The ruling that obliges public educational centers in Catalonia to give at least 25% of the teaching hours in Spanish will imply an increase in the use of this language as a vehicular language in most schools and institutes. In Catalonia, the linguistic immersion model is currently in force, which, as a general rule, grants Catalan the status of vehicular language to teach all subjects, except Spanish language and foreign language subjects, although each center has its own own policy and in practice it is not fulfilled in all. Thus, depending on the cycle, on paper there are between three and four hours of Spanish a week. The sentence, which the Supreme Court made firm on Tuesday when it rejected the appeal of the Generalitat, requires that Spanish be vehicular in at least 25% of the teaching hours, and that it also be so in at least one core subject. Therefore, in primary it will have to be the language of use in 6.25 hours, and in secondary and high school, in 7.5 hours, including Spanish language and other curricular subject.
The Government of the Generalitat has already warned that it will not comply with the sentence, because it understands that the state law, the Lomloe, shields the immersion model, and has ordered by letter to the educational centers not to change their language programs. But the judgment of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) that the Supreme Court made firm on Tuesday is clear in the specific aspect of how the schedules have to be organized: in 25% of the teaching hours, Spanish must be used as a language vehicular. That is, in primary education, with 25 teaching hours, 6.25 will have to be in Spanish; and in secondary and high school, with 30 teaching hours, it will have to be used in 7.5 hours.
This is the minimum, which can grow as decided by the center. It is what the court considers sufficient to guarantee the vehicular character of Castilian, a status that, say the judges, is provided for by the Constitution. In his ruling, the Superior indicated in December of last year that in Catalonia the use of Spanish is “residual” in most centers, and stressed that there is an infringement of the current legal framework.
Currently, as a general rule, the Spanish language subject is taught only in Spanish, between three and four hours a week, depending on the educational cycle and the center. But in practice, each school has its specificities. In fact, the Department of Education does not impose specific hours of use of each of the languages: it places Catalan as a “reference” language for teaching, granting it the vehicular character, but it leaves each center the power to make its language programs. In a 2018 document on the linguistic model, the department adds that “in contexts in which Spanish does not have this social force and is not the first language of a good part of the students, a didactic approach will have to be made close to that we use with second languages (linguistic immersion in the case of Catalan). If the number of hours of exposure to this language is not enough […], the center will have to decide, in its linguistic project, to incorporate blocks of curricular content in Spanish and plan that they enhance the oral expression of the students ”.
Thus, in some centers, in practice, more subjects are taught in Spanish than the Spanish language, starting with the teacher’s own choice or because the center has identified a lack of knowledge in this language and the need to expand its teaching. Or this language is used for non-curricular activities. For example, on its website, the Joan d’Àustria Institute of Barcelona details its linguistic project, which specifies the use of Spanish in theater projects, in poetic recitals and in conferences, in addition to its use in the subject of Language. . The Les Corts institute, in Barcelona, also includes a project for a magazine in Spanish as a method to expand skills in this language.
Response to judgment
The linguistic model for education in the community has had Catalan as a reference for almost 40 years, when the Law 7/1983 on Language Normalization was approved, which placed it as “its own language and reference” in the fields of Administration, toponymy and labeling, the media of the Generalitat and non-university education. In education, the model of linguistic immersion inspired by the one that had been implemented in Quebec (Canada) was promoted. The model was reaffirmed in several subsequent laws, including the Statute, but it has been rejected on several occasions by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.
It is a model that has a broad consensus in the Parliament (supported by the pro-independence and common parties, and also by the PSC, although with nuances) and in the educational field as a whole, including foundations and unions, which have expressed their rejection of sentence. Iolanda Segura, spokeswoman for Ustec, points out that “the educational model cannot be changed at the stroke of a sentence.” “We ask that it not apply. We must call for insubordination ”, he asserts. Segura highlights that, since 2005, only 80 families, out of a school system with 1.5 million students each year, have requested schooling in Spanish: “For 80 families to try to change a model is outrageous and indecent.” The spokeswoman recalled that the Department of Education released a survey two weeks ago pointing to the fall in the use of Catalan: “The worst data is in secondary school, where adolescents, with many inputs in Castilian, they begin to speak this language. And that also happens with students with Catalan as their mother tongue. And it also happens in primary school, where we are not here to shoot rockets ”.
Rosa Maria Villaró, from CC OO, regrets that the process has reached this point. “The language should never have been judicialized and politicized. This is not about quotas but about language skills, ”he says. The union reaffirmed its commitment to the Catalan language in schools as a language of opportunity and in defense of a model that it considers “a guarantee of social cohesion”. On the contrary, the Assembly for a Bilingual School, an entity that has filed complaints against the linguistic programs of several schools in Catalonia, has celebrated the sentence and has urged that it be forced to comply with it. “We will not give up our language rights. It is time to change the educational model ”, he assured in a statement.