3. Methods used for acquiring data
Methods used for data analysis
Language use of the Moroccan Students taking part in the sample
Results in relation to the variables under study
Results of the process of learnig catalan by students of moroccan origin in compulsory
Proposed stages in the process of learning Catalan
Girona, the Baix
Empordà, and more specifically Palafrugell, have a significant concentration of economic
immigrants from Morocco. In February 2000, Moroccan children made up 10.2% of students in
all the schools in Palafrugell, although distributed unequally. The largest number by far
is made up of students born overseas. The arrival of these students started earlier than
1990 but noticeably increased from the 1993-94 school year, as a result of the Llei de
Reagrupament Familiar (Family Regrouping Act), which allowed for the gradual arrival
of a large number of children of immigrants.
The first aim of
this research was to study the real process in which these students acquire the Catalan
language by looking at the stages and the regularity involved and finding out the main
difficulties facing these students in the process of learning Catalan at school.
Understanding the process of learning Catalan could contribute towards the improvement of
organisational and teaching resources aimed at students entering the Catalan educational
Secondly, we aimed
to study the results of Catalan language learning by these students in terms of their
ability to communicate in a variety of speech and text exercises. The level of competence
achieved may be an indicator of academic advancement and success at school.
primary-school students were selected (12% of the total of 214 Moroccan children being
educated at Primary level) and 24 ESO students (24% of Moroccan students at ESO, or
Secondary, level), all from the school catchment area. Students were aged between 8 and 17
and were educated to levels between the third year of Primary and the fourth of Secondary.
Six students were
taken from each of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth Primary year courses and the same
from the first, second, third and fourth courses of the ESO level. The exception to this
was in the fifth Primary year, from which a seventh student was selected, making a total
of 49 students in the sample. Students younger than 8 years old were not included for
methodological reasons, given that they would have necessitated a different research
The students were
divided into three groups depending on the length of time that had elapsed since their
arrival in Catalonia. Thus, for each school level, two students had arrived less than 18
months earlier (group A), two between 18 and 36 months (group B) and the other two had
been at school more than three years (group C). All were born in Morocco and had come
directly to Palafrugell. Each group was thus made up of 16 students with the exception of
group A, which had 17.
There was a total
of 18 girls and 31 boys. The imbalance arose from group C (3 girls and 13 boys), and is
representative of the population under study. This seems to suggest that girls came to
Catalonia later than boys, as part of the family regrouping process.
3. Methods used for acquiring data
aimed to study comprehension and verbal and written expression skills. The half-way point
of primary education is taken as a reference point, which is considered to be
approximately equal to functional literacy in adults. The possibility of including a
control group of non-immigrant students was rejected due to limitations on both material
The written texts
were selected from those used in the middle cycle of Primary education: a narrative text,
the fable of The fox and the crow, a journalistic article on the arrival of a young
giraffe at Barcelona Zoo and an expository text on airports. All of these were extracts
from textbooks or assessment tests used at this level of schooling. The only text that
varied was the narrative text used for older students in the second ESO course and above;
though of similar structure and complexity, the text was changed in order to avoid it
appearing too childish.
As far as the
speech and oral aspects were concerned, a communicative situation of a one-to-one
child/adult interview was devised using a tape-recorder and carried out in a relaxed and
natural manner at school. While this is not an everyday situation, it is typical in a
school context and professional experience suggests that the majority of primary school
students are best able to demonstrate their abilities in this manner.