Latest News

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

Making languages your business

18 November 2019 (SCILT)

SCILT was pleased to invite a range of guests to an event on 2 October 2019 which included the launch a language-focused toolkit for business and industry. The event concluded the first phase of the three-year Generation Global project. Films from the event have now been published on our website.

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Posted in: Business

Bilingualism and dementia: how some patients lose their second language and rediscover their first

18 November 2019 (Irish Examiner)

For many people with dementia, memories of early childhood appear more vivid than their fragile sense of the present. But what happens when the present is experienced through a different language than the one spoken in childhood? And how might carers and care homes cope with the additional level of complexity in looking after bilingual people living with dementia?

This is not just relevant for people living with dementia and those who care for them. It can provide insights into the human mind that are equally important to brain researchers, social scientists and even artists.

This relationship between dementia and bilingualism was the focus of a workshop we held recently in Glasgow. Bringing together healthcare professionals, volunteers, community activists, dementia researchers, translation experts, writers and actors, the workshop was organised around a reading of a new play performed by the Gaelic language group, Theatre Tog-ì.

The play, Five to Midnight, centres on a native Gaelic speaker from the Outer Hebrides whose English begins to fade as her dementia develops. Her English-speaking husband increasingly finds himself cut off from his wife as she retreats into the past and to a language he does not understand. The couple’s pain and frustration at their inability to communicate is harrowing.

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Good news for language statistics despite fall in numbers

18 November 2019 (SCILT)

Intrigued?  Read the latest Language Trends Scotland report.

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Oor Scots langage is getting taen fae ben the hoose ance mair

17 November 2019 (The National)

THERE a wheeshit renaissance in literacy gaun on in Scotland the noo. Whither hit’s the floorishin o online sel-publishin thro social media, or fae the wullfu push tae fling aff the dreid “Scottish cultural cringe” oor Scots langage is getting taen fae ben the hoose an pit oot in public ance mair. Ae hing aboot wir Scots langage is oor unique vocabulary o wirds, an fir Book Week Scotland (November 18-24) Scottish Book Trust’ll annoonce the result o their iconic Scots wird vote on Thursday 21 November, via their social media channels.

Scots is the langage maist relatit tae the English langage. Hit’s near eneuch tae English, as a maitter o fack, thit fae the echteent century there a strang unitit effort fir tae hae fowk “spikk proper”.

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The crisis in language education across the UK — what it means for schools and the future of business

16 November 2019 (iNews)

As a nation, we are not known for our proficiency in foreign languages. The stereotype of the Brit abroad, repeating English slowly and loudly to the locals, has more than a grain of truth.

In England, language study has declined so much that the exam regulator, Ofqual, recently decided to lower grade boundaries in GCSE French and German to encourage teenagers to take them.

Can anything be done about our struggles? Or should we lighten up about it? A former Downing Street education expert has told i that seriously improving our language ability is not a high-enough priority to justify the vast expense involved.

In Britain, 34.6 per cent of people aged between 25 and 64 report that they know one or more foreign language, compared with an EU average of 64.8 per cent.

GCSE and A-level language entries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been declining since the turn of the century, although a rise in Spanish entries provides a shred of comfort.

In Scotland, language entries at National 4 and 5 level have dropped by about a fifth since 2014.

This has been accompanied by the quiet death of the foreign exchange, suffocated in part by exaggerated safety concerns. A survey by the British Council five years ago found that just four in 10 schools run trips involving a stay with a host family. Martha de Monclin, a British expat living in France, is often asked whether she knows British families who are happy to be involved in exchanges, but in seven years has found only one.

Where they do happen, pupils just go sightseeing and stay in hotels, she says. “With mobile phones, they are constantly connected to their friends and family at home. This makes it incredibly difficult to learn a language.”

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Internships in China for undergraduate and postgraduate students and recent graduates

12 November 2019 (British Council)

Whatever your ambitions for the future, your internship will help you stand out from the crowd. New industries and work opportunities in China are rising faster than the skyscrapers that accommodate them, and China may soon overtake the US as the world’s largest economy. Companies across the world will value your experience of China's culture and business practices. 

