Language Education Policy Studies
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Language Education Policies in Catalonia, Spain

The reach of the Catalan language extends through the region of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the Valencian and Murcian Communities (just a few hundred speak Valencian), Roussillon in southern France, the country of Andorra, some border zones between the regions of Catalonia and Aragón, and the city of Alguer on the island of Sardinia.  Speakers of Catalan number between eight and nine million, excluding those with passive comprehension of the language, bringing the number to 11 million.  Catalan is a Romance language with Latinate roots, similar to Spanish, French, and Italian. 

In 1978, Catalonia became an autonomous community with Castilian Spanish as state official language and Catalan as regional official language.  Educational linguistic policy from 1983 and 1998 reinforced an immersion educational system, where Catalan serves as the language of instruction in non-university teaching, and bilingual proficiency in both Catalan and Castilian is a mandatory outcome.  However, those having completed compulsory schooling before 1988 (currently age 40+) received most formal instruction in Castilian.  Additionally, extensive economically-driven internal migration in the 1960s and 70s from regions such as Andalucía, Extremadura, and Castilla-La Mancha resulted in a significant population of native Castilian-speaking schoolchildren.  Thus a large number of the current adult population was not schooled in academic Catalan.  For this reason, native-born Catalans (numbering more than 25,000) currently study the language in classes offered by the region’s language consortium (Consorci per a la Normalització Lingüística) alongside non-natives (approximately 76,000).

The current language-in-education debate in Catalonia centers on a push by the Spanish government for Catalan schools to offer Castilian as a possible medium of instruction alongside Catalan.  Catalan officials view this project as infringing on the regional prerogative to organize education and threatening Catalan proficiency.  The move is part of a larger educational initiative by the central government to standardize curricula in hopes of improving the quality of public education. 



The Euromosaic Study:

Consorci per a la Normalització Lingüística (Catalan courses):

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Catalan in France):


F. Xavier Vila, professor of sociolinguistics at the Universitat de Barcelona, discusses Catalan language-in-education policy: 

In-depth report on the policy providing for education in Castilian if at least one student requests it: 

News clip on trilingual education in Mallorca: 

Critique of Catalan monolingual education: 

Writer Màrius Serra imagines the status of the Catalan language in an independent Catalonia:


Boix i Fuster, E., & Vila i Moreno, F.X. (1998). Sociolingüística de la llengua catalana. Barcelona: Ariel.

Comajoan, L. (2010). La enseñanza de lenguas en España y el reto del multilingüismo europeo. Hispania 93(123-129).

Huguet, A., Chireac, S.-M., Navarro, J.L., & Sansó, C. (2011). Tiempo de estancia y aprendizajes lingüísticos. El caso de los escolares inmigrantes en Cataluña. Cultura y Educación 23(355-370).

Oller, J., & Vila Mendiburu, I. (2010). Effects of sociolinguistic environment and the length of residence on the linguistic performance in Catalan and Spanish of sixth grade immigrant pupils in Catalonia. Sociolinguistic Studies 4(63-84).

Pérez-Vidal, C., & Juan-Garau, M. (2011). Trilingual primary education in Catalonia. In M.E. Learning, Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning, pp. 68-182. Fryske Akademy.

Pujolar, J. (2010). Immigration and language education in Catalonia: Between national and social agendas. Linguistics and Education 21(229-243).

Vila i Moreno, F. X. (2009). Language-in-education policies in the Catalan language area: models, results and challenges. AILA Review 21(31-48).   

Vila i Moreno, F. X. (2011a). Language-in-Education Policy. In M. Strubell i Trueta & E. Boix-Fuster, Democratic Policies for Language Revitalisation: The Case of Catalan, pp. 119-149. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave.

Vila i Moreno, F.X. (2011b). La recerca sociolingüística educativa escolar als països de llengua catalana: elements per a un balanç. Treballs de Sociolingüística Catalana 21(209).


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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Hamilton, C. (2013). Language Education Policies in Catalonia, Spain. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

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