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The Welsh language

Almost a quarter of people in Wales speak Welsh as a first or second language.

The Welsh language also has official status in Wales. This means that public organisations should give information and provide services in Welsh, as well as in English. In particular, you have the right to use Welsh in court. You can also choose to go to a school where you can be taught in Welsh as your first language.

This page tells you more about your rights to use Welsh and where you go for more information.

Top tips

For more information about the Welsh language, visit the Welsh Government’s Welsh language webpage at: www.new.wales.gov.uk.

Using Welsh at school

Welsh is a subject in the national curriculum and is compulsory at all state schools in Wales, for pupils up to the age of 16. In English medium schools, it is taught as a second language, and in Welsh medium schools, as the first language.

Parents who want their children to be bilingual, even if they themselves are not Welsh-speakers, will find support and resources on the Twf website www.twfcymru.com.

Learning Welsh as an adult

If you want to learn Welsh as an adult, you can find information on courses, learning resources and details of qualifications, on the Welsh for Adults website www.cymraegioedolion.org.

Using Welsh in court

You can use Welsh if you are a defendant, a witness, or are involved in any other way in legal proceedings in Wales. If you wish to use Welsh in a court in Wales, other than a magistrates' court, you should tell the court at the earliest opportunity, and before the day of the hearing. In a magistrates’ courts, it is helpful, but not essential, to tell the court in advance

Outside Wales, you do not have a right to speak Welsh at a hearing. The judge will decide whether or not to allow Welsh to be spoken in a court outside Wales, but where it is allowed, translation facilities will be arranged.

Welsh can also be used in tribunals in Wales.

If you are summoned to serve on a jury at any Crown Court in Wales, you will receive bilingual documents, which you must reply to. You can reply in Welsh and say that you would like all future communication to be in Welsh.

At the court, jurors are invited to watch a video, which explains the responsibilities of jury service. The video is available in Welsh. You can take the juror’s oath, or affirm in Welsh. Translation facilities must be provided unless the whole case is to be heard in Welsh.

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service helpline for Welsh speakers will answer general enquiries about using Welsh. The contact details are:

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS)
Welsh language helpline: 0800 212 368

The Welsh Language Commissioner

The Welsh Language Commissioner is an independent organisation.

The Commissioner's role is to try to make sure that, in Wales:

  • the Welsh language is not treated less favourably than English
  • people can, if they wish, live their lives through the medium of Welsh.

The Commissioner can investigate complaints, for example about:

  • a public organisation refusing to supply information in Welsh
  • failure to provide services in Welsh.

If you wish to complain to the Commissioner, you should, as soon as is reasonably practical, make your complaint by:

  • telephoning the Commissioner's office
  • completing the online Complaint form
    Complaint form - Commissioner's website at www.comisiynyddgymraeg.org
  • completing a hard copy complaint form, which you can obtain by contacting the Commissioner.

The contact details for the Commissioner are:

Welsh Language Commissioner
Market Chambers
5-7 St Mary Street
Cardiff
CF10 1AT
Tel: 0845 603 3221
Email: post@welshlanguagecommissioner.org
Website: www.comisiynyddygymraeg.org

Other useful information

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