By John Ensor •
Published: 04 Oct 2023 • 12:16
Image of Official School of Languages, Malaga.
Why are Spain’s native languages overlooked in Malaga’s official language schools? It seems that students in Malaga find it simpler to pick up Russian than Galician.
A recent report highlighted that Malaga’s Official Language School offers a variety of languages, but surprisingly, none of Spain’s co-official ones like Catalan, Galician, or Basque. Instead, languages like Russian, Chinese, and Portuguese are on the curriculum, according to El Español.
Across the province of Malaga, there are eight official language schools. All of them provide courses in English and French, with German available in six and Arabic in three.
The larger centres, especially in the capital, offer an even broader spectrum, teaching languages such as Chinese, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish for foreigners. Marbella also offers the latter two.
This isn’t a trend limited to Malaga. Most official language schools in Andalusia, and a significant portion in Spain, follow a similar pattern. Only in Madrid can students learn Catalan, Galician, and Basque. Outside their native regions, Catalan, for instance, is scarcely available, with a few exceptions in parts of Aragon.
This academic year, the University of Malaga is taking a step towards celebrating Spain’s linguistic diversity. They’re introducing a course on the History of Spain’s Languages for their over-55s programme, aiming to shed light on the nation’s rich linguistic tapestry.
Dr Francisco M. Carriscondo, a specialist in Hispanic Philology, will lead the course. He commented on the situation, stating, ‘This reality shows the commitment level to the languages spoken in Spain.’ He believes that while authorities argue there’s no demand for these languages, without offering them, demand will never arise.
‘If there’s no offer, there will never be one,’ he firmly stated, expressing disappointment over the lack of studies on public interest in these languages.
Recent data from the spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE) reveals that around seven million Spaniards speak Catalan, while just over 1.8 million communicate in Basque and 2.6 million in Galician. Carriscondo emphasises that the Cervantes Institute should promote all of Spain’s languages, not just Spanish.
He feels the centralised power structure in Madrid is a significant issue. He argues that regions like Catalonia and the Basque Country might find it necessary to invest heavily in their languages. ‘If they don’t make the effort, the Spanish state won’t,’ he remarked.
He passionately believes in not just using these languages but preserving them. ‘Languages coexist, influencing each other, but we must keep politics out of it,’ he said.
He dreams of a day when hearing a Basque song on the radio or reading Galician poetry isn’t considered unusual. ‘Would we ever call Catalan a foreign language?’ he pondered.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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