Field of Focus III - Funded ProjectsMapping the Spanish Language

Societal, cultural and educational spaces of the Spanish language in Europe

Project leader

Hector Álvarez Mella


The Spanish language is growing within its boundaries due to two factors: it is the common language of a spacious region (Ibero-America), and it shows a strong demographical growth (2018: 577 million speakers; 2050: 756 million speakers). Beyond the Spanish-speaking areas, increasing numbers of speakers of Spanish have two reasons: the migration flows, and the expansion of Spanish as foreign language (50 million foreign-language speakers, thereof 31 million in Europe).

The project "Mapping the Spanish Language" explores which social factors determine the current demolinguistic evolution of Spanish as a migration, heritage and foreign language in Europe. During the funding period, data sets were generated in order to analyze both the reasons for the intergenerational transmission of a heritage language and the motivations for acquiring a new foreign language. The following analyses were conducted based on the collected data: the description of the spaces of Spanish-speaking migration in Europe and its educational and linguistic challenges; the spatial and comparative analysis of the conditions for the emergence of educational programs for Spanish as a heritage language in Germany; and the analysis of the effects of the different language education policies on the evolution of foreign languages in Germany. An application for third party funding was submitted in early 2020.


Contact: h.alvarez@uni-heidelberg.de