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Dr Rhiannon Marks, lecturer and Admissions Tutor at the School, has won the Sir Ellis Griffith Memorial Award for her first academic volume Pe gallwn, mi luniwn lythyr, which looks at the Works of Menna Elfyn. The prize is awarded for the best work in the Welsh language about Welsh writers, painters and craftsmen.

Pe gallwn, mi luniwn lythyr is an experimental volume of literary criticism offering various theoretical interpretations of Menna Elfyn’s work. It experiments with epistolary criticism, for the first time in Welsh, with a series of imaginary letters.

Professor Angharad Price in a review which appeared in the Welsh-language journal Llên Cymru, wrote: “This is a volume that breaks new ground in the history of Welsh literary criticism […] it’s unique style, and the information and intelligence underpinning it, shine a new light on our reading habits and our relationship with the work of one our most significant contemporary poets, in a fresh, original and memorable way.”

Students at the School of Welsh benefit from Dr Marks’ expertise in a number of modules on contemporary literature and literary criticism and theory.

In this article, Dr Jonathan Morris from the School of Welsh shares his experiences of being part of the Phoenix Project’s recent trip to Namibia.

I visited the University of Namibia at the start of July in order to discuss a possible project on local languages. I work as a Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol lecturer in linguistics and specialise in sociolinguistics and bilingualism. This means that I have an interest in how languages are produced by different groups of bilingual speakers, and how languages are used in various situations.

I have worked on bilingualism in western Europe in general, and on Welsh-English bilingualism in particular. It was therefore a completely new experience to travel 5245 miles to Namibia where over 20 local languages are spoken! In addition to this, English was chosen as the only official language in 1990 and, since then, the language has replaced Afrikaans in a number of fields such as education.

A lot of countries are multilingual officially but this does not mean that the population is multilingual. It was therefore a great surprise to see how normal multilingualism is in Windhoek. Many of the residents, as a result of the history of the country and migration to the capital, can speak a native African language, Afrikaans, English, and maybe German. I often heard people discussing work with colleagues in English, turning to Afrikaans at lunchtime, and greeting a friend from the same area in Oshiwambo or Otjiherero.

Despite this, a number of people are concerned about the future of the African languages. I spent the week in the company of academics from UNAM and representatives from various departments in the government and education system who work on these languages. They are concerned that a shift to English is happening in some areas as people see English as a prestigious language and as there are not enough resources to support the use of the African languages. A language shift was seen in parts of Wales, of course, and they were very interested to hear about the history of Welsh-English bilingualism and how the Welsh language is supported at the moment.

In the future, we will continue to work together to share experiences of promoting languages and to try to better understand the linguistic situation in Namibia. There are a number of arguments for promoting any minority or native language from a cultural perspective but, more importantly, we have to understand how negative attitudes towards some languages can lead to feelings of inferiority and a lack of confidence among their speakers.

Ceri Elen, a PhD student and Scripting and Creative Writing tutor at the School, has just returned after a period of acting in Australia on the stage of the world famous Sydney Opera House with Theatr Iolo. The company was performing 'Adventures in the Skin Trade', Lucy Gough’s stage adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ unfinished novel.

The drama tells the story of Samuel Bennett, an aspiring poet, as he leaves his home in South Wales for London. The drama was performed at the Sydney Opera House and at Arts Centre Melbourne. Theatr Iolo is the first Welsh theatre company to perform at the Sydney Opera House.

Ceri says she feels lucky to have been a part of the production. "This amazing piece of surrealism has auto-biographical elements, and Lucy Gough’s adaptation is truly excellent. 

"I play the role of Polly, who is a very complex character; she pushes Samuel Bennett into situations he has never experienced before. The female members of the cast also form the chorus, who represent the thoughts of Samuel Bennett - colourful, sometimes dark and often very mischievous.

"It was a privilege to shine the spotlight on Dylan Thomas’ work on such world-renowned stages."

For more information, here is a short film about the drama: 

Adventures of the Skin Trade.

Find out more about postgraduate research opportunities in our School of Welsh.

Cardiff University’s School of Welsh has scored 91% for overall student satisfaction in the 2015 National Student Survey (NSS). This is an increase from 88% last year.

Published annually, the NSS asks undergraduates to rate their University experience in areas including teaching, academic support and personal development.

The overall picture for the School was positive with students generally registering high satisfaction levels including a top score of 100% for the following statements:

  • Staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching
  • Assessment arrangements and marking have been fair
  • I have been able to contact staff when I needed to

The School also scored highly in other areas such as academic support (95%), assessment and feedback (92%) and learning resources (87%).

Professor Sioned Davies, Head of the School of Welsh, said: “These results are significant as they represent the actual views of our students. As a School we are committed to ensuring that our students have the very best experience here in Cardiff – from and academic and a personal standpoint. The School is a friendly and supportive community and a centre of teaching and learning excellence.

