Logotip de la revista Noves SL





Factors explaining informal linguistic usage among Catalan schoolchildren: initial language, social networks, competence and vehicular language for teaching, by Mireia Galindo i F. Xavier Vila
i Moreno


It must be borne in mind, however, that the differences observed depending on the main teaching language are diluted when cross-referenced with the two other variables taken into account in this section. So, the differentiated usages of Catalan and Spanish represented in graph 11 do not so much reflect the teaching language of the schools as the type of school in which each linguistic model predominates: in centres predominantly teaching in Catalan there is a high percentage of Catalan-speaking pupils, and these are schools in areas where a high level of knowledge of the language is declared; the centres that use Catalan and Spanish in more or less balanced proportions have more Spanish-speaking pupils and are distributed in areas where Catalan is less well known.

Leaving aside what can be gleaned from a first glance at the graphs, which is also quite predictable (that is, the fact that the use of Catalan increases as the knowledge and presence of this language in the environment increases), the most important conclusion that can be drawn from the above graphs is the inequality of conditions for the two languages: the use of Catalan in contexts that favour it is lower than the use of Spanish in conditions that are favourable to that language. Note that at centres with more than 70% of Spanish-speaking pupils, almost 94% of speaking turns are in Spanish, while at schools where there are more than 70% Catalan-speakers, only 82% of turns are in Catalan.

3.4. The weight of the variables: mutivariant Analysis

Once the influence of each of the variables on the linguistic choices of Catalan schoolchildren has been analysed, it only remains to determine the variables out of the whole set which are most important in configuring their linguistic practices. To do this, two explanatory multivariant analysis techniques have been applied: discriminant analysis and logistical (see a summary in Galindo 2006).

The application of the multivariant analysis techniques makes it possible to differentiate two sets of variables: (1) those taking into account the language of relations with the non-family and non-formal-education environment and (2) those related to the family language and formal education. There is yet another group of variables, (3) those referring to linguistic competence in Catalan and Spanish, which have not been included in either of the previous sets because it has been considered that they cut across all the variables: achieving good linguistic competence does not depend only on school education but instead is also related to actual use of the language.

The first set of variables (language of relations with the non-family and non-formal-education environment) include the social networks of the speaker and the listener, the linguistic conditions at the centre and the environmental linguistic conditions. These variables are the ones that are shown to be more important in configuring linguistic usages.

The first two variables mentioned (the social networks of the speaker and the listener) include information declared by the interlocutors themselves on the language they normally use outside the home; that is, they are an indicator of perception of own linguistic usage. That in almost all of the three multivariant analyses carried out they should constitute the main factors making it possible to explain the variation in linguistic practices, demonstrates that real and perceived usages are not going in opposite directions; however, the language of social networks does not in itself allow an explanation of all the variation in usages and this indicates that there are certain mismatches between what people believe they do and what they actually do, as can be seen in section 2.3.

The third variable, the linguistic conditions at the school, measures the percentage of Catalan-speakers at the school. We assume that the more Catalan-speakers there are in the same area, the more use they will make of Catalan and, therefore, the percentage representing the linguistic conditions at the centre also measures the opportunities interlocutors will have to maintain social relations in Catalan.

The fourth variable, the environmental linguistic conditions, refers to the knowledge of Catalan the residents of the area declare that they have. As is to be expected, higher percentages of people who say they understand and know how to speak Catalan in the area correspond to greater use of the language at break time.

The second set of variables is that related to family and formal education linguistic usage and includes the family language of the speaker and listener and the linguistic teaching conditions. The inclusion of these variables in the discriminant and logistic regression functions confirms that the home and classroom language plays a role in configuring linguistic usages, but the position occupied by these variables in these functions (always below the first group of factors) indicates that the role they adopt is a secondary one.

It is clear that, in the age sector analysed, the influence of the home is still important, but it must be borne in mind that children often spend many hours outside the family nucleus. Meanwhile, the adoption of Catalan as the vehicular language for teaching in a good proportion of schools must have affected children's linguistic practices in some way, but it has not managed to entirely modify their linguistic behaviour patterns: Spanish has a considerable presence in school playgrounds and the convergence to Spanish rule is still partially followed.

As for the third group of variables, related to children's linguistic competence, the functions deriving from the multivariant analysis techniques have only included competence in Catalan. This indicates that competence in Catalan is a factor that configures linguistic usages: the higher the degree of comprehension in Catalan, the greater the use of Catalan recorded. This association allows two interpretations: either the habitual use of Catalan encourages the increase of linguistic competence in Catalan or only those who have a good knowledge of Catalan speak the language habitually. By contrast, competence in Spanish does not allow an explanation of children's linguistic practices: all of them obtain average or high scores; the fact that they use Catalan or Spanish must therefore be explained by other factors.

4. Summary and conclusions

The model of joint teaching in Catalan predicted that the extension of Catalan as the vehicular language for teaching would increase knowledge and usage of the language among Catalan schoolchildren. It can now be stated, with few reservations, that the population of Catalonia who have passed through the education system, at least in the last 15 years, understands Catalan and can speak it, write it and read it.



7 de 9