'If we don't study the language, the history will be lost' : motivation to learn Welsh in Argentine Patagonia

Banegas, Darío Luis and Roberts, Grisel (2020) 'If we don't study the language, the history will be lost' : motivation to learn Welsh in Argentine Patagonia. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. ISSN 1367-0050

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    Abstract

    This study examines the motivations of learners studying Welsh in the city of Esquel, Argentine Patagonia. Welsh is considered a heritage immigrant language in this region, given the fact that a group of Welsh settlers arrived in 1865 and established successful settlements. After a flourishing period, the process of acculturation reduced the number of Welsh speakers. However, through different projects, Welsh has started to grow in the community by attracting Argentines with and without Welsh roots to learn the language. Framed as a qualitative study, this article presents the findings that emerged from in-depth interviews with ten adult and young learners at a local Welsh learning centre in Esquel. Based on the qualitative data collected and on complementary theories of language learning motivation, it may be concluded that for the participants motivation is driven by family and community-driven interests in language maintenance and revitalisation. Also, integrative orientation, influenced by the official narrative of overrepresenting the Welsh in Patagonia (Berg, K. 2018. “Chubut, Argentina: A Contested Welsh ‘First-Place’.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 24: 154–166. doi:10.1080/13527258.2016.1274667), was identified as influential.