New Welsh toddler group paving the way for Welsh language at Abertillery library

A new Welsh Ti a Fi playgroup has opened in Abertillery library, offering free sessions every Thursday from 10-11:00am. You don’t have to have any prior Welsh skills to attend, all are encouraged to come along and join the fun!

Louise Wilkins, a Development Officer at Mudiad Meithrin, recently started a new Ti a Fi (you and me) group for young children and their families in the area. Read on to learn how the Wilkins family enjoyed learning the language and how you can join the Ti a Fi sessions too.

Louise and her husband Mark wanted their children to learn Welsh from an early age, even though they didn't speak it themselves. They had triplets and sent them to the Welsh medium Primary School, Ysgol Gymraeg Brynmawr. The children embraced learning Welsh and thrived there. The school’s premises changed in their final two years of schooling with Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Helyg opening in its place. The triplets were a part of the first cohort of year 4 children to attend the modern new school and continued to thrive.

Louise was a volunteer during the school years of the triplets and helped with school activities. She also worked as a Mid-Day Assistant in the school. When the parent and toddler group needed a volunteer, Louise was ideal because she had a strong interest in the language, for both the children and herself. This volunteer role then turned into a formal job with Mudiad Meithrin as a Ti a Fi officer for Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.

Louise’s job at Mudiad Meithrin involved setting up and managing Welsh preschool play groups, where she could share her experience with other parents who might want to choose Welsh education for their children but might feel anxious that they are not fluent speakers themselves. Having gone through the experience of having children in Welsh education without being able to speak the language herself, she could give her experience of the process.

After a successful primary school chapter ended the triplets went onto Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool, this being the nearest comprehensive for Blaenau Gwent children. Louise and Mark were initially concerned about the bus journey, but the children confidently made the bus ride with old and plenty of new friends they made from all walks of life. Their social circles grew and with events all over Wales. They joined the Urdd, performed, and visited Eisteddfod’s, things they had never heard of before the children started school, but they loved them and went every year. The girls played netball for their school, Ella became head of year and Ethan played football along with many other activities all done through the medium of Welsh.

Once they reached GCSE age all three did well and continued onto A levels at Gwynllyw, and then onto university. Louise credits their success and interest in further development to their dual language education. Ella has travelled the world studying linguistics, she now speaks Welsh, English, French, German and Spanish and has recently started a job as an interpreter for the NHS.

Evie's video is completing her final year of her PGCE to become a primary school teacher and hopes to work at the new Welsh primary school in Tredegar. Ethan's career as an aeronautical engineer has also been enhanced by his Welsh language ability as he is able to converse in Welsh with partnering companies.

Overall, the Wilkins family, led by Louise’s clear passion and goal to keep the language alive and thriving has enriched their lives. With the opening of the new Cylch Ti a Fi in Abertillery, Louise is excited to continue to spread the word on the benefits of introducing the language into your children’s lives early on.

“They have so many more opportunities these days” Louise explained, “you can start by visiting a Ti a Fi, ‘you and me’ toddler play group, you can learn Welsh with the Clwb Cwtsh, a Welsh early year’s language course, we run Cymraeg i Blant sessions – baby yoga, story, and rhyme time, plus the many online apps and courses available”.

“I have no regrets putting my children into the Welsh 23 years ago, it has given them so many opportunities because of it and this has had a positive effect on their whole lives. Talking to my children and they believe we made the correct decision and will definitely be putting their own children through the Welsh education stream; they were given many more opportunities because of it.”

Louise now runs several Ti a Fi’s across different boroughs. The primary goal of the new Ti a Fi in Abertillery library is to engage with non-Welsh speaking  and Welsh speaking families, giving them an introduction and understanding of the language and Welsh education. This group will feed into the Cylch Meithrin in Brynithel that feeds into the two Welsh medium primary schools within Blaenau Gwent, Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Helyg and Ysgol Gymraeg Tredegar.

The group is a fun easy way to be introduced to the language. The group runs on Thursday mornings at Abertillery library, offering a warm welcome to all.  They have a play session, dancing, singing and plenty of crafts to keep you and the little ones occupied.  It’s a brilliant opportunity to pick up some of the language yourself in a relaxed environment, we guarantee you’ll be singing the catchy Welsh songs with your little ones in no time.

Louise still considers herself a learner and as such actively makes the sessions accessible to all. Her groups are warm and welcoming, and she has a font of knowledge for the area and for the next steps in your child’s educational journey.

Pop along Thursday mornings 10-11am during term times for free fun filled sessions!

For more information of those first steps into Welsh Education and to find groups in your area go to – Mudiad website.

For more information of groups available in your area try the Family Information Service website:

Family information Service