You’ll also benefit from weekly Mandarin lessons and take part in business and cultural activities, offering you valuable insight into the customs and traditions of China.

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French oral revision courses

11 November 2019 (Alliance Française Glasgow )

Alliance Française are running special revision courses in January and February for pupils sitting their Higher or Advanced Higher oral examinations in 2020. 

Higher 
Wednesday 4.30-6.30pm: 29th January to 19th February inclusive

£75/pupil

Advanced Higher
Monday 5-7pm: 27th January to 17th February inclusive

£75/pupil

Schools may drop foreign languages due to lack of teachers

11 November 2019 (Irish Times)

Some secondary schools [in Ireland] say they will be forced to reduce pupils’ access to foreign languages due to difficulties recruiting qualified teachers, according to a Department of Education audit.

The report also shows evidence of a class gap in access to language tuition, with students in fee-paying secondary schools much more likely to have a choice of languages to study.

By contrast, students in non fee-paying schools are more likely to have access to fewer languages, while thousands of pupils are not studying any foreign language at all for the Junior or Leaving Cert.

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Key subjects to be taught through Irish under plan to boost standards

11 November 2019 (The Irish Times)

Subjects such as physical education, maths and art are to be taught through Irish in about 20 primary, secondary and pre-schools under a new project aimed at boosting the teaching and learning of Irish.

The move has been partly prompted by concern over the quality of teaching and learning of Irish in schools.

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Bilingualism and dementia: how some patients lose their second language and rediscover their first

11 November 2019 (The Conversation)

For many people with dementia, memories of early childhood appear more vivid than their fragile sense of the present. But what happens when the present is experienced through a different language than the one spoken in childhood? And how might carers and care homes cope with the additional level of complexity in looking after bilingual people living with dementia?

Read more...

Waitrose and John Lewis staff will wear badges saying which languages they speak in bid to make foreign customers feel more welcome

9 November 2019 (Daily Mail)

Waitrose and John Lewis staff are to wear badges stating which languages they speak to help foreign customers feel more welcome.

A trial scheme will begin in ten Waitrose branches and seven John Lewis stores this month, before spreading nationwide.

Katie Papakonstantinou, of John Lewis, said: 'The UK is made up of a wealth of different languages and cultures and we want to celebrate that diversity by offering an even more tailored level of customer service.'

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Win a trip to Paris

8 November 2019 (ULIP)

Studying French at AS/A Level (or equivalent) and fancy a weekend away to the City of Light? 

The University of London Institute in Paris’ (ULIP) annual Win a Trip to Paris competition is now open for students of AS/A-Level French (or equivalent)! The weekend offers the perfect chance to explore the French capital, try out your taste for croissants, and see what it might be like to live and study for your undergraduate degree in one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities.

This year's competition focuses on an important forthcoming event that will take place in Paris. To spur creativity, we have changed our format: this year we are inviting you to create an image caption. Be imaginative and bold! For your chance to spend a weekend in Paris, simply answer two questions and add your snappy caption under the image before midnight UK time 31 January 2020.

Visit the ULIP website for more information and to enter.

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New job profile on SCILT's website

8 November 2019 (SCILT)

We have job profiles on our website covering a wide range of careers where languages are in use. Our latest addition comes from Mark McLaughlin, a Researcher in International Law, whose language skills have enabled him to live and work in China. Mark tells us learning the language of the place you're living really helps you get an understanding of the country's culture. 

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.

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Advanced Higher pupil workshops - bookings now open

8 November 2019 (SCILT)

Returning for session 2019-20, SCILT will be delivering workshops for pupils studying Advanced Higher modern languages. Bookings are currently open for:

  • Stirling - Tuesday 26 November 10am-12, University of Stirling
  • Glasgow - Wednesday 4 December 10am-12, University of Strathclyde
  • Glasgow - Friday 6 December 10am-12, University of Strathclyde (this workshop is now fully booked, however you can register on the waiting list via Eventbrite in case of any cancellations)
  • Dundee - Monday 9 December 10am-12, University of Dundee
  • Edinburgh - Tuesday 10 December 10am-12, University of Edinburgh

This is a pupil workshop which will focus on what is required at Advanced Higher level and give tips on how to approach key elements of the course. We will look at ways of tackling:

  • the overall purpose question in the reading
  • the discursive writing
  • the portfolio
  • the talking

This will also be an opportunity to meet with your peers and set up links so you can support one another in your studies.

