A COUPLE who met whilst studying music in Germany, have embraced every possible opportunity to learn Welsh since moving to Barry, and now speak Welsh together every day.

Sonia and Mathias Maurer first met in Saarbruecken Music College, Germany, where they studied the viola and violin.

They decided to move to Barry after her parents, who are originally from Wales, returned to the area having spent many years living in England.

Mrs Maurer’s father, Bernard van Lierop, is learning Welsh with Learn Welsh The Vale, run by the Vale council on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

She initially learnt Welsh through the online course Say Something in Welsh, and has also benefitted from courses run by the National Centre.

Mr Maurer has recently completed the Welsh in a Year sabbatical course for teachers at Cardiff university.

The couple decided to send their children to Welsh-medium schools and Steffi, 12, attends Ysgol Bro Morgannwg, and Annabel, nine, attends Ysgol Sant Baruc.

The family speak three languages at home.

Mrs Maurer said: ‘‘We speak Welsh together every day as a family, as well as English and a little German.

“Now that Mathias and I speak fluent Welsh, it’s nice that the children no longer have a secret language of their own.

“It’s also great fun speaking Welsh when we visit Germany, because nobody can guess where we’re from.’’

Music plays an important part in their lives and all five play and perform the ukelele in a band called ‘Y Sanau Drewllyd’ (The Smelly Socks).

Annabel also plays the harp and Steffi was awarded first prize for a guitar solo at the 2018 Urdd National Eisteddfod.

Mr Maurer is a former member, and Mrs Maurer a former extra of the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera.

Mr van Lierop has also taken advantage of every opportunity to practise Welsh in an informal setting.

He attends weekly coffee mornings in Wenvoe and has joined the Learn Welsh ‘Siarad’ (the Welsh word for ‘speak’) programme, which brings fluent Welsh speakers and learners together for 10 hours of informal conversation in social settings.

‘‘I feel fortunate to have made friends through Siarad and the coffee mornings, and my aim is to continue to learn so I can improve my understanding of Welsh poetry,” he said. “Find activities that you will enjoy doing through the medium of Welsh and the language will develop naturally.’’

To find a Welsh course or opportunities to practise Welsh, go to learnwelsh.cymru