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Lecturer says ‘diolch’ with new online tool for Welsh learners

19 October 2021

A Brazilian lecturer has developed a free online tool for Welsh language learners to say thank you for the help they gave him during his application for British citizenship.

Dr Rodolfo Piskorski, who teaches Portuguese at the School of Modern Languages, has lived in Wales since 2013 after moving to Cardiff to study a doctorate. Since then, Dr Piskorski has embraced life in the capital, learning Welsh and opting to take his British citizenship exam through the medium of Welsh. As he was the first person to do this, Dr Piskorski’s decision attracted media interest and many donations from well-wishers who helped to pay his British citizenship fees.

Wishing to give something back to the community that supported him so generously, Dr Piskorski has developed a new online learning tool called hir-iaith Hi-lite. The app allows users to analyse words in context and to learn their use. It helps Welsh learners understand not only what individual words mean, but also their grammatical function in sentences, their different forms, and why their form changes.

Speaking about hir-iaith Hi-lite, Dr Piskorski said, “As a Welsh learner myself, I often read news items and articles online to practice and improve my Welsh and I have to rely on online translations to better understand sentences. As I’m a language tutor, I know that online translations do not really improve your language skills: they just give the ‘answer’. You’re left none the wiser as to why the sentence was written that way.”

The tool has been developed in dialogue with the community with Dr Piskorski using Welsh speakers and learners as volunteers to test and feedback before launch.

Features of Hi-lite include:

  • colour-coded icons for grammatical categories,
  • grammatical information for words such as tense, grammatical person, gender etc,
  • the ability to detect Welsh mutations in selected sentences and provide the grammatical rule governing each mutation,
  • a Welsh dictionary database, with almost 500 thousand entries. The dictionary includes conjugated forms of verbs and mutated forms of words,
  • the ability to save individual words to a vocabulary list. This list can be exported and opened on a different device or on the web version of hir-iaith Hi-lite.

Further information about hir-iaith Hi-Lite can be found on the hir-iaith Hi Lite website or on YouTube.

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