Posted: Thu 7th May 2020

University staff boost Welsh skills over coffee and chat online for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Thursday, May 7th, 2020

Staff at Wrexham Glyndŵr University are brushing on their Welsh language skills while enjoying some welcome social time during the lockdown.

The university hosts a series of monthly Coffi a Chlonc (Coffee and Chat) sessions, where staff can practice Welsh in a friendly and informal environment. Meetings are usually held at Plas Coch campus but have moved online with staff working at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first virtual Coffi a Chlonc session was a success with more than 20 members of staff using Microsoft Teams to chat in Welsh and learning new phrases to boost their vocabulary.

Elen Mai Nefydd, the university’s Welsh Language Champion, said: “It worked really well and everyone had a chance to say something in Welsh. Everyone’s on different levels, some are more used to speaking in Welsh than others and some had joined us for the first time today, so it’s been brilliant.

“Maybe some see it as a chance to do something that they wouldn’t normally do during their working day on campus. Perhaps it’s just a break for people from their daily work routine.

“It’s a way of bringing people from all corners of the university, both academic and administrative staff, together to talk to each other in Welsh.”

The first virtual session, participants discussed how they are coping with working from home, and what they were hobbies and activities they are doing in their free time to while away the hours during lockdown.

The coronavirus crisis has seen staff and students using technology to continue with their studies remotely.

Elen, who is Programme Leader in Theatre, Television and Performance, has been conducting sessions with students online.

“It was a very odd experience to start with, especially as someone who co-ordinates a drama course. I felt that it was going to be impossible, and to be honest I think the students felt the same way,” she said.

“But over the last few weeks the consensus has changed and I think people have found different ways of thinking creatively about their learning and it’s certainly made me look at my teaching and what is actually possible without having to be in the same room as someone.

One of the ways Elen has challenged her students to stay creative is performing a dramatic piece or a song to camera.

“A lot of actors are doing that now on social media. Lots of people are performing online and are finding it very beneficial for them creatively,” she said.

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