[lg policy] Father-of-two backs Adult Learners Week after starting to learn Welsh

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat May 26 10:57:20 EDT 2018

 Father-of-two backs Adult Learners Week after starting to learn Welsh
[image: LEARNING: Damien Downes has started to learn the Welsh language
Picture: Huw John, Cardiff]

LEARNING: Damien Downes has started to learn the Welsh language Picture:
Huw John, Cardiff

A NEWPORT father-of-two is supporting Adult Learners’ Week after learning
the Welsh language as an adult helped him reconnect with his roots and
secure a promotion at work.

For Damien Downes, the Welsh language has always played an important role
in his life.

His father was fluent and often spoke to the 39-year-old and his siblings
in Welsh when they were children, so Mr Downes gained a basic understanding
of the language from a young age. But opportunities to learn and practice
Welsh were limited at his school in Newport and he never had a chance to
develop his understanding.

When Mr Downes' eldest son was due to start at a Welsh medium primary
school in September 2016, he took up the opportunity to learn Welsh through
joining a class at his place of work. His father passed away in the autumn
of 2016, and his pride in Mr Downes' decision to learn Welsh has been a
driving force in his ambition to become fluent.

Because of this, Mr Downes is supporting Adult Learners’ Week 2018, which
takes place from June 19 to the 24, 2018 to highlight opportunities to
continue developing and learning new skills as an adult and celebrate the
positive impact of adult education on skills and employability.

Mr Downes said: “The Welsh language is a big part of my wife’s identity,
her whole family is fluent, so it’s important to our whole family for our
children to be brought up bilingually and attend a Welsh medium school.
When my oldest son was due to start school, I realised I would need to
understand the language if I wanted to be involved in his education and
that spurred me on to join a class.

"My father was coming towards the end of his life, and when I told him I
was starting to learn the language he was so proud, I’m learning as much
for him as I am for me.”

Mr Downes' employer, Natural Resources Wales, has a Welsh language policy.
The organisation is fully bilingual in all its communications, and actively
encourages its staff to take up the opportunity to learn Welsh.

Adult Learners’ Week 2018 is running from June 18 to the 24 and celebrates
lifelong learning, whether work-based, as part of a community education
course, at college, university or online. Now in its 27th year, it aims to
promote the range of courses available to adult learners, from languages to
computing or childcare to finance.

For more information on Adult Learners’ Week, go to
www.careerswales.com/skillsgateway or call 0800 028 4844 or follow


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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