Universitat Pompeu Fabra: The linguistic policy of a multilingual university in a Catalan-Spanish community

Author(s): Carmen Pérez Vidal
Institution/Organisation: Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona (ES)


UPF is a Catalan university located in the heart of Barcelona, which has a missions in relation with languages: to use Catalan as the language by default in the institution, to use the co-official Spanish language as a language which many students use and know, and to establish the use of English as the third working language for academic and research purposes. In order to do this UPF has developed its own Plan of Action for Multilingualism (PAM), congruent with the European recommendations vis-à-vis languages.The PAM is the philosophy intended to frame a linguistic policy at our university geared towards promoting the use of the three working languages and a fourth language wherever possible.

This is so because UPF has a vision of becoming a Catalan university of excellence and this involves internationalisation, including “internationalisation at home” (IaH) and multilingualism. All of it while preserving, promoting and projecting the Catalan language and the culture behind it as the sign of identity of our society, to which we are accountable. It is a major role of the university institutionally to project a regional language which is a minority language, and UPF strives towards that goal as far as Catalan is concerned.

The PAM has also established the principle of linguistic security whereby the university engages in the compromise of giving public notice of the language used in academic activities. This information must be public and binding, specifically helping Catalan to be maintained as the medium of instruction. A multilingual classroom policy also allows for the three working languages to be used by students, orally and in writing, irrespective of the teachers’ language. The specific policies for the new Bologna degrees are focused on English as a first foreign language in addition to Spanish and Catalan. A scheme has been set up with the provision of generalised English diagnostic tests for all students at degree entrance, level accreditations at the end of year 2, 16% of CLIL credits in the curriculum, the promotion of mobility programmes and practicums in international settings, and the promotion of a second foreign language for B2 English level students.

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