September means a return to routine, and therefore for many a return to school, college and university. And not only for kids, but teachers too, while parents also return to the routine of getting their kids to school in the morning and getting them to bed at a certain time every night. For grandparents it often means back to a life of seeing their grandchildren only sporadically rather than regularly or even continuously if they’ve been looking after them during the long summer break.
For some in this part of the world it means a whole new life as two and three year-olds start P3 (nursery or pre-school), and for eleven and twelve year-olds it means starting a new school as they begin their secondary education. A new school also awaits those who’ve moved house over the summer.
For many of those beginning university it’s the start of independence, to a degree anyway, as they leave home and settle in at a student residence, living without their parents or guardians for the first time.
And for those who left school in the spring it’s the first time they can recall not having to go to school every morning, that routine being replaced by a new life of challenges as they seek to make a start in the adult world.
For teachers, September brings a new set of faces, making them feel older as the faces seem to get younger each year. And for a small part of the population –those who are home schooled like Oliver Holmes-Gunning on pages 22-23 of this edition– the new academic year doesn’t entail such a transition, but rather a return to the study routine after a well-earned break.
Whatever your situation, the new academic year brings new beginnings and new challenges with the beautiful –and cooler– autumn weather. On the following pages you will find articles about less common aspects of education, including homeschooling and older people returning to their studies. Also, as the lives of parents become more and more challenging, we have a fascinating interview on how to maintain some of the traditional values of parenting and not get caught up in hyper-parenting –or the modern way we have of making our children the centre of everything.
Eurobarometer data reveal that Spain has one of the lowest levels of English in Europe, above only Hungary. According to the latest study, only 22% of Spaniards over the age of 18 are fluent in the language and 7% claim to have an advanced level. Compare that to countries like Holland, with 90% of English language proficiency, Sweden and Denmark with 86%, Austria and Cyprus with 73% or Finland with 70%, and the difference is alarming.
Although English continues to be a cause for concern for many people, especially parents, such data are not available for Catalonia and can be expected to be much higher, given the excellent academic results of students in Catalonia published each year. In addition, Barcelona is a hub for TEFL training (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), with large numbers of teachers either learning the trade or furthering their skills on general and advanced training courses in the Catalan capital.
Of course, the Internet is also playing a huge role in turning local students away from the traditional fallacy that English is a subject to be learnt and highlighting its importance as a communication tool, meaning that the younger generations do not find the language as threatening as previous generations and are losing their fear of it. Most language learning experts agree that the best way to learn a foreign language is to be immersed in it, and the Internet allows everyone to do that in areas that are familiar to them and/or they are interested in. Here at Catalonia Today we strive to help in that respect, providing written and multimedia content for locals to read and watch all they like about Catalan issues in English. As well as this magazine, there is also English Hour on El Punt Avui TV and online, and we provide a page of news in El Punt Avui newspaper in English every day.