Working in Wales has all the same challenges as working in the rest of the UK, with one added hurdle – the Welsh language.
Increasingly, workers in Wales are being asked to read, write and speak at least conversational Welsh before even being considered for a job. These jobs include anything from a caretaker in a school, to keeper of the keys at one of our many castles. From every local council job to, of course, PR roles we are expected to be able to speak the ancient language of the country in which we work.
And this is slowly becoming the norm, as more and more people begin to use Welsh in day-to-day life again, we Welsh workers are expected to keep up with the demand.
And that is why dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg (I’m learning Welsh).
Not only is it fast becoming a necessity, I also find the lyrical language to be both fun and fascinating. With the help of a wonderful friend, I have tackled the basic words and phrases of the language over the past few weeks, and hope to continue on the path towards my first Welsh language qualification this summer.
In terms of PR specifically, there are many benefits to having someone that can speak a second language, and this blog post will explore those benefits, focussing on Wales and Welsh as examples.
- Improving Relationships
Speaking to a customer or fellow business person in their own language is an obvious benefit.
Using someone’s first or chosen language allows that person to feel more at ease, more accepted and may even allow that person to feel as though they can communicate more freely and more effectively when using that chosen language.
Speaking Welsh has been proven to increase the good will certain companies have in certain areas of Wales.
In the same way that speaking Italian is appreciated when you visit Rome, speaking the language of a local area shows that you are not invading territories, but instead shows willingness to integrate and a professional level of adaptability.
Of course, speaking in more than one language opens up your possibilities in terms of audience. Some Welsh people thrive using the Welsh language, and some even prefer to speak exclusively in Welsh. Therefore, by also speaking Welsh, you open yourself to a community of people that would otherwise not be available to you.
Speaking a second language shows employers, customers and potential associates that you are willing to learn more than may be strictly needed.
As stated above, speaking Welsh is in the process of becoming necessary, but at the moment it remains mostly advantageous. This means that people speaking Welsh as a second language are viewed more highly than those who do not. This is a great benefit for Welsh speakers, in the eyes of themselves and others.
Learning a second language and being fluent enough to use it creates a great sense of achievement and confidence in the learner. I, for one, am so proud any time I drop a Welsh word or phrase into conversation now that I get a full-body buzz from it.
Although I’m yet to do this, I can only imagine the confidence I would now have when walking into an interview in Wales with a little bit of relevant Welsh up my sleeve!
All in all, I believe that learning Welsh benefits learners, employers and organisations across Wales, as Cymraeg makes a comeback.