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Singing star tackles his native tongue

6 July 2017

A former contestant on The Voice UK has joined Cardiff University’s intensive Welsh-language Summer Course.

Welsh singer/songwriter Ragsy (real name Gary Ryland), who hails from Aberdare, competed in the second series of The Voice UK (on BBC One), where he was mentored by Welsh icon, Sir Tom Jones. He started classes on Monday 3 July 2017.

The Welsh-language Summer Courses deliver beginners, intermediate and advanced level tuition for individuals looking to learn Welsh or those returning to the language and wanting to brush up their skills.

The courses are led by expert tutors working at Cardiff University’s School of Welsh and delivered on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

Ragsy will complete an intensive Beginners Course and is excited about what lies ahead: “I’m looking forward to learning this beautiful language with other like-minded, eager people, to help achieve my personal ambition to converse fully in my native tongue.

“Every time I hear someone speaking Welsh, I feel a huge sense of pride that this beautiful, rhythmical, inquisitive and almost magical language is ours. This has always been followed closely by a sense of shame that I, as a proud Welshman, do not understand and cannot speak the language of my homeland.”

Although nervous about embarking on the intensive language course, Ragsy equates this to the nerves you experience walking out on stage to perform. He says: “You are always on edge when embarking on new adventures and there’s always a fear of not getting something right.”

Ragsy was inspired to take on the Summer Course and continue his Welsh-language journey after achieving his goal of recording a Welsh-language single. The song, Fy hafan i, was recorded with the help of Andrew TOMMO Thomas and Terwyn Davies and released on St David’s Day in 2016.

The Summer Course is Ragsy’s opportunity to take that experience forward and fully embrace the language. He already has his favourite words which include awyddus, bendigedig, cwtch and cariad, but is eager to learn more and engage in a full Welsh-language conversation.

Lowri Bunford-Jones, who manages the Welsh Courses for Adults programme at the School of Welsh, is pleased to welcome Ragsy, and all other participants, to this year’s Intensive Summer Course. She said: “While every situation is unique, and everyone’s reasons for learning Welsh are specific to their circumstances, some common themes emerge, namely a desire to converse in their native tongue, to embrace Welsh heritage and culture, and a recognition that the Welsh-language is growing in importance in Wales’ social and professional spheres.

“Ragsy’s nerves are understandable but the learning environment is supportive and collegiate and all of our tutors are fully invested in helping learners achieve their language ambitions. We are looking forward to a fun-filled summer, extending a warm croeso to all, and to hearing Ragsy’s first Welsh-language album in the future!”

Cardiff University’s School of Welsh is responsible for delivering a range of courses for adults all over Cardiff on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

The School has a proud history and long experience in providing opportunities for individuals within the local community to learn Welsh and learn about Welsh culture. The intensive summer courses complement existing provision (outside of traditional undergraduate and postgraduate programmes) which includes Welsh for All (a programme free of charge for Cardiff University students) and the National Welsh Language Sabbatical Scheme (for teachers and teaching assistants), delivered on behalf of the Welsh Government.

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Find out more about Welsh for Adults and the courses available.