Strategic bilingualism: identifying optimal context for Welsh as a second language in the curriculum

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: School of Arts and Humanities


The Welsh Government's review of Welsh Second Language at Key Stages 3 and 4 ("One Language for All", 2013) includes the recommendation (15):

" ... develop best practice guidance on using incidental Welsh in school activities and using Welsh across the curriculum based on the pilot project to extend the use of Welsh as a medium of instruction in English-medium primary schools; and - set targets to increase the use of Welsh-medium learning across the curriculum..."

The report highlights evidence from teachers that learners need as much daily exposure as possible to the language in order to maximise their achievements in it. This PhD will investigate approaches to embedding Welsh language use strategically and effectively in selected areas of the KS 3 and 4 curriculum. The studentship will entail active collaboration with the Welsh Government, including short periods of internship in the Department of Education. This will enable the research work to be clearly informed by policy, and will help to shape and define the potential impact of project findings.

The principle research questions in the project will be:

1 What are the most efficient and practical strategies for embedding exposure to and use of Welsh across the school curriculum at key stages 3 and 4 in order to maximise contact with the language?
2 How can we measure the success of these strategies?
3 What are the implications of expanding the use of the Welsh language within the curriculum for staff training and professional development?
It is anticipated that these questions will be investigated by:

i Identifying those areas of the curriculum which may be best suited to delivering an increase in the use of Welsh and comparison with strategies in other bilingual language communities e.g. the Basque Country / Canada and language teaching methodologies e.g. such as CLIL (Content and language integrated learning) / CBI (Content based instruction).
ii Designing a scheme for increasing exposure to Welsh in the curriculum area identified in (i). The design will consider vocabulary core to the target subject (informed by equivalent Welsh medium lessons), conditions necessary for incidental learning (informed by Second Language Acquisition literature) and potential impact on curricular objectives (informed by qualitative data from stakeholder engagement).
iii Selecting appropriate assessment and evaluation tools for measuring the effectiveness of the planned intervention in terms of Welsh language proficiency, motivation and attitudes towards learning and using the language (as well as the subject area chosen), engagement with and awareness of the bilingual environment.
iv Trialling the method in a low-stakes setting (e.g. after school club) and evaluating outcomes for learner experience and achievements, and teacher skills training/development, using tools outlined in (iii).


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2096320 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2018 28/03/2025 Catrin Anwen Jenkins