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Harmonising a language policy – the Galician way

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Matt Salusbury talks to Xabier San Isidro, language adviser at the Edinburgh Consulate General, on the implementation of bilingual language policies in Spain's autonomous regions

Can you tell us something about Clil in Galicia – what subjects are taught through Clil, at what sort of schools?

Policies carried out in multilingual Spain as a whole and in some of its constituent autonomous communities (those with two co-official languages) over the last thirty years merit special attention. Throughout the last three decades, since the autonomous institutions were created, a wide range of language policies have been implemented.

The particularities of these policies have to do with specific sociolinguistic contexts, the civic and political resources engaged in implementing them and the diverse historical and ideological backgrounds the issue of language has in every place. Spain makes a very interesting case study due to its complexity and because it allows us to reflect on the interaction between the law (common laws versus diverse regional statutes), contrasting historical and sociolinguistic backgrounds in each of the regions, and the changing political contexts at the local and national level.

Within the Spanish context, the Educational Department of Galicia, a northern Spanish region with two co-official languages (Galician and Castilian Spanish), has been developing and implementing a two-fold language planning policy. On the one hand is a thirty-year language policy based on the progressive increase of the presence of Galician in the curricular system, aiming at its normalisation, protection and use, not only because of its diglossic situation, extensively reported in a myriad of studies, but also because it is an undisputable heritage of humankind.

On the other hand, Clil has been gradually introduced in the curricular system on an experimental basis for more than fifteen years. In Galicia, this means subjects taught mostly in English, but there are some schools implementing it in French and Portuguese. As in the rest of Spain, the introduction of additional languages as vehicles for teaching non-linguistic curricular subjects has had a big effect on language policy design.

Can you tell us about some of the latest developments and issues in Clil?

Over the past few years the Galician Educational Department has been trying to solve the problem of how to harmonise a language policy based on protection and preservation of Galician with the inclusion of other languages in the curriculum, in line with European guidelines on multilingualism.

Does Clil in Galicia mean subjects taught in English, or in other languages as well?

In June 2010 the Galician government – with a view to plunging into mainstreaming the Clil model – published a decree on multilingualism, officially bringing an additional or foreign language as a medium into maintained schools, and setting out that one third of any non-language subject could be taught in a foreign or additional language (mainly English), with the two remaining thirds taught in Galician and Castilian. The decree has aroused a lot of controversy due to an extensive belief that the Galician language is going to play a minor role in the educational system and that teachers are not ready for such a change. This new provision has resulted in the existence of two types of programmes: experimental Clil, in which students enrol voluntarily in schools where there are Clil and non-Clil groups, and mainstream Clil, compulsory for all students in the participating school.

Can you tell us about your own role in Clil projects in Galicia, including projects you helped to design and that you teach in?

My role in Clil development in Galicia has been related to policy-making, implementation and research. I was a foreign language adviser at the Galician Department of Education for five years, where I was in charge of developing and managing programmes related to multilingualism, Clil, curricular development and teacher training. When the development plan was designed, three main aspects were taken as starting points – additional language complementary training for students, teacher training programmes and resources.

As a researcher, I have conducted several projects on results obtained by students enrolled on Clil programmes (San Isidro, 2009, 2010 and 2011), contrasting results obtained by experimental groups and control groups in primary and secondary education. In all of them Clil students outperformed their counterparts in both languages and Clil subjects, although results cannot be taken as conclusive because the students taking part in my research enrolled on the programmes voluntarily, which could mean they were academically gifted and inherently motivated towards language learning. At the moment I am working on a two-year longitudinal study analysing attitudes and results in two groups of students. The main aim is to shed some light on the effects of Clil on language competence and attitudes towards language learning.

I believe adequate resources represent a particular challenge. As a teacher in secondary education I coordinated the implementation of a social science Clil programme for three years. Of all the things on the publishing market I really missed, adaptable materials and real tips were undoubtedly key. That is why I started using a blog to publish bilingual tips including my own tasks and my students' products (www.clilnegreira.com/category/clil-tips).

