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Cardiff University’s School of Welsh has been celebrating the holiday season with a range of fun social activities and raising money in the process.

A quiz night was held for School staff and students on Monday 5 December, led by the Quizmaster, Keith Davies in The Lodge in Cardiff Student’s Union. This was an enjoyable evening full of laughter with almost 35 people competing. Due to the entry fee, raffle and other activities and donations, the School community has raised £130 for Save the Children.

In addition to the quiz night, the School has been collecting various materials and items for the city’s homeless people. The contributions included warm winter clothing, sleeping bags and toiletry items. The contributions amounted to a car boot full and were distributed to Cardiff’s homeless population by the congregation at Ararat Baptist Church in Whitchurch.

As the University prepares to close for the Christmas holidays, the School would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Cardiff University’s School of Welsh recently welcomed a returning American alumnus as part of its annual Research Seminar series.

The seminar, titled Truths and Transitions: Measuring Welsh Identity in the Blue Books of 1847, was delivered by Matthew C. Jones, an MA Welsh and Celtic Studies graduate who is now who is now a PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut, USA.

The seminar delved in to the reports of the Blue Books (a 19th century government directed public inquiry in to the state of education in Wales) and considered the depiction of Welsh identity and experience they promoted. An engaged audience attended the seminar to hear Matthew expand on his thesis and share insights from his latest research efforts.

Returning to the School to deliver his research seminar, at the invitation of Dr Siwan Rosser, lecturer and MA coordinator, Matt also shared his reflections on his time at the School. During his time at the School, and alongside his studies, Matt, who originally hails from Baltimore, began learning Welsh and achieved considerable success in a very short space of time. He said of his experience in Cardiff:

“My process of becoming a student at Cardiff University was somewhat unique compared to those of my friends, and I was very fortunate. While I did choose to apply to Cardiff, in many ways Cardiff also ‘chose’ me. I was already familiar with a number of the School of Welsh faculty through my own independent research and when they were warmly receptive of my ideas and proposals I knew that Cardiff was my only real option. I received full tuition remission through the Office of International Studies, which is what gave me the opportunity to see my research aspirations through.

“My year at the School of Welsh following the MA Welsh and Celtic Studies programme stands out among all of my years of graduate school (which began in 2011 and continues). Beyond access to archives I wouldn’t have been able to consult otherwise, and even beyond how accommodating the faculty were every step of the way (helping with my work, my Welsh, with finding work study in Aberystwyth, with even how I will most effectively apply my Welsh studies knowledge to my PhD), I think that what has had the most profound impact on my work and myself was how the Department acted on its stated goals for each of its students.

"Each of my peers was doing something different and had different interests (within the unifying theme of Welsh and Celtic Studies). In the classes we were able to benefit from insights in to each other’s work and areas of study, while in our individual meetings with faculty members we received personal guidance and insights into our specific interests and ultimately our research projects. In this way every student was encouraged to pursue their unique interests in the field(s) of Welsh and Celtic Studies while being fully engaged with other students’ varied interests. This was wholly different to anything else I had experienced before, and I felt that this approach worked fantastically to show us that there are numerous avenues through which to better understand and contribute to the academic field of Welsh and Celtic Studies, and that each of them can work together and be informed by each other.”

Professor Sioned Davies, Head of the School of Welsh, Cardiff University, and Dr Dylan Foster Evans have been meeting teachers from north, south and west Wales to present new digital resources.

Earlier this year, Professor Davies and Dr Foster Evans were commissioned by the WJEC to create new and bespoke resources for the Welsh (first language) A-Level curriculum. These resources have been created to support class based teaching, extend Year 13 pupils understanding of the texts they are studying and stimulate debate.

Professor Davies is a renowned expert on the Mabinogion and published a new English translation of the tales with Oxford University Press in 2007. The resource she has developed concentrates on the tale of Branwen, daughter of Llŷr. The tale’s background, oral and performance context and key themes and characters are discussed; also included are notes and comments on specific words and concepts in the text.

