Wales must make more of its language skills to create an inclusive nation – Report

A new report from the Learned Society of Wales says Wales must make better use of its language skills to develop a more ‘open, inclusive and empathetic nation.’

The report, Through the Language Prism, captures the findings from the Learned Society of Wales’ three-day international symposium that was held last November. It details the benefits of bi- and multilingualism and makes several recommendations, in particular relating to the new curriculum for Wales which launches next year.

It urges better integration between the Welsh Government’s ambitions for language learning and use and its policies. It says the new curriculum can help deliver on those ambitions and reverse the decline in the study of languages among school children.

The advantages of being a multilingual nation are far-reaching. The report points to evidence presented at the symposium that demonstrates the neurological benefits of learning a language. People who speak more than one language demonstrate increased creativity, adaptability and empathy. These skills benefit people both in their local communities and in relation to the rest of the world, delivering cultural and economic benefits. 

“We need to work harder to make Wales’ multilingualism visible and to value it for the other worlds it opens for us and our children,” said Professor Claire Gorrara, one of the co-organisers of the event. “We have to build awareness in Wales of the wealth of opportunities and benefits that come with bi- and multilingualism, that reach far beyond the superficial ability of being able to name objects with more than one word.” 

The report recommends how Welsh Government should integrate a range of policies which have an impact on language. Ambitions relating to language learning and use should run as a thread through key policies, including the Well-being of Future Generations Act, Cymraeg 2050: A Million Speaks for Wales and the International Strategy, among other initiatives. 

The lectures, seminars and discussion panels from the symposium are all available to watch online.

Details of the panels can also be seen here.

The symposium also featured the new work of 11 poets in Wales, commissioned specially for the event; these poems are also available online.