Latest News

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

Community Languages

Polish classes for teachers - registrations open

19 May 2022 (SCILT / Polish Social and Educational Society in Glasgow)

Following the successful launch of the Ten Steps to Polish online resource and introductory Polish classes for teachers last session, in collaboration with the Polish Social and Educational Society in Glasgow, we are delighted to announce that the Polish classes for teachers will run again in session 2022/23. The interactive Ten Steps to Polish handbook is designed for teachers to introduce Polish as an L3 and the online classes provide teachers with the opportunity to learn basic Polish in order to support the implementation of the resource in their classroom.

Chris Sagan, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Polish Social and Educational Society in Glasgow, who has led the programme from its infancy states: 

“We are delighted with the response we have had to our Ten Steps to L3 Polish course. In our introductory year we have taught, via Zoom, basic Polish to teachers across Scotland enabling them to provide L3 Polish to their classes. We look forward with enthusiasm to another year of helping teachers teach Polish in classrooms across Scotland.”

Primary teachers who are interested can register by 20 June 2022 for a block of free online Polish language lessons, led by a native Polish speaker and an experienced primary practitioner. These online classes:

  • begin on Tuesday 30th August
  • will take place 4-5pm on MS Teams
  • will be an hour in length, once a week, for 6 weeks
  • support Ten Steps to L3 Polish and aim to give the class teacher the confidence to lead exciting Polish lessons in school

These classes are aimed at teachers planning to introduce Polish as an L3. Places are limited and offered on a first-come first-served basis. 

For more information about Ten Steps to L3 Polish and/or language classes, please contact SCILT.

Wszystkiego najlepszego.


MTOT 2021-22 - Finalist poems now online!

1 April 2022 (SCILT)

We're delighted to announce the entries from all the finalists of this year's Mother Tongue Other Tongue multilingual poetry competition can now be viewed on the SCILT website.

For the first time judges awarded some special commendations for entries which very narrowly missed making the final shortlist and we have some of these also available online.

We hope many of you will be inspired to take part when the 2022-23 edition launches in the Autumn!


MTOT 2021-22 - Winners announced!

21 February 2022 (SCILT)

Our awards event to announce the winning entries from this year's Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition was held online today, to coincide with International Mother Language Day. It was a great celebration of the languages being spoken and learned in Scotland and we're delighted to announce the winners and highly commended runners-up in each category as follows:

Mother Tongue







Simon Cronje

Netherlee PS


Highly commended

Fabian Choromanski

Gallowhill PS




Sabihah Tubasem

West Primary


Highly commended

Lovelyn Asare

St Catherine’s PS


Highly commended

Sabina Rodrigues da Rosa

West Primary

Brazilian Portuguese

Highly commended

Tanazzal Shah

West Primary


Highly commended

Zamin Amjad Sheikh

Netherlee PS




Melice Monga Lubengi

Lourdes Secondary


Highly commended

Marcel Zuk & Oskar Kolodziej

St Thomas of Aquin’s


Highly commended

Helen Joseph

Lourdes Secondary


Highly commended

Sarah Alradi

Craigmount High




Regina Wyllie

Loudoun Academy


Highly commended

Camran Kouhy

Madras College


Highly commended

Wiktoria Sapko

St Andrew’s Secondary


Other Tongue







Hayley Cowe

Westhill PS


Highly commended

P2 Class

Newcraighall PS




Lucia Conetta

Glasgow Academy


Highly commended

Malaika Ali

Golfhill PS




Grace Ross

Madras College


Highly commended

Deepak Kumaar

Craigmount High

French & German

Highly commended

Caitlin Fraser

Arran High




Brooklynn Faichnie

Aboyne Academy

French, Spanish & Italian

Highly commended

Iona Kellas

Aboyne Academy


Highly commended

Charlotte Reynolds

Aboyne Academy



All pupils will receive a certificate and book token. Winning entrants will also receive a trophy as well as the opportunity for their poems to feature in The Children's Poetry Archive and Kids Poetry Club podcast. We will be in contact with schools shortly about taking these extra special opportunities forward. This year also saw a special award sponsored by the Dictionaries of the Scots Language for entries in Scots, which was awarded to Hayley Cowe, our P1-P4 Other Tongue winner!

It is our intention to host each of these poems on the SCILT website and we'll announce when these are available.

Congratulations again to all our finalists!

Indigenous languages project urges Cop26 leaders to rethink ties to the land

3 November 2021 (The Guardian)

Western leaders at the Cop26 climate summit have been urged to embrace a far more holistic view of humanity’s place in the natural world by an art project celebrating indigenous minority languages.

The Living Language Land project has identified 25 words from minority languages and dialects around the world – including Native American Lakota, Murui, a native language of Colombian and Peru, and Scots Gaelic – that highlight each culture’s ties to their land.

Those words, streamed online with films and indigenous visual art, include a Namibian bushman’s word for magical journey; one from the Philippines to denote a forest within a forest and an indigenous Chilean word for the tangible and intangible parts of life.

They have released 26 recordings to match the number given to this summit, Cop26, including one of wind blowing near the Halley research station on the Brunt ice shelf on Antarctica, the world’s only continent without permanent inhabitants. Four come from the UK, with Welsh, Doric, the Scots language as spoken in the north-east of Scotland, and Northumbrian coastal speech joining Scots Gaelic.


The world's most unusual languages

19 October 2021 (Daily Mail)

There are many languages throughout the world that have survived only in the tiniest of pockets.

There is a language in Nepal that doesn't have a word for green, a language on two Pacific islands invented by the mutineers of HMS Bounty in the late 18th century, a language in the U.S spoken fluently by just six people and one in Mexico that calls a radio 'a thing that stands there singing'.

These and many more are explored in fascinating new book The Atlas of Unusual Languages by Zoran Nikolic (Collins). Here we pick out some of the book's most intriguing revelations, from Mexico to North Carolina and from Nepal to New Zealand.


MTOT 2021-22 - registration deadline approaching!

30 September 2021 (SCILT)

Our multilingual poetry competition offers schools and learners the opportunity to use their language skills creatively, by producing an original poem, song or rap in a language they speak at home (Mother Tongue) or are learning at school (Other Tongue). With a focus on the spoken word, entries are invited in video or audio format.

Teachers, help us find the next generation of multilingual poets! The deadline to register your school is 7 October 2021 (National Poetry Day), and all entries should be submitted by 3 December 2021. 

Visit our MTOT webpage for full details and to sign-up.


5 ways immigrant parents support children’s home language learning

20 September 2021 (The Conversation)

It is important to preserve and develop a child’s home language for their cultural, linguistic and social development. Research shows that English plays a dominant role in schools and society at large, while children’s diverse home languages are often marginalized. Languages other than English are often not welcomed or encouraged in classrooms.

Marginalizing languages beyond English in school has negative effects on children and classroom cultures by creating environments that suggest the daily language practices of children whose families speak languages other than English aren’t “good enough.” Unsurprisingly, if children feel unwelcome or disrespected in the classroom, this can adversely affect their learning engagement and academic achievement.


BSL as an L3 - register now

4 June 2021 (SCILT / Garvel Deaf Centre)

SCILT has been working, in collaboration with Garvel Deaf Centre in Gourock, Inverclyde to develop a series of online British Sign Language (BSL) classes to support L3 in primary schools. We are delighted that registration is now open for schools to register their interest in the ‘BSL as an L3’ programme. The weekly lessons will be suitable for pupils in P5-P7 and are free of charge. In addition to the live lessons, supplementary resources such as video clips will be provided on Teams to support asynchronous learning opportunities.

The block of online classes will:

  • begin in early September
  • take place live on MS Teams 
  • be 45 minutes in length, once a week, for 10 weeks
  • be delivered by an experienced deaf tutor, supported by a BSL interpreter
  • raise deaf awareness
  • promote inclusion and diversity

Register your interest by 21 June 2021 via the link below. For more information please contact SCILT. To hear of more opportunities from Scotland’s National Centre for Languages please subscribe to our weekly bulletin -


Related Files

Polish classes for primary teachers – registration deadline approaching

3 June 2021 (Polish Social and Educational Society in Glasgow / Polish Consulate / SCILT)

SCILT has been working, in collaboration with the Polish Social and Educational Society in Glasgow, and supported by the Polish Consulate in Edinburgh, to produce the much-anticipated resource for primary teachers to support the teaching of L3 Polish in the classroom. We are delighted to announce that this resource will soon be launched and made available to primary teachers ahead of session 21/22. This interactive handbook has been designed for teachers, by teachers and is supported by online classes where primary practitioners can build their confidence for teaching Polish. 

Primary teachers who are interested can register by 11 June 2021 for a block of free online Polish language lessons, led by a native Polish speaker and an experienced primary practitioner. These online classes:

  • begin on Tuesday 31st August
  • will take place on MS Teams
  • will be an hour in length, once a week, for 8 weeks
  • take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays – choose the day that suits you best
  • support Ten Steps to L3 Polish and aim to give the class teacher the confidence to lead exciting Polish lessons in school

This L3 programme has been developed to provide a rich language and cultural learning experience, suitable for children from P5-P7.

Chris Sagan, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Polish Social and Educational Society in Glasgow, has led the programme from its infancy and looks forward to seeing the resource being used in classrooms across the country. He states, “Since 1989 when Poland was released from the grip of Soviet Russia, the country has grown and developed exponentially so that today Poland is one of the new tiger economies of Europe. Poland now takes her place as an equal among the Nations of Europe.

