The researchers state that "the sociolinguistic reality of Catalonia provides a good environment for the study of language acquisition in foreign primary school children because, unlike in other countries, the language of the school and the majority language do not usually coincide."
Arabic-speaking students have greater difficulty
According to the results, the Arabic-speaking pupils acquire lower levels of Catalan and Spanish except for spoken Catalan in Catalan-speaking environments, where their level was placed between the Romanian and Latin American pupils. Furthermore, the data suggest that foreign children take at least six years to match the level that native children have of the language used in school.
For the Romanian students living in a Catalan-speaking environment who were schooled in their own language, it takes them between six and nine years to acquire a native level. The Latin American pupils take six years and the Arabic-speaking students know significantly less Spanish than their native counterparts upon completing primary education. These results compliment those obtained from studies in other countries. In any case, those pupils who develop more quickly use the same language both at school and at home and their native language shares similar characteristics to Catalan and Spanish.
Vila highlights that "in order to overcome this difference, we must understand that it is not a problem of reinforcement but of modifying educational practice. Regardless of how much reinforcement or support they receive, acquisition will not take less time because the process of language learning is what it is. We must understand that schools should mainly provide and teach academic knowledge. Independently of what the pupil knows of the school language, he or she should have the same performance in basic subjects such a
|Contact: Jos Ignacio Vila Mendiburu|
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology