BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 450

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 450

IELTS Academic Reading Test
BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 450

The Welsh in Argentina

In the middle of the 19th century, some individuals in Wales and the United States were inspired by the idea of establishing a Welsh settlement in Argentina. Their hope was that the Welsh could live and keep their language and traditions alive, without any external influences. At first sight, it is curious that some Welsh were of U.S. origin, but Welsh travelers had headed earlier towards North America.

The problem in the U.S. was that American society had a strong influence on the language and traditions of Welsh migrants. Some therefore decided to set up colonies in other somewhat far-away places of the world, so that the lack of contact with other cultures would encourage the preservation of their own culture. They finally chose Patagonian Argentina, due to its isolation and because the Argentine government offered a grant of twenty-five acres of land per family.

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Initially, it was problematic to raise funds and gather public support and the long negotiations with the Argentine government were very difficult. However, the first group of Welsh settlers finally began the long journey to Patagonia on the 28th May 1865. Some 150, in total, sailed from Liverpool on board the Mimosa. The reality of life in Patagonia, a barren and inhospitable place, was to prove extremely challenging for the early settlers. The settlers had to face many adversities, such as bad harvests, floods and the lack of a direct way out to the ocean in order to sell their goods.

Some of them, as a result, decided to emigrate to other areas. The population decreased and because of this, it became important that more Welsh came from Wales. Some of the settlers went back to Wales in order to convince them and two more waves took place during the years 1874 and 1876. In time, the settlers established their own Welsh-speaking communities, where they built farms and schools.

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By the mid-twentieth century, the influx from Wales had ceased altogether and people of different cultural backgrounds from other parts of Argentina migrated to the territory. During this time, there was little connection between Wales and Patagonia, because of the two world wars, and the depression years of Argentina. The Welsh community was at that time in a minority and, when the first generations of Welsh colonists disappeared, the sense of relationship between Wales and Patagonia weakened and Welsh cultural activity was drastically reduced.

This decay of the settlers’ Welsh traditions continued. Although Argentina had gained independence in 1816, it wasn’t until the 20th century that Spanish became the official language of the country. This and the process of the Argentinian authorities becoming actively involved in the governance of the settlement made the Welsh settlers more and more Argentinian and less and less Welsh. The number of people speaking Welsh in Patagonia also reduced rapidly during the early twentieth century.

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However, the 1960’s saw a revival in relations between Wales and Patagonia, which led to an increase in interest in all things Welsh amongst the descendants of the first settlers. Many Welsh people visited the region in 1965 to celebrate the colony’s centenary and since then, the number of Welsh visitors has increased. Today, the Welsh Institute, which is responsible for gathering data on Welsh culture there, has reported that out of approximately 150,000 people living in the province where the Welsh areas of Patagonia are located, there are approximately 20,000 who are descendants of the Welsh.

Many of them speak Welsh naturally, and many more are able to speak Welsh to differing levels. The latter are people and children, who either have received some amount of Welsh at home, or have learned Welsh as a second language in the classroom. Approximately six hundred people of all ages take up learning Welsh as a second language annually. The Welsh heritage of Patagonia is visible throughout the entire province, even in villages in the middle of the Patagonian desert, with Welsh names and signs seen in the street on the shop fronts.

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Educators are sent to teach the language and to train local tutors, and there is some sort of prestige in knowing the language, even among those who are not of Welsh descent. The Welsh language education is mainly funded by the Welsh government and other UK institutions.

It seems like a wonderful story, but not everyone agrees with this point of view. Academics researching aspects of Welsh involvement in Patagonia say the migration has to be seen now more as cultural colonialism than a benign settlement of the region. This act of migration was underpinned by a contradiction. Those involved were fleeing England’s cultural dominance while failing to grasp that they would pose the same threat to indigenous Patagonians. Some opponents feel that Wales’ involvement in the region has escaped the criticism levelled at, for example, British expansion in places like India and Africa, because received wisdom has always portrayed the Welsh as colonised and disempowered.

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Finally, modern anthropological researchers have reported that there are no actual native Welsh speakers remaining in Patagonia. Claims about Welsh language speakers actually refer to second language speakers or language learners. Nevertheless, there are currently three bilingual Welsh-Spanish schools in Patagonia. Whatever the point of view, there is no escaping the fact that there is now a small island of Wales in the centre of Argentinian Patagonia.

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

1. The Welsh settlers wished to found a settlement in Patagonia to not only nurture their culture, but also their ________________.

2. The early Welsh settlers in the U.S. noticed that their language and culture were particularly affected by ________________.

3. The Argentinian government gave the new Welsh settlers twenty-five acres of land per family, but not before lengthy ________________.

4. Poor harvests and floods were just two of the numerous ________________ that the first settlers faced in Patagonia.

5. Visits to Wales by settlers in led to further ________________ taking place.

6. The world wars and period of ________________ in Argentina ensured few relations between Wales and Patagonia in the mid twentieth century.

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Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the text for each answer.

7. In which century did Spanish become the official language of Argentina?

8. What did many Welsh visitors come to Patagonia to celebrate in 1965?

9. Which organisation in Patagonia collects information on Welsh culture?

10. About how many people today take up learning the Welsh language in Patagonia every year?

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Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.

11. What example is given of current Welsh help to foster Welsh culture in Patagonia?

A. Teachers are sent out

B. Argentinian Welsh speakers are given scholarships to study in Wales

C. New emigration is funded

D. Cultural events are sponsored

12. What contradiction is identified by academics regarding cultural colonialism?

A. Many settlers experienced a worse life in Patagonia than back in Wales

B. The settlers escaping from English cultural colonialism inflicted it on indigenous Patagonians

C. The settlers who wanted to preserve their Welsh identity intermarried with the indigenous Patagonians

D. The settlers were there, but not in a location that they wished

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13. Why is it stated by some critics that the Welsh settlement was not classed as colonialism?

A. Because the Welsh settlers were welcomed by the indigenous Patagonians

B. Because Wales as a country was too weak and itself colonised

C. Because the Welsh settlers were happy to include the indigenous Patagonians in their villages

D. Because the Welsh settlers embraced Argentine nationality

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BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 450

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7. THE 20TH



10. 600

11. A

12. B

13. B

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