Latest News

A selection of language-related news. Does not claim to be comprehensive or represent the views of SCILT.

Latest News

8 December 2019 (The National)

Last week saw extraordinary explosion of interest in Gaelic learning on Duolingo – the world’s largest language learning platform. It has attracted about 65,000 learners in five days.

Ciaran Iòsaph MacAonghais – a primary teacher from Fort William and co-creator of the Scottish Gaelic Duolingo course told us: “Previously, there were around 5500 learning Gaelic in Scotland and we have already raised this number significantly and hopefully it will continue to rise in the coming weeks and months.

‘‘There is no single solution that will save the Gaelic language. Much more needs to be done to support native speakers in Gaelic speaking communities, but having a high profile starting point for learning is still a powerful thing. In a small language community like this, every speaker makes a real difference.”

Read more...

6 December 2019 (AMOPA)

The competition for Advanced Higher students of French has now been running for over ten years and is back again for 2020!

To enter, all that's needed is a short recording of students as they prepare for their speaking test. Judges will assess it, provide feedback to everyone and some will be awarded prizes and certificates. It is hoped that taking part will be a useful exercise to support pupils' learning and preparation and not a distraction. Since they are practising anyway, why not let them have some feedback on that?

For more information and how to enter see the attached flyer.


Related Files

6 December 2019 (SCILT)

The job profiles on our website cover a range of careers where languages are in use. Our most recent addition comes from Marion Geoffray, a theatre maker and drama teacher, who is the artistic director of Theatre Sans Accents, an innovative bilingual theatre company in Edinburgh.

Marion performs in several languages and believes immersing yourself in the language and culture is the most effective way to learn and to have fun!

Teachers use this resource with your pupils to support the Developing the Young Workforce initiative and highlight the benefits of language learning as a life skill.

Read more...

5 December 2019 (University of Stirling)

Over the course of this Autumn/Winter semester at Stirling, we’ve continued to develop our work with secondary schools, sometimes focusing primarily on French, sometimes working in collaboration with our colleagues in Spanish, always underlining the advantages that come through studying languages. We’re hoping to post a few more updates about these activities over the coming weeks and, to start with, we’re pleased to be able to post the following article, co-written by Laura, who is in the final year of a BA Hons in English Studies and French, and Michael, who is in Year 2 of his BA Hons programme in Professional Education (Primary) with a specialism in Modern Languages. Laura and Michael’s day saw them representing French at Stirling as Language Ambassadors at Williamwood High School in Clarkston, East Renfrewshire.

Read more...

5 December 2019 (Press and Journal)

The north-east of Scotland is home to an unmatched heritage of music, song, and story, history and folklore, and the creativity of the people who live and work here.

A significant part of this inheritance, and one which runs through all the others, is north-east Scots, often known as ‘Doric’ in the northern and western parts of our region, and by many other names as well – Mearns, Toonser, Aiberdeen, Fisher Doric, Buckie, oor tongue, spikkin, and more.

For well over a century, North-East children arriving in school would be taught, and at times coerced, to ‘talk’ as opposed to ‘spik’.

To ‘spik’ meant to use the language of family, hearth, and home, while English was thought to be the way to get ahead in the world.

This language of home and family is part of people’s character, world view, and wry sense of humour.

But it is less used in the more formal walks of life and we don’t hear enough north-east voices in the media, in civic life, and in our schools.

But the language of home, it turns out, is what’s needed for real progress, and real progress is not just about exams and university.

No, real progress is raising children who have confidence in themselves, their language, and in their communities.

[..]  But Doric is not just for native speakers. In fact, some of the best pupils doing Scots/Doric at Banff Academy are from outwith Scotland and they’ve picked up the language in no time at all.

Language is a great way to build bridges across communities and with people from other parts of the world.

Read more...

5 December 2019 (BBC)

A free online course has been developed that teaches the Scots language in the context it is spoken.

Developed by The Open University (OU) and Education Scotland, the course also highlights the role of the language in Scottish culture and society.

It takes about 40 hours to complete, and aims to boost understanding of Scots and its history.

