photo from BBC, back row l-r Colin Charvis, Josie d’Arby, Lembit Öpik, Matt Johnson, Rhys from GLC Front row l-r Helen Lederer, Melanie Walters, Sophie Evans


We recently reported on S4C’s reality television programme, cariad@Iaith (love4language), featuring eight celebrities sent to an eco camp site in west Wales for intensive Welsh lessons combined with outdoor activities.

Melanie Walters, who plays Gwen in ‘Gavin and Stacey’ received the most votes from fellow students and tutors in recognition of her efforts over the course week. Television presenter Josie d’Arby took second place.

The award was presented by Janet Street Porter, the previous series’ reluctant learner who reminded viewers that she is ‘half f****** Welsh’ and whose lasting memories from the course were ‘gwesty pum seren’ (five star hotel) and ‘tacsi’.

Commentators and viewers were positive about the series, declaring it a success in terms of entertainment value and as a way of harnessing celebrity culture to inspire more people to learn Welsh.

Innovative teaching methods were used, including Total Physical Response whereby the emphasis was on understanding, rather than speaking. Students were asked to mimic the teacher and to learn through movement. The celebrities took to this method like ducks to water, but it would be interesting to see how shyer individuals might react to the same techniques.

The activities included in the course were not extra-curricular, but rather an integral part of the teaching process and included buying a sheep at the mart, dressing up (rugby player Colin Charvis took part by wearing a dress), speaking to the wall, speaking to a gorilla, climbing trees, canoeing, bird watching, abseiling, the obligatory singing in a pub and the not-so-popular skinning and gutting of a rabbit.

The famous participants were all brimming with enthusiasm about their experience. Former MP Lembit Öpik, a veteran of these types of programmes, declared that ‘reality TV can bring out the best in people’ and vowed to be fluent by Christmas. Josie d’Arby said the week had been ‘transformational’ while singer Sophie Evans said it was an experience they would all remember forever.

The programmes are available with subtitles on S4C’s web site, but if you’d rather take the plunge yourself, contact BLS to discuss our wide range of courses, intensive or otherwise, tailored to your specific needs (rabbit skinning is, of course, optional).




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