Globalization increases mobility and pushes cultural exchange throughout the world. In Catalonia more than 300 languages are spoken and Barcelona, its capital, is a reflection of this mosaic of diversity. In fact, according to data from the last municipal registry, the city has broken its own record of foreign population since 1991: almost half of Barcelona’s residents are expats and one in five has foreign nationality.
Multilingualism, heritage of the city
Diversity, in its broadest sense, presents new complexities, but also new opportunities. Therefore, the municipal council has the BCN Interculturality Program, an initiative for the change in the relations of the different areas of the city and which goes beyond the mere exchange between cultures. In the linguistic aspect, the pilot tests that several districts and associations are doing for the promotion of family language learning stand out, especially in the educational field.
Training offer for all needs
In Barcelona there is a very wide range of language schools: from schools that have recognition or homologation, centres that represent the official institutes of the main languages of the world, to private academies.
Catalan, along with Spanish, is one of the official languages and very relevant in daily life. Some of the best options to learn or improve it are the Official Language Schools (EOI) of Barcelona and the Consortium for Language Normalization, which offer regular courses (face-to-face and virtual) and the Volunteering for Language program, an initiative to practice Catalan talking in pairs (a Catalan-speaking person and an apprentice). Also, in collaboration with the Consortium for Linguistic Normalization of Barcelona, the City Council will organize a new edition of the “Catalan for business” course next November, equivalent to level B1.
In addition, and for all those newcomers who want to start making contact with Catalan, they will find two activities to break the ice in the Barcelona International Community Day on 26th October by the Centre for Linguistic Normalization of Barcelona: a linguistic vermouth at 1:30pm and a speed dating with tea at 4:45pm.
Beyond the usefulness of local languages in daily life, the motivations for learning other languages are as varied as the available options. Reduced and personalized courses or learning based on cultural activities are some of the experiences offered by centres such as Languages4Life, Kingsbrook Idiomas, World Class Bcn Language School and Language Surfing, all of them present in the exhibitor area of the Barcelona ICD.
Those who, on the other hand, prefer to learn languages at their own pace or in a self-taught way, can approach the public libraries of the city, where they will find a wide collection of novels in original and adapted versions and can participate in conversational or reading groups both Catalan and foreign languages.