language immersion

The Catalan school model, at stake in negotiations to form a new Spanish government

August 24, 2016 12:41 PM | ACN

The conservative People’s Party (PP) and liberal unionist Ciutadans (C’s) are negotiating in order to form a stable majority for a new government in Spain and Catalonia is one of the main issues on the table. The MP from Ciutadans Jorge Soler has confirmed that the so-called ‘Catalan package’ of demands from C’s to the PP includes changing the school model, even though education is a devolved power in Catalonia. The current school model has been in place for more than 30 years and is widely recognised by school teachers unions, associations and experts, as well as families. In Catalan schools, Catalan is the language of instruction in order to guarantee that all pupils end their studies knowing both Catalan, which not everyone learns at home, and Spanish, which is widely used both in the media and on the street. However, C’s has always campaigned against this system, saying that it discriminates against Spanish families that want their children to be taught in the Spanish language. That’s why they’re asking the PP to scrap the system and introduce a trilingual model with Spanish, English and Catalan. Some of the other ‘Catalan-package’ demands of C’s is a new fiscal system and the prioritisation of key infrastructure projects such as the Mediterranean Corridor. Both PP and C’s frontally reject a referendum on independence in Catalonia.

28% of families born outside Catalonia use Catalan language with their children

July 30, 2015 06:03 PM | ACN

60.2% of families with one parent born outside Catalonia use Catalan with their children and 27.5% of natives with both parents born outside use Catalan with their children, according to data from 2013 coming from the Language Policy Report 2014 released this week. Ferran Mascarell, the Catalan Minister for Culture, said that "Catalan health remains" and said that "Catalan has passed a phase that was complicated because there have been significant demographic changes," along with technological changes and negative Spanish Government's policies. In Catalonia, the majority of the population 15 years and older claimed to understand, speak, read and write in Catalan: 94.3% understood, 80.4% could speak, 82.4% could read and 60.4% could write. Besides, while 48.1% of the population above 15 has a high level of Catalan in all language abilities, 26.6% reported important deficits in using or understanding the language.

Supreme Court of Catalonia rejects Madrid's petition to reopen school enrolment to include Spanish as a tuition language

June 9, 2015 10:28 PM | ACN

Catalonia's Supreme Court (TSJC) has ruled against the petition filed by the Spanish Ministry of Education that asked to reopen the enrolment process for the next school year in order to use registration forms in which parents could explicitly choose whether they wanted their children to be taught in Spanish as an instruction language. In the last few years, the Spanish Government has been undertaking a judicial battle to change Catalonia's school model, which has been developed with an extremely wide consensus over the last 35 years and completely guarantees the knowledge of both Spanish and Catalan, as results show. The model is based on the linguistic immersion principle, through which children are mostly taught in Catalan, although many flexible measures are included. However, the Spanish Government would like to have Spanish as an instruction language as well, despite most of the pedagogic experts considering that if this were the case, many children from Spanish-speaking environments would not have a proficient knowledge of Catalan and would not be bilingual.

50.7% of Catalans usually converse in Spanish and 36.3% in Catalan

June 20, 2014 07:54 PM | ACN

Just 36.3% of Catalans have Catalan as their main language, according to a survey presented on Friday by the Catalan Ministry of Culture and the Catalan Institute of Statistics (Idescat). The survey examining language use in the population of 2013 found that 31% of the Catalan population had Catalan as their mother tongue and a slightly higher percentage usually converse in Catalan as their main language: 36.3%. Nonetheless, 55.1% of those surveyed reported having Spanish as their mother tongue, with 50.7% using Spanish as their main language. In 2003, 46% reported having Catalan as their main language, but this fell to 35.6% by 2008. Additionally, the report found that 94.3% of Catalans surveyed in 2013 could understand Catalan.

Catalans’ English skills on an upward trend – still behind Spaniards and European leaders

March 21, 2014 09:14 PM | Emma Garzi

In 2012, 26.5% of the Catalans could have a conversation with someone in English, according to the latest survey on foreign languages issued by the Catalan Institute of Statistics (IDESCAT). The youngest population was also the most skilled, with 50.8% of teenagers aged 15-19 knowing the language. According to EU studies on bilingualism, Catalonia should offer a more positive context for English learning, due to having two main official languages, Catalan and Castilian (referred to as Spanish abroad). But, despite improving figures, the Catalans remain slightly behind the Spaniards and are still outdistanced by the Scandinavian leaders. Nevertheless, recent figures point towards a positive change in trend, sparked by a school system that fosters true bilingualism. Interestingly, Catalan currently is the minority language in Catalonia, following successive waves of immigration from other regions in Spain and Franco’s repression.