Schools should register on behalf of their pupils. Please indicate when registering how many pupils will be attending. While this event is for pupils, teachers may wish to attend and this should be reflected in the numbers when you register.

Why learning Scots is having a moment

8 November 2019 (TES)

More than 1.5 million people said they spoke Scots in the 2011 census, and now this language is enjoying a resurgence in the classroom. The learning benefits are immense, writes Kirsty Crommie.

There are thought to be more than 7,000 languages spoken across the world, with many more not yet known outside the small communities in which they are spoken. Around 330 are spoken in Europe and more than 2,000 in Asia. Over 850 languages are spoken within Papua New Guinea alone (Miaschi, 2017) and, within the thousands of languages spoken worldwide, there are countless dialects and regional variations, rich in vocabulary and sounds.

Language lets us share, discover and make connections. But it is also a representation of culture and identity, and it symbolises the incredibly diverse world in which we live – so, with 75 per cent of the world’s population not speaking English, it is imperative that we encourage the learning of languages throughout school.

And this must include the Scots language: by studying our minority languages, such as Scots, we are celebrating our diverse and fascinating linguistic heritage, as we should.

In primary schools across Scotland, at least one additional language is being taught. The Scottish government’s 1+2 model for languages has a target of ensuring that by 2021, every Scottish school will offer children one additional language from P1 and a second from P5; many schools are well on their way to meeting that goal.

It is a target that is not without its challenges: staff must receive relevant training if they are to effectively deliver the teaching of a language of which they may have little or no experience. But the benefits are such that these challenges must be overcome.

Curriculum for Excellence: Modern Languages Experiences and Outcomes clearly lays out the benefits. Not only are literacy skills enhanced, but pupils learning a new language will also:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of their first language and appreciate the richness and interconnected nature of languages.
  • Enhance their understanding of their own and other languages and gain insights into other cultures.
  • Develop skills that they can use and enjoy in work and leisure throughout their lives.

The benefits apply just as much to children learning minority languages. In Scotland, there are three native languages: English, Scots and Gaelic. While English is the most common, more than 1.5 million people said they spoke Scots in the 2011 census, while over 57,000 said they spoke Gaelic.

A number of schools exist to provide teaching and learning through Gaelic, particularly in the areas where it is spoken most, but the teaching of Scots is generally left to schools and teachers with an interest in and enthusiasm for Scots, although some have opted to include Scots as part of their 1+2 approach.

(Note - subscription required to access full article)

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Languages: We can do better for our bilingual students

7 November 2019 (TES)

The UK is famously bad when it comes to learning languages, but this means we’re missing out on an amazing resource already in our schools, says Sameena Choudry.

One language, one person; two languages, two persons” – Turkish proverb

The lack of a coherent languages policy is evident in England. 

Our learning of languages is quite poor compared to many other countries (in 2016, we were voted the worst country in Europe for learning other languages).

This is despite calls from industry (and others) to increase the number of pupils learning languages. 

There is, however, a possible part-solution to this dire situation that needs to be drawn to the attention of policymakers: approximately 1.5 million young people in schools in England are either bilingual or multilingual in more than 300 different languages. 

This extremely valuable and rich resource is largely untapped and little attention, if any, has been given to how their linguistics skills could be nurtured and developed to support the individual, the community and the country as a whole. 

(Note - subscription required to access full article)

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RZSS China Mobile Library - What's on offer?

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. 

RZSS Science Specialist Confucius Classroom - What's on offer?

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. 

Spanish stamp competition

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

The best languages to study for future job opportunities

6 November 2019 (The Telegraph)

Your Year 9 French teacher was right: learning a language can open a lot of doors. Not only will your fluency allow you to travel to distant corners of the globe, but having a degree in a language can make you highly employable.

Mastering a language has always been impressive to employers: it shows tenacity and commitment, but can also come in handy if they work with overseas clients. 

