Stability and Change in Language Use during the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education in a Catalan Sociolinguistic Environment

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:45 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Vanessa BRETXA , University of Barcelona, Spain
One of the current challenges confronting bilingual education has to do with pupil’s reluctance to transfer their school-based L2 linguistic knowledge into their wider social domain. Whilst it is clear that bilingual education, in its multiple forms, can and does lead to successful outcomes (Baker 2006), the definition of success is often limited to the sociopolitical climate of the school, area or community and to the patterns of dominance relations between the two languages (Thomas and Roberts 2011). Nowadays, the successful of bilingual education in Catalonia is complex. On one hand, knowledge of Catalan among young people has increased significantly. However, knowledge is not seen translated into an effective growth in the use of Catalan inside and outside the school. Some authors have attempted to explain part of this process by examining the transition from childhood to youth.

This paper investigates the change in language practices that take place during the transition from primary to secondary school. It focuses especially on: identifying the most relevant changes that are produced in the linguistic uses in three domains: home, school and peer-to-peer, and examining the influence of sociodemographic and sociolinguistic environment in the transition and its sociolinguistic impact. The methodology for the study was based on a survey on language competence and use in Catalan and Castilian. The universe of the study is formed by 888 pupils aged between 11 and 13. The basis of the analysis is a panel comparison of indicators. Results show that in the transition from primary to secondary school there is an increase in the use of Castilian in all domains, from home to school. However, the use of Catalan is explained by the characteristics of the individual, the nature of the linguistic interaction and the availability of the language inside and outside the school.