Emma Smith comes from the Rhondda where she attended Ferndale Comprehensive School. At A Level Emma studied Welsh second language, History and RE. She enjoyed learning Welsh in school particularly because it didn’t feel so much like ‘work’ as other subjects did. After school Emma went to university in Aberystwyth where she studied for a degree in Welsh and History.
Since graduating Emma has worked for the Welsh Assembly Government, for ACCAC and for the Welsh Language Board. She now works as a Policy and Compliance Officer for the Welsh Language Commissioner.
“The Welsh language is very important to me as the language of my work and also at home. I wasn’t brought up speaking Welsh and didn’t go to a Welsh-medium school so as I grew up I was very keen to learn Welsh to strengthen my Welsh identity.
“Because I hadn’t spoken any language other than English I found it difficult at the start to get used to noun genders and mutations but now my brain works bilingually so it comes much more naturally to me.
“I always enjoyed having the opportunity to practise speaking Welsh with new people and learning different dialects from them.
And what advice does Emma have for young people learning Welsh now? “Stick at it, at the beginning it can seem like a huge job but you can survive and become fluent! School is the best chance you’ll get to learn Welsh to a high standard so make the most of it. Practise all the time, I even used to talk to myself in Welsh (yes really!) and to friends from the local Welsh school.
“My family have always supported me in learning Welsh and now the next generation are fluent too because my children and my sister’s children all speak Welsh.”