“It is fitting then that we are going to now introduce to classrooms in Scotland an interactive, web-based handbook to assist teachers who choose to teach Polish as an L3 language. The Ten Steps to L3 Polish handbook has been designed to introduce learners and teachers to the customs, culture and traditions of Poland while learning the basics of the language.

“In addition to the handbook, free language lessons for teachers will be offered to provide support and encouragement. We are eager to welcome Scotland’s teachers to both the handbook and lessons and look forward to hearing enthusiastic Polish voices in classrooms across the country.”

These classes are aimed at teachers planning to introduce Polish as an L3. Places are limited and offered on a first-come first-served basis. 

For more information about Ten Steps to L3 Polish and/or language classes, please contact

Wszystkiego najlepszego.


Related Files

Portuguese language and culture

27 May 2021 (Lusofonias-OP)

Lusofonias-OP is a Scottish registered charity based in Edinburgh. They are currently trying to reach out to children and young people (aged 4-17) from the Scottish Portuguese-speaking community. To find out more about their work, please download the flyer or visit their website.


Related Files

PM should learn Welsh language to save the UK, says linguistics professor

4 March 2021 (Nation Cymru)

A linguistics professor has suggested that the Prime Minister should learn the Welsh language to help prevent the UK from breaking up.

Professor Emeritus Peter Trudgill wrote in the New European that it would demonstrate a “strong desire” to “remain in a union with Wales”.

He said that the UK should follow the example of the multi-lingual nation of Switzerland, where the government has a policy of getting everyone to learn at least one of the country’s other national languages, and suggested that teaching the Welsh language in all British schools could help with that aim.

The professor, who has previously taken aim at what he has described as “horribly ignorant” comments about the Welsh language, says in the federal republic learning other national languages is viewed as a “very important factor for maintaining the cohesion of the Swiss nation.” Switzerland’s national languages are German, French, Italian, and Romansch.

The professor describes Welsh as “one of the world’s biggest languages” and asks “why shouldn’t English people learn” it just as the “Germanophone Swiss learn Italian.”

Professor Trudgill said: “What better way would there be for English supporters of a cohesive United Kingdom, such as the prime minister and his cabinet, to show how strong their desire is to remain in a union with Wales and Scotland than by learning Welsh or Gaelic themselves?”


Arabic, Roma and Spanish on offer as Bhasha Glasgow Language Festival events revealed

18 February 2021 (Glasgow Evening Times)

From learning a few words to communicate with Roma neighbours to finding out more about British Sign Language - the Bhasha Glasgow language festival has lots to offer lockdown learners.

Now in its third year, the event takes place online from February 21 to 27.

A celebration of the city’s many languages and the people who speak them, this year’s festival is being hosted by the Thriving Places Govanhill initiative.

The week is jam packed with free daily activities that will explore Glasgow’s linguistic heritage and the vital role of its multilingual citizens, including quizzes, interactive language sessions, talks, and a radio show.


Virtual Mod is certain to be a highlight of the Gaelic year

9 October 2020 (The Herald)

It’s the highlight of the Gaelic year and the community has come together to make sure the Mod will still take place – albeit in virtual form.

In common with all other major cultural events, the annual Mod has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but although this has resulted in a dramatic change to the format there has been a positive outcome, according to James Graham, Chief Executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach.

The decision to cancel the week long physical event was taken in May but the organisers, aware of the huge impact this would have on the Mod community, agreed to create an online version to fill the void in October.

While Mr Graham admits it was a daunting task, the switch has resulted in many more entries from across the world.

“We have had a lot of interest from people who would not necessarily got over to the Mod because of the travel costs,” he said. “But one of the positives this year was that they could actually take part by recording from where they were.”


Doric Film Festival set to return

25 September 2020 (Scots Radio)

Plans have been unveiled for the return of the acclaimed Doric Film Festival – with some exciting developments set to be implemented for the second event.

Following the runaway success of the first two Doric Film Festivals, the second annual event is now inviting entries until November 1st and is asking applications to create a film around the theme: “Jist Faar I Bide.”

This time around, a total of nine awards will be spread equally across three categories, namely individuals, schools and community groups.  Each will receive £500 towards the cost of producing a five-minute film which will be screened during an online event in spring 2021.

The much-lauded Doric Film Festival, which is supported by the Scottish Government, took the North East by storm during its inaugural event in 2019. It is the idea of award-winning Scots Radio Director Frieda Morrison who created the unique platform to celebrate the Doric language and its cultural identity. 

Commenting on plans for this year’s Doric Film Festival, Frieda Morrison said: “Ongoing restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic have prompted a change of format for this event, and we hope that the changes will encourage even more people to get even more creative in support of the Festival.

“In previous years we have been heartened by the quality and diversity of entries and we are sure that the judges have a hard task ahead of them again this year.”

To find out more, visit or


Oh fit fine! University set to launch its first Doric course

13 September 2020 (The Scotsman)

Doric, a form of North East Scots that is spoken by 49 per cent of people in Aberdeenshire, will now be taught to undergraduates at Aberdeen University with the course counting towards a student’s degree.

The history of Doric is due to be taught on the course, as well as linguistics, vocabulary and its context in a European setting, with many words and phrases linking Doric with Scandinavian languages, said Dr Thomas McKean, director of Aberdeen University’s Elphinstone Institute which researches and protects the North East’s distinct cultural heritage.

He said: “It’s about building a parity of esteem of the language so that it is thought of in equal terms with other European languages."


How generations are joining forces to give the Scots language its proper place

26 April 2020 (The National)

The Scots language is the source of many of the first words we hear. Bairn. Greet. Bonnie. For many of us it is the language of those we love most, those who raised us, who taught us about the world. The tongue of couthy grannies, freenly neebors, loving parents. It’s the language of funny rhymes an sangs like Ally Bally Bee an the Three Craws.

For a huge number of us it is the language of childhood but for almost as many it is not the language of adulthood. When we go to school, Scots switches to English. Scots has its place in the playground but not in maths or chemistry. So we store away so many great words – shoogle, bahookie, fankle, haver – that mean so much to us but that we seldom get to use.

Scots is the language of 1.5 million of us, about 30% of the population. In entire chunks of the country – the Borders, Shetland, the north-east – it is the everyday language of the clear majority. But there are many more areas of Scotland, particularly urban areas, where Scots is strictly socially policed. And across the nation as a whole, Scots remains almost entirely absent from classrooms, from publicly funded media and from the business of government.


Position paper calls for consideration of non-standard and minority language varieties in supplementary school curriculum

30 March 2020 (The University of Manchester)

Researchers at the University of Manchester’s Multilingual Manchester research unit and the University of Westminster have called for more consideration to be given to language variation and non-standard speech forms such as regional dialects in the programmes of community-based supplementary schools that teach heritage languages. You can access the detailed position paper on the website.


Interested in learning Scotland's mother tongue? Then choose Gaelic Duolingo

20 March 2020 (The Herald)

The decision by the world’s most popular language learning platform to offer courses in Gaelic has sparked renewed interest in the ancient tongue.

Gaelic Duolingo only launched last November but around 120,000 people have signed up to it - more than the 58,000 speakers of the language in Scotland.

It has also had a positive effect on other Gaelic language providers such as Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye and LearnGaelic, a free online companion for beginners, intermediates and advanced learners. LearnGaelic editor Eilidh Lewsey believes it shows people are interested in reconnecting with their heritage.


How a brilliant 18th century linguist linked the Celtic languages

13 March 2020 (The Conversation)

The Scottish Gaelic language is experiencing a new surge of interest in Scotland and further afield. A Gaelic course launched on language learning app Duolingo in November 2019 has attracted 232,000 active learners in just four months, meaning there are just over four times more learners than there are Gaelic speakers in Scotland. Education in Gaelic is also experiencing high demand and expanding both within and beyond the language’s stronghold in the Western Isles.

Though once the primary spoken language in the majority of Scotland, Gaelic is a language that has been on retreat for several centuries. The current wave of initiatives to promote the language are to be welcomed, but this is not the first time that people have sought to make the language more accessible to others.


Plan to preserve Gaelic language links in Clackmannanshire

4 March 2020 (Alloa Advertiser)

Proposals to secure the status of the Gaelic language in the Wee County will go before elected members tomorrow.

Councillors will hear about the progress so far in implementing the Gaelic Language Act in the area, and are set to agree proposals going forward. The council's corporate logo is already bilingual and key high-profile signage is being updated to demonstrate equal respect for both Gaelic and English, locally.

There are currently limited services to enable Gaelic speakers to engage with the council; however, plans are to further develop opportunities by offering a translation service for attendance at public meetings or when speaking to services.


Related Links

Language plan approved: 'Suas leis a' Ghàidhlig' in Clacks (Alloa Advertiser, 6 March)

Radical Gaelic campaign group reveals plans to stand raft of local election candidates

17 February 2020 (Brinkwire)

A radical Gaelic campaign group that argues the language has been subjected to an “ongoing process of cultural genocide over many centuries” has revealed plans to field a raft of local election candidates as part of efforts to revive it.

Misneachd – which translates as confidence or courage – says all adults in the Western Isles and other Gaelic heartlands should have the right to six months’ free, full-time tuition in the language in islands-based “immersion centres”.