Matt Salusbury talks to Xabier San Isidro, language adviser at the Edinburgh Consulate General, on the implementation of bilingual language policies in Spain’s autonomous regions

Can you tell us something about Clil in Galicia – what subjects are taught through Clil, at what sort of schools?

Policies carried out in multilingual Spain as a whole and in some of its constituent autonomous communities (those with two co-official languages) over the last thirty years merit special attention. Throughout the last three decades, since the autonomous institutions were created, a wide range of language policies have been implemented. The particularities of these policies have to do with specific sociolinguistic contexts, the civic and political resources engaged in implementing them and the diverse historical and ideological backgrounds the issue of language has in every place. Spain makes a very interesting case study due to its complexity and because it allows us to reflect on the interaction between the law (common laws versus diverse regional statutes), contrasting historical and sociolinguistic backgrounds in each of the regions, and the changing political contexts at the local and national level.

Within the Spanish context, the Educational Department of Galicia, a northern Spanish region with two co-official languages (Galician and Castilian Spanish), has been developing and implementing a two-fold language planning policy. On the one hand is a thirty-year language policy based on the progressive increase of the presence of Galician in the curricular system, aiming at its normalisation, protection and use, not only because of its diglossic situation, extensively reported in a myriad of studies, but also because it is an undisputable heritage of humankind.

On the other hand, Clil has been gradually introduced in the curricular system on an experimental basis for more than fifteen years. In Galicia, this means subjects taught mostly in English, but there are some schools implementing it in French and Portuguese. As in the rest of Spain, the introduction of additional languages as vehicles for teaching non-linguistic curricular subjects has had a big effect on language policy design.

Can you tell us about some of the latest developments and issues in Clil?

Over the past few years the Galician Educational Department has been trying to solve the problem of how to harmonise a language policy based on protection and preservation of Galician with the inclusion of other languages in the curriculum, in line with European guidelines on multilingualism.

Does Clil in Galicia mean subjects taught in English, or in other languages as well?

In June 2010 the Galician government – with a view to plunging into mainstreaming the Clil model – published a decree on multilingualism, officially bringing an additional or foreign language as a medium into maintained schools, and setting out that one third of any non-language subject could be taught in a foreign or additional language (mainly English), with the two remaining thirds taught in Galician and Castilian. The decree has aroused a lot of controversy due to an extensive belief that the Galician language is going to play a minor role in the educational system and that teachers are not ready for such a change. This new provision has resulted in the existence of two types of programmes: experimental Clil, in which students enrol voluntarily in schools where there are Clil and non-Clil groups, and mainstream Clil, compulsory for all students in the participating school.

Can you tell us about your own role in Clil projects in Galicia, including projects you helped to design and that you teach in?

My role in Clil development in Galicia has been related to policy-making, implementation and research. I was a foreign language adviser at the Galician Department of Education for five years, where I was in charge of developing and managing programmes related to multilingualism, Clil, curricular development and teacher training. When the development plan was designed, three main aspects were taken as starting points – additional language complementary training for students, teacher training programmes and resources.

As a researcher, I have conducted several projects on results obtained by students enrolled on Clil programmes (San Isidro, 2009, 2010 and 2011), contrasting results obtained by experimental groups and control groups in primary and secondary education. In all of them Clil students outperformed their counterparts in both languages and Clil subjects, although results cannot be taken as conclusive because the students taking part in my research enrolled on the programmes voluntarily, which could mean they were academically gifted and inherently motivated towards language learning. At the moment I am working on a two-year longitudinal study analysing attitudes and results in two groups of students. The main aim is to shed some light on the effects of Clil on language competence and attitudes towards language learning.

I believe adequate resources represent a particular challenge. As a teacher in secondary education I coordinated the implementation of a social science Clil programme for three years. Of all the things on the publishing market I really missed, adaptable materials and real tips were undoubtedly key. That is why I started using a blog to publish bilingual tips including my own tasks and my students’ products (www.clilnegreira.com/category/clil-tips).

 

please add a link to his Twitter handle via his name

https://twitter.com/xabiersanisidro