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Scots-Gaelic railway map uncovers meaning of station names

23 May 2018 (Scotsman)

Railway stations can tell you a lot about a country, from its economic development to its population centres. But their names also provide an insight into how language and its meaning evolves over time, from describing little more than fields to vanished religious centres.


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'Chocolatine' vs 'pain au chocolat': French pastry war spills over into parliament

24 May 2018 (The Local)

The age-old French war over what to call France's famous chocolate-filled pastry treat - known to most as a "pain au chocolat" - has reached French parliament, where a group of MPs are fighting to have the the rival term "chocolatine" officially recognised.


Can English remain the 'world's favourite' language?

23 May 2018 (BBC News)

English is spoken by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, but do the development of translation technology and "hybrid" languages threaten its status?


Smithycroft pupils learn the value language skills in the construction industry

22 May 2018 (SCILT)

Young people from Smithycroft Secondary had the opportunity to engage with the construction industry at an event held at University of Strathclyde on 16 May 2018. S3 students presented plans for a dream house, drawn up in French, to a panel of experts. The challenge demonstrated the relevance of language skills in a work context and aimed to encourage pupils to continue with their language studies into the senior phase of their secondary education. Through partnership working with a local business, pupils had a chance to develop their understanding about the world of work and gain meaningful employability skills.

The panel of experts included Derek Hill, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Architecture at the University of Strathclyde, Elizabeth Norton, Development Officer for Italian and Latin at Glasgow City Council, Matt Hodgman, Depute Head from Smithycroft Secondary and Janette Kelso from Scotland’s National Centre for Languages (SCILT).

A teacher attending the event said: “This was a fantastic project and showcase event for our pupils - for many it was their first time in a university environment. It has made our learners think more deeply about the importance of language learning and the possibilities and opportunities it may open up to them in the future.”

One of the young people added to this, and commented: “Presenting in front of others was scary but once we got started we really enjoyed it – we were surprised how well we did! It made me think a lot more about using French with another subject or in another type of job.”

The event was organised by Smithycroft Secondary’s Modern Languages Department with support from SCILT, working in partnership with local business Dreamstones.

Fhiona Fisher, Director of SCILT said: “Projects such as these are a really important way of providing young people with high quality careers advice delivered by the business people themselves and of demonstrating to them the value of language skills in our increasingly globalised world”.

Meaningful employer engagement and providing relevant careers advice are both key recommendations of Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy, “Developing the young workforce”. This business engagement event supported these aims by giving young people the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the role of languages in the business world.

This collaboration between schools and businesses supported Scotland’s International Policy to equip young people with international communication and employability skills that they will need in our increasingly globalised society and economy.

Latest edition of SCILT newsletter published

22 May 2018 (SCILT)

Read about SCILT’s latest efforts to celebrate and promote languages, including promoting skills for work, parental engagement and cross-sector working. There are some inspiring stories from local authorities as well as an opportunity to find out more about the work our partners have been doing to support language learning in Scotland.


New promotional postcards available designed by learners

21 May 2018 (SCILT)

Earlier this year, SCILT invited pupils in S1-S3 to design a promotional postcard for SCILT to use at events to give to pupils and parents to promote the importance of language learning. The winning postcard was to contain key messages on the value of language skills and to have an eye-catching design.

We received 86 entries from seven schools. There were lots of great designs and many of them contained clear, powerful messages.

In the end we selected two winners:

We are delighted that both winners could attend the Word Wizard final to collect their certificates and prizes.

Their designs are now available for schools to order from the SCILT website.



'You're getting on my biscuits': can you translate these world idioms? – quiz

21 May 2018 (Guardian)

With the 2018 Man Booker International prize winner to be announced on 22 May, nominated translators share their favourite sayings that don’t easily translate to English. Can you decipher the correct meanings?


Why teachers shouldn’t be afraid of other languages being spoken in the classroom

21 May 2018 (The Conversation)

More than 20% of all primary school and 16% of secondary school children in the UK speak languages other than English. And there are now more than 360 languages spoken in British classrooms.

But more often than not, in mainstream schools in the UK, the “home languages” of children can be sidelined at best, and prohibited at worst. English is the language of the classroom – this is despite the fact that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear that children from linguistic minorities should not be “denied the right” to use their own languages.

In my recent research, I found there was often a lot of fear associated with the use of “home” languages among the typically white, monolingual demographic of the teaching profession.


Alliance Française Glasgow newsletter

25 May 2018 (Alliance Française Glasgow )

The latest newsletter from Alliance Française Glasgow includes information on summer classes and a special children's workshop in late June/early July.


The Babel Young Writers' Competition

18 May 2018 (Babel)

Our 2018 competition is now open to 16-18-year-olds and undergraduates! Young linguists have until 24 August to enter for the chance to be published in Babel No25, to be published in November. The winner also, of course, receives a year's subscription to Babel!

