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Bilingualism

Rafael Puyol [1]

(Click here to read this post in Spanish) [2]

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How few people in Spain are bilingual!  Certainly for many Spaniards languages are long overdue.  First it was isolationism, followed by a curriculum that did not emphasise language instruction, then our late entry into the European Union and the fact that all films are dubbed, which, although voiced by solid professionals, hinders learning languages.  I don’t know who it was that said a Spaniard is a permanent student of English.  Spanish families, compensating for the deficiencies of the public system, invest a fortune to teach their children to speak English, but very few end up doing so properly.  it seems to me that this is a problem and a challenge of the first order and that we are not paying enough attention to it.  Although it is through a different educational path, Basques and Catalans are indeed bilingual because they learn Spanish in addition to their own language.  But that bilingualism is on the verge of disappearing.  The children of these communities (and to a lesser degree those of certain others) already don’t learn enough Spanish in school.  These young people will soon cease to be Castilian-speaking population.

What nonsense!  Today, Spanish treads on the heels of English as the universal language.  Many children in both Europe and America study it as a second language and succeed in speaking their own language as well as that of Cervantes. But I doubt very much this is going to happen with Basque and Catalan schoolchildren.  They will learn their own language and it will be wonderful.  But they will lose the historic opportunity to speak Spanish.  Already we see many Basque and Catalan families sending their children to camp in other parts of Spain to learn Spanish, in addition to football and swimming.  Among other things, this will help them better promote their region, their culture, and their products.