The resource on Dafydd ap Gwilym was prepared by Dr Foster Evans, an expert on Welsh poetry from the middle ages, with the support of Dr Llŷr Gwyn Lewis. Included is an introduction and annotated edition of three poems to support learning.

Professor Davies and Dr Foster Evans have been travelling around Wales presenting the resources to teachers in a series of workshops. The first workshop was held in Llandudno on Friday 11 November, the second on Wednesday 16 November in Carmarthen and the third on Monday 21 November at Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg in Pontypridd.

Alongside the workshops for teachers, the School of Welsh held Masterclasses for pupils from Year 12 and 13 giving them the opportunity to hear more about the resources and work directly with Professor Davies, Dr Dylan Foster Evans and other staff from the School. These events were free with the first held on Friday 4 November at Ysgol David Hughes, Menai Bridge and the second at the School of Welsh in Cardiff on Wednesday 23 November.

The resources are available to view on the WJEC website (Welsh only) – Branwen, daughter of Llŷr / Dafydd ap Gwilym.

For more information about the School’s Masterclasses, please contact Cadi Rhys Thomas.

Cardiff University’s School of Welsh has scored 100% for overall student satisfaction in the 2016 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES).

The results relate to the School's MA Welsh and Celtic Studies programme.

The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey is a national online survey which evaluates seven thematic areas: the quality of teaching and learning, engagement, assessment and feedback, dissertation, organisation and management, learning resources, and skills development.

This year the School saw an increase in six thematic areas and received the maximum score possible (100%) in the following areas: Dissertation and Assessment and Feedback. A score of 95% was achieved for Teaching and Learning (a 20% increase on 2015) and 98% in the field of Organisation and Management.

The School’s consistency and quality is clear when compared against the results of the University as a whole. This year the School’s results are among the best of the University.

Dr Siwan Rosser, Director of the MA Welsh and Celtic Studies programme, said: “These fantastic results are testament to the quality and innovation of our postgraduate programme, and to the excellence of our research environment and teaching.

“Student feedback is very important in ensuring that we maintain the quality of our courses, and we will continue to develop our provision and the teaching experience of our students.”

Noted academic conducts a National Survey of Welsh-language Books for Children and Young Adults.

Dr Siwan Rosser, a lecturer and noted expert on children’s literature, from Cardiff University’s School of Welsh, has been commissioned by the Welsh Books Council to conduct a National Survey of Welsh-language Books for Children and Young Adults.

The aim of the Survey is to weigh up and consider the current state of the children’s and young people’s book market. In addition to assessing data and research relating to Welsh books for young readers, the Survey will canvass the opinions of publishers, booksellers, librarians, readers, teachers and parents through interviews and focus groups.

Additionally, in order to allow as many people as possible to take part, Dr Rosser has designed an online Survey with questions aimed at children, adolescents and adults who read and buy Welsh books. Those who take an interest in books for children and young people can contribute to the Survey by following the link until January 8, 2017. (The Survey is available in Welsh only)

Dr Rosser said: “Welsh children’s and young adults publishing is facing an exciting but challenging period. With the growth of Welsh medium education comes an increasing demand for attractive reading material, but the current economic climate limits what can be achieved. How then can we respond creatively to the challenge of ensuring that the Welsh language feeds the imagination of our children and young people? Here’s your chance to have your say about what you want to see on your bookshelves.”

The Survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete and it is open to a broad audience - anyone involved with the reading, buying, teaching or promoting of Welsh books for children and young adults. Anyone who does complete the Survey is encouraged to share the link with friends, children, parents and teachers within their network in order that the Survey achieves the greatest amount of responses and data possible before it closes on 8 January 2017.

Respond to the Survey (Welsh language) through the following link: National Survey of Welsh-language Books for Children and Young Adults

An English-language survey for parents, booksellers and librarians is also available.

For further information about the Survey please contact Siwan Rosser or follow her on Twitter: @SiwanRosser.

Joint-honours Welsh and Journalism BA students recently enjoyed an insider view of radio broadcasting when they visited BBC Radio Cymru.