The creators hope the course will be used in the classroom by teachers and other educators.

The Scots Language Centre defines Scots as the national name for Scottish dialects that are known collectively as the Scots language.

The new course will be split into two parts, with the first now available on the OU's OpenLearn Create platform.

The second part is expected to be online by the end of the month.

Sylvia Warnecke, OU senior lecturer in languages, said Scots was growing in popularity.

She said: "It feels right to show how as a language it has developed over time as a vital aspect of Scottish culture and history, and how it links to other European languages."

Read more...

4 December 2019 (Scotdec)

Scotdec offers this online course for secondary school teachers across Scotland with an interest in Global Citizenship Education.

Open to all Scottish Secondary school teachers of Maths, English, Modern Languages, Science and Social Subjects, Issue to action will connect you with a network of teachers across Scotland and equip you with the skills to teach your subject through a global citizen lens.

From the comfort of your own home, at a time and location that suits you, you can take part in the Issue to action in a way that fits around your other commitments.

Visit the website to find out more and register your interest for the Spring cohort.

Read more...

4 December 2019 (The Guardian)

Adrian Chiles says he's failed at French, German and Croatian and now he's learning Welsh.

No other subject,” says my language teacher, “is the cause of so much shame. You might struggle with other subjects, but you’ll probably never berate yourself like you do about your shortcomings in language learning.”

That’s a good point or, as they say in Welsh, mae e’n gwneud pwynt da.

I’m learning Welsh because I thought it was about time I did so, having spent so much time there on holiday all my life. It struck me that I wasn’t much different to the kind of expats in Spain I might sniff at for not knowing any Spanish beyond dos cervezas por favor.

I expect many Guardian readers made a resolution earlier this year to learn a new language or “brush up” their school French. And now, as they are preparing to make the same resolution, they will be feeling a little, yes, ashamed.

What is this self-flagellation all about? My Croatian teacher thinks it is a peculiarly British thing.

Read more...

4 December 2019 (Scottish Education Awards)

The Scottish Education Awards celebrate the hard work and success which takes place in Scottish education.

The annual event recognises those who dedicate their lives to children and young people and showcases the valuable work and innovation in Scottish classrooms.

Among the wide range of categories are the awards for Gaelic Education and the Internationalism and Languages award. 

Nominations are now invited.

Visit the Scottish Education Awards website for further information and to submit your nomination by 14 February 2020.

Read more...

4 December 2019 (Institut français)

Do you think you could sing or rap in French? Do you have the skills to make a video clip for your song? If so, this competition is for you!

The competition is open to any student or groups of students in full time education in the national-curriculum primary and secondary schools of England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the Channel Islands, in 3 age-group categories: 7-11, 12-15, and 16-18.

Entries should be original compositions around 3 minutes long and must be performed in French.

Visit the competition website for more information and submit entries by 3 April 2020.

Read more...

4 December 2019 (BBC Alba)

Listen to BBC Alba's interview (in Gaelic) with Dr Ingeborg Birnie, Education, on the bilingual and dementia project (1:19). 

Read more...

3 December 2019 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland's latest Modern Languages newsletter is now available online. This edition includes updates and support resources for 1+2.

Read more...

3 December 2019 (UWS)

Mathématiques sans Frontières is an annual international mathematics competition for S4-S6 schoolchildren, centrally run by the Académie de Strasbourg since 1989. This interclass competition involves a number of mathematical puzzles where one of the puzzles is posed, and must be answered, in a foreign language. 

Schools are now invited to register for the competition by 24 January 2020 and receive a set of practice questions. The questions from the 2019 competition can be found on the attached document.

For more information about the competition timeline and how to apply, visit the Mathématiques sans Frontières website. 

Read more...

3 December 2019 (Greenock Telegraph)

It's a case of mind your languages for Greenock school pupils who impressed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as they put on a superb show at the Scottish Parliament.

Whinhill Primary were invited to bring their culture and diversity showcase to Holyrood and blew everyone away with a special performance.

The Greenock school uses performing arts to bring languages to life and the children were able to express themselves in Gaelic, German and Tamil.

Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan arranged for them to come to parliament and said they proved great ambassadors.

Read more...

2 December 2019 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française in Glasgow is currently enrolling for the following courses taking place during January and February 2020. Click on the relevant link for more information.

2 December 2019 (Stornoway Gazette)

The semi-finals of the National Secondary Schools’ Gaelic Debate will take place on Wednesday this week.The first semi-final will see Inverness Royal Academy B up against Lionacleit School. The second debate will see Bishopbriggs High School take on Sir E Scott.The two winning teams will meet in the Final, at The Scottish Parliament on Thursday, December 5th, at 7pm, where they will debate, ‘In 20 years time, the real Gàidhlig communities will be situated in the big cities’.

Looking forward to the final, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Rt Hon Ken Macintosh MSP, said: “Gaelic matters. “It is part of who we are and part of Scotland’s rich cultural identity. The humour, insight and linguistic skill displayed by young people in this competition year after year, convincingly demonstrates that the language continues to flourish. “It gives me immense pleasure that the final will be held on the floor of Holyrood’s debating chamber, marking this, our joint twentieth anniversary.”

Read more...

30 November 2019 (The Herald)

We live in challenging times but do not despair. The Scots language in all its colourful glory will come to the rescue. Fed up with the political chaos? Call it a boorach and you’ll feel much better. Sick of the TV debates? Have a shout at the bunch of blellums and all their mince.

And if you want more, try this extract from the new book 100 Favourite Scots Words. For over a decade, The Herald has published the Scottish Language Dictionaries’ Scots Word of the Week and the new book gathers some of the best. The words demonstrate the breadth and diversity of the Scots language. And who knows, they might just get you through the election.

Read more...

29 November 2019 (European Parliament)

Aged 16-30 and working on a project with a European dimension? Apply for the 2020 Charlemagne Youth Prize and win funds to further develop your initiative.

The European Parliament and the International Charlemagne Prize Foundation of Aachen award the Charlemagne Youth Prize every year to projects by young people with a strong EU dimension. Applications for 2020 open on 6 November and run until 31 January.

Visit the website for more information.

Read more...

29 November 2019 (SCILT)

The winter 2019 edition of the SCILT newsletter has been published. Read about SCILT’s work to support the learning and teaching of languages, including our professional learning offer, our new DYW toolkit and the Scottish Languages Employability Award. Find out how schools celebrated the European Day of Languages this year, and hear from local authorities about their latest inspiring initiatives. There is also the opportunity to read about the work our partners have been doing to support language learning in Scotland.

Read more...

29 November 2019 (SCILT)

The SCILT professional learning menu for 2019-20 is available for booking. Authorities, clusters or schools may be interested in booking one or more from our range of workshops for primary, secondary and BGE. 

Remember all of our professional learning sessions are free to book by teachers and local authorities. You find a date and a venue and get in touch with us.

Details of the workshops available and how to submit a request are on the professional learning pages of our website. 

Read more...

29 November 2019 (University of Oxford)

UNIQ Spring and Summer gives students in UK state schools and colleges an opportunity to sample the Oxford undergraduate student experience. Applicants will live in an Oxford college for a week, attend lectures and seminars in their chosen subject area, and receive expert advice on the Oxford application and interview process. The timetable also allows plenty of time for social activities.

For those unable to attend the Oxford campus, the UNIQ Digital programme provides comprehensive information and guidance on the university admissions process, and aims to provide a realistic view of Oxford student life through videos, activities and quizzes. 

A wide range of courses are on offer, including several language study options.

Visit the UNIQ website for more information about the programmes on offer and to apply. Applications are open from 2 December 2019 to 27 January 2020.

Read more...

29 November 2019 (SCILT)

Are you looking for ways to bring the festive season to your languages classroom?

SCILT have compiled a range of online resources for use with your pupils, from songs and games to lesson plans and festive facts. Find out how Christmas is celebrated in France, Germany, Spain and around the world!

Read more...

