Languages portal

FAQs

interrogant

The aim of this section is to answer the main questions that participants in university exchanges may have about the use of languages at the university, and about how the university's sociolinguistic situation is reflected in academic life.

 

General admission requirements

Do I need to speak Spanish or Catalan to study at the University of Barcelona? [+]

Depending on the specific academic organization of the course you wish to study, some classes may be taught in Catalan and others in Spanish. So, you will need to understand both languages. However, you will only be expected to use one of them actively in class, to produce written work and complete examinations. Of course, the better your knowledge of both, the more rewarding the experience you will have.

As an international student, do I need to meet any specific language requirements to be able to study at the University of Barcelona? [+]

You should bear in mind that one of the main benefits of exchange programmes is the chance to experience new realities and interact with other languages and cultures.

The UB recommends that international students have at least level B1 in Catalan, Spanish or English (depending on the language of instruction in the chosen subjects).

More information about language requirements:

Class language (linguistic transparency)

In what languages are bachelor’s degree and university master’s degree classes taught? [+]

Both Catalan and Spanish are used as languages of instruction, reflecting their status as co-official languages in Catalonia. This means that students are free to speak and write in either of the two, regardless of the language of instruction chosen by the teacher.

The model of language used for teaching activities at the University of Barcelona is based on the principle of linguistic transparency.

What is linguistic transparency? [+]

The principal of linguistic transparency establishes that the language of instruction for a given subject must be officially announced before the start of the academic year, allowing students to make informed choices about their studies before they enrol. The announcements are binding, meaning that the language of instruction cannot be changed during the remainder of the academic year.

Announcing the language of instruction in advance ensures that that teachers and students can be clear about the situation they will encounter in class. This helps to improve the academic organization and general running of the university.

More information: Languages of instruction

What does linguistic transparency mean for teachers? [+]

Members of the teaching staff are free to choose the language in which their classes are taught. However, the principle of linguistic transparency requires that they announce the language of instruction before the start of the course, and respect the decision for the duration of the academic year]

More information: Linguistic transparency and languages of instruction

Can I ask a teacher to change languages? [+]

Under no circumstances may you ask a teacher to chance the language of instruction that has been announced for a specific class during the academic year]

The principle of linguistic transparency guarantees greater clarity regarding the use of languages in class by ensuring that the language of instruction for each subject is announced before the start of the academic year, allowing students to make informed choices.

More information: Linguistic transparency and languages of instruction

How can I find out what language a subject will be taught in before I enrol? [+]

Each faculty announces the languages of instruction for the subjects it offers before the start of the academic year. Students can check the UB website to find out which languages will be used for bachelor’s degree and university master’s degree subjects.

More information: The languages of instruction for bachelor's degrees | The languages of instruction for university master's degrees

Language availability

Can I take an entire course of study in only Catalan or Spanish? [+]

Since the language of instruction is chosen by the teacher responsible for each subject, it is difficult to find a course that is taught entirely in one of the two official languages. Generally, the University of Barcelona does not offer language-specific academic pathways.

Is the proportion of classes taught in Catalan and Spanish the same at all UB faculties? [+]

The use of each official language varies between each faculty 

In general terms, at the UB approximately 60% of bachelor’s degree classes are taught in Catalan, approximately 35% are taught in Spanish, and less than 5% are taught in other languages. More information: Language indicators on the language of instruction

If there is more than one teaching group for a particular subject, will different languages be used? [+]

Yes, in some cases there will be groups taught in Catalan and groups taught in Spanish for the same subject. However, since the language of instruction is chosen by the teacher, it is also possible that all of the groups for a particular subject will be taught in the same language. Additionally, a small number of subjects are offered in English or other languages.

If a subject is taught through a combination of lectures, practical sessions and seminars, is the same language used for the theoretical and practical content? [+]

No, the same language is not necessarily used for the different types of learning activities.

Do the languages in which the classes are taught depend on the timetable? [+]

No, the language of instruction does not depend on when a class is taught. As teachers are free to choose the language in which they teach, classes in Catalan and Spanish may be scheduled in the same time bands.

 
More information: Languages of instruction

Choice of languages

Do I need to be able to speak Catalan if I want to enrol for a subject taught in this language? [+]

No, as you will not be obliged to use Catalan during class or to complete assignments or examinations (since Spanish is a co-official language, it can also be used in class and for completing written work). However, you will need a sufficient level of comprehension of Catalan to understand the explanations given by the teacher in class. 

Do I have to answer exam questions in the language of instruction chosen by the teacher? [+]

No, you may answer exam questions in either Catalan or Spanish, regardless of the language chosen by the teacher and regardless of the language in which the questions are written (which will usually be the same as the language of instruction). Both Catalan and Spanish have official status at the UB.

In exceptional cases, the teaching staff or a higher UB authority may grant permission for a student to answer exam questions in another language.

When I ask a question or present work in class, do I have to use the same language as the teacher...) [+]

As international students are not required to provide official accreditation of language skills in order to study at the UB, you are not obliged to use the same language as the teacher. You may ask questions or present work in either of the official languages of the university, Catalan and Spanish, both of which are understood the teaching staff.

In exceptional cases, the teaching staff or a higher UB authority may authorize the use of other languages.

What language will I have to use for assignments and other assessed work? [+]

As an international student, you may write your assignments and other assessed work in Catalan or Spanish, regardless of the language of instruction chosen by the teacher 

In some cases, the teaching staff or a higher UB authority may grant permission to use other languages in class.