This would take the form of a paid sabbatical for those in work.

It also wants to phase out English-medium education in the islands and limit the number of second homes.


‘Enormous’ interest in Gaelic language over last 18 months

15 February 2020 (STV News)

A surge in the number of people taking up Gaelic in the last 18 months has raised fresh hopes for the revival of the historic Scots language.

Community leaders say interest is at its highest in the past decade and are welcoming the introduction of online learning platforms, which are helping to swell the numbers of speakers.

One factor being credited with a recent spike is online language tutorial service, Duolingo. The global service launched a Gaelic version on November 30.

Around 200,000 people have signed up to learn the language in just 11 weeks.


Caley Thistle to make home game announcements in Gaelic

1 February 2020 (The Scotsman)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club (ICTFC) is introducing Gaelic Tannoy announcements at games.

The move celebrates both the National Mod coming to Inverness this year and the wider movement of promoting the Gaelic language. Alasdair Barnett, convenor of the National Mod 2020 and also a Caley Thistle fan, approached the club – which is managed by John Robertson – last year about it being involved in promoting the National Mod on its return to the town.

Mr Barnett said: “I know several people at the club and spoke with them about ICTFC possibly hosting some fund raising events at the stadium. The club invited myself and some others from the Gaelic community in to a meeting and several projects around the Gaelic language have emerged from that. The first initiative to take place is the Gaelic announcements at home games."


Securing Gaelic in the Western Isles and beyond

31 January 2020 (The National)

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) recently attracted a flurry of media attention by announcing that Gaelic-medium education (GME) will become the default model in the islands’ schools, so that parents preferring English-medium education will have to opt out. GME has been offered in the islands’ schools since 1987, but English has been the default option up to now.

The new policy is welcome but hardly radical. GME is a long-established and successful model, not only in the Western Isles but across Scotland. Parents will still have the option of English-medium education, unlike in northwest Wales where only Welsh-medium education is available.

There is a consensus in Gaelic circles that more must be done to secure the position of the language in the Western Isles, the only part of Scotland where the language remains widely spoken in the community. There is much less agreement on what steps ought to be taken – indeed there has been relatively little serious, focused discussion.


Dr Michael Dempster: More people are speaking up for Scots

24 January 2020 (The Scotsman)

While we’re celebrating the legacy of world-famous Scots ­language speaker Rabbie Burns tomorrow, it’s also a time to celebrate the many firsts that have taken place for the Scots language recently, and to celebrate its bright future.

Twinty nineteen wis a year o firsts fir Scots language...

There was the first Doric Film ­Festival, the first Scots Gaitherin conference, the first Scots Language Awards, and, of course, the first, free to all, 40-hour introductory course on Scots language and culture was launched by The Open University.

The first digital map of Scots place names was launched by the Deputy First Minister and the first Scottish Government Scots Publication Grant saw support going to many publishers to put out new work in Scots.


MSPs demand apology for 'highly offensive' Tory comments on Gaelic education

23 January 2020 (The Scotsman)

Children's education could suffer by a move which will see Gaelic as the main teaching language for all primary one pupils in the Western Isles from next year, the Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary has said. Liz Smith, MSP, described the new policy which will see Gaelic become the "default" language for P1 pupils as a "deeply troubling step".

Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, is demanding that Ms Smith withdraw her “highly offensive” remarks and apologise.

John Finnie, Scottish Greens MSP for the Highlands and Island, also said Ms Smith's comments were "offensive and inaccurate".

Pupils starting lessons in Gaelic will learn English from P4 onwards. Parents who want to opt out of the new system can have their children taught in English from P1.

However, Ms Smith, said Gaelic should not be promoted over English: “This is a deeply troubling step and one that could put children in the Western Isles at a distinct disadvantage to their peers."


CalMac launches new bilingual customer care service for Gaelic speakers

12 January 2020 (The Press and Journal)

Britain’s biggest ferry and harbour operator is adding to its support for Gaelic speakers by offering a bi-lingual English and Gaelic customer care service.

CalMac created a new customer care centre in Stornoway last summer, bringing six new jobs to the town. It has now confirmed this will become a permanent fixture with staff at the venue enhancing the Gaelic face of the company.

In the past, assistance from a Gaelic speaker was only available to customers telephoning or visiting port offices in Gaelic-speaking areas, but now, anyone who would like to make an enquiry in Gaelic, can be transferred to a native speaker.

The Stornoway-based team will also be steadily transforming CalMac’s social media channels into a bi-lingual offering as well.


Duolingo sparks Gaelic boom as young Scots shrug off 'cringe' factor

2 January 2020 (The Guardian)

Almost double the number of people in Scotland who already speak Scottish Gaelic have signed up to learn the language on the popular free platform Duolingo in over a month, concluding a proliferation in courses, prizes and performance in Gaelic and Scots during 2019, as younger people in particular shrug off the “cultural cringe” associated with speaking indigenous languages.

The Duolingo course, which was launched just before St Andrew’s Day on 30 November and looks likely to be the company’s fastest-growing course ever, has garnered more than 127,000 sign-ups – 80% from Scotland itself, compared with just over 58,000 people who reported themselves as Gaelic speakers in the 2011 Scottish census.

And last month, the Open University Scotland launched a free online course – which has already attracted nearly 7,000 unique visitors from the UK, US, Canada and Australia – that teaches the Scots language in the context it is spoken, as well as highlighting its role in Scottish culture and society.


Related Links

Duolingo's Scots Gaelic course reaches 127,000 users (The National, 3 January 2020)

West Lothian Council to promote Gaelic language and Gaelic education

30 December 2019 (Daily Record)

West Lothian Council’s executive has agreed a draft Gaelic language plan for the authority. It will now be presented to the Bòrd na Gaidhlig. 

The body was set up by the Scottish Government in 2005 to promote the use and understanding of the Gaelic language and Gaelic education.

West Lothian is one of only four councils - the others are Midlothian, East Lothian and Scottish Borders - who have not created a Gaelic plan. A six-week public consultation produced 127 responses. The bulk were in favour of developing language classes and cultural events.


New interactive map can tell Scots folk ‘far it is they’re fae, ye ken?’

30 December 2019 (Evening Telegraph)

A new interactive map created by the University of Glasgow has revealed how and where the Scots language is used across the country.

The webpage aims to record and revitalise the ancient Scots tongue, with the website showing which areas in Scotland share the same lingo, expressions and colloquialisms.

Scots Syntax Atlas boasts recordings of true Scots sharing commonly-used phrases and words. The map shows which phrases are used where, explains the history behind some sayings and even has interactive examples of locals speaking in their mother tongue.


Scotland’s language communities and the 1+2 Language Strategy

12 December 2019 (MEITS)

Scotland’s school population is becoming increasingly more linguistically diverse. Data from the Scottish Schools Census 2018 (all publicly funded primary, secondary and special schools) identified 44,311 pupils (6.5%) learning English as an additional language (EAL) and speaking 149 different languages. This current number of EAL pupils shows an increase of 95% from 2010 when the data was first recorded nationally. At present there are very few opportunities for these children and young people to use and develop their first languages in mainstream schools for educational purposes.

The Scottish Government's 1+2 Language Strategy, launched in 2012, has refocused attention on language policy in education and the provision for language learning in Scottish schools. This radical reform of language learning is based on the 1+2 model recommended by the European Union (EU) and adopted in many European countries and beyond. The ambitious aim is that, by 2021, every school will offer children the opportunity to learn a first additional language from Primary 1 (4-5 years of age), and a second additional language by Primary 5 (8–9 years of age). This 1+2 provision will continue until learners reach the end of Secondary 3 (13–14 years of age).

The 1+2 Language Strategy document includes a commitment to further develop links involving “language communities” to “derive maximum benefit from foreign language communities in Scotland” (Scottish Government 2012, p. 24). The responsibility for putting the strategy into practice is devolved to the 32 local authorities in Scotland and schools can make informed choices about the additional languages to introduce, including languages of the strong economies of the future and community languages of pupils.

However, a review of progress on implementing the strategy shows the languages on offer in mainstream schools remain dominated almost entirely by a narrow range of European languages, such as French and German, and a small number of classes teaching Mandarin and British Sign Language (BSL) (Christie et al. 2016). As yet, there are no established examples in primary schools of teaching community languages such as Polish, Urdu and Arabic.

This narrow provision means it is left to concerned parents from language communities to organise schools and classes themselves in order to develop their children’s heritage languages and literacies as it is integral to cultural traditions. These complementary schools (also known as “community”, “supplementary” or “heritage language” schools) operate in the evenings and weekends and play a key role in ensuring productive parent-teacher engagement. As community-led schools, they enjoy parental support and therefore foster greater engagement with parents compared with mainstream schools (Ramalingam and Griffith 2015). Although the different language communities are aware of the complementary schools in their geographical area through social networking, the provision remains a hidden and untapped national resource for language planning and valuing the linguistic diversity of school communities.

This policy paper reports on a national survey of complementary school providers in order to gain insights into the perspectives of “language communities” in relation to community language learning and their awareness of the 1+2 Language Strategy. This evidence is then used to identify aspects of the 1+2 Language Strategy that could be enhanced and strategies for achieving this.


The popularity of Gaelic on Duolingo should change how Scotland sees itself

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.”


What a boorach! The Scots words you need to get you through the next few weeks

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.