Entries should be no longer than 2,500 words, and can discuss any topic to do with languages and linguistics.

Visit the website for more information.


SALT Modern Languages competition for schools

18 May 2018 (SALT)

Entries are now being accepted for the #SALT18 competition!

Primary, secondary and senior phase students are invited to produce a promotional video, poster or presentation in the language of their choice. 

Find out more on the SALT website. Entry deadline is 7 September 2018.


Business Brunches 2018 webpage now live!

18 May 2018 (SCILT)

The Business Brunches took place earlier on this year across Scotland, and supported DYW and the Scottish Attainment Challenge by giving young people the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the role of languages in the business world. 

Take a journey through the entire series of events and explore some of the highlights for yourself, such as:
  • A taste of what really went on at these events and why languages play an important role in the world of work by viewing our Business Brunch video located on the main page
  • Inspiring quotes and uploads of presentations from a handful of business leaders who were present that you can share with your own learners
  • Feedback received from pupils who participated
  • Images, tweets, press releases and more

Read through our resources and materials which you may find useful to promote languages for employability in your own school. 

Important news! Business Brunches will be returning for year 2018/19. Further details will be announced on the SCILT website and through our e-bulletin after the summer with instructions on how you can register your school to attend. Keep your eyes peeled! 


Word Wizard Final 2018: Motivating young people in their language learning

18 May 2018 (SCILT/CISS)

S1-S3 pupils from across Scotland took part in the national final of Word Wizard at the Scottish Parliament on 11 May 2018. Word Wizard is a multilingual spelling competition for pupils learning French, Gaelic, German, Mandarin and Spanish. Forty-eight learners from ten local authorities and independent schools competed in the final in front of an audience of teachers, supporters and guests.
Each year pupils and teachers report that the competition increases motivation, enhances language performance and improves attitudes to language learning. Word Wizard promotes literacy skills amongst pupils and helps schools develop partnership working with universities.

A teacher entering pupils into the final commented: “It provided our pupils with a huge sense of motivation and excitement for learning languages.” 

A pupil competing in the final said: “I liked learning new vocabulary and getting to show it off to everyone.”

Word Wizard is organised by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages based at University of Strathclyde, in partnership with the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland. 

Fhiona Mackay, Director of SCILT said of the competition: “It’s wonderful to see so many young people taking part in the Word Wizard competition representing a wide range of local authorities. Having an understanding of another language can really transform a person’s life and encourages the development of a whole range of important skills. Through such events, SCILT aims to offer teachers really motivating ways of enhancing the curriculum so that Scottish young people can reap the benefits of learning languages.”

Word Wizard supports the Scottish Government initiative, “Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 approach” by offering a diversity of languages as recommended by the report. The targets laid out in the Scottish Attainment Challenge are about achieving equity in educational outcomes, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. One of the key drivers is improved literacy. 

In March 2018, 190 pupils from 14 local authorities and independent schools competed in semi-finals in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh to battle it out for a place at the prestigious final. 

Word Wizard is supported by the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland (UCMLS) and the final was sponsored by Joan McAlpine MSP

Full details of the winners and further information on the competition can be found on the SCILT website.


SCILT/CISS supporting promotional events

18 May 2018 (SCILT/CISS)

The SCILT/CISS team are now taking requests for input at promotional events for next session. Input at your promotional event may include:

  • Talks promoting the value of language learning to classes/year groups/assemblies
  • Providing a stall at your event such as careers fairs, parents nights or business and language events
In order to ensure all schools have the opportunity to benefit from our involvement, we are now requesting that you complete an online application form. 

You will be asked to outline how a promotional event might support your uptake in the senior phase, if applicable, and what other measures you are putting in place to address the Attainment Agenda, National Improvement Framework and Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce.

All requests for the 2018/19 session must be received by 31st October 2018 in order for schools and the SCILT/CISS team to plan effectively. 

Please email SCILT in the first instance to receive a link to the request form. 

Learning music or another language makes your brain more efficient, researchers find

17 May 2018 (The Independent)

If you’ve taken the time to learn music or to speak another language, you’ve also trained your brain into being more efficient, according to a new study.

Researchers at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute found that musicians and people who are bilingual utilised fewer brain resources when completing a working memory task.

According to the study, published in the journal, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, people with either a musical or bilingual background activated different brain networks and showed less brain activity while completing a task than people who only spoke one language or didn’t have formal music training.

Of the findings, Dr Claude Alain, one of the paper’s authors who works as a senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and a professor at the University of Toronto's Institute of Medical Science, said: “These findings show that musicians and bilinguals require less effort to perform the same task, which could also protect them against cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. "Our results also demonstrated that a person's experiences, whether it's learning how to play a musical instrument or another language, can shape how the brain functions and which networks are used."


