The Generalitat has decided to open a hitherto untouchable melon: the linguistic immersion modela in schools. This system, which has been operating in Catalonia for 30 years, prioritizes the use of Catalan as the usual language in the classes and Spanish is reserved a few hours per week. Even though has always had the majority support of the educational communityThis model has not been exempt from controversy due to the alleged marginalization of Spanish in the classrooms. The Government has now decided to intervene in this matter and has adopted a working document that aims, among other things, to reinforce with more hours of Spanish students from Catalan-speaking environments.
Despite the majority consensus around this model, in recent years there have been reports of families claiming more hours of Spanish. In fact, the struggle to choose the vehicular language in the classroom (Castilian or Catalan) culminated with several judicial sentences that recognized this right, although the Generalitat never came to apply them. In 2014, the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia established that you had to give 25% of classes in Spanish, a sentence that some centers assumed in which families' demands had been made. The LOMCE also included an article by which the central government obliged the Generalitat to pay aid of about 6,000 euros (a maximum amount equivalent to the cost of a place in a public center) to families who request it to enroll their children in private centers where the use of Spanish as a vehicular language is ensured. According to the Department of Education, the Ministry of Education opened 154 applications for these grants during the three courses that were in effect -2014-2017- and 50 of them were estimated. However, last February, the Constitutional Court annulled those articles of the LOMCE on having understood that the Government invaded autonomic competitions.
The technical document that now handles Generalitat, prepared by professionals of the Department of Education, includes an update of the linguistic model, from the use of Catalan and Spanish to the integration of foreign languages. The hottest point, however, is the one that refers to the use of co-official languages. Catalan will continue to be the language of current use in the centers, but the document opens the door for the first time to extend the hours of Spanish in completely Catalan-speaking social environments, a measure hitherto unthinkable within the, for many, untouchable model of linguistic immersion . "The linguistic model is a system 30 years ago and it has to go through improvement filters. The basic idea is that it serves to provide security and stabilize lines of linguistic intervention at times when there is a lot of noise ", explains Josep Vallcorba, general director of ESO and Baccalaureate of the Department of Education.
In recent years, the language has been a powerful weapon thrown by some social and political actors accuse the Generalitat of nationalism for the majority use of Catalan or simply to corner Castilian in school. However, despite the controversy generated, the successive Catalan governments refused to touch or modify this system and always defended the model as a tool for social integration.
The current Catalan Executive, however, has taken a step forward and decided to address a reform of the model: the idea is to make it more flexible to adapt it to the circumstances of each social reality. "If the number of hours of exposure to this language is not enough to achieve the same level of Catalan and Spanish, the center will have to decide to incorporate content blocks in Spanish and plan activities that enhance students' oral expression," says the professor. report. The document also proposes to influence the use of educated Castilian in areas that are mainly Spanish-speaking.
Until now, Catalan was the language commonly used in the classrooms and two hours a week were taught for the Spanish language in primary school, three in secondary school and two in high school. "It's about entering into a pedagogical logic that demands a diagnosis and follow-up and must be rectified to achieve the objectives that are pursued. Depending on the students and their needs, we must adapt the model. No language has to feel underestimated. We are talking about integrated learning, which does not consider languages as closed and vertical disciplines, "explains Vallcorba.
The Government insists that the document "emerges from day to day in the classrooms" and, in fact, the reinforcement of the Spanish classes in "full Catalanization environments", as the report says, is already being applied in some schools of community. Specific, Teaching ensures that 14% of the 5,400 centers already teach more hours per week in Spanish. The report leaves the decision in the hands of the schools, which have autonomy and a linguistic project of their own. Vallcorba points out that reading comprehension in Spanish "is guaranteed", and points out that the deficits could be "in the oral language". "The function of the center is to rebalance the situation to achieve the objectives we want," he adds.
It is still a working document, without specific dates or resources, but the counselor of the branch, Josep Bargalló, is willing to study it. The proposal is not, much less, what the detractors of the linguistic immersion model demand, but enters, for the first time, into an almost untouchable topic in Catalonia. In fact, when in 2007, the then Minister of Education, Ernest Maragall – now head of Foreign Affairs in the Government -, tried to extend a third hour of Spanish, ERC, partner of the Government of José Montilla (PSC), gave a blow at the table and managed to stop the reform.
"The issue of immersion was controversial politically, but not at school. Now there is an education adapted to the context. The linguistic model has been flexible these years and has adapted to the situations ", ditch Elena Sintes, of the Jaume Bofill Foundation, a research center on the educational field. However, it is studied to change it.
Basque Country. 66% of the students enrolled last year in children, primary and secondary chose to study in model D (Basque as a habitual language in class with Spanish in Language and Literature class). Only 10% opted for the A, which has Castilian as the vehicular language and which is studied in Basque Language and Literature. While another 23% studied the B that distributes the subjects between both languages. The intention is that by 2020 75% of the centers will be trilingual with English.
Galicia. In this community the subjects are taught since 2010 in equal parts in the two co-official languages. And in pre-school education, the majority mother tongue among students is imposed. The regional president Alberto Núñez Feijóo (PP) implemented this model to suppress the positive discrimination that Galician received in schools and was criticized by unions and cultural institutions. Some sociolinguistic surveys warn that monolingualism in Spanish of children has exploded. The Xunta defends itself and says that it is not a consequence of its model.
Valencia. According to the law passed last February -with votes against PP and Citizens-, schools must provide at least 25% of the hours in Valencian, 25% in Spanish, and between 15% and 25% % in English. The school councils decide the percentage. The legal text states that half of the classes will be promoted in Valencian and 25% in English. Now, according to the regional government, only 30% of students finish compulsory education speaking well Valencian.
Balearics. The tripartite government has returned to the Law of Linguistic Normalization of 1986 promoted by the PP of Gabriel Cañellas, which establishes that at least 50% of teaching is taught in Catalan. Each center is free to develop its language project. It is up to you to decide how many non-linguistic subjects you teach in a foreign language such as English or French.