If you're a Catalonia resident who loves culture and you'd like to learn or improve your Catalan, then you're in luck. Òmnium Cultural has just announced a new project called Tàndem Cultural that aims to reformulate the idea of language pairings, by getting people together in couples to enjoy cultural activities of all kinds - anything from movies and theatre, art and concerts, to taking a guided historic or cultural tour together. You get to meet people, practice your Catalan with someone who speaks it well, and enjoy a cultural activity - and furthermore, it's free.
Tàndem Cultural is a brand new initiative, launched this very Wednesday which will have a five-day period every month to sign up for cultural activities timetabled over the following month. Right now and until October 17th, you can sign up for activities to take place over the next few weeks, in all parts of Catalonia and in all areas of culture, and you can find the details of them on the website. Concerts from Oques Grasses, Clara Peya or the Orquestra de Girona, group tours of different neighbourhoods in Barcelona and beyond, theatre performances and film showings, and more - perfect for 'culture vultures'!
Could speaking better Catalan be as easy as riding a bike? A tandem bicycle, in this case. Òmnium Cultural is aiming to get 500 new language pairs underway on their cultural tandem by the start of 2022.
How does it work?
To get started, check out the activities on the Tàndem Cultural website and find one that suit your interests, location and timetable, and your level of Catalan, which is specified in each case. Both learners (aprenents) and volunteer "teachers" are invited to sign up. You enrol on-line, receive a confirmation and are automatically paired up with a Tandem partner.
The idea then is to meet up with your partner an hour beforehand - the plan being to get to know each other and chat in Catalan - then enjoy the activity together, and finally, continue with your partner if you wish. Tàndem Cultural then gives you the opportunity to meet up again with the same person if you like, as well as to explore further the Catalan language volunteer programmes - for both learners and volunteer teachers. And if you have further questions, see the FAQs page.
"Catalan is Yours"
This new type of language pairing is intended to promote the Catalan language through culture and social cohesion, generating spaces for cultural encounters between Catalan speakers and newcomers who want to learn and practice the language in the framework of a cultural activity. It is part of Òmnium Cultural's campaign 'El Català Es Teu' - Catalan is Yours - announced at the end of September. The idea is to let everyone in Catalonia make the language their own in all areas of life. As well as the Tàndem Cultural programme, it includes other areas such as a plan to kickstart Catalan-language audiovisual content and the creation of a voice bank.
The Tandem initiative also has the collaboration of the Voluntariat per la Llengua (Language Volunteers), the Consortium for Linguistic Normalization (CNL) which offers many opportunities to learn the language, and the social inclusion organization Apropa Cultura.
The president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, commented in a press release that the Catalan language is an element of cohesion and collective self-esteem: "A country consensus that defines us and gives us a structure as a people, and a symbol of resistance, but also of the future," said Cuixart, adding that the Catalan language must be safeguarded "in the face of those who would like the language to be minority and uniform".
Cuixart also emphasized the importance of language pairs, stressing that Catalan must continue to be an inclusive and welcoming language: "When we say we want to be 'more', this must also mean that we will not allow anyone to be excluded for language reasons".
Sign-up until October 17th
The project is open to all residents of Catalonia and, for this first month, sign-ups have been launched this Wednesday: until October 17th, both people who want to learn Catalan and Catalan speakers who want to help teach the language can sign up. After this registration, pairing will be carried out automatically. Those who have applied to participate will receive an email linking them with their tandem partner, with the plan that they meet one hour before the event they are attending - to talk in Catalan.
They will then be able to collect their tickets for the cultural activity, which will be free of charge, and once the event is over, they will be able to make a brief assessment of their meet-up annd activity - with the possibility of meeting the same tandem once again for future cultural activities.
From November onward, the sign-up period will be from the 5th to 10th of each month.