Article Details

Article Details

Mother tongue plus two languages: are Scottish primary teachers confident to deliver?

Author: Francisco Valdera Gil and Hazel Crichton, (University of Glasgow)

Recent policy reforms in Scotland mean that all primary teachers are expected to teach an additional language to children from age five, introducing a second additional language around age nine. A recent, small-scale research study aimed to ascertain 38 primary teachers’ perceptions of their confidence to teach an additional language to primary learners and what they felt would be helpful in developing their language proficiency and language teaching pedagogy. The teachers, while enthusiastic about the thinking behind the policy, expressed concern about their ability to provide a good model of language to their classes and their own development as learners of a language while simultaneously having to teach it. Language assistants, secondary colleagues and development officers were seen as valuable sources of support, but questions were raised about the sustainability of the policy without long-term permanent commitment.

The National Framework for Languages for Initial Teacher Education (NFfL) offers a support framework for teachers at any stage to engage with the 1+2 agenda, plurilingualism and pluriliteracies in Scotland.  The framework is built on four principles: plurilingualism, diversity, policy and legislation and transformative practices. Through the NFfL website, teachers can access the LENS (Language Education National Support) tool which offers access to theory, linked to the different aspects of the framework, and to the Language Academic Portfolio, which is an interactive tool to support teacher reflection.


The goal of languages education is plurilingualism: the ability to use more than one language appropriately. Using language involves learning language. It also involves linking languages with literacies.


We live in a linguistically and culturally diverse society. Recognising, valuing and promoting this linguistic and cultural diversity underpins plurilingualism.

Policy and legislation

The learning and teaching of languages and literacies follows national policies and guidelines which integrate with wider European and global goals for plurilingualism.

Transformative practices

Plurilingualism benefits all learners. This insight transforms classrooms in critical and creative ways. Transformative practices challenge individuals to consider how they see themselves and others, and how they might engage in and contribute to society.

Access the National Framework for Languages (Scotland)

University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages