Catalonia hits back in school language battle

Spain’s central government and Catalonia’s regional legislature are in the midst of a heated dispute over a new law that will boost the use of Castilian Spanish in Catalan classrooms.

Catalonia hits back in school language battle
The latest round of the language battle betwen Madrid and Catalonia has been simmering away for months. Photo: audio-Luci-Store/Flickr

The new rules will increase the number of hours of Spanish language classes in Catalan schools if a single pupil requests this.

The ruling follows an appeal by ten parents in Catalonia who wanted their kids to be taught in both Spanish and Catalan.

Julián Busca, an Argentinian who has lived in the town of Casteldefells for 11 years, headed the bid after he was told by his children’s headmaster that Catalan had to be spoken in school parents’ meetings.

“What I wanted was a balance between Catalan and Castilian Spanish in the schooling system here,” Busca told Spanish newspaper El País.

Catalonia’s Supreme Court recognized the parents’ decision to have Spanish used in the classroom but in turn passed a law which affects everyone.

If one pupil or his or her parents asks for Castilian Spanish to be used in the classroom, the teacher will have to swap languages with the whole class and not just the child in question.

The Catalan Supreme Court concluded that the pupil’s right to be taught in Spanish “would not be achieved with individual tutoring in Spanish, but only with a complete overhaul of the system.”

Catalonia’s autonomous government La Generalitat has already rejected the court’s hearing.

La Generalitat’s Education Minister Irene Rigau sees it as an attack on Catalonia’s education system and pointed out to El País that the legislation should deal with individual cases and not affect all Catalan families.

But Spanish Education Minister José Ignacio Wert warned the Catalan government on Thursday that constitutional laws are there to be followed diligently and not just voluntarily.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia

Even if you speak Spanish, if you're living in Catalonia, it's a good idea to learn some Catalan too. Here are some basic phrases you need to get by.

The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia
Image: Photos_Marta/ Pixabay

While everyone in the bigger Catalan cities such as Barcelona or Tarragona will speak Spanish, it’s a good idea to learn some Catalan too.

Not only is this sure to win you some brownie points with the locals, but it will enrich your experience of living in the region and allow you to make new friends. This is particularly true when travelling to the smaller towns and villages in rural Catalonia too.


Greetings are a great way to start out practicing your Catalan. Your neighbours will be delighted and appreciate greetings in their local language. Because the phrases are short, they’re easy to remember and don’t invite long answers that you won’t be able to understand.

Bon dia – Good day

This phrase is used all the time in Catalonia, even more so than ‘Hola’. You would use it for greeting someone anytime up until the afternoon, after which you would say 'Bona tarda'. 

Encantat! Molt de gust! – Pleased to meet you.

Com estás? – How are you?

Bona nit – Good night

Greetings in Catalan. Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels


Being polite

Another very easy way to slip in some Catalan here and there is to use it in small polite phrases. Even if you don’t know the Catalan for the whole phrase, you could easily add please or thank you on the end.

Si us plau – Please

Moltes gràcies – Thank you very much

De res – You’re welcome

Saying thank you in Catalan. Image: Ka Young Seo / Pixabay 

Eating out

When you’re a bit more confident with your Catalan, eating out is the perfect time to put it all into practice. You don’t have to keep the conversation going a long time and there are particular useful phrases that you can memorise.  

Teniu una taula per dos? – Do you have a table for two?

La carta, si us plau – The menu please

El comte, si us plau – The bill please

No puc menjar… – I can’t eat…
This one may be useful if there’s something that you’re allergic to or can’t eat, such as gluten or dairy for example.

Eating out. Image: Ji-yeon Yun / Pixabay 


Like eating out, shopping is another perfect chance to put your Catalan out in the real world.

Quant costa això? – How much does that cost?

Tens un altre color? – Do you have a different colour?

Tens una talla més gran/petita? – Do you have a bigger/smaller size?

Pots ajudar-me? – Can you help me?


READ MORE: Ten colourful Catalan phrases you should learn right now