SQA Higher Modern Languages webinars

17 May 2018 (SQA)

Dates for the next Higher Modern Languages webinars are now available to book on the SQA website (login required).

Sessions are available:

  • 4 September
  • 10 September
  • 29 September


German courses in Glasgow

16 May 2018 (Goethe-Institut)

The Goethe-Institut in Glasgow has a two-week intensive course during summer, 'Kickstart your German'. The course is designed for complete beginners who want to pick up some of the language quickly. There are also certificate exams taking place in June for those who need evidence of their German language skills.

To find out more, follow the relevant link below:

For more information about the Goethe-Institut and other opportunities and activities they offer, visit their website.


A tongue-lashing over teacher shortage as Gaelic plan agreed

16 May 2018 (The Scotsman)

Parents and pupils at Edinburgh’s only Gaelic high school have demanded action to address a teacher shortage and to stand up for children facing discrimination. The calls came as the city council yesterday agreed its Gaelic Language Plan for 2018-22.

It was revealed the authority only has one Gaelic teacher in employment for Gaelic medium education (GME) at James Gillespie’s High School where pupils are taught primarily through the medium of Gaelic. Speaking at a meeting of the council’s corporate policy and strategy committee, which unanimously agreed the plan, parent Marion Thompson raised worries about protection for GME pupils.


Related Links

Edinburgh Council agrees new Gaelic Language Plan (The Scotsman, 15 May 2018)

UK's first sign language poetry slam

15 May 2018 (BBC)

Deaf poets fight it out in the UK's first ever poetry slam for users of sign language. Watch the video.


An Cuan Sgith / The Little Minch art project connecting islands with Gaelic

14 May 2018 (Sabhal Mòr Ostaig)

A two year visual arts project has connected school pupils from Skye and Benbecula.

The pupils from Bunsgoil Shlèite, Skye and Bunsgoil Baile a' Mhanaich, Benbecula worked with professional artists through the medium of Gaelic.

The project, entitled An Cuan Sgìth/The Little Minch, was led by Lasair Ealain and supported by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

The aim of the project is to inspire and empower young people to draw their own environment, working with professional artists to encourage their individual forms of expression and a greater understanding of where they live.

After a series of drawing and painting workshops in their own landscapes the children from Bunsgoil Shlèite visited the pupils in Benbecula for 3 days enabling the children to work together with the artists in different sites, share evening activities through Gaelic and make new friends. At the end of the visit, the Balivanich pupils made the ferry journey across to Skye over An Cuan Sgìth (The Little Minch) drawing on the ferry with the Skye pupils and their teachers.

The pupils were able to work with professional artists, such as Julie Brook, Kate Macdonald and Kath MacLeod (Arts Development Officer SMO).

Subsequently each group learnt how to create compositions of specific areas of their landscape based on a number of their sketchbook drawings, enabling the children to collaborate and work together on large scale charcoal drawings.

The sketchbooks, framed A1 drawings, large scale charcoal compositions and a film of the project will form the exhibitions that express their artistic and physical journey, in Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye on 11 May to 23 June 2018.

The project has been funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Western Isles Council, Young Films, Lasair Ealain.

Taigh Chearsabhagh is funded by Creative Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.


West Dunbartonshire win at Euroquiz final: St Mary’s Primary School Duntocher team crowned Euroquiz Champions 2018

25 May 2018 (SEET)

Congratulations to the P6 team from St Mary’s Primary School, who won the Scottish European Educational Trust’s National Euroquiz Final 2018, which took place in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament on 14th May 2018.

St Mary’s Primary School were crowned SEET’s Euroquiz Champions 2018 at the national final. The winners were closely followed by Strathblane Primary School from Stirling who took second place in a nail-biting final round. Gullane Primary School from East Lothian also did incredibly well, winning the prize for third place.

Euroquiz is run by the Scottish European Educational Trust (SEET), a non-political charity, which works to promote language learning, skills development and education about Europe and the wider world to young people across Scotland. The project sees events take place locally at first, with every authority hosting their own heat before progressing to the national Grand Final. Over 470 schools from across Scotland took part in Euroquiz Heats from January to March this year, involving more than 2,300 pupils overall. The winning teams from each of the 31 participating Local Authority areas travelled from far and wide to attend the national final at the Scottish Parliament, all hoping to raise the trophy as winners.

Euroquiz started in 1993 as a small quiz for Edinburgh schools, and has now grown to be a Scotland-wide event, becoming an established and popular part of the primary school calendar. Pupils form teams and use free resources to learn about a series of topics including citizenship, democracy, geography, world history, culture and languages. Through participating in Euroquiz, pupils deepen their knowledge of international affairs, but also have the opportunity to develop team building, confidence, language and communication skills.

