The use of the Welsh language is growing in Wales, but with a high proportion of the population natively speaking English, could the only text-to-speech software that supports Welsh be the answer in helping develop Welsh language and literacy skills in schools?
According to the Welsh Government’s Schools’ Census 2021 there are 440 schools that deliver the educational curriculum in Welsh, this accounts for 110,142 pupils (about 23% of the total population of pupils being educated in Wales). It is estimated that a further 10% of the pupil body are attending schools that are bilingual, dual-medium, or in English-speaking schools with significant Welsh provision.
Much of the driver behind nurturing the use of the Welsh language amongst the population of Wales, especially young people, is the Welsh Government’s aim to have one million Welsh speakers in the country by 2050. Currently, it is estimated that about ten percent of the population uses the Welsh language.
Key challenges to nurturing the growth of the Welsh language.
Welsh spoken natively is rare in Wales.
Some of the key challenges with encouraging the use of the Welsh language amongst young people in Wales is that not every household in Wales will be native Welsh speaking, in fact, Statista claims that 97% of the population in Wales speaks English and the ONS claims that 91% of the population in Wales speaks English as their main language. This means that a concerted effort is required to habitually speak Welsh in household and other social settings. For this to happen, resources would not only need to be provided to young people but also to parents and guardians. It also requires all involved to be engaged with and motivated with learning a language that they don’t necessarily need to use in social settings.
There is a lack of engaging Welsh media available for young people to consume and passively learn Welsh.
This is starting to change with the BBC providing T.V and radio programmes in Welsh and streaming services such as Netflix now starting to deliver shows in the Welsh language. None of these initiatives are mainstream media especially when English-speaking content is readily available and the majority of young people in Wales speak English.
For many pupils and students who study in Wales, it is estimated that 10% will be dyslexic with 4% severely so, but there is very little assistive technology support for someone who struggles with language and literacy at a time when they could be required to learn the additional language of Welsh just to be able to keep up at school.
Introducing the first text-to-speech software to support Welsh.
The company ReadSpeaker, well known for their text-to-speech software that works in many different languages, TextAid, has recently launched support for the Welsh language within their software. This means that the pupils or student who need to use the Welsh language can gain access to and write Welsh text knowing that they can listen to the text being read out in Welsh. This is helpful for comprehension as well as for proofreading coursework. For learners of Welsh, TextAid also provides Google Translate integration to support translations of text which can then be read out. Users of the software can choose to have the user interface in English or Welsh too.
The video below demonstrates how Welsh is supported within the ReadSpeaker TextAid software:
ReadSpeaker TextAid, which is available for schools as well as the DSA for undergraduates, can help with the following:
Confidently proofreading Welsh coursework.
Boosting Welsh literacy comprehension and engagement with Welsh text.
Translation of Welsh text.
Improving grades within a Welsh Medium school context.
Want to find out more about boosting Welsh language and literacy skills using ReadSpeaker TextAid? Click the banner below.