28 November 2019 (Queens University Belfast)

This competition invites you to consider the linguistic ‘ingredients’ that make up place-names, and capture elements of these as they exist today in a photo

  • Entries welcome from individuals and schools
  • Cash prizes for both categories
  • Easy to enter, email some details and the photo to townlands@qub.ac.uk
  • Closes 31st Dec
  • Funded by the ‘Language Acts and World Making project

Visit the website for more information.

Read more...

28 November 2019 (The List)

Kick off the Year of the Rat in the Scottish capital, with ceilidh dancing, larger-than-life art installations, language tasters and more.

Known for their charming nature and spirited wit, those born under the sign of the Rat will have extra reason to celebrate their astrological year in 2020, as the capital prepares to usher in Chinese New Year with a dynamic cultural programme to be found throughout the city.

The larger-than-life lantern spectacular returns to light up Edinburgh Zoo as Giant Lanterns: Lost Worlds (until Sun 26 Jan) transports visitors back 570 million years into Earth's pre-history. Come face-to-face with dinosaurs, beasts of the Ice Age and forgotten megafauna in this spectacular display of over 600 beautifully crafted lanterns. The zoo will also be hosting a Chinese New Year Reception to start the year on the right foot, with the date yet to be determined. Another welcome return to this year's programme is the Edinburgh Official Chinese New Year Concert (Tue 21 Jan), which will take place beneath the hallowed dome of Usher Hall and showcase the talents of the Guizhou Song and Dance Troupe.

Read more...

28 November 2019 (BBC)

More than 20,000 people have signed up to learn Scottish Gaelic on a free online learning app which launches the new course on St Andrew's Day.

The Duolingo course has been created on a "record-breaking timescale" with the help of bilingual volunteers.

Its official release on Saturday is eight months ahead of schedule and the course has already attracted more than 7,000 learners using its Beta version.

Duolingo has 91 courses in 30 languages and more than 300 million users.

It uses artificial intelligence and "gamification", where users compete against each other as they learn.

In the eight years since Duolingo was launched it has added dozens of languages including Navajo, Hawaiian, Welsh and Irish Gaelic.

Read more...

27 November 2019 (The Guardian)

Balvin was a minor Colombian artist who became the fifth most streamed on the planet without using English, showing how embracing national pride can be a force for cultural good.

Read more...

26 November 2019 (Stock Daily Dish)

The number of teenagers learning foreign languages in UK secondary schools has dropped by 45% since the turn of the millennium.

The reaction to the research was mixed. Why learn a foreign language when English is spoken by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, some people wondered.

Others questioned the need for a second language when translation technology is advancing so quickly.

But many speakers of foreign languages extolled the benefits. Four native English speakers tell how making the effort to learn a second language is important – and how it changed their life.

When Alex Chaffer moved to Germany four years ago, he could only say “hello” and “thank you” in German.

He had not learnt the language at school, but was starting off a career in sports journalism and had the opportunity to go to Germany.

When he first arrived, he discovered his accommodation had fallen through.

“I had been scammed,” he said. “I couldn‘t speak to anyone because I didn‘t have the language, I was lost.”

“The first year I was here I didn‘t learn a lot. I then had a German girlfriend that helped massively, having someone force me to do it and hearing it around all the time. She would speak in English and I would speak in German.”

The 23-year-old is now fluent and works on the website of Germany‘s top football league, Bundesliga.

Read more...

26 November 2019 (Stock Daily Dish)

Foreign languages are being squeezed out of school timetables by “core” subjects like the Welsh Baccalaureate, a survey suggests.

Schools and colleges were asked for reasons why there had been a major decline in pupils taking subjects such as French and German.

There has been a 29% fall in language GCSE entries in Wales in five years – a steeper fall than the rest of the UK.

The Welsh Government said its new curriculum would improve the situation.

More than half of all secondary schools and colleges in Wales responded to the survey about language teaching.

It found more than a third of schools had dropped one or more languages at GCSE in the last five years.

Teachers also said the perception modern languages were “too hard” was also having an effect on their uptake.

Read more...

25 November 2019 (Sunday Post)

She has become one of the most iconic children’s characters of all time. And now Peppa Pig has developed a Scots twang.

