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Wolof language courses taught to bring Catalan and Senegalese cultures closer

The Conca de Barberà County does not want to neglect the high number of immigrants living in Catalonia and is organising Arabic, Chinese, and Wolof language classes with native speakers as a pilot project. Wolof is a language spoken in Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania and has over 13 million speakers. The courses are designed to focus on the language, although there are aspects of tradition and custom taught in order to enhance the student’s exposure to other cultures.


07 August 2012 09:00 PM


ACN / Marc C. Griso / Núria Torres / David Tuxworth

Barcelona (ACN).- The Conca de Barberà County is teaching Wolof. The language originates from Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania and is spoken by over 13 million people. However, in Catalonia it is largely unknown and language courses are nonexistent. In fact, it is the first time courses teaching Wolof have been organised in Catalonia. The course is primarily language-based, but aspects of culture, tradition, festivals and even gastronomy are also taught. Conca de Barberà County Council\u2019s pilot project also includes courses in Arabic and Chinese at the request of local town halls that are conscious of the high levels of immigration. The course organisers consider it is not only important that immigrants learn Catalan culture but that Catalans also enhance their understanding of other cultures.

\u201CNumu demé\u201D, which means \u201CHow are you?\u201D in Wolof, is one of the first phrases that students on the course learn, currently being taught in the village of Barberà de la Conca. Moustapha Gadiaga from Senegal has lived for six years in the town and is the teacher. \u201CI teach basic concepts and short words, but essential for making themselves understood\u201D, explains Moustapha Gadiaga.

The teacher and the small group of students agree on the need to learn new languages to fully experience different cultures. The course is designed to give a small taste of Senegalese culture and its roots. However it is not the only one. A few days ago, there was an Arabic class and next one will be a Chinese class. The three classes are taught by volunteer native teachers. The course lasts for two weeks, has four two-hour sessions and is taught in the Town Hall. The teachers all have their legal residence in Catalonia and share a similar level of education. In Gadiaga\u2019s, case he was a French teacher in his country.

To enrol, students pay only a symbolic amount of two euros. The Council is organising these foreign language courses as a test pilot. If it is successful, they will be repeated in the coming years. Teachers are volunteers, but the course has benefited the Arabic teacher: after teaching her course she found a job in a language school.

Núria Benet, one of the students on the course and a participant in language exchanges, follows the course because she wants to meet new people with similar interests and communicate with the Senegalese who live in her town, Montblanc. Although she has not been to Africa yet, she is convinced that when she does, she will be better understood and be able to express herself with knowledge of the language. Benet already knows how to say goodbye, saying \u201CMagedem\u201D.


  • A Wolof class in Barberà de la Conca (by M. Cervelló)

  • A Wolof class in Barberà de la Conca (by M. Cervelló)