The second and third year students spent a week working with producers, editors and presenters and created their own radio packages which were used live on-air.

Sian Morgan Lloyd, who leads the ‘Yr Ystafell Newyddion’ (the Newsroom) module in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies said: “The relationship between the School and industry is key to ensuring meaningful experiences like this.

“The students are able to work alongside experienced professional journalists and in doing so gain hugely valuable insight into the practical requirements of modern digital journalism.

“The week was a perfect example of challenging, relevant and successful work experience.”

When deciding on the topic for her radio package, Abbie Bolitho chose a topic that as a Welsh learner is close to her heart – learning Welsh as a second language.

Abbie said: “It was good to learn how to use the technology, and to make editorial decisions. The best thing was hearing the package live on air and receiving positive feedback on my work!”

BBC Radio Cymru presenter Garry Owen was keen to praise the students’ professionalism, “It was a pleasure to watch the students develop new skills as they prepared the reports. They found original stories and were mature and professional in their work."

The Welsh and Journalism BA is distinctive in that it offers an opportunity to follow a degree course that develops skills relevant to both the academic world and the workplace.

Wales rugby and football fans will be able to brush up their knowledge of popular Welsh hymns and arias ahead of the big games on 12 November, thanks to a Welsh-language sing-a-long held at the Old Arcade pub in Cardiff’s city centre on Friday, 11 November.

Welsh love song Myfanwy, rousing hymn Calon Lân, and the Welsh national anthem, Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, will be among the famous songs performed at the free event, which kicks off at 8.30pm, and which is being organised by Cardiff University.

The sing-a-long is being led by Welsh tutor Rhys Griffiths, who also heads up Cardiff-based male voice choir Bechgyn Bro Taf. Rhys will provide English translations and tips on Welsh pronunciation. A free song sheet will also be provided.

For those inspired by the event to further their knowledge of Welsh, a five-week Welsh Taster Course will be held at the Old Library on The Hayes from Thursday, 17 November. Visit learnwelsh.cymru for more information or call 029 2087 4710.

Rhys, who works as a tutor for the School of Welsh at Cardiff University, which delivers Welsh courses across the capital on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh, said: “During the Euros, Welsh fans made such an impact, singing their hearts out in stadiums across France, while rugby and music have a long, much-loved association. This pub sing-a-long will be an opportunity for fans to brush up their skills and get in the mood for what promises to be a fantastic weekend of sport.”

Professor Sioned Davies, Chair of Welsh and Head of Cardiff University’s School of Welsh, added: "We were all thrilled with Wales’ success at the Euros and with the way the team helped raise the profile of the Welsh language across Europe. We’re delighted to support fans with this event and look forward to hearing some fine singing at both matches.”

The Welsh rugby team will play Argentina at 5.30pm on Saturday 12 November at the Principality Stadium and the Welsh football team will play Serbia at 8.00pm at Cardiff City Stadium.

A fun-filled evening was had at the Old Library/Yr Hen Lyfrgell on Monday 10 October 2016, with a poetry Stomp held between students and staff from the School of Welsh.

Dr Llŷr Gwyn Lewis and Gruffudd Eifion Owen were the masters of ceremony.

The competition was fierce and the quality of the literary compositions was excellent, from the serious to the sensitive, funny and entertaining. However, it was the student team that came out on top, for the fifth time in a row, by the end of the evening.

In addition to the student team’s victory, this year’s individual prizes were also won by students. Gethin Davies was crowned Poet of the Night while Sara Anest won the Tiara for Best Lyrical Poem. Caeo Harri Hughes was presented with the illustrious Stomp pineapple for the best limerick from an audience member.

Congratulations to everyone who took part and to the students for another resounding victory. Will they be able to maintain the standard next year?

The evening was a huge success and in addition to the fun, more than £100 was raised towards the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 2018. Throughout the year, the School of Welsh will host a number of other events and activities to raise money towards the Eisteddfod.

Earlier this year, Elin Arfon and Manon Thomas, students at the School of Welsh, won scholarships worth £3,000 each for work experience in Patagonia.

