The Catalonia launch for Language Rich Europe took place on 7 June 2012 in the beautiful Arts Santa Monica building in Barcelona. The atmosphere was as lively and the conversations so vivid that we had to cut it off well after the scheduled time had passed. However, we managed to cover many interesting topics related to our research. Please read on to find out more about the launch itself as well as the linguistic situation in Catalonia, in this blog post written by Kirsi Suutarinen, our Communications Consultant.
First we were welcomed by James McGrath, British Council Barcelona Bonanova teaching centre manager and a few words from LRE Sponsors Oxford University Press, Alicia Monge. Then our Communications Manager David Sorrentino introduced the project and spoke about the importance of languages for a stable and prosperous Europe.
Professor Guus Extra from the Netherlands’ Tilburg University’s Centre for Studies of the Multicultural Society, Babylon provided an overview of the project and best practice in language learning worldwide. He specifically mentioned a few places outside Europe: Melbourne, Australia, as well as Canada. He also stressed the fact that although this is not a comprehensive study and we are missing some countries altogether, this is nevertheless a very good beginning and provides a lot of material for discussion. The points raised during the workshops later in the autumn will be taken into account when the project enters its third stage.
F. Xavier Vila, Professor of Department of Catalan at the University of Barcelona concentrated on the findings of Catalonia. Although this study is not ranking countries but concentrates on best practice, when asked about it, Vila said that Catalonia was doing quite well, all in all. When analysing the results, it’s good to keep in mind though that the terminology is often very national: English is also an immigrant language. Which language is more/less important? What is the status of that language?
Some important points which Xavier Vila discussed with relation to Catalonia are listed below:
- The status of Catalan in Catalonia is akin to that of a national language.
- Foreign language provision at pre-primary level is offered by seven countries/regions (among them Catalonia and Spain). English, French and German are the most common languages offered.
- In primary education all but two countries/regions offer extra support for newcomers in learning the national language. Catalonia offers significant extra support for newcomers, especially for Catalan (and Aranese Occitan in Val d’Aran).
- In secondary education, additional support in the national language is provided in 21 countries/regions. Catalonia offers significant extra support for newcomers, especially in connexion with Catalan (and Aranese Occitan in Val d’Aran).
- In further education, and more specifically, in Vocational and Education Training (VET) centres Catalonian centres offer considerable support for both Catalan and Castilian.
- In all universities researched, instruction in Catalan and Castilian is provided, and Catalan is widely used.Other languages can also be used.
- In Catalonia, Castilian predominates on TV while Catalan and Castilian are used in similar degrees on the radio. Catalonia provides TV broadcasting in a rich variety of foreign, regional/minority, and immigrant languages.
- Most of the press was in Castilian and Catalan. Apart from those, overall, newspapers in English were the most common, followed by German, French, Russian, and Italian. Arabic and Turkish newspapers also figured prominently.
- There is also room for improvement, particularly in the business section. In all of the businesses researched in Europe, 70% do not keep a record of staff language skills, and very few take advantage of EU programmes for language learning. Catalonia follows the European trends here. In addition, A relatively small percentage have reward or promotion schemes for language learning, with 11% reporting that it is widespread for business English and only 5% for the national language and other languages. Catalonia follows the European trends.