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”.


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.'


Unleashing the creative potential of linguistic diversity in our classrooms

15 October 2019 (Creative Multilingualism)

Many of our students are already multilingual, but our classrooms often don’t reflect this. In our action research project, we were amazed by the transformation that occurred when we invited students to use their home languages in class.

Imagine walking into any science or humanities-based lesson in a UK school or elsewhere in which all of the students are engaged in the same task yet using different languages. For most of us that would probably be an unusual sight. Yet we have to ask ourselves why. Why does this seem such an unlikely scenario when our schools commonly serve a multicultural and multilingual student body with home languages that are not English? If we are to promote multilingualism and encourage students to learn languages other than English, shouldn’t we also value and welcome all the languages that already exist in our school communities?

Think of the wealth of knowledge and intercultural exchange as well as language learning opportunities that students from different backgrounds can bring to the classroom. Also, when charged with the education of children whose primary home language is not English, we need to consider how we can facilitate and encourage our students’ development in their home language too. Multiple longitudinal studies by UNESCO have consistently revealed that a student’s academic proficiency in their home language plays a significant role in their success in additional language learning and across the whole curriculum.


SNP conference calls for new quango to promote the Scots language

14 October 2019 (The Herald)

THE SNP's conference has called for the creation of a new quango to boost the use of the Scots language.

Delegates voted to explore the idea of a Scots Language Board – or "Board fir the Scots Leid" – similar to Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which promotes Gaelic.

They called for Scots to be more widely taught, learned and promoted as part of Scottish public life, and noted the "years of linguistic prejudice" it has suffered.


Be bold and Gaelic will prosper, insists bard of Glasgow Niall O’Gallagher

7 October 2019 (The Times)

Glasgow’s first Gaelic poet laureate has urged Scotland not to treat the language like a “fragile vase that you can’t afford to drop” after a big decline in its use.

Niall O’Gallagher — who was appointed bard baile Ghlaschu, or Glasgow city bard, in July — said that Gaelic was under threat but thinking of it as a dialect that must be carefully preserved could make the situation worse. He also admitted that speaking it in public had become “awkward”.

The poet is urging learners to grapple and experiment with the language, and has called for more public spaces to embrace events in the language.

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Gaelic culture takes centre stage at this year's Royal National Mòd

4 October 2019 (The Herald)

Along with the growing interest in Gaelic culture, the Royal National Mòd is flourishing into a celebration that is more inclusive and accessible than ever.

This year the biggest Gaelic festival in the world returns to Glasgow for the first time since 1990 for Mòd Ghlaschu, nine days filled with music, arts, and sport.

The birth of the Mòd came in 1891, and ever since then it has been organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, which, for more than a century, has supported the teaching, learning, and use of the Gaelic language as well as the study and cultivation of Gaelic literature, history, music and art. The festival has held its royal charter since 1992, becoming Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail (The Royal National Mòd).

The main focus of the Mòd is competition, something that attracts the best in Gaelic sport and culture from Gaelic communities throughout the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada and the US.

Whether they are looking to compete or spectate, visitors can enjoy more than 200 competitive events in highland dancing, sport, literature, and drama, as well as Gaelic music and song. For example, this year sees the welcome return of the London Gaelic Choir after an absence from the Mòd.


Related Links

Mod Ghlaschu to celebrate city’s Gaelic history and culture (The National, 8 October 2019)

Mòd Ghlaschu 2019 Opening Ceremony and Concert (What's on Glasgow, 4 October 2019)

Stories, songs and shinty: Why Gaelic power endures after a century of Mods (Sunday Post, 9 October 2019)

Figures reveal bumper year for entrants at Royal National Mod (Press and Journal, 10 October 2019)

Welcome to Glasgow Mòd (Fringe Supplement - pdf)

Scots language fans have a word with Nicola Sturgeon

22 September 2019 (The Times)

It could cause a stooshie or a hootenanny, depending on your viewpoint, but Scots, the dialect or language that has been spoken in Scotland for several centuries, may get its own agency to help it survive.

Nicola Sturgeon is under internal pressure from SNP activists in this UN year of indigenous languages to recognise Scots as an official language. It could mean it is treated like Gaelic, which was given its own statutory agency, Bord na Gaidhlig, after a catastrophic drop in native speaker numbers.

Some nationalists believe the move would help many more people to learn or promote the so-called “mither tongue”, with support for it to be more widely taught, learnt and promoted as part of public life in Scotland.

Subscription required to read full article


Doric film festival to celebrate ‘crannies, colours and contermashes neuks’

21 September 2019 (The Press and Journal)

The announcement that the Doric Film Festival will return coincides with the news that last year’s inaugural event, and its creator Scots Radio, have been nominated for awards in the prestigious Scots Language Awards.

Also nominated is John Black, headteacher of Meethill Primary School in Peterhead which won the schools’ section of last year’s Festival competition.

And Sheena Blackhall, who wrote and read a special poem for the Doric Film Festival awards, will receive the Janet Paisley Lifetime Achievement Award at the Scots Language Awards.

The Doric Film Festival is the brainchild of Scots Radio director Frieda Morrison, who created the platform to celebrate the Doric language and its cultural identity.


Explore 'Glesca' and 'Embra' on interactive Scots language map

20 September 2019 (The Scotsman)

An interactive map showing place names in Scots has been launched as part of a drive to raise awareness about the language.

The digital map allows people to view the original Scots names for cities, towns and villages such as Glesca/Glescae for Glasgow, Embra/Edinburrae for Edinburgh and Thirsa for Thurso.

Part of the site will allow users to submit more local names to be included on the map. The Scots Language Centre (SLC) will research the suggestions before deciding whether to add them.


'Yer Da sells Avon': 21 uniquely Scottish insults and their history

6 September 2019 (The Scotsman)

It’s aggressive without effort, with a few simple phrases able to send someone on their way. The Scots language was the country’s original tongue, dating back 1,400 years ago, and at one time Scots was the national language of Scotland, spoken by Scottish kings, and was used to write the official records of the country. Now the Scots language becomes a point of pride with some people, using words that - outside of some regions of Scotland - have never been heard. The opening of the Scottish Twitter exhibition in Edinburgh this August was a showcase of how funny an insult in Scots can be. With the ability to deliver a well timed insult viewed as almost an art form, by using some of these simple phrases, you’ll never be left tongue tied with a red face.


Shining a spotlight on the Scottish Clan system

30 August 2019 (Stornoway Gazette)

The Scottish Highland clans are one of the most immediately recognisable parts of Scotland’s history. Yet centuries of misrepresentation and romanticisation have created a range of persistent myths and stereotypes.

Now a new free online three-week course from the University of Glasgow, the ‘Scottish Highland Clans: Origins, Decline and Transformations’, on the FutureLearn platform, hopes to debunk some of these misconceptions to provide a critical overview of how the clans functioned in Scottish society.

[...] Dr Andrew Mackillop, a senior lecturer in Scottish History at the University’s College of Arts, who has led the creation of the clans’ course, said the course had drawn on world-class levels of expertise on all aspects of Scottish society, language, history, literature and culture.

“One of the most exciting aspects is the inclusion of Scottish Gaelic material in the form of songs and poems,” he added.

“Making these unique historical sources more accessible is a key objective. Learners will be able to engage with Gaelic but will also have full English translations – so there is no need to worry if you have no Gaelic!


Scots language should be part of everyday teaching

28 August 2019 (TES)

As educators, we are used to teaching our pupils in English. Sometimes we may use French or Spanish, consolidating our learning of these languages into our daily routine. But how often do we teach in or teach through Scots?

Every January, as we celebrate the life of Robert Burns, children across Scotland busily and eagerly learn a Scots poem ready to recite to their peers – but for many learners that is it.

Could we, and should we, be doing more?

In the 2011 census, over 1.5 million people self-identified as being able to speak Scots. With a language that is spoken that widely, shouldn’t we extend our teaching of Scots beyond a once-a-year celebration?

The Scots language is part of our culture and heritage and by teaching Scots – beyond dipping our toe in to celebrate Burns night – we are recognising and placing value on the diverse language and vocabulary that many pupils bring with them to school.


Glasgow's Gaelic heritage forms part of Celtic Connections festival

30 October 2018 (Glasgowist)

Glasgow’s Gaelic heritage is celebrated every year as part of the Celtic Connections festival. This year, there was also the Glaschu festival in August, with Gaelic poetry in Queens Park and a Ceilidh on Glasgow Green. Every year, the city is filled with the spirit of Scots Gaelic heritage, as tourists and Glaswegians unite for a celebration of Scottish tradition.

With song and dance at the heart of Gaelic culture, it is no wonder that it continues to fascinate the world. Recent books and television series have prompted a surge in interest in the Gaelic language, while Betfair hosts a slot game called Gaelic Luck. The University of Glasgow has been teaching Gaelic to undergrads for 50 years, and a recent literary festival and ad hoc lessons in Gaelic have responded to a surge in interest.


Calls for Scots children to be taught Chinese and Urdu

24 October 2018 (The Scotsman)

A new study suggests more pupils could learn Chinese and Urdu as part of a shake up in learning foreign languages.

The independent think tank, Reform Scotland, has published a report calling for a fresh approach to be taken towards the education of languages in Scottish schools.

The report indicates a practical model of learning should be introduced to help adapt to changing demand.

