After the experience of many years of teaching in two or three languages, the Basque speech community needs to know not merely how much students achieve in each language and what level of proficiency they attain but also which language they use, how often they use each language, and the relationship between language use and other variables. This paper reports on a study, the ‘Arrue Programme’ conducted during the 2005–2006 academic year on student language use in the school context and the factors affecting it. Participants were students between the ages of 10 and 11 who were in the sixth grade of primary education in 50 schools in different areas of the Basque Autonomous Community. The data include the observation of language use by 1325 students both in the playground and inside the classroom. In addition, data on other student variables were collected through questionnaires and written work. The two sets of data are used to suggest a model of the principal background and situational variables that determine the varieties of language use that we observed.

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