Date of Award
College of Education
The Basque Country, Spain is a linguistically unique region where the minority indigenous language, Euskera, competes alongside the dominant state language, Castilian, and a lingua franca, English, for prestige and status. Following a history of cultural and linguistic repression and marginalization, the Basque community has, in the past 30 years, begun to reintroduce Euskera into new, multilingual school systems in order to teach, preserve and maintain their heritage language, while simultaneously acquiring English as an important language for global communication. This multimethod, qualitative study takes data from 36 survey respondents and five interview participants from the Basque Country, and triangulates those findings with Basque Country language proficiency and cultural identity data from the Basque Government, in order to better understand the long-term efficacy of multilingual secondary schools in producing alumni with high competencies in both Euskera and English. If such alumni are able to acquire and maintain high proficiencies following their departure from the linguistic structure and support system of the school environment, then such schools may provide strong models for other regions that struggle with similar sociolinguistic dynamics. Results show that there is widespread support for both English and Euskera instruction, and that while Euskera proficiencies tend to be relatively high, until the language is normalized in Basque society, Basque residents will fear the ultimate deterioration and demise of their heritage language. Meanwhile, English instruction is comparatively weak, with many students seeking extracurricular classes to improve proficiencies. It is evident that the multilingual model is favorable, yet requires some refinement, that extracurricular environments are needed for English language development and practice, and that Euskera must be made practical in order to solidify its future as a useful and common Basque Country language.
Destrades Mendoza, Olivia, "Preserving Euskera in a Globalized World: Determining the Long-term Efficacy of Multilingual Schools in the Basque Country, Spain (Thesis)" (2011). Honorable Mentions. Paper 3.