“It’s not fair to impose schooling in Catalan on Spanish-speaking families”

Schooling in Catalan was a demand driven by working class Spanish-speaking families in the 80s. These families saw that with just a few hours of classes a week, their children weren’t learning Catalan properly. There were private schools in Catalan, but it was precisely the Spanish-speaking community that demanded public education in Catalan.

Thanks to these struggles, the language immersion system was started at the Rosselló-Pòrcel primary school in Santa Coloma, in the outskirts of Barcelona, in the academic year of 1983-84. Over the next decade, and given its success, the model was extended to schools throughout Catalonia.

Schooling in Catalan does not harm any group of pupils. On the contrary; immersion allows for real bilingualism, which improves language skills in general. According to reports by the Higher Council for the Evaluation of the Educational System: “pupils in Catalonia move on to secondary education with an effective and similar domain of both official languages.” In addition, “students who have a good level in one language generally also obtain good results in the other”.

To summarise, schooling in Catalan is not something imposed on working class Spanish-speaking families. It is rather a successful model achieved largely thanks to their struggles.


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