Record number of Medical Students learning Welsh

Graduate Entry Medical (GEM) students follow weekly Welsh classes

A record number of Swansea University Medical Students are learning Welsh thanks to a new course for beginners, developed by Learn Welsh Swansea Bay Region, which is based in Academi Hywel Teifi.

Sixty-two students on the University’s flagship Graduate Entry Medical (GEM) course have been following weekly classes in virtual classrooms, with the aim of improving their communication skills in order to better support Welsh-speaking patients.

The course introduces vocabulary and language patterns relevant to the medical profession and aims to enthuse the students, who will all attend placements across Wales as part of their four-year GEM course.

Weekly Welsh Classes

A screen shot of GEM Students learning Welsh on Zoom

Dr Gwenno Ffrancon, Director of Swansea University’s Academi Hywel Teifi, home of Learn Welsh Swansea Bay Region, explained:

“In previous years, we’ve held residential Welsh courses for GEM students, which have attracted some 50 students at a time, however we’re delighted to see a record number following our new course this year.

“The course will equip students with improved communication skills to better suit their working environment in Wales.  After graduation, many will stay in Wales, and we hope this introduction to the language will be the beginning of their journey to either reclaiming their skills in Welsh or to developing them afresh. Their enthusiasm to engage with the language and to add another string to their bow as practitioners is fantastic to see.”

Learn Welsh Swansea Bay Region tutor, Emyr Jones said: “Although some of the students fully expect not to be working in Wales in the future, they appreciate the importance of learning some Welsh to use as part of their training in Welsh hospitals.  The students are so enthusiastic and recognise the importance of being able to converse in their patients’ preferred language – being able to use just basic language patterns will go a long way to making patients feel more at ease.”

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Head of Graduate Entry Medicine at Swansea University Medical School, who is also learning Welsh, added: “On being welcomed to Wales, our Swansea medical students have wholeheartedly embraced living and studying in Wales. They have shown a real enthusiasm to learn Welsh and to assimilate with the people of Wales, and we hope they will always keep a piece of Wales in their hearts!  We'd love them to stay!”

The following students shared their experiences of learning the language: