By Kate Madley

Lecturers from Academi Hywel Teifi based at Swansea University taught a group of international Welsh language learners this summer at the 36th annual ‘Cwrs Cymraeg’ designed by Cymdeithas Madog of the Welsh Studies Institute, North America.

This year, the Welsh course was hosted at the University of Utah with Swansea University guest lecturers Steve Morris, Chris Reynolds and Mark Stonelake.

“I have been teaching on this course for six years now, and it is great seeing the interest and commitment of those who attend year on year,” said Chris Reynolds, Training and Quality Officer at Academi Hywel Teifi.

“A lot of the students who attend have no connection with the Welsh language throughout the year so the Cymdeithas Madog course is their only opportunity to develop their skills and interest. Cwrs Cymraeg is very rare in that there a few courses offered internationally that teach and develop personal interest in the Welsh language and culture.”

The week long ‘Cwrs Cymraeg’ has been hosted annually since 1977 in various locations throughout the United States and Canada. Wales has hosted the course at Coleg y Drindod, Carmarthen in 2000 and again at Cardiff University in 2010.

Chris continued, “Students use their precious annual leave to attend the programme, it is a privilege to teach a committed group of international Welsh learners.”

The week consists of five hours of language classes each day, followed by cultural activities. Evenings are filled with singing, folk dancing, Welsh language films and an Eisteddfod to create a truly authentic Welsh language atmosphere.

“The first Cwrs Cymraeg was organised and held at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont by a group of Welsh-Americans who had an interest in learning the language, this was so successful that Cymdeithas Madog was formed to keep the course going every year since,” said Sarah Stevenson, member of the Cymdeithas Madog Board of Directors (2002-2011).

Students of the 2012 course received guest lectures by retired Welsh and Portuguese professor Dr Ronald Dennis of Brigham Young University, Utah and Darris Williams a genealogist who specialises in Welsh family history.

Participants of the Cymdeithas Madog ‘Cwrs Cymraeg’ are varied, many attend because of their Welsh heritage, whilst others choose to learn the language because they have an interest in the culture without any Welsh roots at all. There are also those who attend because they have a passion about learning languages in general.

The next ‘Cwrs Cymraeg’ will be hosted in Elmhurst College in Chicago from 14th-21st July 2013. For further information visit Cymdeithas Madog on www.madog.org.