BAC Government tests cast doubt on linguistic models policy

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Apr 27 13:49:46 UTC 2005

BAC Government tests cast doubt on linguistic models policy

Only 68% of D-model students and 33% of B-model ones are capable
of managing in Basque when they finish their compulsory secondary

Anakoz Amenabar  GASTEIZ (Vitoria)

Taking European language exams as a reference, the BAC-Basque Autonomous
Community Government has for the first time measured the level of Basque
among students in secondary schools in Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa. Not a
single A-model student passed the preliminary test in order to sit the
final exam; only 33% of B-model students passed, and only 68% of D-model
students can manage effectively in Basque. The data on 16-year-students
are worrying: nobody speaks Basque in the A model, two thirds do not
master the language in the B model, and nor do a third of the students in
the D-model. [See Linguistic models in Education].

Yesterday, Anjeles Iztueta, the BAC Education Minister, presented the
results of the exams sat by 1,191 students in the 4th year of DBH
(Compulsory Secondary Education) between November and December last year.
Until now there have only been tests in the different models. From now on,
however, students will be required to sit the B2 level of the
ALTE-Association of Language Testers in Europe. So the exam in Basque will
be on a similar level to the First Certificate in English.

The tests have revealed that the results in the A and B levels are poor
and only 68% passed in the D level in the tests conducted at 61 schools to
assess levels in speaking and writing. In Iztuetas view, there is room for
improvement in the language policy in order to raise the overall level and
reduce the differences between the models. Even if the language at home is
Spanish, the results in the D model are better than those in the B model.
There are double the number of passes, she stressed. Equality has to be
assured and those whose command is weaker have to be given more help, and
not just in Basque, but also in English and Spanish, too, she added.

On the other hand, Iztueta expressed optimism about the attitude of young
people towards Basque. When asked about bilingualism or the importance of
Basque, most of them responded positively, said the Minister. According to
surveys, 87% of young people have a positive attitude towards Basque and
80% regard bilingualism as necessary.

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