The number of Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) entries in “traditionally taught” languages has decreased over the last 20 years, with entries for higher grade French down by 18.2% and entries for German at the same level reduced by 58.4%.

In contrast, entries for higher Spanish exams increased by 219.8% increased over the same period, while Chinese entries have increased by 17.8% in the past two years.

Reform Scotland argue this highlights a changing global economy, with Asia seen as a growing economic market.

The report also calls for an end to distinctions between “community” and “modern” languages so that learning reflects the increasing number of communities in Scotland speaking languages such as Polish, Arabic and Urdu.

Reform Scotland Director Chris Deerin said: “If we want to see genuine growth in language skills in Scotland, rather than just paying lip service to the idea, we need to rethink our approach.

“There is a danger the languages currently on offer within the education system are not keeping up with Scottish or global society.

“We need to think much more freely - as many other countries do - about how best to equip ourselves to thrive in the modern global economy. Brexit, the shift of power from West to East, and Scotland’s pressing need to secure greater economic growth, all demand fresh ideas.”


Celebration of Gaelic begins in Dunoon

14 October 2018 (Argyllshire Advertiser)

It’s Mòd time again, and the Gaelic party is well and truly up and running in Dunoon.

Storm Callum and well-publicised road closure problems at the Rest and be Thankful were never going to prevent Gaels from all over Scotland and beyond from enjoying themselves.

Friday saw the the Royal National Mòd (Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail) get into full swing with an energetic night of live music and celebrations, as Scotland’s biggest Gaelic cultural festival arrived in the Argyll town.

The Mòd is set to bring thousands of people to Dunoon as visitors and competitors until Saturday October 20.


‘Mither tongue’ Doric is given official status

8 September 2018 (The Times)

For decades it faced ridicule and was forbidden in schools, but now one of the native tongues of northeast Scotland has effectively been recognised as an official language. Doric, a dialect spoken from Montrose in Angus to Nairn in the Highlands, will be acknowledged alongside English and Gaelic.

As part of its commitment to the “mither tongue” Aberdeen city council this week published its cultural strategy in the language of the author Lewis Grassic Gibbon.

The document, Culture Aiberdeen, states: “In the last couple o year there’s been a lowp in the nummer of boorachs formed bi artists an performers."


Evening classes in Doric as Scots writing revival blossoms

16 August 2018 (The Herald)

Fancy learning a spot of Doric? Furry boots? Aiberdeen Varsity.

It's better known for its schools of medicine, law or international relations. But now one of Scotland's ancient seats of learning has launched evening classes in a language many of its scholars have derided: north-east Scots.

Aberdeen University's Elphinstone Institute has devised 10-week workshops in Doric, to help both locals and newcomers to the region learn to speak - and more importantly - write in the mither leid.


UNESCO launches the website for the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019)

7 August 2018 (UNESCO)

The International Day of the World's Indigenous People's is well-timed for UNESCO to launch a special website, IYIL2019, dedicated to the International Year of Indigenous languages (IY2019) which will be commemorated by UNESCO’s members and partners throughout 2019.

The website will contribute to raising the awareness about this International Year and about the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages around the world.


MTOT celebration event - webpage now live!

20 April 2018 (SCILT)

The celebration event for this year's Mother Tongue Other Tongue multilingual poetry competition took place on Saturday 17 March at the University of Strathclyde. 

Visit the SCILT website to see the full list of winners and to view the anthology of winning poems. You can also find photos from the event and read some of the feedback received from pupils, parents and teachers. 


Scots language under threat from American English, Alexander McCall Smith warns

13 April 2018 (The Times)

The future of the Scots language is being put under threat by the unstoppable march of American English, Alexander McCall Smith has claimed.

The best-selling author fears that the enthusiastic adoption of US phrases means traditional words such as sleekit scunnered and shoogly are in danger of being lost forever.

McCall Smith’s works have been translated into more than 40 languages but he is concerned that Scots, and other tongues and dialects, are being undermined by the establishment of US English as a global lingua franca.

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Call for Gaelic to be included on Duolingo

13 April 2018 (Stornoway Gazette)

Western Isles Alasdair Allan is calling for Scottish Gaelic to be added to Duolingo, the world’s most popular online language learning service. 

Duolingo’s 200 million worldwide users can choose to learn minority languages Welsh and Irish as well as fictional languages from Star Trek and Game of Thrones for free on the app, however there are no Scottish languages currently on offer.


Agenda: Our politicians should be doing more for Gaelic

7 April 2018 (The Herald)

Followers of social media and Scottish print media would be forgiven for thinking that there is widespread hostility toward Gaelic in Scotland. Yet, this does not appear to be the case. In 2012, for example, the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey indicated that 76 per cent of respondents felt that Gaelic was either very or fairly important to Scottish heritage, and only four per cent felt it was not at all important.


Community Languages in Schools: Interview with Professor Terry Lamb

15 March 2018 (Creative Multilingualism)

In this interview, Professor Terry Lamb shares his insights into the role of community languages in schools and discusses how they should be celebrated, in both formal and informal school spaces.

He also explains how his interest in languages was inspired by a poster for cheese, and explores how language learning can open minds and help to challenge fears and prejudices.

Terry Lamb is Professor of Languages and Interdisciplinary Pedagogy, and Head of the Centre for Teaching Innovation at the University of Westminster. He spent 16 years teaching languages (French, German, Spanish, Turkish) in secondary schools before moving into higher education. He has also played a large role in the development of language policy, both nationally and internationally.


Council’s plan aims to ensure language thrives in 21st century and beyond

16 February 2018 (The Falkirk Herald)

To some its a dead language of the past while others see it as a vital part of Scotland’s heritage. Whatever your feelings, no one can deny the Scottish Government is keeping it firmly front and centre in the national consciousness, making it a legal requirement for all local authorities in the country to create a plan outlining how they will support and increase Gaelic language culture in their area. 

At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s executive committee on Tuesday members gave their backing to the local authority’s draft Gaelic Language Plan. 

Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “It’s very important our young people learn about our local history and our local heritage. Gaelic is not just a North of Scotland or Western Isles language – it was used in the Central Lowlands as well. There is an increase in interest in the Gaelic and it’s not just about language. It’s the whole culture as well and it’s something we should encourage where we can.”


£500,000 funding boost for Gaelic media firm behind BBC Alba

10 February 2018 (The Herald)

THE media company which provides services in Gaelic across Scotland has awarded £500,000 from the Gaelic Capital Fund. 

MG ALBA said it would use the investment to redevelop the Seaforth Road Studio in Stornoway to provide improved facilities for programming, which will be used to increase training in creative digital media, learning, arts and cultural heritage.

Funding will enable MG ALBA, which operates BBC Alba in partnership with the BBC, to develop a training programme for young people with an interest in working in the media.


MTOT 2017-18 winners announced!

9 February 2018 (SCILT)

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate everyone who took part in this year's Mother Tongue Other Tongue multilingual poetry competition in Scotland. The poems we received were inspiring, creative, funny and thought-provoking. We were delighted to receive so many entries and had an incredibly difficult time selecting those we felt were most deserving of a place in the 2017-18 MTOT anthology. Thank you to all who participated! 

We are pleased to announce this year’s successful entries as follows:

Mother Tongue





P4 – P6


Julia Wólszczak (Polish)

St James' Primary


Highly commended

Rayan Al-Boushi (Arabic)

St Albert's Primary


Highly commended

Zinaida Benya (Hungarian)

St James' Primary

P7 – S1


Nora Dhanou Rodriguez (Spanish)

West Primary


Highly commended

Bahadar Esakhiel (Pashto)

East Fulton Primary


Highly commended

Mohamad Al Chouhel (Arabic)

Williamsburgh Primary

S2 – S3


Erika Aitkenhead (Russian)

Kirkintilloch High

Senior Phase


Danai Nikitea (Greek)

Graeme High


Highly commended

Sayma Hossain (Italian)

Craigroyston Community High


Highly commended

Anett Ziegler (Hungarian)

Johnstone High 



Su Min Lai (Chinese)

University of Dundee


Highly commended

Yinuo Wang (Chinese)

University of Dundee


Highly commended

Hong Lin (Chinese)

City of Glasgow College


Other Tongue





Early Years


St Bridget's Early Years Class (Gaelic)

St Bridget's Primary

P4 – P6


Ava Stewart (German)

Gartcosh Primary


Highly commended

Kole Murray (Spanish)

Moray Primary


Highly commended

Nathan Decuyper (German)

Gartcosh Primary

P7 – S1


Maria Stewart (Irish)

St Mari Goretti Primary

S2 – S3


Emily McNally (French)

St Margaret's Academy


Highly commended

Ella Blake, Ashley Forrest, Hollie Speirs, Ilari Tsiko, William Wilson (French)

Craigroyston Community High


Highly commended

Harley Ewen (French)

Graeme High

Senior Phase


Maria Dorot (Spanish)

Craigroyston Community High


Highly commended

Simi Singh (French)

Graeme High


Highly commended

Jasmin Jardine (French)

Loudoun Academy

FE/HE Winner Arnault Bembo (Spanish) University of the West of Scotland
  Highly commended Farah Nabila Binti Mohd Zin and Nurul Syakirah Binti Ahmad Ghazali (Japanese and Italian) University of Dundee and University of Edinburgh

Well done to everyone who took part in the competition. It's been a marvellous celebration of the various languages spoken in our communities. You should all be very proud of your work.

