Sunday, February 1, 2009

Use of Galician Today

The figures below show that Galician is the main language in the education system today – until university level when there is a dramatic shift towards Spanish. Although Galician is the language most frequently used for communications and public information notices in universities, only 28% of lecturers use Galician orally or distribute class handouts in the language of the region.

One reason for this is that the linguistic policies of the Xunta (Galician government) focus on compulsory education. But the predominance of Spanish in urban areas where universities are situated is another factor. Although most primary school children in the region use Galician as a first language the opposite is the case in the seven largest cities (Vigo, A Coruña, Ourense, Santiago, Lugo, Pontevedra and Ferrol) where 72% of primary school children principally speak Spanish. Just over 40% of secondary school teachers in these urban areas prefer to use Spanish at work, while in the region as a whole over 72% opt for Galician.

Only 6.5% of parents are opposed to the use of Galician in the classroom, while around 19% are indifferent and 74% in favour. The majority of parents believe the use of Galician in schools will not increase in the coming years and that the amount of Galician already used is enough.

Language Used

Nursery: Students Teachers
Sp 43.3% 29.4%
Ga 56.7% 70.6%

Primary: Students Teachers
Sp 36.8% 23.2%
Ga 63.2% 76.8%

Secondary: Students Teachers
Sp 42.2 32.1
Ga 57.8 67.9

University: Students Teachers
Sp 71.4 75.8
Ga 28.6 24.2

Galician in the Workplace

In health centres, the public is attended to mainly in Galician (63%); while in contrast, Spanish predominates in 54% of dialogues with the system’s users. The majority of GP’s opt for Spanish in their work with only 31% opting for the use of Galician with their patients. In hospitals this figure drops to 26%.

78% of Xunta staff use Galician in the workplace where 95% of documentation is written in the regional language. However, 4 out of 10 civil servants attend to the public in Spanish.

57% of calls to the Policía Nacional were answered in Spanish and 49% of conversations with the public were conducted in Spanish. 64% of the Guardia Civil speak Galician although 97% write in Spanish.

In other areas, Galician continues to lag behind. In the court system, 66% of judges and other courtroom staff use Spanish with the public and 86% of courtroom documentation is in Spanish. At the tax office, Galician documentation is an even rarer sight with only 9% of texts written in the language of the region.

Info taken from La Voz, 7th Jan, 2009. Statistics from the Galician Language Observatory created by the Secretaria Xeral de Política Lingüística.