There have long been Welsh speaking schools in the Welsh speaking areas of Wales - rightly so. But apparently there are now many kids from English speaking areas whose parents are choosing to have them educated completely in the Welsh language!
A documentary about it can be seen here:
The language enthusiast in me finds this to be a very good thing. Yet I have to confess that it does seem a little bit ‘forced’. Most of these kids end up as virtual native speakers of Welsh - but it seems that many of them hardly ever speak the language outside of the school gates! (Not least because they often can’t communicate with their own parents in any language other than English!)
It’s an interesting situation in a country like Wales. The doc did say that many parents choose the Welsh-language school because of its academic achievements. That’s an important point. I doubt parents send their kids to a low-performing school. Wales seems very serious about creating a bilingual society, and they’ve got a decent base to start from. These kids can make friends with people whose preferred language is Welsh, and they can also participate in the Welsh-language media in the country, although their primary language will probably continue to be English.
You’re right Bortrun, the government in Wales is 100% serious about making Wales into a fully bilingual society! It remains to be seen whether it will work out, but it would seem that they may be making some significant ground.
For the last 100 years or so the Welsh language was strongest in the north, with the larger cities in the south of Wales being 99% English speaking. I remember visiting Cardiff about 20 years ago, and at that time the language situation was a bit like the one they have in Dublin today - lots of bilingual signposts but VERY few speakers to be heard on the streets! But as the film shows, there is now a new generation of native (or quasi-native) speakers is starting to appear in the south too.
(It almost makes me want to go back to school! :-D)