PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

Patagonia, a Welsh part of the world full of adventures

John is one of our long-term students at Peartree Languages, who has been studying Spanish language privately for the last four years. He and his mum Rachel have become good friends of Peartree Languages and when we heard that they were going to visit Patagonia, we asked them to make a blog post about their adventures. We are very happy to see that John's Spanish is so good that he could manage to speak Spanish in Patagonia very well. 

Rachel, John's mum, was very kind and wrote this amazing blog post about their travels. 


When John had been in Ysgol Mynydd Bychan, a Welsh medium school, for about a year, he started to ask where else in the world he could use the language he was learning there. This was a tricky question to answer; Welsh is mainly spoken here in Wales but it is also used by Welsh people who have moved to other countries. The one place I did know that Welsh is spoken, day to day in the community, was Patagonia.

Daniel, Rachel, John and Rhiannon on their travels across Patagonia
I told John about Patagonia and we talked about visiting one day. Soon after, John started to ask about learning Spanish. I didn’t know where to even start looking for Spanish lessons for a 5 year old but then someone told me about Peartree Languages and Thursdays have been Spanish lesson day for the last 4 years.
John with his previous Spanish teacher Ana

John exploring the rugged countryside in Spanish Patagonia
In late 2014 we started to make plans to visit Patagonia. 2015 was the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the original Welsh settlers to the region, the reason Welsh is spoken there today. The settlers were trying to find a place to retain their Welsh identity, culture, religion and language which were all being threatened by the increasing industrialisation of the country and the increase in pressure to speak English rather than Welsh. Their solution was to move somewhere where they would be the only community. The Argentinian government was keen to find settlers for the sparsely inhabited Patagonia and encouraged the group of 162 Welsh men, women and children to make their home there. They were very successful.

You can see signs in Patagonia in three languages Welsh, English and Spanish
We travelled to Patagonia with Daniel, a Welsh speaking Welshman who lives in England and his 13 year old daughter, Rhiannon who also speaks Welsh, although she has never lived in Wales. We met our travelling companions for the first time at Heathrow Airport. The four of us travelled together to Buenos Aires where we toured the city and John was able to use his Spanish to explain the menu to me when we stopped for food. The next day, we took our 2 hour flight to Patagonia where we were met by our tour guide, the wonderful Jeremy.

Jeremy spent the next 10 days taking us whale watching, visiting colonies of elephant seals, meeting the biggest dinosaur yet discovered, finding hidden geological treasures in the dessert, seeing graves of and monuments to members of the Welsh community and hearing the 3 Welsh speakers of the group being interviewed on Patagonian radio, in Welsh and Spanish. We spent time on a beach, spent 3 days following the river Chubut in the path of the early settlers, went to Chile for the day and built an igloo in a ski resort. We stayed in fascinating places, ate delicious food and, most importantly, spent time with some of the most welcoming and interesting people I've ever met.

Welsh speakers being interviewed on Patagonian radio
We almost got used to seeing signs in Welsh, Spanish and English, but not quite. Patagonia is an amazing place and John and I were lucky enough to see it with fantastic people who we hope will remain our friends.

I also feel lucky to have been there with John, whose brilliant Spanish teachers at Peartree had that he could translate prices for me and given him the confidence to join Jeremy’s son Tommy in an archery lesson in Spanish!
John with one of his Spanish teachers, Nuria, at Peartree Languages
The Welsh community in Patagonia still speak the language every day and go to the Welsh chapels built by the settlers. The Welsh language schools in the region are thriving. For me, a Welsh person who lives in Wales and has struggled for years trying to learn the language (I will get there!), it was a humbling experience to spend time with people who are using their Welsh every day while living outside of Wales, in Argentina and in England.

We will definitely visit Patagonia again, one day.

2015 was the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the original Welsh settlers to Patagonia
If you would like to know more about Patagonia and the Welsh community living in this country, visit our older blog post: Patagonia - The Welsh part of Argentina 

In case you would like to know more about our private classes, you can visit our blog post: It is NOT ONLY about English... 
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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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