The Cornish language is part of the Celtic family of languages with close links to Welsh and Breton and more distant links with Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx. Cornish is a revived language that almost disappeared in the 1800’s, but through the efforts of Cornish language revivalists the language has grown in popularity ever since. Even though the numbers of speakers are small, over the last decade interest in Cornish has rapidly expanded and it’s estimated that there are now thousands of people who have some knowledge of the language.
Research shows that if a language is to be successfully revived that it is the very youngest in society that need to learn it. Children absorb and learn languages at an astonishing rate, but learning needs to be systematic and part of their everyday experience and this has been one of the driving forces behind promoting the Cornish language further.
Movyans Skolyow Meythrin(MSM) is a not-for-profit organisation that works to promote the Cornish language among young children and their families. Since 2009 MSM has successfully worked with children to develop the use of the Cornish language both in/outside of the home.
In 2010 MSM set up Skol Veythrin Karenza (SVK) as a voluntarily Cornish language project run by parents/carers who wanted their children to learn the Cornish language for the home environment. SVK originally ran as a Saturday Club for two hours every week during term time and this was extended in 2012 to a full day on a Wednesday. Donations only rather than payment have been requested by SVK for the services offered, because the work undertaken has been very much community led run by volunteers and parents/carers. To date approximately fifty children between the ages of 1 and 7 have attended the setting for significant periods of time and Cornish is learned through play, song and games.
SVK is currently in the process of registering with Ofsted and when it is launched this academic year will be the first and only full time Cornish language nursery school in the world. The volunteers at SVK have shown immense commitment to the project over the last three years and have committed themselves to working voluntarily to ensure SVK is properly established, with some volunteers even agreeing to work towards gaining a specialist higher level early year’s qualification to enable the school to run more smoothly.
Setting up a nursery is expensive, but SVK has been lucky enough to have received voluntary assistance and donations to pay for some materials and resources used over the last three years. It has always been a struggle to cover costs and we are still unsure if these costs will be met. If we can raise £4800, it will be enough to cover the cost of any additional training, resources and materials we need for us to be ‘OfSTED ready’ from September 2014. At our setting we will have provision to accommodate twelve children in the first year and some of these places have already been allocated!
We believe that our target is a small amount in comparison with the outcome that we will achieve in the establishment of Skol Veythrin Karenza/Karenza Nursery School!