigate a truly independent review of Professor Sioned Davies’ recommendations in her 2014 Report on the role of the Welsh language in schools to assess the risks they have for children's future education, because there is evidence that vital researched evidence was ignored in her research and report.

Language is the fundamental medium of all learning. New languages cannot be instantly learnt. Research illustrates that there will be around a five-year learning deficit before native English-speaking children will be able to learn at the efficiency of Welsh native speaking children in Welsh medium school. This applies to an average child. Working memory is the gateway to all learning. Language fluency opens it wider. There is a seven-year difference in children’s working memory capacity at the age of seven. Unless children can develop sufficient Welsh language fluency, then they will not be able to reach their full learning potential, which it is children’s legal human right to achieve in Wales. There is no convincing evidence that the full cross-curricula implications of Professor Davies’ proposals were considered in her research, such as the effects of her recommendations of developing children’s English language literacy and their mathematical skills. She was not qualified to consider these issues.

The Oxford Educational Dictionary states that “Although like most other professions, teaching requires a lengthy period of training and adherence to a professional code of conduct, many would argue that teachers are not normally accorded the parity of status with the other professions, such as law and medicine.” A university academic would not have had access to the corporate intelligence and experience that exists in the registered qualified teaching profession.
Although the issue of whether children should learn through the medium of Welsh is a very emotive political issue, the language that children learn through is fundamental to their successful learning, and the issue is a learning, educational one.
What those who are making political demands that all children should learn through the medium of Welsh fail to understand is that children go to school to be educated, not to develop a fluent Welsh language capability.
Working memory is the gateway to learning. Language fluency opens it wider. There is a range of 4 to 11 of the working memory of children at the age 7. Most children’s working memory, which is genetically fixed, is around average. Learning a new language and learning through it will be difficult for children with generally low than average working memory.
Professor John Sweller, who is an educational psychologist, is a world authority on cognitive overload. He warns of the risks of attempting to learn a language and subject content simultaneously. Unless children develop the same level of fluency in their new language as their native one, then they will not be learning at their optimum learning efficiency.
The empirical research that is needed should be undertaken by suitably qualified educationalists who will investigate what is being established about language learning cognitively and who will apply a cross-curricula perspective to their research. They should recruit informed advice from practising teachers.

close quote / dyfyniad agos


Petition details

Petition Status: Inadmissible
Petition Start Date: 21/12/2017
Open until midday on: 03/05/2018


Petition Signatories

Total signatures: 13

Name Constituency or Area of residence Date
Robert Colin Edwards Cardiff West 15/04/2018
Anonymous Arfon 21/03/2018
Anonymous Ynys Mon 21/03/2018
Anonymous Ynys Mon 21/03/2018
Rachel Bull Swansea West 14/02/2018
Ani Elin Hoskins Canol Caerdydd 05/02/2018
Anonymous Ynys Mon 01/01/2018
Barry Phillips Arfon 28/12/2017
Anonymous Monmouth 28/12/2017
Jacques Protic Ynys Mon 28/12/2017
Anonymous Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney 28/12/2017
Joe Stoner Arfon 27/12/2017
John R Walker Arfon 27/12/2017

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