Chepstow girl, Ellen Carter, is from a non-Welsh speaking household. But this hasn’t stopped her learning the language fluently and studying the subject at undergraduate and postgraduate level in Cardiff University.
We talked to her about her experiences as a Welsh medium student.
When did you start to learn Welsh?
We had to study some Welsh in school, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to study the subject at GCSE and A level. Having inspiring Welsh teachers definitely helped too. During my A levels, I spent some time in Nant Gwrtheyrn Welsh language centre. I had the opportunity to practice my language skills there and hear other Welsh dialects which I really enjoyed.
Why did you choose to study at Cardiff University?
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study in University, but because I loved learning Welsh so much, I attended open days in Cardiff University’s School of Welsh. I felt at home from day one –and I still haven’t left the place!
How much support is provided for Welsh medium students?
In my opinion there’s a lot of support for Welsh medium students in the university. The School of Welsh is very welcoming and as it’s a small School, everyone knows everyone, so it’s a friendly environment.
The Students' Union has made an effort to represent Welsh speaking students. There are Welsh language student societies such as the Gym Gym and Cymdeithas Iolo so students can socialise through the medium of Welsh.
There’s also a lot of support for Welsh learners –the successful Welsh for All scheme is going from strength to strength. Students from across the University can learn Welsh for free and socialise with Welsh speaking students.
The University arranges work experience opportunities for Welsh medium students in Cardiff. I had a week of work experience in the archives in the in St Fagans National Museum of History, which was fantastic.
How has studying Welsh helped your career?
I studied the ‘Professional Translation’ module in the last year of my BA degree, supervised by Professor Sioned Davies. At the end of the year I was lucky enough to get an internship in the University’s Translation Unit.
I enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot during my time there. Then, when I started my MA, I was offered a part time job back in the Unit, which I could do alongside my studies. This experience also helped me get a job as an Assistant Translator at the National Museum of Wales.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in translation?
I’m lucky to work in wonderful places like the National Museum and St Fagans Museum. Some people may think that translating other people's work can be restrictive but I enjoy the challenge. I like that you can still be creative when translating so the work isn’t an obvious translation of the English version.
What are the best things about Cardiff as a city?
I love the Old Library; it’s great that there’s a place in the heart of the city to socialise in Welsh. The School of Welsh has held several social events there.
Also, events such as Tafwyl, the annual Welsh language Festival, are an excellent opportunity to celebrate and promote the Welsh language and the city. I’m looking forward to next year because the National Eisteddfod will be back in Cardiff.
What advice would you give a prospective Welsh medium student?
Enjoy! Choose a course that you love. I didn’t know what career I wanted to pursue when I started University but I’ve found my path.
After graduating, I won a University scholarship to study a Master’s degree and I’ve secured my ideal job. Take advantage of every opportunity – to speak Welsh, to learn something new, to go to a different place.
I’ve had so many excellent opportunities thanks to the School of Welsh and Cardiff University over the past 4 years, which have all lead to me securing a permanent role.