“Despite this excellent result, we are not complacent. There remains more work to ensure that student satisfaction and other measures are raised and remain consistently high.”

Cardiff University has also recorded its highest level of overall student satisfaction at 90%, above both the Welsh (85%) and sector-wide (86%) averages.

Up 1% on the previous year, the results put the university above both the Welsh (85%) and sector-wide (86%) average for overall satisfaction.

The launch of the University's scheme to support students learning Welsh alongside their studies featured an inspirational student from Thailand who is now fluent in the language

Supachai Chuenjitwongsa, who has just completed a PhD in dental education, learned Welsh at the University's Welsh for Adults Centre.

He addressed the launch of Welsh for All in fluent Welsh as the scheme was launched by First Minister Carwyn Jones at the University's pavilion at the Eisteddfod.

Supachai said he started learning Welsh in 2011 because he wanted to be able to say the Welsh words on street signs but soon realised there were so many other benefits.

"It's about understanding local culture, local language. It also helped me a lot to integrate into the local community," said Supachai.

"I made friends through the course. I know more people and I understand what happens in Wales in terms of the history and why people think or do something in a particular way.

"It helped me understand that Wales is a separate country."

His Welsh is now so good that he was invited to speak at the launch of Welsh for All in front of the First Minister.

It was the first time he had addressed a public audience in Welsh but he said he enjoyed the experience.

"I was very nervous but I was very proud not only for myself and the language but I think the most successful thing I've done is given lots of messages about why learning Welsh is important," he said.

Supachai has a very clear message to people thinking of learning Welsh, whether they are students at the University or anybody else.

"I believe that anybody can learn Welsh and enjoy doing it. Just go for it!" he said.

New university language learning scheme offers Welsh for All

A new scheme aimed at offering students at Cardiff University the opportunity to learn Welsh alongside their studies completely free of charge will be launched at the National Eisteddfod by First Minister Carwyn Jones AM.

From October 2015, the University’s new Welsh for All scheme will offer students across all academic disciplines the opportunity to learn Welsh.

Students will be taught in groups and will have access to a range of online resources to help develop their language skills.

A language awareness resource will also be available to students which will allow them to develop their understanding of the status of the Welsh language today.

Following the first Welsh for All intake – focused on beginner-level tuition – the initiative will be developed to cater for all ability levels.

Welsh for All will complement the University’s existing routes to Welsh learning, which include Welsh for Adults, the Welsh Language Sabbatical Scheme for teachers and teaching assistants (funded by the Welsh Government), and the Welsh Language Skills Certificate from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. The new initiative extends the provision for internal audiences and will be a dedicated programme for students only.

The School of Welsh has a long history of providing innovative opportunities to learn Welsh and about Welsh culture. One such opportunity sees students from Colgate University, New York, come to Cardiff every year where, in addition to their own degree subjects, they are able to study modules at the School of Welsh.

Welsh for All will be formally launched at the National Eisteddfod (3 August) by the First Minister.

He said: “It is important that students have the opportunity to access Welsh learning courses and enjoy our culture.  In fact, many will go on to be ambassadors for Wales long after leaving University.

“Students coming to Cardiff will I’m sure enjoy the opportunity to learn the language and socialise with other students through the medium of Welsh.  I’d like to congratulate Cardiff University on the pioneering ‘Cymraeg I Bawb’ scheme.”

Professor Sioned Davies, Head of the School of Welsh at Cardiff University, said: “As a School we’re committed to increasing the numbers of students across the University who have the opportunity to learn Welsh. This scheme is another example of us leading the way by delivering greater opportunities for students to learn a language alongside their regular studies.

“We’re confident that the language skills students will develop through Welsh for All will be of huge benefit; particularly for those who plan to live and work in Wales. Graduation destination figures for 2013/2014 show that 42% of graduates secured employment in Wales, and clearly the demand for Welsh language skills is growing.”

This year, the Welsh Settlement in Patagonia is celebrating a major milestone in its history, the 150th anniversary of its establishment in 1865. To mark this significant event Cardiff University's School of Welsh will hold an international conference on the history and the contemporary position of the Settlement on Monday, 6 July and Tuesday, 7 July 2015. This will be held in the John Percival Building on the University campus.

The conference will consist of two days of papers and discussions across a broad range of topics relating to the Welsh experience in Patagonia, including the linguistic, literary, educational, geographical and social context.

This will be a unique opportunity to view the Settlement, past, present and future, through the eyes of people from Wales and from Patagonia, with almost half of the conference speakers born and raised in Argentina.

The Centre for Welsh American Studies (part of the School of Welsh) is organising the conference, in partnership with the Wales-Argentina Society and the Culture of the 18th and 19th Centuries and the Ethnology and Folk Studies Sections of the University of Wales Alumni Association. The event is also generously supported by Santander Universities.

