Learning Welsh to speak with patients and their families in their first language

Learning Welsh to speak with patients and their families in their first language

Dr Jonathan Hurst is a doctor at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. He’s been learning Welsh for the last two years.

Jonathan, who is originally from Stockport now lives on the Wirral. As a child, he was captivated by the beauty of the Welsh language, traveling to north Wales to take part in various athletic competitions. But it’s his motivation and reason for learning as an adult that is admirable, as he explains in his own words….

“I look after premature babies and babies that are ill following birth. I started learning Welsh because I wanted to be able to speak to families from north Wales who are receiving their care at Liverpool, and who consider Welsh to be their first language.

“There was one family in particular, about 18 months ago, that really motivated me to learn more than ever. It was obvious that Welsh was their first language and I felt guilty about not being able to speak to them in their (first) language. We have many families from north Wales, and I feel it’s important that we acknowledge that Welsh is their natural, main language. Especially in a situation that is already so difficult and stressful, dealing with a premature birth or a sick child. It’s important to me that I can speak with them in their first language and give them some comfort.”

Jonathan started learning Welsh using Duolingo and Say Something in Welsh, learning 10 minutes a day. Last summer he registered for courses with the National Centre for Learning Welsh and Nant Gwrtheyrn.

He added: “I love using Welsh in my e-mails, to read books and to listen to the news. I also take every opportunity to speak the language. I wear a lanyard at work with ‘Cymru’ written on it, this is always a great starting point of conversation with families that speak Welsh.

“My motivation for learning the language gives me the encouragement to continue and by reading and speaking I’ve overcome many grammatical hurdles and I’ve even started thinking in Welsh when I’m speaking Welsh! Learning Welsh is fun and the best advice I can give is to keep at it. Welsh speakers really do feel good about people learning the language and they’re always happy to practice and to help.

“I’m looking forward to visiting Nant Gwrtheyrn in person in the future.”

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