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Multilingualism in education discussed
Author: Faculty of Education Prof Christa van der Walt
Published: 16/11/2023

​​​​​Prof David Lasagabaster, Professor Extraordinaire in the Department Curriculum Studies, delivered a public lecture on 6 November on a topic that is relevant to anybody who is interested in multilingual education. His topic, Boosting multilingualism in Spain:  The trilingual educational system in the Basque Country under scrutiny, highlighted the complexities of multilingual Europe with specific reference to lesser-used languages as they are called. He pointed to the situation in Spain, where 50% of the 20 million speakers of these lesser-used languages live. He pointed out,

In the Spanish bilingual regions, the education system must guarantee that Spanish and the co-official language (be it Basque, Catalan or Galician) are taught at school and university. As a result of this language policy, minority languages are taught alongside Spanish, but English is also included in the linguistic equation because there is broad social agreement about the dire need to increase students' proficiency in the currently hegemonic foreign language.

Despite the good intentions of regional and national governments, the overwhelming predominance of English is seen as a risk to the role of the local languages. This is the case specifically regarding the Basque language that was first banned during the Franco era and then was reintroduced as a language of learning and teaching. By critically analysing the situation, Prof Lasagabaster emphasized the importance of facilitating the coexistence of the different languages-in-contact by fostering the local language ecology.

David Lasagabaster is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). He lectures on multilingualism, language attitudes and motivation at the MA programme Language Acquisition in Multilingual Settings ( with access to doctoral studies (PhD), in which he supervises master's and PhD theses. His research revolves around EMI (English-Medium Instruction), CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), attitudes and motivation, second/third language acquisition, and multilingualism. He has published widely in international journals and has also published books and edited books. He was included in the 2022 Stanford list of the world's top-2% most-cited linguists.