Now, language skills are more sought after than ever, given the potential impact of Brexit on British industry, according to the CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Report 2018. “The need for languages has been heightened by the UK’s departure from the European Union,” the report states.

The British Council has also stressed the need for young people to learn a foreign language in order for Britain to become a “truly global nation”. In their most recent Languages for the Future report in 2017, the British Council listed the following as the most important languages for the UK’s prosperity: Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese and Russian. 

Even though multilingualism is needed for the UK’s prosperity, just 1 in 3 Britons can hold a conversation in a foreign language, according to the report from the British Council. 

So, those who can speak another language are more needed than ever - as is clear from the 2018 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Report, which surveyed almost 500 British employers and calculated which languages are most desirable to them. The following are the results from that report and, thus, the best languages to study for graduate employment. 

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International Education Week 2019

5 November 2019 (British Council)

International Education Week takes place 18-22 November 2019, and British Council has a range of ways to help your school #BeInternational.

International partnerships have changed the lives of pupils in thousands of schools. Pupils who have learnt new languages, developed their understanding of different cultures, and discovered more about the global issues that affect us all. Here are some of the ways you can participate in International Education Week 2019:

  • Take the #BeInternational languages quiz 
  • Enter our Unexpected Voices speechwriting competition
  • Partner with a school in Europe through eTwinning 
  • Partner with a school outside Europe with Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning 
  • Download The Great Languages Challenge and get your students to design their own challenges for their classmates or peers in their partner school overseas.
  • Apply for funding to take your students on an international exchange
  • Get recognised for your international work through the International School Award . 
  • Share your international activity with us using the hashtag #BeInternational 

Visit the British Council website to find out more.

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French and German GCSEs to be marked less harshly, Ofqual rules

5 November 2019 (The Guardian)

French and German GCSEs are to be marked less severely from next year amid concerns that students are being put off studying modern foreign languages (MFL) because it is more difficult to get top grades in these than in other subjects.

The qualifications regulator Ofqual has ruled there should be an adjustment to grading standards in French and German GCSEs – entries for which have declined dramatically – but not in Spanish where numbers have been more buoyant.

The government also announced a review of the content of its recently reformed GCSEs in MFL after complaints from teachers that some of the questions are too difficult – particularly in listening and reading assessments – and may be discouraging students.

Ofqual said there were no plans to adjust GCSE grades retrospectively, but the regulator will now work with the examination boards in the run-up to next year’s exam season to bring the grading of French and German GCSEs in line with other subjects.

School leaders welcomed the move and called for a comparable adjustment in languages at A-level, where there has been a similar decline. The GCSE grading adjustments may need to be phased in over a longer period, and will affect grades 4 and above.

“We have conducted a thorough review of the evidence that GCSE French, German and Spanish are severely graded in comparison to other subjects,” an Ofqual statement said. “On the balance of the evidence we have gathered, we have judged that there is a sufficiently strong case to make an adjustment to grading standards in French and German, but not Spanish.”

The Ofqual announcement comes amid mounting concern about the dramatic decline in the study of modern foreign languages in schools in England over the past 15 years, with entries for language GCSEs down 48%. German has declined by 65%, while French is down by 62%.

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Entries sought for Scots writing competition

3 November 2019 (Grampian Online)

Entries are being sought for an annual Scots language writing competition.

The Keith branch of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland are looking for entries for the Charles Murray Writing Competition, which encourages the passing down of the Scots language from generation to generation.

The competition was launched to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Murray, an Alford-born poet, and is now into its sixth year.

Work entered into the competition can be prose or poetry and can be written about anything – but has to be in Scots. The competition is open to anyone, of any age, but must be written by two or more people of different generations – for example mother and daughter or grandfather and grandson.

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FOKUS: Films from Germany 2019-20

30 October 2019 (Goethe-Institut)

The fifth edition of FOKUS: Films from Germany runs from 21 November 2019 to 31 January 2020. Screenings will take place at various venues throughout Scotland. The programme includes two school screenings of 'the Resistance'. The film is suitable for pupils aged 12+ and is screened in German with English subtitles.

Visit the Goethe-Institut website for full programme details.

