Welsh - a lesson in survival

Welsh, the native Celtic language of Wales, is one of the oldest languages in Europe, In spite of a variety of pressures over the centuries, the language has survived into the present day One of the worst times for the Welsh language was the 19th century. Reforming Victorian educators reported that the Welsh people were abackward, and that Welsh-speaking children were uneducated. English-only schools were established in Wales, especially near the border with England, and English teachers were specially imported Children speaking Welsh in the school received severe punishments. They were made to stand in a corner of the classroom for hours, to pay fines to the teacher or, most notoriously of all, forced to wear the "Welsh Not" or carry the "Welsh Stick", a plaque or a stick carved with Welsh Not or W.N. This was passed to the next child who spoke Welsh in the classroom, and the child who had it at the end of the lesson received a punishment. However, after the Second World War the tide started to turn, and Welsh-only schools began to be built. These days, about 25% of children in Wales go to Welsh-only schools. The 1967 and 1993 Welsh Language Acts in parliament stated that Welsh must have equal status with English in Wales, and the 1988 Education Reform Act made the Welsh language an obligatory subject for all children aged 5 to 16, whether they go to English-speaking or Welsh-speaking schools.

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