The finalists were put through their paces by quizmaster Deputy Presiding Officer Christine Grahame MSP and Külli Nurk from the Office of the European Commission in Scotland. Pupils were cheered on by parents and peers in the public gallery, and even remotely, with many schools tuning in to watch the live broadcast of the event. All participants this year were a credit to their schools and thoroughly impressed all guests in attendance with their knowledge of the world around them. Well done to everyone who took part in Euroquiz 2018!

John Swinney MSP, and Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, said:

“The Euroquiz competition seeks to create an enthusiasm for learning about the rich and diverse cultures of our fellow Europeans, increasing young people’s confidence and their range of core skills.  With these new skills and knowledge there will be new opportunities to shine locally, nationally and globally.

As it has an element of language learning it will also develop our young people’s ability to communicate and this supports the learning about others and the development of active global citizens. That is why Scottish Government are committed to ensuring that language learning throughout school is normal for all our young people.

All the more appropriate during this year of young people that we should shine a light on the fantastic contributions young people make to Scotland and celebrate their achievements. 

Congratulations! ¡Enhorabuena! to everyone who has participated in this year’s Euroquiz and in particular to those of you who have reached the National Final here at the Scottish Parliament.

Bonne chance! Gur math thèid leibh! to all the finalists.”

Deputy Presiding Officer and Euroquiz quizmaster Christine Grahame MSP said:

“It’s been a pleasure to welcome so many passionate and talented young people to the Debating Chamber floor today – especially in what is Scotland’s Year of Young People – a time for our young people to truly shine.

Learning about Scotland’s place in the world and our multicultural society is incredibly important, and I would like to congratulate all of the pupils for their hard work in competing in the grand final today.”

SQA Higher Modern Languages webinar

12 April 2018 (SQA)

The SQA is running an evening webinar on 5 June to provide an overview of the new Modern Languages Higher course assessment arrangements which will be implemented from session 2018-19 onwards.

This will cover the performance–talking and there will be a particular focus on Higher assignment-writing. 

To book a place, please visit the SQA online booking system. 

Additional webinar sessions on the new Higher Modern Languages Course assessment arrangements will be running in September 2018.


OU/SCILT languages course for primary practitioners

15 March 2018 (Open University in Scotland/SCILT)

Due to the success of the initial pilot of the course developed by the OU and SCILT, LXT192/4 Learning to teach languages in primary school (French/Spanish), we are delighted to now be able to extend the offer to all Local Authorities. The course will be offered for the following languages: French (LXT192), German (LXT193), Spanish (LXT194) and Mandarin (LXT197).

For the next presentation of this course starting in October 2018, registration will open on 1 April 2018. The course fee is £240.00 per student.

The course will be available to all primary practitioners but also secondary teachers who teach at primary level. We have produced an FAQ document with further detail about the course for your information.

In order to make the enrolment process as smooth as possible, we advise that in the first instance Development Officers contact Sylvia Warnecke at the Open University ( ) with a list of the names and email addresses of teachers planning to study this in their Local Authority. We aim to complete enrolment by late June 2018 to allow time for planning staffing and timetabling.

And last but not least, we are planning to offer teachers, who enrol on the course, a summer school experience which will offer immersion in the language to boost confidence and provide ample opportunities to learn more about the cultures in which the language they are studying is spoken. The summer school is not part of the course, it is optional and can be booked separately. More information on this will be published in due course.

Policy makers, local councils, local authorities, MSPs and Consulates may also be interested in an event celebrating last years' pilot course, Primary school teachers learning to teach languages - A celebration, being held in Edinburgh on 7 June 2018.

Oral Revision Courses: Higher and Advanced Higher French

1 December 2017 (Alliance Française Glasgow )

The AF Glasgow will be running special revision courses for pupils who are sitting their Higher and Advanced Higher French oral examinations in early 2018.


Threlford Memorial Cup 2017 - Call for nominations now open

26 May 2017 (Chartered Institute of Linguists)

Do you know someone who's done something truly amazing for language learning?

Chartered Institute of Linguists is looking for nominations for the Threlford Memorial Cup 2017. The Cup is presented annually to a person, an organisation, or for a project that has inspired others with an original language initiative. The Cup will be presented by Royal Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent at our Awards Evening in London in November.

The deadline for nominations is Friday 28 July 2017.


Disclaimer: These news stories do not claim to be comprehensive and the views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of SCILT.

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Scots-Gaelic railway map uncovers meaning of station names More...

'Chocolatine' vs 'pain au chocolat': French pastry war spills over into parliament More...

Can English remain the 'world's favourite' language? More...

Smithycroft pupils learn the value language skills in the construction industry More...