The European Commission has announced that Catalan will be part of the Online Linguistic Support (OLS) platform of the Erasmus+ mobility programme. OLS is an online language learning platform aimed at Erasmus mobility students, with the goal of providing them with the necessary linguistic resources to start learning the language of the host country before their arrival. Until now, this platform included the official languages of European institutions and other languages included in university programmes but excluded Catalan, along with Basque and Galician.
The Minister of Research and Universities, Joaquim Nadal i Farreras, welcomed the decision, stating that, “although it is a little late, it puts an end to an unjustifiable historical grievance that did not recognise Catalan as a language of international mobility, despite being official in Catalonia and the main language of instruction in Catalan university degree programmes”.
The Government of Catalonia and the Vives Network of Universities have worked together to end discrimination against universities in Catalan-speaking regions. Despite being one of the linguistic regions with the highest number of incoming mobility students from the European Union, their language was not recognised on the OLS platform. The marginalisation of Catalan on this platform also represented an injustice for students participating in Erasmus programmes at Catalan universities. Unlike those who chose other destinations, they couldn’t learn the language of the host university through OLS. In this regard, the inclusion of Catalan, along with other official languages from various regions of Spain, has been a long-standing demand. The inclusion of Catalan in the OLS was one of the commitments set out in the Plan for the strengthening of the Catalan language in the university and research system of Catalonia, promoted by the Ministry of Research and Universities.
Regarding its operation, the OLS platform allows a mobility student to assess their level of comprehension and knowledge of the language(s) of the university that will host them during their academic stay through an online test. It also provides training, at least at level A1, in the language(s) specific to the destination university. Furthermore, participating in the OLS ensures that the student can continue with online language improvement courses specific to the host university during their academic stay.
Even though the full integration of Catalan into the OLS with the same content and resources as the other languages won’t occur until 2027, when the new tender for the platform is scheduled, a website with the same structure and type of content as the platform has been made available. This website links to the reference portal for online courses, Parla.cat.
Before the inclusion of Catalan in the OLS platform, to promote language learning among Erasmus students, the Government of Catalonia, in collaboration with the Ramon Llull Institute, organised in-person linguistic pre-arrival courses exclusively for Erasmus students through the IRL’s network of Catalan Studies abroad. These courses are available on the “Study Catalan before you arrive in Catalonia” website, where students can also find other online resources for self-learning the language. In the coming years, these pre-arrival courses will continue to be offered in parallel with the content of the OLS platform.