To mark participation in the competition, registered schools and institutions will shortly be sent a certificate which can be printed out and presented to pupils who took part. The finalists above will be invited in due course to receive theirs at the MTOT celebration event on 17 March.

Thank you all once again and keep writing!

Kirk consults on Gaelic Plan

23 January 2018 (Stornoway Gazette)

A comprehensive survey on the use of Gaelic within the Church of Scotland is being launched. 

The Kirk’s Gaelic Group is laying the groundwork for a new plan that will look at how the language is currently being used in ministry. The audit will help determine how Gaelic-led ministry could be supported in future. 

It will include a questionnaire for ministers, including student ministers, probationers and ordained local ministers, that is designed to build a complete picture of Gaelic ministry within the church today. 


University explores benefits of speaking Gaelic in business

14 November 2017 (The Scotsman)

A university is to discuss whether speaking one of Scotland’s mother tongues could offer an advantage to businesses. 

International business expert Seonaidh MacDonald will talk about his experiences of using Gaelic in a global business context at a lunchtime seminar offered by the University of the Highlands and Islands.


First book in Harry Potter series translated into Scots

10 November 2017 (The Scotsman)

The first book in the Harry Potter series has been translated into Scots. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane marks the 20th anniversary of the first publication of the boy wizard’s adventures. 

The first book in the series introduces Harry as he discovers that he is a wizard and leaves his family to go to Hogwarts and study magic. 

Matthew Fitt, who translated the novel, said: “I wanted tae dae this for a lang time but kent I wanted tae get it richt. I’m that honoured tae be the Scots translator o this warld-famous Harry Potter buik and chuffed tae ma bitts that Scots speakers, baith young and no sae young, can noo read the novel again, this time in oor gallus braw Mither Tongue.”


Languages Lost and Found Saturday 18 November

6 November 2017 (SCILT/UCMLS)

As part of the UK’s annual Being Human Festival the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland (UCMLS) has organised Languages Lost and Found, a series of events where local workshops, exhibitions and demonstrations make visible the often hidden richness and diversity of languages and cultures in Scottish society. There are seven participating venues in Dundee, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow, Inverness, Kilbirnie and Oban. Check out the full details through the link below – hope to see you at one of the events!

UCMLS gratefully acknowledges the support from Scotland's National Centre for Languages and British Council Scotland. Special thanks go to the AHRC Modern Languages Leadership Fellow, Professor Janice Carruthers, who funded some of the administrative costs.


Dundee Dialect is ‘as good as second language’, say researchers

3 November 2017 (The Scotsman)

To those from outside Dundee, the bakery order “twa pehs, a plehn bridie an’ an inyin in an’ a” (Two pies, a plain bridie and an onion one as well) might be mistaken for a foreign language. Now, international research shows that the human brain treats the distinctive Dundonian brogue - and regional dialects in Britain and abroad - in exactly the same way as a second language.

The study at Abertay University in Dundee, and by researchers in Germany, suggests that while people from the city who converse in dialect may not be regarded generally as bilingual, cognitively there is little difference.


Dual language police van hits the road in Dumfries and Galloway

1 November 2017 (BBC)

The first new police vehicle carrying the logo in both English and Gaelic has hit the road in Dumfries and Galloway. Police Scotland introduced the new branding earlier this year.

The change is being made as part of the force's commitment to its five-year Gaelic Language Plan.
It said it was keen to ensure that Gaelic-speaking communities across the country were "well served and ably represented" by the national police service.


'I fell in love with these words, and despite my efforts to move on and let go of the past, Gaelic would not let me do it'

22 October 2017 (The Herald)

“Dad, I’m going to tell it to you straight,” I said at the dinner table, aged 17 and ready to jump into the big wide world. My parents put down their cutlery in preparation for whatever was to come. “I’m not going to do Celtic Studies,” I blurted out, and I remember their faces still, choking on their sprouts in their efforts to hide their amusement.

Celtic Studies was my father’s all-consuming passion, and 16 years after his early retirement from Edinburgh University, it still is. We have no family connections to the Highlands and Islands – growing up in a house in Glasgow full of French, English and Italian (and a smattering of Arabic), my father took an interest in the Gaelic he heard about him in the trams and streets and classrooms of the city.


Gaelic school rejected after council shuns parents' bid

7 October 2017 (The Herald)

A bid by parents for Gaelic primary school education has been rejected despite new laws which were supposed to encourage the spread of the language.

A group of 49 families from East Renfrewshire contacted the council asking them to explore the possibility of a Gaelic primary unit or school in the area.

However, East Renfrewshire Council sent letters to all those involved warning families children would no longer be able to attend their local catchment area school if a Gaelic facility was set up.

“Instead, your child would attend another establishment in a location yet to be decided,” the letter said.

The council also highlighted the importance of parents learning Gaelic stating: “It is considered that it is crucial prospective parents ... who are not already Gaelic speakers are committed to learning Gaelic.”


Edinburgh Council publish Gaelic language plan ahead of consultation

2 October 2017 (The Scotsman)

Edinburgh Council have released their Gaelic language plan to support and promote the language and culture ahead of consultation. The plan aims to promote a city that develops and supports more fluent and  confident Gaelic speakers as well as promoting thriving Gaelic communities and cultures.

The ‘Draft Gaelic Language Plan’ was published by the City of Edinburgh Council today and is open for consultation until December 15. It is part of the Council’s commitment to work in partnership with Gaelic communities, organisations who deliver Gaelic services, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Scottish Government to support the language and culture.


Related Links

Gaelic learning to be expanded in Edinburgh (The Herald, 2 October 2017)

Only bampots will girn about BBC’s poetic delight

1 October 2017 (The Guardian)

It won’t be long now before BBC Scotland is assailed by the sentinels of right thinking over the content of Thursday’s morning radio news show. What on earth was the national broadcaster thinking of? To mark National Poetry Day the station asked its new poet-in-residence, Stuart A Paterson, to read a poem he had written for the occasion.

It is called Here’s the Weather, an appropriate topic at this time of the year, as the seasons prepare to turn one last time and Scotland looks at its best in copper and gold.

Paterson’s poem is written mainly in the Scots tongue and so we were treated to a joyous cascade of words and images half-remembered from a childhood untroubled by the conventions of the classroom. “Forfochen” and “scunnert” were in there, as well as “girn” and “haiver”. And I was delighted to see one of my favourites, “molocate”, which, roughly translated, can mean to interact with someone or something with a degree of physical belligerence. I was also hoping to see the word “chib” in there, one of my other favourites; perhaps the next time.


Related Links

Here's the Weather by Stuart A Paterson (BBC Scotland, 28 September 2017)

Virtual Gaelic school commended for helping to cover teacher shortages and supporting professional development

29 September 2017 (Holyrood Magazine)

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s virtual Gaelic school has been praised in an independent evaluation for helping to cover teacher shortages and supporting professional development.

A report of the e-Sgoil’s virtual school’s first year commended the council’s leadership team for its desire to help other local authorities and said the “energy and commitment” of those involved in the project had been “most impressive”.

The independent report by former Highland Council director of education Bruce Robertson and Martin Finnigan of consultants Caledonian Economics was presented to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Education, Sport and Children’s Services earlier this week.

It also praised the use of e-Sgoil for professional development in education and suggested the e-Sgoil approach could be rolled out across Scotland.


Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition 2017-18

22 September 2017 (SCILT/CISS)

Today sees the launch of this year's Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) multilingual poetry competition and we're delighted to announce the addition of a category for students in further and higher education, enabling all Scottish educational establishments to participate.

Whether pupils are learning a language at school, college or university, or whether they speak a native language at home, everyone can get involved in celebrating their linguistic and cultural diversity through creative poetry writing as there are options to enter in either the Mother Tongue or Other Tongue category. Even if you've taken part in the competition before, please note and read the new rules and criteria as only original work will be considered.

For more information about this year's competition and previous events, visit our MTOT website and register to take part! Closing date for registrations is 27 October 2017.


How relevant is Gaelic to modern Scotland today?

2 September 2017 (The Press and Journal)

Chan eil aon chànan gu leòr.

How many readers can understand this sentiment or indeed recognise the Gaelic phrase which aptly translates as one language is never enough?

Sadly, or depending in the light in which one views Gaelic, it would seem one language in Scotland is indeed enough with just 1.1% of the population speaking Gaelic.

It is no secret that Gaelic has been in decline for many years despite road signs in the Highlands and islands and even in the north-east including the Gaelic place name.

Classed as an indigenous language, it is believed Gaelic was brought to Scotland around the fourth or fifth century by settlers from Ireland, reaching its peak in 1018.

Some historians pinpoint its decline to the reign of King Malcom Canmore, although his brother re-introduced the language when he inherited the throne.

History aside, how relevant is Gaelic to modern Scotland today on both a social and economic level?


Speaking with Smaller Tongues

7 July 2017 (BBC Radio 4)

Penzance-born Rory McGrath writes and performs a Cornish song at the SUNS International Festival - a multilingual alternative to the Eurovision song contest, where English is banned.

Rory talks with fellow performers, and to academics, about how the internet and the spread of English as a lingua franca is threatening to smother small languages. The United Nations predicts that 90% of Europe's 200 minority languages will have ceased to exist by the end of the 21st century.


