The recently held third symposium on “Teaching of Catalan to Non Catalan-speakers”, ended with a general call to push the promotion of the social use of the language. After more than 20 years of regular teaching of Catalan in schools, the result is that most young people master Catalan, but its social use seems to be the main problem to normalise the linguistic situation in Catalan-speaking regions in Spain. Even the Education Minister of the government of Cataluña, Carme-Laura Gil, admitted that the situation “is far from what we want”, however adding that she was sure the language is in no danger of dying out. Experts on the subject called upon the need of a renewed massive action, both institutional and civilian, to change this situation and to assure the future for the Catalan language. They put forward five suggestions to achieve this goal: continued action by the regional administration to finance and support new educational projects to keep up with the linguistic normalisation strategy; active plans to guarantee the presence of Catalan in new technologies; elaboration of a multilingual educational system which takes the weak situation of Catalan into account; changes in the formation and preparation of teachers; and a political multilateral agreement to impulse an active presence of the language in many social fields where not yet permanently installed. As an example of the fragile situation of the language, a survey on the use of Catalan by 12-year-olds in Cataluña has shown that despite active learning of the language in both private and public educational centres, most students don't use it regularly outside their schools. So far, up to 60 percent of youngsters speak and communicate in Spanish, whereas only 34 percent use Catalan. Another 6 percent use both languages equally, even in the same conversations. According to the researchers, the results of the survey show that “Catalan has little presence” in daily life among children, who in fact master the language after several years of compulsory learning. Children from Spanish-speaking families only use Catalan in 20 percent of their conversations or other communications. The survey showed slightly better results for bilingual families (where one parent speaks Catalan and the other one Spanish). In these cases, up to two thirds of the conversations are in Spanish. Finally, in Catalan–speaking families the results showed that only 50 percent of communication is in Catalan. The study reflects that 'Catalan is a minority language nowadays' even in its own historical territory, 'despite of its use as vehicular language in the educational net'. However, the researchers also detected some positive trends. They confirm that “a minor segment” of the Spanish-speaking society regularly contributes to the active use of Catalan, especially “where it is socially more possible” - that is, in those regions where Catalan is more assented and where the influence of the Spanish culture is weaker. It is in these circles, the authors of the poll say, where the institutions should work harder to guarantee progress in the use of the language. A next conference is scheduled for 2007. Until now, a meeting has been held every 10 years, but from now on will be every 5 years.

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