Projects to improve minority ethnic and language groups' access to Welsh should be a priority for a new body being set up to promote the language, according to campaigners.
In a paper containing proposals for the new language promotion body the Welsh Government is planning to establish, campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg says the body should be tasked with increasing the access of people from minority backgrounds to the language. The recommendations in the paper include:
Giving responsibility to the new body to run projects to improve access to Welsh among minority ethnic and language communities
New initiatives to promote the Welsh language among deprived communities
Establish a scheme to provide Welsh language lessons for free for groups like migrants,asylum seekers and refugees called "Welsh for Speakers of Other Languages"
Carl Morris, a member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg's national committee, commented:
"Cymdeithas believes that the Welsh language is a unique inheritance for everyone who chooses to make Wales their home. As someone from a Chinese background, I think the lack of attention given to promoting Welsh to minority groups is unfair to tell the truth. There are a number of important efforts by volunteers around the country, but it should also be an important part of promoting the language nationally as well. And although some bodies do excellent work, the Welsh Government hasn't got a national scheme to support that good practice.
"Welsh–medium education needs to be genuinely comunity-based, and, especially in Eastern parts of the country, there need to be more Welsh-medium schools in deprived communities. It's great that Ysgol Hamadryad has opened in Cardiff, but that is a rare example which follows years of campaigning by the local community."
At the moment, only English language lessons are offered for free to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers through a scheme called "English for Speakers of Other Languages", or ESOL. Cymdeithas yr Iaith is calling for a "Welsh for Speakers of Other Langauges" scheme which would offer free Welsh lessons to those groups. Carl Morris added:
"We think it's unfair that the majority of migrants are forced to pay for Welsh language lessons while English ones are provided for free. The system shuts people out the Welsh language at the moment."
The group also recommends that the new language promotion body prioritises increasing the use of the language in the family, mainstreaming Welsh-medium education and raising awareness of new language rights.
Speaking about the need for the new body to be part of wider and stronger language legislation, Heledd Gwyndaf, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg added:
"This new body won't be able to work effectively without a strong law behind it. It's establishment should go hand in hand with strengthening the Welsh Language Act. Changing behaviour means changes attitudes. This new promotion body should support the new language law the Government is preparing at the moment - without strengthening the law in general, any efforts of this new body will go to waste."