The scholarships were funded by Santander Bank and the purpose of the trip was to undertake varied work experience with schools, language classes and the community of the Welsh Settlement. In addition to this, Elin and Manon were working in support of the Welsh Language Plan. This is a partnership between the Welsh Government, British Council, Cardiff University, The Welsh-Argentine Society and Menter Iaith Patagonia.

Read Elin and Manon’s thoughts about their unforgettable and heart-warming cultural experience, immersing themselves in the Welsh community of the settlement.

“Neither of us had any idea what to expect when we left for the Welsh Settlement, only the imaginings and ideas fashioned by those who have been before us. The reality was quite different. [...] There was nothing better than arriving at Trelew and spotting three figures enthusiastically waving their arms and smiling from ear to ear in welcome: Billy Hughes, Gladys Thomas and Eluned Jones. While meeting the immortal Luned Gonzalez was truly unforgettable. We had never met such a wonderful character before, zooming past in her white bullet of a car, organising everyone and everything. We were treated like superstars and were even invited on to a local radio programme. We are immensely grateful to Luned for looking after us during that fortnight.

“It was very rare that we had five minutes to ourselves during our time in Gaiman but we enjoyed every second, even when having to rise in the early hours to catch the bus. It was a pleasure to meet the children at the Welsh School in Gaiman, Canmwy College and the Hendre School. It was a heart-warming experience to meet children from across the Atlantic who took such pride in their Welshness. They were all such sweet children and were a credit to their teachers. It was lovely to hear the pupils singing the Welsh national anthem with such pride and passion; we are in no doubt that this will stay with us forever.

“Our time in Cwm Hyfryd was also very worthwhile, we received a huge welcome and endless invitations to various activities and events, such as the quiz and a birthday Asado (BBQ). We certainly enjoyed more leisure time here and made lifelong friends who were more than willing to show us around the area and introduce us to the local customs. In spite of this, we did attend a number of Welsh classes at the Centre in Esquel and in Ysgol y Cwm.

“Our time in Patagonia was an eye-opening experience and we hope that the scholarship continues to be offered to the continued benefit of the cultural exchange that exists between Patagonia and Wales. We both applied for the scholarship to encourage more Welsh activity and the concept that Welsh is modern and alive in Wales. We have certainly come to understand and appreciate the complexities of the Welsh language in Patagonia.”

Cardiff University’s School of Welsh offers two scholarships for travel to Patagonia annually, funded by Santander Bank. The 2017 scholarships will be advertised in the spring.

Cardiff University’s School of Welsh welcomed Sabbatical Scheme for Welsh Language Training participants to the annual awards presentation on Thursday 13 October 2016.

Held at the University’s Aberdare Hall, Ian Gwyn Hughes, Head of Public Affairs at the Football Association of Wales, acted as the evening’s host.

More than 50 practitioners were in attendance and the evening was an opportunity to celebrate their success and present the 2015-16 with their certificates of achievement.

The Sabbatical Scheme for Welsh Language Training offers language courses for primary and secondary school teachers, classroom assistants and lecturers in the English and Welsh sectors. The aim of the courses, which are funded by Welsh Government, is to increase the supply of practitioners who can teach through the medium of Welsh or bilingually. The courses also provide an opportunity for continual specialist professional development in the field of education.

Lowri Davies, the Sabbatical Scheme’s Manager in Cardiff, said: “The awards evening is always such a wonderful occasion, an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of the practitioners and giving them the chance to come together and socialise through the medium of Welsh. I always feel a tremendous sense of pride to hear the practitioners speaking Welsh with such confidence.”

The Sabbatical Scheme courses are available at several language levels in locations across Wales. Cardiff University’s School of Welsh is responsible for providing courses in Mid-South Wales and South East Wales. Courses are offered at beginner, entry and upper levels with classes. The courses are free and the Welsh Government covers supply costs for releasing teachers, assistants and lecturers so that they can develop their language skills.

For more information about the Sabbatical Scheme, please contact Cadi Thomas.