Destinations Magazine

Spanish Or Catalan? A Non Academic Controversy

By Stizzard

Just lately there’s been a lot of news about the region of Catalonia in north east Spain and the use of Catalan and Spanish as vehicular languages. with much talk about a ”linguistic immersion” it seems the ones who are suffering most are the students. I found a post in El Pais about this “nettle” of a subject and I am posting some of it below.


Héctor García could well symbolize the success of the Catalan education model: at age 26, he is the son of parents from a small village in León, and considers himself a happy bilingual speaker. After two decades living and working in Barcelona, neither one of his parents – who moved here when Héctor was three – is able to sustain a five-minute conversation in Catalan.

Their son, who speaks Spanish at home, with most of his friends and also with his partner, uses almost exclusively Catalan at work and speaks it very naturally. “At home we never questioned the linguistic issue when I was going to school, I always considered it my other language. If I did not speak fluent Catalan, I probably wouldn’t have found this job and I wouldn’t feel so at home here,” he notes.

Marina, on the other hand, symbolizes the other side of the coin and embodies the controversy sparked decades ago over the issue of linguistic immersion. This mother of a gradeschooler who does not wish her real name to be used to avoid being called “españolista” (pro-Spain, rather than pro-Catalonia), turned to the regional government to demand more classes in Spanish for her daughter. “I am not against Catalan; I want her to learn it and speak it correctly,” she says. “But I think it is totally exaggerated to leave out Spanish.”

The Catalan government, as it usually does in these cases, responded with the law in its hand: Marina’s daughter may choose the language she will be educated in during the first years of schooling, but from the age of eight the “vehicular language” of the region’s education system is Catalan. “This is a clear inequality and they don’t give you any alternatives. On top of that, some parents looked at me like I was a fascist.” Marina ruled out taking her request to the courts to avoid making more of a fuss, and she is now resigned to have her bilingual child study in Catalan.

On Wednesday, Congress passed a motion backing the Catalan education model, and expressing support for linguistic immersion in Catalan and its use as the main language of communication in Catalonia’s public schools.

Continue reading this post at the source: El Pais

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