Once again this year, Assembly Members and staff will mark Shwmae/Su’mae Day with a week of activities. Everyone will be encouraged to start all conversations in Welsh with ‘Shwmae’ or ‘Su’mae’, and leaflets and stickers will be distributed throughout the building to raise awareness of the day.
Many of the activities will be aimed at the large number of learners in the organisation. Indeed, the Assembly is at the forefront of providing Welsh lessons in the workplace. There is a team of three internal tutors who provide lessons at all levels to Assembly Members and their staff and to Assembly Commission staff.
Be flexible for your staff and their needs
The team can offer flexibility in its provision: as well as offering formal lessons that follow the usual textbooks, it is also able to offer learners one-to-one sessions. Some of these sessions can focus on specific elements such as pronunciation or improving the skills of fluent Welsh speakers. There are dedicated sessions for entire services within the Assembly such as the security service or ICT service, with the sessions tailored to the specific needs of those services.
Make it fun and natural
The team also occasionally organises more informal events – for example, during Shwmae/Su’mae Day or around St David’s Day, a quiz, treasure hunt etc are arranged. The Assembly Choir has recently been formed, in part to offer learners the opportunity to enjoy using their Welsh.
The team utilises the ability of Welsh speakers in the organisation by appointing mentors for learners. Therefore, instead of having a formal lesson only once or twice a week, learners have the opportunity to practice their spoken Welsh skills in a less formal atmosphere.
In order to ensure that more conversations begin through the medium of Welsh throughout the year, we provide ‘iaith gwaith’ lanyards or special lanyards for learners that the Assembly produced some years ago.
The ultimate aim is to increase the capacity of the whole organisation to operate as a naturally bilingual organisation. Increasing the number of Welsh learners who can communicate bilingually is one way of achieving that goal.
Here are some of the things that we have been doing to encourage learners in the Assembly:
- producing laminated desk resources on different issues: general greetings and sayings; chairing meetings; answering the phone;
- using other Welsh speakers in the organisation to become mentors for learners;
- organising informal events such as ‘coffee and chat’;
- holding taster sessions for beginners on specific topics such as general greetings or the national anthem;
- awareness raising events such as exhibitions during St David’s Day, Shwmae Day or St Dwynwen’s Day;
- asking staff to say ‘Shwmae’ to coincide with Shwmae/Su’mae Day.