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From monolingual family background to bilingual identification: the case of pre-adolescents in Mataró and the Aragonese border area(1) by Vanessa Bretxa, Llorenç Comajoan and Natxo Sorolla


The study poses the following questions:

  • 1. What is the language of identity of pre-adolescents in the sixth year of primary education in Mataró and the Aragonese border region?
  • 2. What language do young people speak with their parents in Mataró and the Aragonese border region?
  • 3. How do sociolinguistic variables (oral competence, social network, attitude, confidence, language spoken with siblings) relate to the different groups for language of identity and language used with parents?
3. Methodology of the study

A total of 1,017 pupils in the sixth year of primary education at state and grant-maintained schools in Mataró and 245 at schools in el Baix Cinca and la Llitera (Aragonese border area) (4) took part in the study. The average age of those participating was 12. The breakdown by gender in Mataró was 506 boys (50.5%) and 495 girls (49.5%); in the Aragonese border area it was 126 boys (51.9%) and 117 girls (48.1%).

To obtain data a sociolinguistic questionnaire was distributed in which questions were asked about the variables being studied, as well as others not dealt with here (for example, media consumption, motivation, etc.). Table 2 includes a sample item for each of the variables studied and the source from which the questions or items have been taken.

Table 2. Sociolinguistic variables, examples of items and source of items

Sociolinguistic variable

Sociolinguistic questionnaire


Language of identity
(1 item)

- Pregunta: Quina és la teva llengua?

- Opcions de resposta: Català/ castellà/ tant català com castellà/ una altra


Language used with parents
(2 items)

- Pregunta: Quina llengua parles amb el teu pare? Quina llengua parles amb la teva are?

- Opcions de resposta: Només o sobretot en català/ igual en català que en castellà/ només o sobretot en castellà/ en una altra llengua


Attitude to language
(10 items for Catalan
and 10 for Spanish))

- Afirmació: Em sembla bé que tots els nens i nenes de Catalunya estudiïn el català.

- Opcions de resposta: Sí/ No

Huguet & Suïls (1998)

Language competence
(4 items, one for each language skill)

- Afirmació: Sé parlar en català

- Escala de resposta: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


Social network - Instruccions: Escriu els noms de les 20 persones amb qui més et relaciones. En quina llengua hi parles tu amb aquesta persona?

- Opcions de resposta sobre les llengües: català/ igual en català i castellà/ castellà/ altres llengües
Molina (2005)

Language confidence
(6 items)

- Afirmació: Em sembla que sé prou català per poder escriure’l amb comoditat.

- Opcions de resposta: Escala Likert d’acord-desacord de 5 punts.

Clément & Baker (2001) (adaptat)

For each variable indices are obtained from one or more items. For example, in the case of language of identity, the index was obtained from a single item (shown in Table 2), while the index for the language spoken with the respondent's parents is based on two items (language spoken with the father and language spoken with the mother).

The definitions of the variables language used with parents and language of identity were the same as those used for EULC 03. The term own language was not used, as this concept has often been used in a more political and institutional sense. The language of identity is, therefore, taken to be the language which the respondent considers to be "his (or her) language".

The variable language used with parents was based on two items in the questionnaire (Table 3). Answers to these two items were coded as shown in the third column of Table 3, the categories "Catalan" and "Spanish" referring to the almost exclusive use of the languages with both parents, while the category "Catalan and Spanish" referred to various possible situations.




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