Catalan Government forced to pay for private education in Spanish

March 5, 2014 09:17 PM | ACN

The Spanish Ministry of Education has released the decree proposal stating that the Catalan Government has the obligation to provide alternatives to families who request their children to be taught in Spanish in public schools, where Catalan is the first language of instruction and Spanish is mostly taught as a subject. Furthermore, Catalonia and all other Autonomous Communities with two official languages will have “to fully assume” the costs of these children’s education in privately-owned schools using Spanish as the language of instruction if the families do not find the appropriate public alternative. The money will be deducted from the Autonomous Communities’ funding scheme if they do not cooperate. However, the decree does not work the other way round in regions such as Valencia, where families are having problems to school their children in Catalan (co-official there).

Spain’s Supreme Court insists on making Spanish a language of instruction in Catalonia

February 18, 2014 07:52 PM | ACN

The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled against the Catalan school model again. The model, which is based on the linguistic immersion principle, has been in place since the mid-1980s and totally guarantees the pupils’ knowledge of both Spanish and Catalan at the end of their schooling period. On Monday the Court rejected an appeal lodged last year by the Catalan Government against a previous judgement that obliged a school to go against Catalonia’s Education Law and teach the entire class in Spanish following a single request from a little girl’s family, irrespective of the opinion of the other pupils’ families. This is another episode in a long series of judicial rulings, appeals and judgements against Catalonia’s school model and the Catalan language since 2010. Spanish nationalists, particularly Madrid-based media and the People’s Party (PP), have been attacking this model and the Catalan language for the last decade and a half, but recently they have managed to get the centralist judicial authorities to back them.

Catalan school system against Hispanicisation and the Spanish Government’s Education Reform

February 11, 2014 04:04 PM | ACN

On Tuesday Catalonia’s education stakeholders – including unions, pedagogic organisations and parent associations – asked the Catalan Executive and Parliament to lead “the boycott” of the Spanish Government’s Education Reform, known as LOMQE. This reform aims to recentralise education powers, foster religion and impose Spanish as a language of instruction in Catalonia. Furthermore, on Monday evening thousands of people demonstrated in front of Catalonia’s High Court (TSJC) in support of the current school model in Catalonia, which is based on the linguistic immersion principle that guarantees the knowledge of both Spanish and Catalan. Political parties, trade unions, cultural associations and teaching organisations were protesting against the TSJC’s recent ruling that imposed a requirement that 25% of a school’s curriculum be taught in Spanish if a single pupil asks for it. The TSJC was interpreting a judgement by the Spanish Supreme Court, framed in a broader offensive against Catalan language.

Highest-ever Catalan language skills for people living in Catalonia

November 25, 2013 08:06 PM | ACN

The language skills of Catalonia’s population to understand, read, speak and write in Catalan have reached record highs, according to a report from the Statistical Institute of Catalonia (Idescat) with data from 2011. That year, 95.2 % of the residents could understand Catalan, 79.1 % could read it, 73.2 % knew how to speak it, and 55.8 % knew how to write in this language. According to the Idescat figures, the foreign nationality population has registered the highest increases: 82.1 % of them stated they could understand Catalan in the 2011 survey, whereas, according to the previous census from 2001, only 61.1% of the foreign-born population had good language comprehension skills.

Number of Catalan speakers rising despite adverse context

November 13, 2013 09:25 PM | ACN / Pau Cortina

Catalan language speakers are increasing their number and have exceeded the 10 million people mark, according to the latest report on the situation of Catalan. This means that 72.4 % of the population now speaks the language in the various areas of the Catalan linguistic community. In addition, 12.8 million understand it, representing 91.7% of the population. These latest figures confirm a consolidation trend, which paradoxically, is occurring in an unfavourable context, with an “adverse socio-political environment in territories outside Catalonia”. According to the report, the political and judicial “offensive” against Catalan are the main threats against the standardization of a language which, nevertheless, continues “to progress”.

The Constitutional Court upholds ruling that Balearic Islands’ civil servants are no longer required to know Catalan

October 2, 2013 10:38 PM | ACN

On the same day, the Court re-affirmed its decision to keep its current Chairman in position despite his anti-Catalan public stance and having been a member of the governing People’s Party (PP) until 2011. On top of this, Catalan and Basque Members of the European Parliament from five different parties formally asked the European Commission to intervene against the politicisation of the Spanish Constitutional Court, stressing that EU democracies should have an independent judiciary. The Constitutional Court is the highest interpreter of Spain’s legislation, has to guarantee the respect of fundamental rights and acts as a referee between the different government levels and political actors. In this capacity, it ruled against the appeal presented by the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) against the law that abolished the requirement to know Catalan for working as a public servant in Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera, despite it being the local language.