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Course to create new generation of Gaelic-speaking professionals in Scotland

29 October 2019 (The Scotsman)

A new Gaelic 'immersion' course is being set up at Glasgow University to help create a new generation of Gaelic-speaking professionals in Scotland.

The one-year course at Glasgow University will offer an intensive language learning experience for students and adult learners.

Students will undertake eight-months of tuition at the university followed by a three-week residential school at Ceòlas Uibhist, the Gaelic education and cultural centre in South Uist.

The course has been set up with a grant of £455,000 from the Scottish Funding Council.

It comes as Glasgow City Council considers a £16m commitment to build a fourth Gaelic Medium Education (GME) school.

The new course will help meet demand for Gaelic-speaking teachers as pupil numbers rise.

Read more...

Related Links

Does Scotland have enough Gaelic teachers? (The Scotsman, 30 October 2019)

Gaelic immersion opportunities expanded in Scotland (Scottish Funding Council, 29 October 2019)

School competitions for learners of German

28 October 2019 (Goethe-Institut)

The Goethe-Institut currently has the following opportunities for schools teaching German. Click on the relevant link for more information:

Visit the main Goethe-Institut website for more information about the organisation and the full range of activities offered.

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Concours de la Francophonie

28 October 2019 (Institut français)

The Institut français d'Ecosse has launched their annual Concours de la Francophonie for schools, which aims to encourage all young French learners and their teachers around Scotland to celebrate the international day of la francophonie.

​All Scottish primary and secondary schools offering French may enter this competition by submitting a short video of a classroom activity in French.

Entries can be submitted in four categories: P1/P4 - P5/P7 - S1/S3 - S4/S6.

The submission deadline is 20 January 2020. 

This school competition is sponsored by TOTAL E&P, the Franco Scottish Society and is organised in partnership with the Alliance française de Glasgow, SALT, SCILT and the University of Edinburgh.

Visit the Institut français website for more information and to discover previous competition winners.

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Book Week Scotland 2019

23 October 2019 (Scottish Book Trust)

Book Week Scotland is an annual celebration of books and reading that takes place every November. The programme for this year's Book Week Scotland has just been launched. The programme includes workshops, poetry and storytelling sessions in Gaelic and Scots for both adults and children.

Visit the website to find out about events and activities taking place near you.

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The Ramshorn and Graveyard Digital Trail - now available!

23 October 2019 (SCILT)

If you find yourself in the Merchant City area of Glasgow why not complete our new 'The Ramshorn and Graveyard' digital trail? Pupils from Glasgow Gaelic School, Holyrood Secondary, Shawlands Academy and St Roch's Secondary worked with SCILT and Global Treasure Apps to create a multilingual trail around the new SCILT and CISS premises. The trail encourages visitors to learn about the history of the area by following clues set by the pupils, and gives people the chance to test their language skills.

The Ramshorn and Graveyard Digital Trail is available to download from Global Treasure Apps in Arabic, English, French, Gaelic, German, Italian, Mandarin, Polish, Spanish and Urdu.

Find Global Treasure Apps on the App store or Google Play

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French Film Festival 2019

17 October 2019 (French Film Festival)

The 27th French Film Festival takes place throughout the UK during November and December 2019.

Visit the Festival website to discover screenings near you. Educational packs are available to accompany the following films:

  • La Famille Bélier
  • Gus petit oiseau, grand voyage
  • Une colonie

Read more...

Languages Beyond School

4 October 2019 (SCILT)

Do you have students looking to continue or develop their language studies when they leave school? Our aim is to provide all the information necessary for students to make an informed choice about their future language learning. To that end we invite visitors to the Beyond School pages of our website to submit feedback by completing a short survey. Responses are anonymous and will be used to help improve the user experience. We would appreciate it if teachers could share the survey with learners and encourage them to respond.

Whether they want to follow a course of study in the UK or further afield, work or volunteer abroad, the Beyond School section of our website has links to language courses at further and higher education establishments in Scotland along with opportunities UK-wide and in Europe. The site also outlines the support Scottish universities can provide to teachers and schools in their language learning.

As the UCAS application process gets underway, make sure pupils and careers guidance staff are aware of the information available on our website.

OU/SCILT primary languages course

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)

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