24 December 2022

Marking a Welsh essay

Students in the School of Ocean Sciences have been able to do their tutorial module in Welsh since before I arrived at Bangor University. The assessments in this module boil down to essays and presentations. My colleague Dei always took these students on. 

Recently, we established a Foundation Year. People with an education that doesn’t quite equip them for a degree with us can just do that year and then they’re good to go for an actual degree. And three of my colleagues are dedicated tutors for that cohort. Dei is one. And that means he’s not available for the freshers, Welsh-speaking or otherwise. I hadn’t realised that. And it seemed nobody in the right place had realised I can teach in Welsh too. So the Welsh speaking students had just been thrown into the big pile and assigned to arbitrary tutors.

One day I got an email from one of my colleagues. One of her tutees wanted to do the tutorial module in Welsh. Could either Dei or me provide her feedback on her draft? I volunteered. And said we should think of how to deal with her presentation. And then got on with my normal work.

Then some weeks later the colleague appeared at my door again. The presentations were the next day! We had to act quickly. I was available and said I’d be there. And so I marked my first presentation in Welsh! 

I figured I’d take on the essay as well. I had marked work in Welsh before, and provided feedback in that language, but this my first Welsh essay. And I suppose the other work had been a lot more data-heavy. Essays are more language-heavy! I enjoyed it.

I was a bit miffed, though; I have been shouting for years about my Welsh capabilities, and the School has an impressive precedent in ignoring that. It’s quite a slight to give students who are enrolled on a Welsh language module to non-Welsh speaking staff if they could have given them to me! And next year I’m sure they’ll be assigned to Molly, our new Welsh medium member of staff. Which is fine, but this year they should have made different choices. The School is not using its resources well! 

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