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The situation of modern language learning and teaching in Europe:

ANDORRA
Maria Teresa Cairat Vila
Directorate General of Andorran Schools
Andorra, a small European country between France and Spain, has an
education structure in which there are three completely different education
systems, particularly as regards language learning: the Spanish education
system, the French education system, and the country's own education
system, the Andorran system. These three systems provide all of
compulsory education (6 to 16 years), pre-compulsory education (3 to 6
years) and post-compulsory education (16 to 18 years). The two main
features that should be stressed are the media of instruction used, and the
distinct structure of learning.

The Andorran education system


The Andorran education system is a multilingual system in which languages
have a very important place. It should be said that in the language scheme of
Andorran schools, three of the four languages taught are media of
instruction in various subjects.

Pre-schools
Pre-schools are divided by age into two groups. With pupils aged 3-4,
communication is in Catalan, and pre-school activities are organised by two
teachers working side by side. For students from age 4 to 6, both Catalan
and French are used as media of instruction. Two teachers work
concurrently with each class, one teaching in Catalan and one teaching in
French.

Primary schools
In primary education, instruction is in Catalan and French. All classes have
two teachers, one of them teaching in Catalan and the other in French.
Spanish, which is introduced as a modern foreign language during the third
two-year cycle, is taught by a specialist teacher of Spanish. During the
second and third cycles, a teacher of English provides tuition in English.

First cycle of primary education


In the first cycle (6-8 years), reading and writing are taught in Catalan so
that pupils master the written code. French is used largely orally by one of
the teachers when the class splits into different groups for various activities.
The subjects for which specialist teachers are appointed (music, plastic arts,
physical education and movement) are taught in Catalan or French. These
subjects are taught in the same language throughout the cycle.

Second cycle of primary education


In the second cycle (8-10 years), the aims are the consolidation of the
written code in Catalan and the gradual learning of reading and writing in
French. This is also when oral activities begin in English (approximately
two lessons of 30-40 minutes a week).
Each class has two teachers who organise all teaching/learning activities,
one in Catalan and the other in French. English-language activities are in the
hands of a teacher of English. Subjects taught by specialists (music, plastic
arts, physical education/swimming and movement) are given in Catalan or
French. These subjects must be taught in the same language throughout the
cycle.

Third cycle of primary education


During the third cycle (10-12 years), pupils extend their reading and writing
skills in the context of teaching/learning activities conducted in Catalan, and
gradually learn written English, which is taught in two lessons of 45-60 min
a week. This is when pupils start studying Spanish, for three hours a week,
as a modern foreign language. The aim is to structure the informal
knowledge they have by then acquired.
Each class has two teachers, one teaching in Catalan, and the other in
French. English and Spanish classes are held by specialist teachers of those
languages. Subjects taught by specialists (music, plastic arts, physical
education/swimming and movement) are given in the same language
throughout the cycle.

Compulsory secondary education


Compulsory secondary education (12-16 years) is also divided into cycles: a
first cycle (12-14 years) and a second cycle (14-16 years). During these two
cycles, teaching/learning activities are mainly conducted in Catalan by
teachers specialising in one subject or group of subjects. Considerable time
is devoted to Catalan, Spanish, French and English classes: 12 hours a week
(3 hours per language).

First cycle of compulsory secondary education


In the first cycle (12-14 years), pupils use the Catalan language that they
have learnt in both written and oral forms. In French and Spanish, they
reinforce their knowledge of the written and oral codes and also acquire
academic usage. In English, they concentrate on oral practice and written
usage.
Every week, pupils have 3 hours of Catalan language, literature and
civilisation, 3 hours of Spanish language, literature and civilisation, 3 hours
of French language, literature and civilisation, and 3 hours of English. These
four subjects are taught by specialist teachers. Classes in physical education
and sports, as well as art classes, may be given in French. Other subjects
may also be taught in Spanish and French.

Second cycle of compulsory secondary education


In the second cycle (14-16 years), the linguistic aims of Andorran schools
are for pupils to develop the language skills enabling them to express
themselves with some ease in Catalan, French and Spanish during
teaching/learning activities. They must also be able to use English in
specific situations, both orally and in writing.
Twelve hours a week are devoted to language learning. The four language
subjects are taught by specialist teachers. Classes in physical education and
sports, like art classes, may be given in French. Other subjects may also be
taught in Spanish or French.

Upper secondary education (Baccalaurat)


In post-compulsory secondary education (16-18 years), all four languages
continue to be taught, but two of them, Catalan and English, are compulsory
for all pupils in all tracks. Both of these are taught by specialist teachers for
3 hours a week in the three baccalaurat options.

Baccalaurat in science and technology


Pupils choose between French and Spanish (3 hours a week).

Baccalaurat in economics and social sciences


There is a choice between French and Spanish (3 hours a week). Pupils may
also select an optional course in German or Italian.

Baccalaurat in humanities and languages


There are 3 hours of compulsory Spanish, French and Latin per week. Pupils
may also select an optional course in German, Italian or Ancient Greek.
Other subjects may also be taught in Spanish or French in the three types of
baccalaurat.
In conclusion, it should be said that Andorra, a small country whose official
language is Catalan, has adopted a multilingual school system in which
language learning is introduced in pre-schools, and which demonstrates a
resolute openness towards the European context that goes well beyond the
relevant recommendations of the Community.

The French education system in Andorra


The French education system only uses French as the medium of instruction.
Catalan is introduced in pre-schools, for 3 hours a week, while in primary
schools it is taught for 4 hours a week. During the four years of lower
secondary school (from sixime to troisime, in the French terminology),
Catalan is taught for 3 hours a week, with the status of first foreign
language. In the first year of lower secondary school (sixime), pupils also
start studying English or Spanish as a third language and two years later, at
age 13, a fourth language is introduced (English or Spanish, depending on
pupils' previous choice). In upper secondary schools, these three languages
(English, Spanish, Catalan) are taught as individual subjects for 3 hours a
week.

The Spanish education system in Andorra


The Spanish education system uses Spanish or Catalan as the medium of
instruction. In schools where Spanish is the medium of instruction, pre-
school pupils have an average of 4 hours of Catalan a week. In primary
schools, a new language is introduced: English or French for 3 hours a
week. In the primary schools where Catalan in the medium of instruction,
Spanish is taught for 3 hours a week.
In addition, a new language, English or French, is introduced for 3 hours a
week in primary schools.
In lower secondary schools, in addition to the language chosen at primary
school, a third language is studied, either English or French, depending on
the choice made in primary school.
In upper secondary schools, pupils can again choose between these two
languages.