Professor E. Wyn James, from the Centre for Welsh American Studies, said: "The establishment of the Welsh Settlement in Patagonia was a heroic undertaking of national and international significance. Its history and development pose many interesting and relevant questions about migration and identity. This is the first time so many Welsh and Argentine experts have come together to discuss the Settlement. As such, there is every indication that this conference will be a major milestone in the history of studying the Welsh in Patagonia."

It is fitting that the conference is being organised by Cardiff University's School of Welsh as the School has strong links with the Settlement, forged over many years. The School offers a module on 'The Identity and Culture of the Welsh Settlement in Patagonia' for undergraduate students, and scholarships are available annually for some of them go to the Settlement for a period of work experience. Staff members lecture and publish regularly on different aspects of the language and culture of the Settlement, and the School's Welsh for Adults Centre is a key partner in the Welsh Language Scheme in Chubut.

There is no fee for attending the conference but please register in advance using the form below.

For further information please contact Professor E. Wyn James, School of Welsh, Cardiff University, John Percival Building, Colum Road, Cardiff, CF10 3EU (JamesEW@cardiff.ac.uk).

A Stomp was held between students and staff from the School of Welsh on Wednesday June 10th. Held at The Crwys pub, Rhys Iorwerth and Osian Rhys Jones acted as masters of ceremonies for the evening.

The competition was strong and enthusiastic between the high achieving teams.

The big winner was student Sara Jones, who was crowned 'Poet of the Night' while Dr Llŷr Gwyn Lewis from the staff team won the small crown for best poem chosen by the masters of ceremonies.

Gwenllian Huws won the audience prize and she was presented with the Stomp pineapple.

Beyond the individual wins, it was the audience that had the final word and for the fourth time in a row gave overall victory to the student team. Will they be able to make it five times in a row win 2016?

The evening also presented the opportunity to congratulate and celebrate the successes of Dr Llŷr Gwyn Lewis and Rhys Iorwerth (a former student) at the recent Book of the Year Awards. Considering the quality of entries in last night's Stomp, the School tradition of fostering new literary talents looks set to continue.

Dr Llŷr Gwyn Lewis, a lecturer and alumnus of the School of Welsh, was celebrating last week after winning the Creative Factual category at the 2015 Book of the Year Awards.

Llŷr was a joint honours student in English Literature and Welsh in Cardiff and went on to complete his PhD under the care of the School of Welsh and the School of English, Communication and Philosophy in 2013.

Having been nominated in two separate categories at this year's awards, with Storm ar Wyneb yr Haul making the shortlist for Poetry, it was his novel Rhyw Flodau Rhyfel which brought victory to Llŷr. He was rewarded with a cheque for £2,000 and steel award designed by the artist Angharad Pearce Jones.

Rhyw Flodau Rhyfel was described by Hywel Griffiths, one of the judges, as an 'ambitious and challenging work that takes us along the paths of thinking young man in the 21st century'.

The Awards Ceremony took place in Caernarvon, and was hosted by the broadcaster Siân Lloyd and the actress Ffion Dafis.

In addition Llŷr's win, another of the School's graduates came to the fore in the Poetry category. Rhys Iorwerth sealed victory with his collection Un Stribedyn Bach.

Following the celebrations, Llŷr commented: "This is a fantastic honour and I'm very grateful to the judges, my family and my friends for their support. I'm shocked but incredibly happy that Rhyw Flodau Rhyfel has been recognised in this way. It was a wonderful evening and great to meet the other honourees and celebrate with them."

Professor Sioned Davies, Head of the School of Welsh, added: "This year's Book of the Year selections are brilliant. I'm thrilled to see the very deserving success of both Llŷr and Rhys and look forward to seeing how they develop and the new works they produce."

"The School of Welsh has long been a haven and breeding ground for some of Wales' greatest writers and scholars and it is wonderful to see a new generation emerge."

The School will celebrate Llŷr and Rhys' success at the annual Stomp between lecturers and members of the Welsh Society (Gym Gym). Llŷr will lead the staff team and Rhys will be the host for the evening alongside Osian Rhys Jones. For more information please contact Cadi Thomas.

The School’s Professional Services staff received a Bronze Award in the National Union of Students Green Impact Awards. Green Impact is an environmental accreditation and awards scheme which encourages sustainable working practices in HE institutions.

The team established good practice by incorporating sustainable procedures in the office including double sided printing and use of iPads in meetings to limit the number of materials that are printed.

Vice-Chancellor Colin Riordan presented the Bronze Award in a ceremony held in the University’s Main Building.

Catrin Stephens, Staff Support Manager for the School, said: “I’m very proud of the team’s achievement and I would especially like to thank Lowri Sion for leading the project. The aim now is to achieve Gold standard and I have no doubt we will get there in no time.”