More needs to be done to get Welsh online

On the eve of the National Eisteddfod, Mentrau Iaith Cymru and BT Cymru / Wales, have today (Friday, 01 August) called for more to be done to encourage and promote the use of Welsh on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

This follows research carried out by Mentrau Iaith Cymru, on behalf of BT Cymru / Wales, that looked into how the Welsh langauge was being used on social media sites.

The key findings of the research, which collected data from 400 Welsh language speakers, were that:

  • Around 25% of participants who use Welsh regularly in ‘real-life’ use either English only or more English than Welsh on social media sites
    • 95% of participants say they would like to use more Welsh on social media sites
    • 65% feel that the interface language of social media sites influences their use of the Welsh language to a certain level

Commenting on their findings, Emily Cole of Mentrau Iaith Cymru, said:

“Confidence is key when it comes to using Welsh.”

“If you’re confident speaking Welsh you’re far mor likely to update your status, comment on holiday snaps or tweet in Welsh. But if you’re not confident it’s so easy for Welsh speakers to contribute in English only on social media sites, and it seems that a significant percentage of Welsh speakers are doing this.

“As well as confidence, our work suggests that there are other factors which influence the use of Welsh on social media, some which are similar to those in the real world and those which are unique to the digital world. For example the language ability of friends and followers was reported as an influencial factor when it comes to contributing online: we live side by side with one of the most influencial and dominant languages in the world and, like in “real life”, English is understood and used by the vast majority of people.

“On the other hand there are other factors which are unique to the digital world. Technological developments – such as the Welsh language interface on Facebook – are a step in the right direction and are to be welcomed. We need to call on other social media sites such as Twitter, Linked-In and Instagram to follow suit to help raise the profile of Welsh as a digital language.

“Welsh language spellcheckers and translators all help to build confidence and make the process of contributing online in Welsh easier - we need to see more of these developments to make it easier for people to communicate digitally in Welsh with confidence.

“There have been a lot of exciting developments recently by organisations and individuals which normalise the use of Welsh online and encourage more interaction, sharing and content creation by Welsh speakers and learners. In the light of our work it’s clear that we need to keep this momentum going and encourage more people across Wales and beyond to contribute to the digital world in Welsh.

Ann Beynon, BT Director for Wales, said: “This research is encouraging as it suggests a strong desire by those who took part to use more Welsh on social media sites.”

“ We welcome the steps the Welsh Government has taken to support digital work – such as the allocation of the Welsh-language Technology and Digital Media Grants – but there’s also a responsibility on us all – institutions, organisations and individulas – to do more to normalise the use of Welsh in our online and offline communities.”

“ We’re not suggesting that every commercial business should have a bilingual website as the cost would be astonomical. The real challenge is to get as many Welsh speakers to use the language socially online. BT welcomes all communications made in Welsh and this research demostrates that there is a demand for using Welsh on social media which is why we will investigate the possibility of providing this communication channel to our customers in future.”

BT recently developed a bilingual online app for St John Amblulance and are currently working to develop a Welsh language app with Urdd Gobaith Cymru.

The work contributes to a field of research which is growing and developing quickly – there is a growing body of research which considers other languages and social media, and also work by Wales’s universities which look specifically at the Welsh language, but more in-depth research is needed which is relevant to Wales and its unique linguistic makeup.

Emily Cole added “This work will certainly support the Mentrau Iaith and other organisations in their promotion of the Welsh language and we hope to work closely with BT in the future to further promote the use of Welsh in the digital world.”


Notes to editors

Information about the Mentrau Iaith
● The Mentrau Iaith [Welsh language initiatives] are community-based organisations which promote the use of the Welsh language across Wales
● There are 23 Mentrau Iaith in Wales
● Mentrau Iaith Cymru is the national organisation which supports the work of the local Mentrau
● The Mentrau employ over 300 members of staff, work with 1,300 volunteers and hold 13,000 community activities for 160,000 participants each year.
● The Mentrau Iaith work in various fields locally which are dependent on local needs and priorities, including economic development, play, leisure, community education, social enterprise, Welsh language centres, support for families, Welsh learners and youth work.

the Welsh language and social media 2014 - .pdf file (size 990k)