Table 3. Factors and contexts that condition learner success
failure with the “Volunteers for language” programme
Had some knowledge of Catalan at the outset.
A minimum number of sessions (meetings) or hours devoted to the programme.
Have had more than fifteen hours of conversation.
The unemployed seeking work are more likely to succeed.
Spoke a little Catalan at the outset.
“I’ve put in a lot of hours”.
Still sees the volunteer.
Has a very good relationship with the linguistic partner: keeps up a friendly relationship.
Has a network of Catalan-speaking friends which is in place and expandingand has Catalan-speaking friends and acquaintances.
The majority of learners enrolee for instrumental reasons, to get in the work market.
Aren’t able to speak Catalan.
Have had less than 15 hours of conversation.
Occupied people have less time to spare.
Have no knowledge or ability in Catalan.
No knowledge of/ ability in either Catalan or Spanish.
For lack of application, or other reasons, did not complete the programme.
Discontinued programme, be-cause of demands of their work.
7. Conclusions and orientations
1. The programme “Volunteers for language” has shown that more than 60% of learners have been able to learn to speak Catalan and have been able to greatly increase use of this language in their daily lives by means of the creation of new contexts of use and the emergence of new patterns of language use.
2. This programme has great potential in consolidating
new patterns of language use, involving increased use of the Catalan
language among originally non-speakers as well as between them and
their volunteer teachers. Such patterns and underpinning norms include:
“speak Catalan to non-Catalans” (that is, those whose
mother-tongue is not Catalan) or “speak Catalan and don’t
feel ashamed”, and in tune with one of the campaign slogans
“Dóna corda al català” (“Give a
boost to your Catalan”): http://www.gencat.cat/llengua/queta
3. The programme has been well-received among recent immigrants, but it should be remembered that some groups or subdivisions are very poorly represented or absent from among those enroled. There needs to be more advertising and promotion of the programme among the most representative members of each ethnic group or among federations that are coming to play an increasingly important and relevant role.
4. Every language pair (volunteer and learner) have a minimum of 10 of conversation together. This time is clearly not time enough to be able to acquire a basic working knowledge. The speakers who are most successful socio-linguistically did more than 20 ours of conversation. We recommend increasing the minimum number of hours or at least informing the learners and volunteers of the convenience and advantage of doing a minimum of 20 hours.
5. Since learners who are looking for work form the group that does best in increasing knowledge and use of Catalan, the programme should be advertised and promoted among the institutions and entities dedicated to the fostering employment (Servei d’Ocupació de Catalunya (Catalonia Occupational Service) and placement offices).
6. The fact of having some minimum knowledge of Catalan and having attended language coursesare two factors that multiply the chances of success for this type of learner. Even then, the fact of having taken a course in Catalanshould be made a condition for enrolling on he programme, and in sense the reverse is the case, at least for many newcomers for whom this might be the first contact made with the language situation, and they may then go on to be students on such courses.
7. The programme allows learners to forge links with the voluntary staff and helps them to create or to expand their own social networks which in many cases would otherwise be completely Spanish speaking. For the volunteers, the programme helps them to broaden still more or to renew their world view and to situate in a practical way the role of the Catalan language in relationship to immigration.
8. Turning to reasons for enrolling on the programme, in the first instance, areinstrumental in nature, but reasons subsequently become more emotional or friendship motivated, between earners and volunteers, and by extension the total Catalan language situation. Some volunteers and learners propose organizing a real and virtual agenda of activities, cultural top-up, guided visits and other forms of participation.
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Institute of Catalan Sociolinguistics