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Home, school and playground: linguistic usages when lessons are over. Summary and analysis of the socio-demographic and study at secondary schools in Catalonia, by Natxo Sorolla


And, in the case of the children of couples who speak other languages, an important level of correlation is achieved only with informal language usages with teachers. If we also add the pupil's initial language, quite a robust model is completed with only two explanatory variables.

Table 10. When you were little, what language did your father and mother speak with one another? = Other languages


Coeficients estandarditzats (beta)

Significació (error típic)

Average language outside class with teachers



Initial language



As we have seen, language use with friends is explained by different factors. In the case of usage by pupils in general, it is explained, above all, by family, school and ideological factors. But the very diversity of usages within each linguistic group, with these groups defined according to the language spoken between the parents when the pupil was small, is linked to a more complex perspective which is, above all, more difficult to interpret. The reason why some children of Spanish-speaking couples normally use Spanish with their friends, or why the children of Spanish-speaking couples use Catalan, is not easy to explain with the variables available.

The children of Catalan-speakers incorporate Spanish, in the first place, when this has been the language their parents have transmitted. But they also do so when, in their opinion, the use of Catalan should be maintained or should increase everywhere. One of the most outstanding facts is that the language spoken with brothers and sisters appears to be slightly more important than the language spoken with parents. This would emphasise the fact that the use of Spanish by this group with friends tends to be more consolidated in transmission from parents rather than usage with brothers and sisters.

This is quite the contrary of what happens with the children of Spanish-speaking couples who also speak Catalan with their friends, where it appears that the adoption of Catalan among brothers and sisters would tend to be slightly less important than transmission. But among the factors that would best explain the adoption of Catalan as the language of communication by the children of Spanish-speaking couples would be the adoption of the language to speak with teachers in more informal usages. The perception of the use of Catalan in the immediate context and among the linguistic reference group also stands out among these factors. Particularly the first of the two – the perception of usage in immediate contexts – would indicate that the contexts that are perceived by the pupil as most Catalan-speaking would help with the adoption of this language in interactions with friends.

4. Conclusion

The factors that explain language usage with friends are many and varied, and they form quite robust models. But the models are not so robust in segmenting pupils according to the language their parents spoke with one another when the pupil was small. This is above all due to the fact that use with friends is mediated by the family language. And, broadly speaking, family language shapes pupils' language usage with their friends, with some nuances and considerable flows from one side to the other. However, in general, Catalan-speakers speak Catalan with their friends and Spanish-speakers speak Spanish with their friends. Despite this, with the variables we have, it can be highlighted that the children of Catalan-speaking couples also speak Spanish, above all when this has been the language which has finally been transmitted to them at home, with the strong support of ideological factors. Meanwhile, the children of Spanish-speaking couples are particularly outstanding in incorporating Catalan in interactions with friends when they also use Catalan in informal contact with teachers and when they perceive that Catalan is used a great deal in their social context. These are precisely the two factors which we highlighted because they can differentiate the linguistic contact of native people and immigrants down to the '80s concerning the children and grandchildren of both linguistic communities. In the first place, with the current school model, schoolchildren have seen their exposure to the minoritarised language – Catalan – grow, regardless of their family language. And, secondly, habitual interactions between the members of the linguistic groups are multiplying. The effects of the ethno-linguistic barriers characteristic of societies receiving migrations are thereby softened.

In summary, we can see that school plays an important role in the incorporation of Catalan into language usage with friends for the children of Spanish-speakers. But it is by no means the only factor. And the universalisation of the knowledge of the Catalan language must also be deeply involved. But it is precisely its universalisation that makes it a factor outstripped by other less important variables. And one of these significant factors is precisely the use of Catalan with teachers, although outside the classroom; that is, in one of the most colloquialising aspects of the language. With these results, the great importance of school in the bilingualisation of the usages of children of Spanish-speaking parents is perceived. But not only in school's role as transmitter of a language with an important academic value, also as the transmitter of the language with the value of informal and colloquial usages.

Concerning the quality of the data and its results, we have found some limits. The main one concerns going into depth in discovering the socio-linguistic context in which the pupil lives. We have been able to discover that the children of Spanish-speaking couples use Catalan with their friends in contexts where they perceive that Catalan is used a great deal. But we have not been able to show empirically whether the actual presence of the language among the other pupils in their class or their school, or among the people around them or in their town have the greatest effect on the pupil's usage or to what degree this occurs. The explanatory power of the models would greatly increase if we knew with whom pupils interacted. Who are their friends? And which languages do these friends speak at home or with other friends? This analysis, looking at the social network closest to the pupil in greater depth, would help us to objectivise the context closest to the pupil. It would also be possible to have, for each pupil, the index of the presence of Catalan in the home for the other pupils in their class, as a measurement of the linguistic environment.

Finally, we have shown that the analysis and interpretation of family usages has never been a simple operation. Despite this, in the generations born from the '80s onwards, and above all in the '90s, we detect that these different points of view the family language are not so clearly inter-related as they are in other age groups, And where it used to be easy to link the initial language to the language spoken with the parents, there are now disparities which require intensive study; a study that would incorporate the initial language, the language with the parents, with the brothers and sisters and with the grandparents, and the language spoken between the parents. It would also make a detailed analysis of the links between all the different variables.

5. Bibliography

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VILA I MORENO, F. XAVIER «Hem guanyat l’escola però hem perdut el pati? Els usos lingüístics a les escoles catalanes». Llengua, Societat i Comunicació [Barcelona] (2004) núm. 1, p. 8-15. Barcelona, Centre Universitari de Sociolingüística i Comunicació, Universitat de Barcelona.

Natxo Sorolla



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