Anna Skalistira-Bakratseva, who is originally from Sofia in Bulgaria, now lives in Pontyclun with her husband and two children, and has completed a number of different Welsh courses for adults.
After moving to Wales in 2011, Anna was surprised to learn that people spoke and communicated in Welsh, and since then has been passionate about learning the language.
Anna, who also has a master’s degree in medicine, has been following an intensive Welsh for Adults course in Church Village with the University of South Wales since September 2013. She is currently doing an Uwch 4 (Advanced 4) class, and hopes to finish the course this year.
Anna said: “When I first moved here, I was unaware that Wales has such a strong cultural identity and has its own language, and as soon as I realised this I wanted to learn Welsh. I also thought that learning it could be beneficial in finding work, and learning a new skill is never a bad thing.
“I found out about the intensive Welsh course through a leaflet at my local library, and I’ve been studying the Welsh for Adults course for three years now. I also wanted to improve my formal Welsh skills to use at work or writing letters, so I found the Gloywi Iaith course online through Cardiff University. The classes focused on grammar and exercises and examples, and there were a lot of people on the course that already spoke Welsh but hadn’t used it in a while and wanted a refresher.
“I use Welsh as much as I can outside of the classes, and listen to the news on Radio Cymru every morning. I also watch S4C whenever there’s something on there that I like, and try to go and see Welsh language productions as often as possible.
“Thanks to the advanced course, I now feel very confident in using the language, and I enjoy reading Welsh novels – not just the ones for learners, but ones for fluent speakers as well. Everyone is so supportive in the classes, and there’s a very friendly environment in each session.”
“My advice to anyone thinking about learning Welsh is that you should never give up. It takes a long time, and progress can sometimes be very slow so it takes time to develop the confidence to use the language with other people.