Transnationalizing Languages: Heritage and languages in education

24 May 2017 (Transnationalizing Modern Languages )

Transnationalizing Modern Languages (TML) is research partnership project involving the University of Bristol, Cardiff University, the University of Namibia (UNAM), the University of St Andrews (Scotland) and Warwick University, which explores the place, value and development of languages and multilingualism in Scotland, Wales and in Namibia. As part of the educational research, a survey is being carried out of schools across Scotland to gather views on multilingualism and heritage languages in education. This research will be replicated in Namibia and will feed into a final paper looking at the parallels, findings, solutions and support resources.

If you could take 5 minutes of your time to complete this survey, it would be much appreciated – the more feedback, the better! Please also feel free to share with colleagues from across different stages and subject areas.


Belfast council unveils policy to promote Irish and Ulster-Scots

23 May 2017 (Belfast Telegraph)

Belfast City Council is to transform how it treats minority languages, with a major promotion of both Irish and Ulster-Scots.
In a new policy, which was revealed on Tuesday, May 22 as a public consultation was launched into the proposals, the council will create micro-sites on its website in the languages, as well as responding to correspondence in both.


MTOT 2016-17 celebration event webpage now live

5 May 2017 (SCILT)

We're pleased to announce the SCILT website has been updated and details of this year's Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) multilingual poetry competition award celebration held at the SEC, Glasgow in March are now available.

Here you can see photos of our winning performers, read the anthology of winning entries, access press articles and see feedback from pupils, teachers and parents.


Language Futures – opportunities for Scottish schools

25 April 2017 (Association for Language Learning)

Language Futures aims to broaden languages provision and promote linguistic diversity. It is currently being used by schools in England to develop a second or third language both within the curriculum and during after school clubs. The programme has been trialled at a variety of levels at secondary as well as at primary across England and the Association for Language Learning (ALL) are looking to expand the scheme into Scotland.

Language Futures sees pupils choose the language they wish to study. There may be a number of languages being studied in any one classroom, with the teacher as facilitator: the teacher sets up the learning, but will not necessarily know all of the languages studied in the classroom. Pupils are supported in their language learning by mentors who are language proficient individuals from the community. The school is the base camp – it is not seen as the sole place of learning – and pupils are encouraged to learn at home and in a variety of different places. Finally, pupils design, plan and carry out extended projects which aim to build knowledge and develop skills, to incorporate language learning and inter-cultural understanding and to connect learning to the real world.

ALL would be very interested to hear from primary and secondary schools interested in piloting the approach in Scotland. Schools can sign up at no cost. ALL have created resources and guidelines to support schools and these are open access on the ALL website. If an individual school is interested, the Language Futures Project Manager would be very happy to talk them through the approach by phone, Skype etc. in the first instance. If a small group of schools was interested, ALL could explore support from a dedicated Schools Adviser who would visit schools to offer targeted support.

For further information, please contact the Language Futures Project Manager Clodagh Cooney.

Language Futures is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and has been managed by the Association for Language Learning since summer 2015.


Emotional celebration of Perth Polish Saturday School's 10th year in the Fair City

10 March 2017 (Daily Record)

A school in Perth has been hailed for keeping Polish children and those with connections to the eastern European community in touch with their history and culture.

The Perth Polish Saturday School celebrated its 10th anniversary and a special ‘Jubilee’ reception was held at North Inch Community Campus on March 4.

On Saturdays the school based at St John’s Academy teaches Polish history, geography, culture and language from 10.30am to 1.30pm.

Many children from Polish families have been born in the Fair City and the school provides them with a link to their family’s origins.

They learn nursery rhymes, songs and poems which keep their culture alive, as well as mastering the notoriously difficult Polish spellings and grammar.


Maurice Smith: Brexit threatens Gaelic as a living language

25 February 2017 (The Herald)

There is a hoary myth going round about a wilful Scottish Government wasting taxpayers’ money on the flagrant imposition of bilingual signs at every Scottish road and railway station, presumably as part of a dark conspiracy to make us all speak Gaelic and unwittingly vote en masse for independence.

It is one of many misunderstandings, and occasional slurs, perpetuated by some who resent any money being spent on Gaelic.


Ian Cowley: Language is a cultural treasure we must covet

25 February 2017 (The Scotsman)

The level at which the languages of Scotland – with the exception of English – have been ignored and often despised in recent years is something that has always surprised and saddened me. 

The reaction by some to MSP Christina McKelvie’s use of the word ‘thae’ in Holyrood during the recent Article 50 debate shows that prejudice and ignorance still surround the use of Scots in daily life.

Language is a cultural treasure and some might say the maximum expression of who we are and where we’re from.


Doric could be taught in all north-east schools

11 February 2017 (The Press and Journal)

Aberdeenshire Council has unveiled ambitious plans to start teaching youngsters the Doric dialect.

The local authority has drawn-up proposals to give primary and secondary pupils lessons in the “valued language”.

Councillors will be asked next week to back the scheme aimed at promoting the Doric and north-east culture across the region.

Traditionally spoken by residents of Aberdeenshire, the dialect – one of many across Scotland – is identified as the native tongue in many rural and fishing communities.


Related Links

Doric could be good fit for pupils in Aberdeenshire (STV News, 16 February 2017)

MTOT 2016-17 winners announced!

10 February 2017 (SCILT)

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate everyone who took part in this year's Mother Tongue Other Tongue multilingual poetry competition for schools in Scotland. We had a wonderful variety of entries and appreciated the creative effort that went into the submissions.

Selecting the finalists for this year's anthology was incredibly difficult for the judges. However, after considerable deliberation, we're pleased to now be able to announce the winners in each category along with highly commended entries which will also feature in the MTOT anthology of poems.

Mother Tongue





P1 – P3


Jan Piwowarczyk (Polish)

St Benedict’s Primary


Highly commended

Kacper Jodelka (Polish)

St John Ogilvie Primary

P4 – P6


Laith Kabour (Arabic)

St John Ogilvie Primary


Highly commended

Ashley Li (Mandarin)

St James’ Primary


Highly commended

Amira Shaaban and Aidah Abubaker (Swahili)

St Rose of Lima Primary


Highly commended

Caroline Rotimi and Joolade Adekoya (Yoruba)

St Maria Goretti Primary

P7 – S1


Miriam Espinosa (Catalan)

St James’ Renfrew



Highly commended

Lemuel Pascual (Filipino)


St James’ Renfrew


Highly commended

Noemi Dzurjanikova (Slovak)

St Rose of Lima

S2 – S3


Stefan Benyak (Hungarian)

Castlehead High


Highly commended

Éva Tallaron (French)

Royal High

Senior Phase


Boglarka Balla (Hungarian)

Graeme High


Highly commended

Ayesha Mujeb (Urdu)

George Heriot’s


Highly commended

Nadya Clarkson (Russian)

George Heriot’s


Other Tongue





P1 – P3


Julia Gawel (Scots)

Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral Primary

P4 – P6


Nathan Watson and Aiden Wardrop (French)

Johnshaven Primary



Highly commended

Jack Shaw (German)

Gartcosh Primary



Eva Campbell (German)

Gartcosh Primary

P7 – S1


Rosalind Turnbull (French)

Doune Primary


Highly commended

Samuel Kassm, Theo Wilson, Emma Cullen and Darren Campbell (French, Spanish, Italian, Urdu, Scots)

Battlefield  Primary

S2 – S3


Simi Singh (French)

Graeme High


Highly commended

Ciara Wilkie (French)

St Margaret’s Academy

Senior Phase


Jordanna Bashir (French)

Shawlands Academy


Highly commended

Holly Mincher (Spanish)

St Andrew’s


Highly commended

Rachel Cairns (French)

Graeme High

Well done to everyone who took part in the competition. It's been a marvellous celebration of the various languages spoken in our communities. You should all be very proud of your work.

To mark participation in the competition, registered schools will shortly be sent a certificate which can be printed out and presented to pupils who took part. The finalists above will be invited in due course to receive theirs at the MTOT celebration event on 11 March.

Thank you all once again and keep writing!

Gaelic pupils outperforming their peers in literacy skills

4 February 2017 (The Herald)

Primary pupils taught in Gaelic are outperforming children in mainstream Scottish schools, according to new figures.

Scottish Government statistics show pupils in Gaelic primary schools are doing better at reading, writing, listening and talking at nearly every stage of primary.

Gaelic medium education - where pupils are taught most or all of their lessons in Gaelic as well as studying English - is increasingly popular in Scotland with more than 3,500 children taught in 2014.


Britons 'should learn Polish, Punjabi and Urdu to boost social cohesion'

18 January 2017 (The Guardian)

The government is being urged to create more opportunities for British people to learn languages such as Polish, Urdu and Punjabi as a means of improving social cohesion in local communities.

Recent inquiries looking into obstacles to social integration in the UK have highlighted the importance of immigrants learning English to enable them to integrate and engage fully in society.

Now Cambridge professor Wendy Ayres-Bennett is calling for British people to be encouraged to learn community languages, particularly in areas where there are high numbers of residents who speak these languages, to build on social cohesion.

Ayres-Bennett, who is a professor of French philology and linguistics and is a lead investigator in a major project looking at multilingualism, said rather than putting the onus solely on newcomers, social integration should be seen as a two-way street.

“Considering the issue from the point of view of language learning, we rightly expect immigrants to learn English but, as a nation, we often don’t see the need ourselves to learn another language, and consider it to be something difficult and only for the intellectual elite.

