In Mallorca, over 95% want Catalan education

I've just come across a news report from Mallorca which says that more than 95% of parents whose children are due to start school later this year have chosen to have them educated in Catalan rather than Castilian. I've linked to the Google translation, which is a bit rough but should be clear enough:

     Parents choose, by a large majority, Catalan for teaching their children

In some parts of the island no-one at all has chosen Castilian, and in the others only the parents of two or three children have chosen it.

     

It's interesting to compare this with the news, which we can read here, that the Tribunal Superior de Justícia de Catalunya is still trying to get Catalunya to reverse its long-standing policy of all education being in Catalan rather than Castilian.

However there is virtually no chance of the Catalan government changing this policy because—as is true in other countries, including Wales—using the minority language as the medium of education is the best way to ensure that children become competent in both languages rather than just one. It is unfair for future generations to be disadvantaged by not being able to speak both languages.

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13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the updates on Catalunya and Mallorca. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how the debt crisis affects the integrity of the Spanish state.

Anonymous said...

I don't really know anything about Catalonia. But with the kids that are "learners" do they use Catalan outside of school? Or is it like S.Wales e.g Ysgol Glantaf where the kids do go to Welsh speaking schools, but never, ever use it outside?

Anonymous said...

Went to a bookshop in Barcelona last November shortly after the publication of Walter Isaacson's celebrated biography of Steve Jobs. They had copies in Catalan. So some of the world's biggest publishers obviously consider it to be a commercially important and successful language.

Lyndon said...

My daughters go to Glantaf and they most definitely DO use Welsh outside school, as do many of their friends.

Neilyn said...

That's good news, and should be cited as an example to those in Wales who still doubt the vitally important role that education through the national mother tongue has on achieving bilingual competence.

MH said...

To put this in some perspective, the overwhelming desire for Catalan-medium education is probably a reaction to recent political developments in the islands. Neither the Balearics nor Valencia has any well-developed nationalist parties, and both autonomous communities are ruled by the right-wing Spanish nationalist Partido Popular. Only recently, they have proposed ending the requirement for all public employees to be able to speak both Catalan and Castilian, resulting in demonstrations and hunger strikes.

Even in the field of education, things are not rosy. The PP insist (as they do in Valencia) that the language is not Catalan, but something entirely separate, and use this to resist the use of standardized Catalan textbooks and teaching materials published in Catalunya. See this article. The aim is to reduce Catalan in the Balearics to a social language only, leaving Castilian as the only language suitable for all other situations.

Ironically, if Catalunya (the current autonomous community, that is) becomes independent, EU rules would not allow the Spanish government to do things like ban Catalan-language TV stations in Catalunya broadcasting to Valencia and the Balearics. At present the Spanish can impose this ban because it is an "internal" Spanish matter; but would have to allow unfettered access to broadcasts from another EU member state.

MH said...

Quite a bit more here, especially the first few articles.

Anonymous said...

MH I don't quite understand the TV point.

Surely a Catalan language television channel could be setup in France, Portugal, UK etc etc and broadcast to Catolonia.
Being broadcast from somewhere else doesn't preclude the channel having studios in Barcelona, Palma, Valencia etc. (BBC films programmes across the world and has studios in other countries)

MH said...

I certainly don't understand all the details, Anon. But you've prompted me to do a little Googling, and these links seem to explain things:

Barcelona Reporter
Question in European Parliament
EU Commission Answer, with links to other Q&As

It seems only to apply to Valencia (not the Balearics) and be a decision of the Valencian (PP) government, but the EU Commission clearly has no appetite to interfere, saying it's up to member states to enforce the law.

As it seems to be about terrestrial booster stations, perhaps satellite broadcasts would not be affected.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we aim to have all schools in Wales teaching all subjects through the medium of Welsh.

MH said...

Although that might look attractive, I think it's not quite the right way to look at things, Anon. It concentrates on the method rather than the outcome.

That's the problem with what the Spanish would like to see happen in Catalunya and the PP would like to see happen in Valencia. In Catalunya, the Spanish think that the medium of education should be 50% Castilian and 50% Catalan. In Valencia the PP government want to do away with the pattern of Castilian-medium education on the one hand and Catalan/Valencian-medium education on the other (which was increasing rapidly, and currently stands at 40%) and replace it with a uniform system in which all schools taught 33% in Castilian, 33% in Catalan/Valencian and 33% in English.

Instead of focusing on the input, we need to look at the output ... in other words the end result. For us in Wales, the end result we want is for everyone who grows up in Wales to be able to speak both English and Welsh competently. Welsh-medium education is not an end in itself, it is a means of achieving that end. We don't need everything in our schools to be taught in Welsh, but we do need most of it to be in Welsh. What looks like an imbalance in input works because only part of a child's time is spent in school. The influences outside school are predominantly in English, so that in overall terms the two will balance.

But the situation will vary in different parts of Wales. In the more Anglicized parts of Wales, it's probably fine to teach everything but English (as a subject) in Welsh; but in areas where Welsh is stronger and there is more chance of a child's family and social life also being conducted in Welsh, then care needs to be taken to ensure that children are exposed to enough English in school so that their English doesn't fall below standard. This is very far from being a major problem now because English is still dominant in the media and entertainment, but it might become a problem in future years as Welsh regains its strength.

So it's not as simplistic as saying all education needs to be WM. The balance between how much Welsh and how much English is used in school will need to be adjusted over the years according how strong Welsh is in a particular area. But given the situation now, we need to have more WM education rather than less.

The problem we have is logistic: we simply aren't producing enough Welsh-speaking teachers to deliver it. As I've mentioned before here and here, we are not training anywhere near enough teachers who can speak Welsh, and therefore we couldn't have all schools in Wales teaching only in Welsh even if we wanted to. Personally, I believe that we should ensure that all teachers we pay to train should be able to teach in both Welsh and English. But even if we were enlightened enough to introduce that policy tomorrow, it would take a decade or two to work through.

I think there are three strands we need to follow through:

1. Keep pace with parental demand for more WM education
2. Gradually increase the amount of Welsh used in all non-WM schools
3. Make WM education the only option in those parts of Wales where a child would be seriously disadvantaged by not being able to speak Welsh. This is already the case in Gwynedd, and needs to extend to Ynys Môn, Ceredigion and Sir Gâr too; but as Welsh gets stronger over the years, this will apply to more parts of Wales and eventually to the whole of Wales.

Anonymous said...

MH: A very good response to my statement. I agree about the teachers (they should not be one step ahead of their pupils Welsh knowledge).

Help Catalonia said...

Hêlo !
Bore da,

We write on behalf of 'Help Catalonia' in order to ask your agreement to publish this post in our web.

We also would like to know an e-mail to write you: ours is helpcatalonia@gmail.com

Pob dymuniad da. Cymru an byth!.

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