Attitudes towards Basque, Spanish and English in the Basque Country: a cross-sectional study
Gurrutxaga Etxeberria, Itxaso
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English is considered to be the current lingua franca due to its global status. Several factors such as prestige and its widespread use have enabled English to become one of the most spoken languages in the world. Whilst presenting a threat to minority languages, the process of globalisation tends towards a connection amongst various nations through the form of a global language. However, it also creates contexts in which more than one language are in contact. Such is the case of Spain and the Basque Country specifically, where at least three different languages are in contact and share the linguistic landscape. Having this in mind, the research carried out in this paper intends to analyse the attitudes of students towards these three languages in contact; Basque, Spanish and English. For that purpose, a study has been carried out amongst 67 high school students of Urola ikastola in Azpeitia through a questionnaire. The findings show a very positive attitude towards Basque (97%) followed by English (44%) and finally Spanish (18%). It is also worth mentioning that the three languages have obtained very low percentages concerning unfavourable attitudes, which is a positive outcome. However, I would highlight the fact that although English has in overall positive results, some items of the questionnaire have attained quite negative views as it is the case with the use of English as means of instruction. Most students would not agree to be taught in English. This may present a difficulty in the implementation of CLIL (Content and language integrated learning) in the future due to students´ reluctance towards the foreign language. In order to avoid this, it is important to make students aware of the fact that the minority, majority or the foreign languages are not exclusive but rather complementary. For this purpose, special attention should be placed in the attitudinal component of the school curriculum. Language awareness activities could be included in educational programs in order to raise consciousness about the different languages in contact at school and discuss possible attitudes towards them. Key words: ELF (English as a lingua franca), language attitudes in the Basque Country, three languages in contact, minority language.