Peppa’s Bonnie Unicorn – translated into Scots by school librarian Thomas Clark – has just hit the shelves, and it’s expected to be a Christmas best seller.

Scottish Borders-based Thomas, 39, who works at Hawick High School, has already translated Jeff Kinney’s best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid. His version won the Scots Language Awards Scots Bairns’ Book of the Year accolade last month.

Realising there was little Scots literature for younger children, he decided to tweak Peppa’s dialect.

Thomas, a member of Oor Vyce, which lobbies the Scottish Government to promote Scots language, said: “There are lots of Scots book translations for teenagers, like Harry Potter and Roald Dahl, but I noticed there’s nothing for pre-school kids, which is really the generation we should be promoting Scots to.

“Peppa was the obvious choice as she’s one of the biggest icons for that age group. Mention Peppa to any four-year-old and they’ll fall over themselves with excitement.”

Read more...

25 November 2019 (SQA)

SQA has published updates to the Advanced Higher Modern Languages course. The document outlines changes to take effect from 2020 and can be found on the SQA AH Modern Languages webpage under subject updates.

Read more...

21 November 2019 (TES)

Despite the privilege of living in a multilingual country, the UK's monolingual English risk being left behind, writes Dr Heather Martin.

"If we can just get Brexit done", some seem to think, "we won’t have to worry about learning all those other languages!" English, that great linguistic success story, will be sufficient unto itself.

It’s a terrible delusion. All it would do is make the learning harder. 

It’s not as though language is a take-it-or-leave-it option in real life. Nor should it be in schools.

There was a time when we didn’t have language at all. We didn’t have much of anything back then. It was touch and go whether we would win out over our Neanderthal rivals, who by all anthropological accounts were tougher than us and better at tool-making.

But for some reason we were the ones to develop syntactical language, which turned out to be the best tool of all. Why? Because we could coordinate and cooperate with others. We could discuss, theorise, speculate, and line up plans B and C in case plan A fell through.

Later, when writing came along, we could count our crops and keep records and amass evidence. We were ahead of the game because we could speak each other’s language. The choices we made – what we did with that ability to plot and plan and scheme  – is another story.

Needless to say it wasn’t English. Like homo sapiens, modern English as we know it, dating from the late 17th century, is just a blip on the evolutionary calendar. A slightly larger and more luminous blip if you go back as far as Early Modern and Shakespeare.

Such ambiguous progress as we have made  – hey, we put a man on the moon! – is largely down to our hard-wired language-learning ability, our readiness to meet each other half way, to transition from Latin to Celtic to Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman and beyond, to respond, reflect and adapt. 

Which is the pragmatic philosophy behind the pop-up museum of languages that in late October, a ray of light in the wintry shadow of Brexit, popped up in a shopping centre in Cambridge – the first stop on an inaugural tour of Belfast, Edinburgh, Nottingham and London (March 2020).

The Cambridge University brains behind this innovative concept seek to address anyone from 4 to 84, but on the half-term day I was there the average age was around 8. Which seems about right for the ideal target audience. We can learn a new language at any time. It’s never too late to open our minds. But no doubt the sooner the better. 

(Note - subscription required to access full article).

Read more...

19 November 2019 (Turn It On)

The ‘Hour of Code™’ is an initiative by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming and this year will be celebrated in Computer Science Education Week, 9th – 15th December 2019. Try a one-hour tutorial designed for all ages in over 45 languages. Join millions of students and teachers in over 180 countries starting with an Hour of Code.

Now in its fourth year there are even more resources out there for schools to use free of charge. The Hour of Code initiative is a really good opportunity for schools that are not that confident in following the computing curriculum to try it out with students for just one hour as well as some good activities for those that are already teaching it. 

On the Hour of Code website there are activities created by many partners for a variety of subjects so that you can bring an hour of code into any lesson, for students, and teachers, of any ability.

Read more...

7 November 2019 (RZSS)

The RZSS China Mobile Library is available throughout Scotland free of charge. Choose from the 'panda pack package' which includes panda expert visits with free panda packs of resources or Chinese Endangered Species outreach sessions. More information can be found on the attached pdf flyer. Please include all the details requested in your email if you wish to book. 

