Galician is a Romance language that is currently spoken by nearly 3 million people throughout the autonomous northwestern region of Galicia, Spain. It is also spoken in the Castilian provinces of Leon and Zamora, and
several small towns in Extremadura, an autonomous community in southwestern Spain.
Because the Galician community has a history of migration, there are also many native Galician speakers who live far beyond Spain’s borders. Galician can be heard in such far-flung cities as Zurich, Switzerland, Montevideo,
Uruguay, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Emphasis on Incorporating Galician into Bilingual Education Model
Xunta de Galicia, the government in the region of Galicia, is currently involved in the implementation of a bilingual education system, which aims to balance the use of Galician and Castilian as the official languages of instruction. Over the past three decades,
from the time the regional government passed a law aimed at promoting the use of Galician, officials have focused on several activities to support use of the language in everyday life, including:
As in many areas around the world where local communities have sought to increase adoption of native languages alongside more widely-used languages, schools have played an important role in sustaining Galician. One such school, which has instituted a highly
successful dual-language curriculum, is Centro Integrado de Formación Profesional (CIFP) Politécnico de Santiago. Founded in 1933, CIFP Politécnico de Santiago is located in the city of Santiago de Compostela. All of its students are over the age of 15, and
most are 18 years of age or older. Fully 90 percent of the student population speaks Galician.
||When students see Galician integrated into the latest technology, it reinforces our work to show that the language is relevant to all aspects of today’s society.
|José Manuel Leis
Director, Centro Integrado de Formación Profesional Politécnico de Santiago
Recently, school officials have been looking for ways to expand the use of technology in the classroom. Administrators and teachers recognized that infusing technology into the curriculum offered several benefits—from encouraging greater student engagement
to strengthening proficiency in basic technical skills. However, school leaders wanted to ensure that students could access software programs in Galician. More precisely, they wanted to adopt software tools that offered the ability to switch between Galician
and Spanish-language interfaces.
The CAP Politécnico de Santiago began working with the Microsoft Local Language Program to implement the Microsoft Language Interface Packs for the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office productivity software. The mission of the Microsoft Local Language
Program is to empower people around the world to access technology in their native language. In this way, Microsoft hopes to help local communities bridge the technology gap—while enabling them to establish and strengthen their presence in the digital domain.
Use of Advanced, Multilingual Software Helps Support Student Success
Now, students at CIFP Politécnico de Santiago can use popular programs, such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software, to complete classroom and homework assignments in Galician. Also, by using the Language Interface Packs to switch between
Galician and Spanish-language interfaces, the school is realizing its goal of providing bilingual instruction. Teachers can set the programs to open in the preferred language of each specific user. “Although 90 percent of our students speak Galician, they
need to live and work in a bilingual society,” says José Manuel Leis, Director at CIFP Politécnico de Santiago. “Because the Microsoft solution supports the natural use of both Galician and Spanish, it’s a perfect fit.”
Teachers have noted that, from the time the school began using localized versions of productivity software, students have shown more interest in their schoolwork. “Incorporating technology into daily instruction lets us diversify our teaching methods, so
we can keep kids engaged in the material for longer periods of time and get them to think about topics in different ways,” says Manuel Ramón Tojo, a teacher at CIFP Politécnico de Santiago.
Students, too, reaffirm the value of using technology in their native language. “Being able to use the software in Galician is excellent because there are people that always think and speak in Galician,” says Miguel Ángel Otero, a student at CIFP Politécnico
de Santiago. “If you use software in Spanish, you need to be translating the words mentally. Now, we can work with the programs in a natural and intuitive way—in our native language.”
In addition to the immediate benefits of using the Microsoft Language Interface Packs, administrators recognize the long-term value of the investment. “When students see Galician integrated into the latest technology, it reinforces our work to show that
the language is relevant to all aspects of today’s society,” says Leis. “This strengthens our efforts to help students become active members of a modern, bilingual society that values heritage—while always looking toward the future.”
The Microsoft Local Language Program provides people access to technology in a familiar language while respecting linguistic and cultural distinctions. The program aims to empower individuals in local communities
to create economic opportunities, build technology skills, enhance education outcomes, and sustain their local language and culture.
Microsoft Local Language Program: