The influence of social factors on minority language engagement amongst young people: an investigation of Welsh-English bilinguals in North Wales

  • 1 Cardiff University

Abstract

The majority of young Welsh speakers now come from English-speaking homes and reside in communities where English is the dominant language (Jones 2008: 550; Jones 2012: 6). Previous studies have shown, however, that these speakers use Welsh less than those from Welsh-speaking homes in Welsh-dominant communities (Jones 2008: 553). This article examines the correlation between speakers' backgrounds and their language attitudes, self-confidence in their language skills and use of Welsh. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected from 27 participants from two cohorts of Welsh-medium Sixth Form units in a Welsh-dominant area of North West Wales and an English-dominant area of North East Wales. While attitudes towards Welsh were generally positive, those from English-speaking homes feel less confident in their Welsh in both areas. The use of Welsh amongst those from English-speaking homes is also relatively low regardless of the dominant language of the community. Amongst those from Welsh-speaking homes, use is significantly lower amongst those who reside in the North East. It is suggested that these results are attributable to peer-group dynamics in the two areas: in the North West, language-specific peer groups were found whereas English was the language of all peer groups in the North East.

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IJSL is dedicated to the development of the sociology of language as a truly international and interdisciplinary field in which various approaches - theoretical and empirical - supplement and complement each other, contributing thereby to the growth of language-related knowledge, applications, values and sensitivities. The journal features topically-focused issues with individual contributions on small languages and small language communities.

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