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Vol. 13, no. 1 1986

Bilingual education as an agent in cultural reproduction : spatial variations in Wales /

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Williams, Colin H. 1986: Bilingual Education As An Agent
in Cultural Reproduction: Spatial Variations in Wales.
Cambria, 13 (1), pp. 111 to pp. 129. Part III of Davies,
W.K.D. (ed) Human Geography from Wales: Proceedings
of the E.G. Bowen Memorial Conference. ISSN 0306-
For many decades the decline in the proportion of people speaking
Welsh has been age specific with smaller proportions in the younger
age groups. Recently this has changed, with increases in the
proportions of the younger age groups able to speak Welsh. Much of
this change must be attributed to the spread of bilingual education in
the schools. This is used as a background to the specific study in the
growth of pre-school nursery education in Wales which is revealed as an
important element in the cultural reproduction of the minority Welsh
speaking group. The considerable spatial variation in this educational
opportunity has important consequences for the future health of the
Colin H. Williams, Dept. of Geography and Recreational
Studies, North Staffordshire Polytechnic, Leek Road,
Stoke-on-Trent, England. ST4 2DF.
Minority cultural reproduction in advanced industrial societies is a pressing and
fascinating issue for social scientific analysis which has important geographical or spatial
implications for the future of a language. Most geographical studies of language have
focussed on the spatial distribution of language groups (Aitchison, Carter and Williams,
1985) not on the detailed mechanisms of change. Yet cultural production and reproduction,
as Raymond Williams reminds us, is not only a constant source of dynamism in modem
society, but also of "deeply significant internal contradictions, internal shifts and thus
internal changes" (Williams 1981 p. 199). The object of this paper is one aspect of cultural
reproduction in contemporary Wales which engenders a simultaneous myriad of internal
contradictions and consequent pressures for social change, namely Welsh-medium
education. This study is not an evaluation of bilingual education either of developing
linguistic or socio-academic skills, nor are any prescriptive suggestions offered. The area
is one in which there is a paucity of detailed information. So the essentially empirical
approach adopted here focusses upon the spatial variations in the provision of bilingual
education. It is a necessary precursor to the more detailed evaluative approach adopted in
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