Support for classes taught in Catalan

Is it difficult to understand a class taught in Catalan? [+]

No. Since the nature of the language used in the classroom or lecture hall is scientific or technical, it is actually much easier to understand than non-academic, informal conversation, making it relatively easy to keep up with classes if you have some knowledge of another Romance language. The UB also offers new students a range of language resources in its linguistic integration programme, through which to gain a general introduction to Catalan.

More information: Language resources for non-Catalan speaking students

What kind of assistance can teachers give to students who find it difficult to understand a class taught in Catalan? [+]

The teaching staff may be able to provide a specific subject bibliography listing works in major languages of scientific communication, such as English or Spanish, which international students will find easier to understand.

International students can also use part of their tutorial hours to go through linguistic problems they may have had in class. In exceptional cases, international students with particular difficulties may be offered summaries of course materials in their native languages 

In addition, students can consult the specialized multilingual glossaries to become more familiar with the specific terminology used in the knowledge area covered by a particular subject.

More information: Specialized multilingual glossaries

You should bear in mind that one of the main benefits of exchange programmes is the chance to experience new realities and interact with other languages and cultures. However, you will not be expected to use both Catalan and Spanish actively in class or to produce written work or complete examinations in both of these languages.

Learn Catalan

Is it easier to learn Catalan if I already know some Spanish or another Romance language? [+]

Students with a knowledge of Spanish or another Romance language will find it easy to learn and understand Catalan, particularly in writing, given the many similarities between languages in this family.

How can I learn Catalan outside Catalonia? [+]

There are several ways to learn in your home country. In addition to the Internet, you may be able to enrol for Catalan courses organized by university language services or at Catalan cultural centres, which can be found in a number of countries.

More information: Catalan language courses outside Catalonia

What online resources can I use to learn Catalan before I arrive at the University of Barcelona? [+]

The Internet provides access to a wide range of Catalan language resources, including the Speakc@t beginner’s course, which has been specially designed for international students, and Parla.cat, a virtual learning space that offers a variety of educational materials for learning Catalan.

The learning tools Romanica Intercom and FontdelCat help students to develop their understanding of spoken and written Catalan by comparing grammatical structures and vocabulary across various Romance languages]

The Language Services (SL) webpage provides links to a range of self-access resources for learning Catalan, of which we particularly recommend the university phrase books. The online versions contain sound clips to aid pronunciation, as well as basic vocabulary lists and useful examples of situational language which travellers in a foreign country most commonly need, not only in general terms but also in a university context.

Other materials that could be used by international students to learn Catalan are publications of the Viure a Catalunya collection, includingComencem a parlar, Vocabulari en imatges, Vocabulari en làmines, Diccionari visual and Vivim junts.

The Government of Catalonia's website also lists a selection of Catalan language learning resources.

Further information:

How can I learn Catalan when I arrive at the University of Barcelona? [+]

The Language Services (SL) offer a wide range of Catalan courses to help students improve their language skills when they arrive in Barcelona. You can take the introductory course before the semester begins, and move on to higher levels during the rest of your placement 

As well as offering a wide range of learning materials, eachself-access language learning centre is staffed by an advisor who can provide advice on self-study learning strategies and the activities that can help individual users to attain their language objectives.

Students who would like to improve their spoken Catalan can use the language exchange services to practice with native speakers. The linguistic integration programme also offers a range of attractive options for learning Catalan.

Further information:

Advantages of learning Catalan

What are the advantages of learning Catalan during an exchange placement at the University of Barcelona? [+]

Learning Catalan will help you to understand classes and to get to know local students better. More broadly, it will help you feel part of university life and of wider Catalan society. One of the primary aims of exchange programmes is to give international students the chance to experience new cultural realities and to improve their knowledge of the language or languages spoken at the host institution.

Further information:
- 5 Reasons to Learn Catalan

When I return to my home country, how will I benefit from having learned Catalan? [+]

Language skills are always highly prized. Although Catalan is not a major language of international communication, learning it during your time at the UB will add value to your CV and help you to stand out from other students.
  

Multilingualism at the University

Does the University of Barcelona offer tuition in English? [+]

The UB currently offers only a small number of courses in English, but this situation is gradually changing to reflect the university’s commitment to becoming a more multilingual institution. A growing number of master’s degrees are taught partially or completely in English and more English-language bachelor’s degree subjects are being introduced]

The languages of instruction for bachelor’s degrees and university master’s degrees are detailed on the respective faculty webpages.

More information:

Does the University of Barcelona offer tuition in other languages besides English? [+]

Foreign-language subjects, most of which are offered by the Faculty of Philology, are generally taught in the language being studied. 

In addition, the University of Barcelona’s Plan for Languages, approved on 12 June 2013, provides scope for tuition in other non-official languages.

More information: The University of Barcelona's Plan for Languages (in Catalan)

In what languages is the University of Barcelona website published? [+]

The website is available in its entirety in Catalan, Spanish and English. Since Catalan is the specific and official language of the UB, it is the default language for the dissemination of institutional information. 

However, given the increasing focus on internationalization and multilingual education, as reflected in the UB’s Plan for Languages, Catalan universities are gradually increasing the range of contents made available in other languages. This means that content may gradually be made available in other languages.

More information: The University of Barcelona's Plan for Languages (in Catalan)

 

 

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