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Surveys with sociolinguistic content carried out in Catalonia (1994-2002),
by Joaquim Torres


b) Types of data

The data obtained are of three types: 1) what was stated, on use in the home, 2) what was observed, on language use in recreation time (recess), and 3) test results, from tests on language competence.

Planned exploration of the data

Up to the present, some articles have been published relating to the survey, details of which are given below. In addition, the quantitative findings of the study have been the object of exhaustive analysis by researcher Mireia Galindo (University of Barcelona) as a part of her doctoral thesis which she envisages defending at the end of 2003 or beginning of 2004.

Some of the most notable sociolingüístic findings

Probably the most useful data, since virtually no other survey provides them, are the observed data - that is, pupils' language use in the playground (recess). Information provided on this question is of two types: speech listened to and speech produced. The results indicate that the primary school students whose first language is Catalan get more input in Spanish (listen to more speech in Spanish) and make a greater use of that language than Spanish speakers with respect to Catalan. The predominance of Spanish in this sense can largely be explained by the existing norms of language selection, which favour Spanish over Catalan.

Means of access to the information

The basic quantitative data of the study are to be published in the upcoming:

Vila i Moreno F. X., Vial i Ribs S.: "Les pràctiques lingüístiques dels escolars catalans: algunes dades quantitatives", (in preparation) Escola Catalana.

Also, the results from this work have been presented at various conferences, and the presentations in question will be appearing soon in the corresponding proceedings. References for these are as follows:

Vila i Moreno F. X., Vial i Rius S.: "Els usos espontanis de l’alumnat a Catalunya al voltant del mil·lenni: aproximació quantitativa." 3r Simposi d’Ensenyament de Català a no Catalanoparlants. Vic, 4, 5 and 6 September, 2002.

Vila i Moreno F. X., Vial i Rius S.: "Models lingüístics escolars i usos entre iguals: alguns resultats des de Catalunya." In: Actes del XXIII Seminari Llengües i Educació, Universitat de Barcelona, 30 i 31 de maig 2002.

In English:

Vila i Moreno F. X., Vial i Rius S., Galindo M. (2002): "Language practices in bilingual schools: Some observed, quantitative data from Catalonia." Segundo Simposio Internacional sobre O Bilingüismo: "Bilingüismo e educación, da familia á escola". Vigo, 23-26 October 2002. [Soon to be published in a volume by the Europa Landom publishing house.]

3.8. "Llengua i escola a l’ensenyament primari a Catalunya"
(Language and school in primary education in Catalonia)

Imma Canals (SEDEC) and Santi Vial (SEDEC)


The authors consider that in Catalonia the school rolls are no longer a sufficiently effective instrument in gauging the linguistic situation in the schools, and accordingly they devised and implemented a survey that could carry out this function in the current situation. This survey set out to achieve the following:

- Create instruments that could yield information on the different degrees of language normalisation in the primary schools.

- Provide an assessment of the sociolinguistic situation in the schools of Catalonia based on each of its defining characterisistics.

- Determine the degree of language normalisation in the schools.

- Find out the factors that have an influence on Catalan and Spanish.

- Study the factors that have an influence of the use of the Catalan language by the pupils.

To an extent, the intention here is to carry out a diagnosis on the way in which schooling is done in Catalan and the results achieved in terms of language competence and use of the pupils.


a) The sample and data collection

A sample of 132 schools was built up by distributing the schools across three categories, in each of which schools were chosen at random. The categories into which the schools were divided were:

- Those where all teaching was in Catalan and less than 30% of the pupils were from Catalan-speaking families - that is, schools on the immersion model.

- Those where all teaching was in Catalan and more than 30% of pupils were from Catalan-speaking families - that is, schools not on the immersion model.

- Those where teaching was bilingual. These are a minority.

Given the composition of the sample, the authors consider that the results are not fully representative from the quantitative point of view, but are indicative. Data collection took place in school years 1998-1999 and 1999-2000.

At each of the schools selected, the information was collected using the following means: 1) tests of knowledge of Catalan and Spanish given to the fourth year primary pupils, 2) a sociolinguistic study of these same pupils, 3) another questionnaire given to coordinators of the years in question (last cycle of primary), and 4) an interview with the head teachers.

Data looked for

The main sociolinguistic information sought was on competence in the two languages among teachers and pupils, and the language use of the teachers and pupils, both in immersion and non-immersion schools.

Planned expoitation of the data

A first report has been written which deals with the first two objectives, and work is now going forward on the presentation of the information relating to the other three objectives.

Some of the most notable sociolinguistic findings

One interesting finding is that students of the Catalan immersion schools have much greater knowledge of Spanish than Catalan, while the non-immersion schools (but with Catalan as the language of instruction) the opposite is the case. Another interest fact to emerge is that in their personal relationships students claim to speak a little more Catalan than Spanish at school, and much more in Spanish than in Catalan outside the school, which may indicate a certain positive impact being made by the school in the use of Catalan, but not enough to further promote the use of Catalan in the wider society.

Gaining access to the information

Up until the time of writing nothing has been published on this survey, but at the III Simposi sobre l’ensenyament del català als no catalanoparlants, which was hold in Vic (Catalonia) in 2002, the authors presented a report on the subject, entitled "Llengua i escola a l’ensenyament primari" (Language and school in primary education). To have access this report and the corresponding data, contact the authors at the SEDEC.

4. Conclusions

Taken as a whole, the studies we have just reviewed certainly offer us a considerable quantity of up-to-date sociolinguistic information which is wide-ranging and basically reliable. In the widest sense, if we bear in mind both the surveys presented here and those commissioned by the DGPL, (5) which are also many and varied, we can say that the information available on the sociolinguistic situation in Catalonia are more plentiful than ever before. For some time now there has been a lot of information on knowledge of Catalan, thanks above all to the exploitation of the linguistic questions in the national census and local register, but until a short while ago, information on language use has been insufficient. Over the last few years, however, this absence of information has been steadily overcome. An ever increasing number of surveys have come available with sociolinguistic content and including questions on use, and these surveys have become progressively more reliable and, in many cases, feature large samples. What is more, the considerable period of time that has passed since data were first gathered on the subject means that comparisons can be made between surveys widely separated in time, enabling us to see trends and developments. Thus we are better informed than ever on the sociolinguistic situation, trends underway, the obstacles and shoals threatening the language and the factors that have to be borne in mind for the future. To make progress, it could be useful to carry out in-depth analysis of all aspects of the work done, based on the data from each of the surveys and their exploitation in subsequent work, and on the results of surveys whose findings are about to become available. This operation could be very useful in initiating renewed action in favour of Catalan, a necessary stop to assure the future of the language in a difficult and changing environment.

Joaquim Torres

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