Last year I had started teaching on the Welsh version of our Environmental Data Analysis module. Up until that time, I had only done limited Welsh language teaching. I dealt with some Welsh language assignments, and gave Welsh speaking students guidance on assignments in Welsh. And not directly teaching, but I had lead a practical session for a visiting Welsh language school, partly on my own. That was quite daunting! But it went okay. But then it was agreed I would join this module that was entirely run in Welsh. Last year, my contributions were still limited: I translated a PowerPoint presentation, and I helped with a practical. A lady from Natural Sciences was leading it.
By the start of this year, that lady had retired. I naïvely expected some discussion about who would take on which parts of her teaching. But Dei, who is module leader, is totally snowed under, so I suddenly got an email on a Thursday afternoon that suggested I was expected to teach a two hour computer practical about statistics the next Tuesday on my own. No one had mentioned any of that! And I figured I could, but then I wanted to know what I was expected to teach. Dei was too busy, so I dived into the documentation with my colleague Mollie.
It wasn't particularly easy to figure out what would need doing! The module website didn't give many clues. I figured I would do the retired lady’s material. But there was also material from the English version of the module, that had been translated by the university’s translation services. I had already gone through the other material, but I agreed that it would be better to do the same thing as the English cohort. So then I started preparing that. And ended up with more surprises!
It was clear that that English cohort is expected to watch the Powerpoints online. They are ready-narrated. Ours weren’t! And even if we would find a time to sort that out, there would be no time for the students to go through them. You can't really ask them that at very short notice. They also have other modules to do! But we realised the practical required no fewer than three different presentations in order to cover the material. I didn't really think three Powerpoints and the practical would fit inside the slot. But we would have to give it a go! Luckily, frantic figuring out what we needed to teach when revealed that the next session, to be lead by Mollie, was not anywhere near as busy as that, so we could let my sessions bleed into hers if needs be.
There also was a quiz that would test the students on the things they would have learned during the practical. We didn't have a test! But at least, that we could quickly do. As long as we had it ready at the start of the practical, that was early enough.
I was still very busy with the dissertation module, and it was also the time we needed to file our exam questions. I made sure I knew what our students had to do in the practical part, with the Welsh vocabulary. I don't normally use the Welsh terms for things such as standard deviation or interquartile range! But I didn't really have time to do more preparation than that.
The day came. The students looked friendly. And so I started! I must admit I was disturbed by how halting my narration of the PowerPoints was. But the students look very forgiving. And as soon as I could go freewheeling, everything was fine. And the guiding them through the practical was fine as well.
|One of the slides. Thanks to my colleague Jenny, and Canolfan Bedwyr for translation|
Time flew by! Before I knew it, the two hours were up. And I had to live strictly at the time it finished; I was headed for Jaco and Marjan for dinner. We Dutchies don't eat late!
That night I was knackered. I must've been slightly dull company! But my first independent Welsh teaching, and then immediately two hours at one go, with a little time for preparation, was done!
I'm sure we'll do it again next year. But given that Mollie and I now made an effort of making sure the module website was in good shape, and we can just roll it over into next year, and then it will just be clear what needs doing when. And then we can do it a lot more smoothly! I actually already look forward to it.
When I started learning Welsh at the very beginning of my time here at Bangor University, I hoped that one day I would indeed teach in Welsh. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but we got there now! May much more follow!