The latest report on the Welsh Language Project in Patagonia has found the number of Welsh learners in the region is continuing to grow.
A total of 1220 Patagonians took Welsh courses in 2015, up from 1174 in 2014 - the highest number of learners since the project began in 1997 with 573 learners.
The 2015 Annual Monitoring Report of the Welsh Language Project, which is run by British Council Wales, also states that the number of Welsh classes in the region increased to 104, up from 90 in 2014, 83 in 2013 and 79 in 2012.
Jenny Scott, director of British Council Wales, said: “As well as continuing to manage the Project, in 2015 on behalf of Welsh Government we took on the coordination of Patagonia 150, the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Welsh settlers in Patagonia. New links were made between organisations in Wales and Patagonia. After such a successful year of events we’re very pleased the report finds that the work to secure the future of the Welsh language in Y Wladfa is stronger than ever.”
Learning coordinator, Clare Vaughan, who is based in Patagonia, said: “Before the year began there was some discussion about the celebrations to mark the first Welsh settlers arriving in Patagonia, but I don’t think anyone expected such a busy year of work and activity. It has been wonderful to welcome so many people to these communities and I hope that all those who visited us felt the thrill of speaking their own language so far from home. The year was so important to the revival of the language and culture in Y Wladfa and we sincerely hope that the celebrations had the same impact on our visitors.”
Rhisiart Arwel, academic monitor for the project, said: “The fact that the Project continues to attract Welsh learners after nearly 20 years is clear indication that members of Y Wladfa still feel a strong connection to the language. As well as the increase in the number of learners, 2015 saw hundreds of local people take part in the Patagonia 150 celebrations. We also celebrated the opening of a new building for Ysgol Gymraeg y Gaiman and the opening of the new school in Trevelin, Ysgol y Cwm.”
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the start of the Welsh Language Project.