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Language Learning and Childcare Choice in Wales

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While there is increasing evidence that children who learn Welsh before they start formal education have higher levels of fluency, few parents choose Welsh-medium or bilingual early childhood education and care. This paper reports on the findings and policy implications of a mixed-method study that examined Welsh parents' childcare choices and asked to what extent those choices are influenced by language. Using Bourdieusian theory it was found that attitudes and practices within the childcare field differ according to parents' habitus and perceived capital value of the Welsh language. Where Welsh is widely spoken, both Welshand non-Welsh-speaking parents chose Welsh-medium early childhood services intuitively and in recognition of the extent to which bilingualism forms valuable social and cultural capital that is convertible to future economic capital. In non-Welsh-speaking areas, without such intuition or recognition of the transferable value of language as redeemable capital, parents did not form the habitus that might dispose them to choose Welsh-medium or bilingual pre-school experiences. As a consequence, the supply of Welsh-language childcare does not develop in response to demand, limiting opportunities for bilingualism to take root in many areas. These findings are important in the context of Welsh Government's policy target of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
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Keywords: BILINGUALISM; CHILDCARE; EARLY YEARS; WELSH LANGUAGE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • Previously published under the title University of Wales Journal of Education, this internationally-distributed annual journal offers an arena for disseminating education research from national and international perspectives. The journal explores a range of controversial arguments relating to education, including areas such as bilingualism, religion in education, well-being and the standards of literacy and numeracy. The contemporary drive for improved education standards, within Wales and internationally, provides a wealth of interdisciplinary research opportunities, and the journal aims to publish research reports relating to these current issues. The journal also includes a comprehensive reviews section.

    Mae'r cylchgrawn blynyddol hwn, a adwaenid gynt fel Cylchgrawn Addysg Prifysgol Cymru, yn trafod agweddau datganoledig ar addysg, ynghyd ag ymdrin ag addysg o safbwynt cenedlaethol a rhyngwladol. Wrth ymhel â materion cyfoes yn ymwneud ag addysg, mae'r drafodaeth yn amlinellu safbwyntiau dadleuol ynghylch dwyieithrwydd a chrefydd yn ogystal â safonau llythrennedd a rhifedd. Mae'r ymdrechion i wella safonau addysg yng Nghymru a thu hwnt yn esgor ar feysydd ymchwil newydd, a bwriad y cyfnodolyn yw cyhoeddi erthyglau cryno yn ymdrin â materion cyfredol o'r fath. Mae'r cyfnodolyn hefyd yn cynnwys adran adolygiadau.

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