A MUSICIAN from Cogan is lending his support to a new Welsh Government drive to encourage more adults to take up Welsh lessons.

Saxophone and trumpet player Gavin Fitzjohn, 27, has taken lessons on a two-week intensive course at the Welsh for Adults centre in Cardiff. Now he lives life bilingually and hopes to encourage other adults to learn the language, be they complete beginners or already proficient.

A patriotic Welshman, Gavin has always wanted to speak Welsh and since meeting girlfriend Catrin, a first language Welsh speaker, he wanted to communicate with her and his friends in Welsh. Gavin also hopes to one day to send his children to a Welsh school and thinks it's important to introduce the language in the home from a very early age.

Having learnt Welsh at school, Gavin was familiar with the language and so enrolled on the course to improve his fluency.

Gavin said: “It had been almost ten years since I had been in any kind of formal learning so although I was a little apprehensive at first, after completing the course I felt a huge sense of achievement and has definitely made me more open to the idea of adult learning.”

Speaking of his experiences since starting to learn the language, Gavin said: “After the two-week intensive course my knowledge of the language and ability to speak it has increased dramatically. I can now hold a conversation with my friends in Welsh, which is very liberating. I can apply the skills I learnt on the course to my everyday life - reading road signs, using ATM machines and even understanding programmes on S4C.”

The Welsh for Adults centre arranges social gatherings every month, there are plenty of opportunities for learners to practice what they learn outside of the classroom.

Gavin added: “Obviously there are times when it can be frustrating as you struggle to find the right word or tense but it's an amazing feeling when you realise you've strung two or three sentences together without even thinking about it. I am certain I will continue to learn more of the Welsh language and hope that in the not too distant future, and with the help of family and friends, I become fluent.”

Welsh for Adults centres can be found across Wales and offer courses to suit learners from entry level stage right through to proficiency. Different course options also exist for those who want to learn Welsh with children, and courses to improve Welsh in the workplace led by a team of tutors who work with a wide range of institutions from all sectors to provide tailor-made courses for employers and employees. Learners can also choose the pace of their course - leisurely, moderate or intensive - so that it fits in with their lifestyle.

Gavin is encouraging adults to find out about local courses starting in September on the Welsh for Adults website for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan - welshforadults.cardiff.ac.uk

Minister for Education and Skills Huw Lewis said: “There is always a reason to learn Welsh: from learning a new skill, hoping to progress in the workplace, conversing with family or wanting to meet a new group of friends. Lessons can be found locally and cater for everyone, be they complete beginners or wanting to brush up after learning it in school.

“The Welsh Government has devised a strategy to make the Welsh language sustainable, but we can only succeed if we all take responsibility and use the language at every opportunity.”