Back UPF’s Catalan courses reach an all-time high, with more than 1,400 students per year
UPF’s Catalan courses reach an all-time high, with more than 1,400 students per year
As a Catalan university open to the world, for many years UPF has been offering Catalan language and culture courses, especially targeting international students and teachers, in addition to other training in Catalan that is more specific to different groups or needs. The classes, designed to cater for international students and teachers, attracted more than a thousand people in the 2022-2023 academic year, 116% more than the previous year. One of the main reasons for this increase is the start of the MOOC “Catalan for beginners”.
The number of participants in the Catalan courses run by the Languages UPF service reached an all-time high during the 2022-2023 academic year, in which a total of 1,439 students were trained, 122% more than the previous year and the highest figure ever reached. More than 70% of these students (1,018) took courses specifically targeting students and teachers from outside Catalan-speaking regions.
The Languages UPF service offers Catalan courses at all levels of the CEFR, from A1 to C2, aimed at both members of the university community and society in general from a wide variety of backgrounds. Among other actions, the language and cultural reception programme includes a training programme that aims to help international students and teachers feel supported both prior to their arrival and during their first month of stay in Catalonia and throughout the entire period they spend at UPF. For each of these stages, meaningful and differential training has been designed that allows them to reach proficiency level (C1).
A training programme for non-Catalan-speaking students and teachers
Last academic year, UPF was the first Catalan university to launch a free online training programme designed so that both students and teachers from diverse backgrounds could acquire basic notions of the language already in their place of origin. The level A1 MOOC “Catalan for beginners” course, whose design was supported by the Government of Catalonia’s Interlingua aid programme. This new resource comes in response to one of the main recommendations of the Plan to strengthen the Catalan language in the university and research system of Catalonia (PEL) (Government of Catalonia, July 2022) within the field of Catalan and internationalization.
In addition, for years UPF has provided various training and reception activities aimed mainly at students and teachers from non-Catalan-speaking regions. One of these initiatives is the “Catalan Landing Programme”, which consists of a package of short, intensive courses on Catalan language and culture designed specifically for exchange students who have just come to UPF. In addition to the “Catalan Landing Programme”, a 45-hour training course in Catalan can be taken over a term, from basic to advanced levels (from A1 to C1.1 of the CEFR). UPF also offers members of the university community tutored and blended courses taught via the Parla.cat platform, a virtual learning space with teaching materials to learn the Catalan language promoted by the Government of Catalonia, as well as courses to help reach level C1. As a complement to these training courses, UPF offers a programme targeting just its Teaching and Research Staff (PDI), which aims to respond to their specific needs when using Catalan in their teaching and research.
Double the number of students and international teaching staff studying Catalan at UPF
UPF Catalan training courses for newcoming teachers and students were attended by 1,018 students and teaching staff from non-Catalan-speaking territories during the 2022-2023 academic year, 116% more than the previous year. Of these one thousand participants, 445 followed the MOOC and the remaining 573 took the other courses that UPF had already laid on in previous years.
For the UPF commissioner for Language Policy, Marcel Mauri, these data demonstrate the University’s desire to strengthen its activities to take the Catalan language and culture to more people, as well as its commitment to Catalan and its dissemination. “The dramatic increase in demand is mainly explained by the greater interest shown by international students in the Catalan language and culture; by the good functioning of the new MOOC of Catalan that allows the international public to train before arriving in Catalonia, and also by the growing pace in demand for C1 and C2 level courses in Catalan among the public residing in Catalonia”, the commissioner assures. He also adds: “these data demonstrate the desire that UPF has always had to promote the Catalan language and culture as a fundamental pillar of the University, positioned at the centre of the life of the university community”.
In addition to its Catalan courses, UPF provides activities organized by Language Volunteering, such as language pairs, which allow people to practise their Catalan with local students, and participating in cultural activities and visits, to discover the most emblematic sites in Barcelona and Catalonia. In addition to these training activities, UPF also aims to increase the percentage of teaching hours in Catalan, in line with the provisions of the Plan to strengthen the Catalan language in the university and research system of Catalonia (PEL).
UPF students and faculty have a broad range of reasons for learning Catalan. Several students of the “Catalan for beginners” MOOC express their interest in learning the language and culture of their host country so as to be able to communicate more easily in Catalonia, both at university and socially or for work.
Some teachers also mention the need to acquire greater knowledge to teach in Catalan and communicate more easily with students. Patrícia A. Iglesias, of Chilean origin and a professor at the Department of Political and Social Sciences who has taken several Catalan courses at UPF explains that “learning Catalan allows you to speak to everyone in their language, which is very important, especially when talking to students. It’s not easy [...] but I know that people appreciate my effort, and I’m also happy to be able to integrate more fully into Catalan society”.
Demand for level C1 and C2 Catalan courses is growing
Apart from the increase in courses for international students, the overall growth in Catalan training at UPF is also largely explained by the success of C1 and C2 proficiency level courses for the general population. Since for public servants accrediting these levels has become mandatory in some cases and meritorious in others, the need to take courses and obtain the corresponding certificates has grown significantly. In this scenario, the UPF Language Service has positioned itself as one of the entities of preference for the public outside UPF, with very high levels of satisfaction and with a total of 549 participants during the 2022-2023 academic year, an increase of 94% compared to the previous year.
Languages UPF published the full report of the course in October, coinciding with the start of the training for this 2023-24 academic year. Registration is still open and if you are interested in finding out what is on offer, please check out the Languages UPF website.