7 November 2019 (RZSS)

RZSS Specialist Confucius Classroom has limited free places for two sessions at Edinburgh Zoo.

  • Our P3-P4 'It makes Panda Sense' session is available to book from October through to December.
  • Our P5-P7 'China's animals and habitats will be available from January to April but bookings are being taken now. The P5-P7 session is in our new amazing immersive space!

Please read the attached pdf flyer for more information and please include all the details requested in your email if you wish to book. 

7 November 2019 (RZSS)

RZSS and partner StampIT have launched a great new Spanish competition. It's a fantastic activity which covers many curriculum objectives all starting with just one postage stamp. Tell the story of a Spanish stamp. Full details about the competition and how to enter are on the attached pdf leaflet. This activity links to the RZSS & StampIT Spanish language pack (but you don't need the pack to enter).

The competition will continue to run each year, therefore there is no time limit for entries. Entries will be entered as appropriate to the current year competition, so schools can just send in when complete. All age levels can enter in primary and secondary.


Related Files

31 May 2019 (SCILT/OU)

We are happy to announce that registration is now open for the OU/SCILT primary languages course, which will be running again from October 2019. In light of positive feedback and popularity of the first year of the course, we are now also delighted to offer a second year, post-beginners’ course. The latter would be suitable for those who have successfully completed year 1 and wish to continue their studies, or for those who are looking to begin studying at a more advanced level.

  • The courses will run from October 2019 to July 2020, and will develop language and pedagogy skills; language learning is provided by the Open University and pedagogy is provided by SCILT.  The courses are aligned to the Scottish curriculum and support the 1+2 languages approach.
  • Both courses are delivered online with two opportunities to attend face-to-face day schools. 
  • Learning is very flexible and participants can study at a time and place of their choosing.
  • Each course carries a fee of £252, reflecting the input and student support for the language and pedagogy strands from both organisations.

Funding may be sponsored through your school or Local Authority who can register on your behalf.   Initial registration information must be submitted to the OU by Monday 17 June 2019 and LAs should contact Scotland-Languages@open.ac.uk.  
Students also have the option to fund the fee themselves. In this case, an interested teacher should contact the OU directly at
Scotland-Languages@open.ac.uk.

Here is some further information:

Beginners level

  • will be offered in a choice of four languages - French, German, Spanish and Mandarin plus study of primary pedagogy with direct application in the classroom.
  • takes students to the end of the equivalent to level A1 of the Common European Reference Framework for Languages.
  • allows students to gain 15 university credits for the language study.
  • also gives students the option to gain GTCS recognition for the pedagogy study; all students will receive a certificate on successful completion from SCILT.
  • study hours will be approximately five hours per week, including time spent on the direct application of the new skills in the classroom.

Post-beginners level

  • teachers who have started studying one language in the beginners level of the course would need to continue studying the same language at post-beginners level.
  • teachers who already have some basic knowledge in one of the four languages can directly enrol on the post-beginners level course to further develop their skills in that language and learn about primary languages pedagogy (without having to have studied beginners level).
  • will follow the same format as the beginners level course and will be offered in the same four languages (French, German, Mandarin and Spanish).
  • will teach primary languages pedagogy in more depth and cover:
    • the skills of writing and reading,
    • IDL with a special focus on outdoor learning as well as links with other key subject areas through CLIL,
    • learning and teaching of languages in multilingual contexts/communities.
  • will have the same:
    • number of study hours,
    • assessment structure,
    • accreditation with 15 university credits,
    • optional GTCS recognition for the pedagogy strand, as above ;
  • in their language study, students will reach the equivalent of the end of level A2 of the Common European Reference Framework for Languages (end of post-beginner level).
  • after completing both courses, students would then be in a good position to go on to study one of the standard language courses at the OU should they want to improve their knowledge of the language even further.

Course codes are as follows:

Beginners level

LXT192 French

LXT193 German

LXT197 Mandarin

LXT194 Spanish

Post-beginners level

LXT191 (language choice will come as a second step once students have registered)

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