A Cardiff-born organisation, The Saturday Circle, has taken the leap in becoming the UK’s first multi-language Saturday children’s club, planting Wales firmly on the global stage as a leader in language and cultural education.
Opening its doors for the first time at Howell’s School Llandaff Ty Hapus building on September 5th 2015, The Saturday Circle provided eleven sessions for children aged 0 – 10 across six languages: French, Welsh, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin. Families with children who already speak the language at home, as well as families with children wanting to learn the language for the first time, came from across Cardiff and beyond to participate in the play-based language immersion sessions, led by native speakers of the language. The Saturday Circle aims to immerse children in alternative cultures and languages from the earliest possible age so as to encourage social interaction, cultural understanding and language skills.
Founder of The Saturday Circle, Mackenzie Nordal, said “It’s been a long time coming, and we are delighted to have finally made this happen! We hear, over and over, about the benefits of children being exposed to other languages from a young age – not only do children who hear other languages enjoy cognitive and developmental benefits, but they are more capable analytically and socially, and the proven health benefits – like a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease – last well into adulthood. Yet, although we have facility for children to learn Welsh in Wales, the facilities for children to be exposed to other languages beyond that have been sparse till now.” She added, “The Saturday Circle is all about bringing like-minded people together to create a truly internationally-minded community in Cardiff, made up of not just ex-pats and many non-welsh families, but those within Wales who value Welsh as well as other languages and a cultural education for their children.”
Sally Davis, Principal at Howell’s School Llandaff, said, “As a school that values highly the linguistic and cultural education of our pupils, we were delighted when we heard about The Saturday Circle’s plans to provide these sessions to the community in South Wales. The Ty Hapus building is a fabulous space that gives ample opportunity for the children to learn through play, and we are delighted to be supporting a fun, social and effective introduction to languages at an early age.”
The Saturday Circle’s aim is to provide a whole-family solution to learning languages, and does this by running all the age-groups’ sessions for a single language at the same time, allowing parents the chance to have all the children participate simultaneously. Tea and coffee is provided free to parents, who are encouraged to stay and enjoy the social experience of interacting with others within this vastly culturally diverse group.
All sessions currently take place on Saturdays during term time between the times of 9am and 3pm, but demand has already begun for after school, Sunday and holiday sessions to accommodate even more schedules. The first adult-learning session has already been scheduled for later in the autumn, and demand for many more languages means that The Saturday Circle is likely to begin to provide languages such as Swedish, Slovak, Russian and Portuguese in the near future too.
With many of the sessions already fully booked and filling quickly, The Saturday Circle is a shining example of Wales’s internationally-minded population, and sets the nation firmly and prominently on the global stage as a leader in cultural education, children’s educational development and celebration of diversity.