One of the Celtic languages, Welsh is spoken by a community of approximately 659,000 people, mainly in the country of Wales. In addition, estimates suggest that 1.5 million people in Wales understand some Welsh. Welsh is currently taught to all children in schools in Wales, either as a first or second language. There are also around 500 schools that teach mainly or exclusively in the Welsh language. If you are a family planning to relocate from the United States to Wales, your children will have a distinct advantage if they learn some Welsh in advance. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help children learn to speak Welsh.
Speak to your child in Welsh. If you are not fluent in Welsh yourself, consider signing up for some adult classes and acquiring at least a basic vocabulary. Children respond well to routine, so speak in Welsh to your child at a set time each day or while doing a set activity. Encourage your child to learn the Welsh names for basic concepts such as colours, animals and family members.
Use online games to make learning fun. The BBC Cymru website has a selection of games that teach children how to count and tell the time in Welsh. The games also reinforce vocabulary for the colours and farmyard animals. Play the games together with your child, repeating new vocabulary aloud and encouraging him to copy you. Reward him when he gets the answers correct in Welsh, but don't be too hard on him if he struggles initially.
Listen to Welsh language songs with your child. Download Welsh songs from the Internet, for example by using the website of Twf Cymru, an organisation that supports parents raising bilingual children in Wales. Learn the words to the songs yourself and encourage your child to sing along with them as soon as she is old enough. This is an enjoyable way for her to practice the Welsh she has learnt.
Read stories to your child in Welsh. Websites such as Siop Mabon a Mabli offer a range of children's books written in the Welsh language, including many popular children's favourites. Reading to your child in Welsh will improve his Welsh comprehension skills, as well as help him to absorb new vocabulary from the stories. Most important, it should ensure he associates Welsh with fun activities and make him keen to learn more so that he can understand new stories.