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CEREDIGION County Council’s Work Welsh Scheme celebrated 3 successes at the National Work Welsh awards in April this year.

Mariolina Lai, a Day Care Assistant at Min-y-Môr, won the ‘Foundation+ level Learner who has made the best progress’ award. Alison Newby, a Numeracy, Literacy, and Business Tutor at Dysgu Bro Ceredigion, came second in the award for ‘Foundation+ Level Learner who makes the Best Use of Welsh for Work purposes’. Dewi Huw Owen, the Council’s Work Welsh Training Officer, placed second for the ‘Work Welsh Tutor of the Year’ award.

Mariolina Lai has been learning Welsh through the Work Welsh Scheme at Ceredigion Council since 2018. Currently, on Intermediate level, she continues to make great progress. Mariolina comes from Italy originally, and chose, out of love and respect toward the Welsh culture, to take her British citizenship oath through the medium of Welsh. Studying Welsh is a joy for Mariolina. From the first lesson, she delighted in the Welsh language. She arrives at every lesson full of enthusiasm and lifts the class’ spirits weekly. Mariolina also takes advantage of Work Welsh informal activities, such as the Clwb Cinio. As a Day Care Assistant, Mariolina’s success in learning Welsh is far-reaching in influence, and she ensures care of the best standard to residents through the medium of Welsh. The Work Welsh Scheme has enabled Mariolina to fulfil her ambition of living and working through the medium of Welsh.

In her acceptance speech, Mariolina said:

“I have been studying Welsh on the Ceredigion Work Welsh Scheme for three years now with my wonderful tutor Huw Owen. When I received the news I was very shocked! I’m extremely happy and also very proud. It’s a great honour because Welsh is such a wonderful language. Thanks so much to Huw, and to my colleagues at work, especially Rhian, who helped me to revise, to repeat, and to compose in the language. Thanks also to the National Centre for Learning Welsh, because it’s important to promote and to protect such a fantastic language.”

Alison Newby is studying Welsh at the Advanced level through the Work Welsh Scheme. As a Numeracy, Literacy, and Business Tutor she can now provide observation reports bilingually and offer feedback to learners in Welsh. She is currently working on ensuring all her presentations are bilingual, including highlighting key terminology in Welsh. A Ceredigion Training Welsh Champion, she authored the Welsh Language Action Plan, and she has led the work of developing induction resources and run inspections of the centre and their key documents in accordance with Welsh Language Standards.

Huw Owen has been the Work Welsh Training Officer at Ceredigion County Council for three years. Currently, he teaches 73 members of staff in 7 classes and on 5 levels. He runs a programme of informal learning opportunities to support formal learning, including a weekly Clwb Cinio offering conversational activities based on the week’s learning on each level. Additionally, he organises quizzes, competitions, workshops, music gigs, and guest speakers. Huw’s learners praise the way he transferred the learning to virtual lessons overnight due to the Covid-19 pandemic and continued to motivate learners. According to the wealth of nominations from learners, he is an enthusiastic, patient, dedicated, observant, friendly, and supportive tutor. He also ensures that the learning is fun, and succeeds in ensuring every lesson is interesting.

Reflecting on the Council’s success at the awards, Leader of the Council, Ellen ap Gwynn said:

“It was a great pleasure, to hear of the success of Huw, Mariolina and Alison in the Work Welsh awards organised by the National Centre for Learning Welsh. I would like to warmly congratulate all three of them. This is the third year that Ceredigion County Council has been a part of the Work Welsh Scheme and it is a pleasure to see that more and more of our staff are taking the opportunity to improve their Welsh language skills so that we as a Council support them to grow their skills and confidence to work through the medium of Welsh.”

Inspired by these awards, the Work Welsh Scheme will enter its 4th year in September. Work has already begun in the Council’s Learning and Development team on planning innovative new courses and exciting informal learning opportunities to help staff take their next steps in their ongoing language journey.

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