“I would like to see more opportunities for British people to learn some of the community languages of the UK, such as Polish, Punjabi and Urdu, particularly in areas where there are high numbers of those speakers, so that there is some mutual effort in understanding the others’ language and culture.”


Meet the world’s first Gaelic rapper

15 January 2017 (The Herald)

You might expect renowned bagpiper, guitarist and traditional Gaelic singer Griogair Labhruidh to be appearing at the upcoming Celtic Connections Festival. Instead, he's at home in Ballachulish working on a very different type of project – the world’s first Gaelic hip hop record.

“Well, first hip hop record in the Gaelic tradition, anyway,” says the highlander, who raps under the pseudonym Eólas – meaning ‘knowledge’.


Meet The Refugees Taking On The UK’s Language Skills Deficit

1 January 2017 (Huffington Post)

What do a dentist, a human rights lawyer and a maths teacher have in common?

Certainly, they’re all qualified professionals. What you might not guess - blog title aside - is that they have all sought, and found, refuge in the UK in the last few years. They fled from Syria, Sudan and North Korea respectively. None of them have (yet) been able to practise their professions here, but that hasn’t stopped them helping the Brits in need of their skills. They all now work for a new tech for good startup, through which they share their native language and culture - online and in person - with people in the UK.

The startup is called Chatterbox. By training and employing refugees ​as language tutors, the venture catalyses refugee integration into the UK labour market whilst tackling the country’s language skills deficit.


Related Links

Want to learn Arabic, Korean or Swahili? Refugee language tutors can help (Thomson Reuters Foundation, 16 January 2017)

Uist Gaelic culture project Cnoc Soilleir secures funds

16 December 2016 (BBC News)

A project to establish a centre for Gaelic music, dance and cultural heritage in Uist in the Western Isles has secured £1m in funding.

Cnoc Soilleir is a partnership project between Ceòlas Uibhist and Lews Castle College UHI in Stornoway, Lewis. The education and arts centre could create more than 40 jobs.

The £1m funding has been allocated from the Scottish government's 2016-17 Gaelic capital fund.


Glasgow Gaelic School performs Christmas pantomime

16 December 2016 (BBC News)

A traditional Christmas panto would be nothing without the familiar catchphrases. But what do they sound like in Gaelic? BBC Scotland's very own fairy godmother, Aileen Clarke, has been to find out.


Seven Gaelic phrases and sayings for the absolute beginner

25 November 2016 (The Scotsman)

There is nothing like learning a new language to exercise your mind and impress your friends. 

Gaelic may have become a political hot potato but picking up a few key phrases will connect you to a language spoken in Scotland for more than 1,000 years.

Little over one per cent of Scotland’s population now speaks Gaelic with highest rates found in the Western Isles. Numbers of young people learning the minority language are on the rise while the proportion of the older population with a knowledge of Gaelic starts to fall.

Here are seven easy Gaelic phrases and sayings - with phonetic transcription - to try out for size.Some may come in particularly handy over the festive season.


Definitive guide to ancient Norn language discovered

16 November 2016 (BBC News)

The definitive text on the ancient Norn language and its link with modern Scots has been reprinted using the original pages and covers.

Norn was largely spoken by people in the north of Scotland until the mid 18th Century.

Uncollated and unbound sheets of the text, first printed over 80 years ago, were discovered in a Kirkwall warehouse.

The Orkney Norn explains the link between the ancient language of Norn and modern Scots as BBC Scotland's David Delday explains.


New survey examines impact of Gaelic media on learning

14 November 2016 (BBC News)

The influence of Gaelic media on learning of the language is being examined.

The Big Gaelic Survey has been commissioned by the language's development body, Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

The study of media, such as BBC Alba and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal, has three questionnaires. They are aimed at Gaelic speakers, Gaelic learners and people who are interested in learning Gaelic in the future.


Scots Makar, Jackie Kay, supports MTOT

4 November 2016 (SCILT)

We are delighted to have Jackie Kay, the national laureate, as patron for this year's Mother Tongue Other Tongue multilingual poetry competition for schools in Scotland.

Hear Jackie's message supporting the aims and values of the competition in the video on our MTOT webpage.


Take a haiku, add Gaelic - and welcome to the 'gaiku'

30 October 2016 (The Scotsman)

It is one of the world’s oldest forms of poetry, honed down the centuries with not a word or syllable left to waste. Now haiku, the major form of Japanese verse, is set to take the Gaelic world by storm with the forthcoming publication of The Little Book of Gaiku – believed to be the first full-length volume of Gaelic poems composed as haikus.


Swinney sets out bold ambition for Gaelic

19 October 2016 (Scottish Government)

The Deputy First Minister John Swinney has delivered the Angus Macleod Memorial lecture during the Mod in Stornoway today setting out the importance of the Gaelic language to Scotland as part of a bold ambition to build participation and economic activity in the future.

Mr Swinney was making his first major speech on the subject since assuming ministerial responsibility for the Gaelic language after the election. Over the summer the Deputy First Minister has engaged widely with a range of stakeholders central to the future of the language.


£700,000 for Gaelic language delivery

19 October 2016 (Scottish Government)

Additional funding to improve facilities at Glasgow’s two Gaelic schools has been announced by the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney.

Glendale Gaelic School and Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu will use the extra £700,000 to further improve the learning environment for young people studying core subjects such as physical education, STEM and ICT, ensuring Gaelic learning provides a fully immersive experience across the curriculum.

The money will also be spent on upgrading school facilities helping to tackle an increase in demand for places.

Since the introduction of the Gaelic Schools Capital Fund in 2008 the number of young people in Gaelic medium education has increased nationally by 32%.


Seniors pass on their Gaelic skills to learners

19 October 2016 (Stornoway Gazette)

A series of films to help teach Gaelic to children learning it in primary school outwith Gaelic Medium Education has been launched. 

The films star, and were made by, senior school pupils who have come through Gaelic Medium Education and are now passing on their language skills to youngsters who are just beginning to learn it. 

The films, made with the support of media professionals, form part of the Go! Gaelic programme, a comprehensive online resource developed by Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig.


Royal National Mod warning that Gaelic faces battle for survival in modern world

15 October 2016 (The Herald)

Gaelic is facing a fight for its survival and every Scot needs to play a part to ensure that it continues to receive much-needed support, it has been warned.

Opening the Royal National Mod last night, the head of the Gaelic media service warned that one of Scotland’s cultural “jewels” is at serious risk of being lost forever unless it is given greater support.

Maggie Cunningham, chairwoman of MG Alba, the Gaelic Media Service, made an emotive speech about the future of the tongue which, despite receiving millions of pounds of public funding, has continued to decline.


£3.9 million modern languages research project launched in Manchester

11 October 2016 (University of Manchester)

A consortium led by The University of Manchester has launched a four-year language research project which aims to demonstrate the UK’s critical need for modern languages research and teaching. The project will collaborate with schools and universities to develop curriculum innovations, and strengthen university commitments to local community heritage.

The launch of ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’, which is funded by an AHRC Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) grant, took place at The University of Manchester. They are leading a consortium which includes 11 other universities, city councils, the Royal Opera House, Tyneside Cinema, political think tank Chatham House, and a sixth-form college known for its strengths in modern languages.


How a deaf teenager from Congo found her voice in poetry

6 October 2016 (STV News)

For most of her life, it seemed as though Keren Mingole would never have a place to call home.

Forced to escape war-torn country of DR Congo, the 16-year-old has been brought up in Scotland from a very early age. Not only faced with the difficulty of communicating with strangers, Keren also had to learn British Sign Language.

[..] In 2015, an opportunity arose for Keren to explore and draw from her difficult experiences as a child through a multilingual poetry contest.

The Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition explores cultural identity, and allows pupils from P1-S6 to enter creative pieces of work and celebrate the many different languages used in schools throughout the UK.

Pupils from across Scotland are currently participating in the multi-cultural competition, which is officially endorsed by Nobel Peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Scottish Makar Jackie Kay is also the official patron.

Keren won the 2015 Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition with her poem 'Who am I?' - a composition of her journey from her native home to her current home, Scotland.


Related Links

National Poetry Day (STV News, 6 October 2016) See Jackie Kay and one of last year's MTOT winners, Keren Mingole, talk about poetry in their lives (the programme is available on iPlayer until 13/09/16 - watch from 28:50).

Celebrate National Poetry Day!

6 October 2016 (SCILT)

Today is National Poetry Day and the theme this year is 'Messages'. To mark the occasion we've created our own triolet poem in French on this theme.

You can see the poem on the National Poetry Day webpage of our MTOT website. We hope it will provide some inspiration for those taking part in the Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition in Scotland! There are lots of other poetry resources on our website too. So take a look and get creative!


Wee Ginger Dug maps Scotland entirely in Gaelic

1 October 2016 (The National)

Going out and about this weekend?

How about a trip to Grianaig, Ros Saidhe or Achadh an t-Seagail – all places included in a new all-Gaelic map of Scotland.

The project, by The National columnist and blogger Paul Kavanagh, better known as the Wee Ginger Dug, replaces the standard English-language place names normally seen on maps with terms drawn from a number of specialist maps, studies and documents.


Urban Scots may not be spoken in 50 years time

30 September 2016 (The National)

‘Urban’ Scots may no longer be spoken in 50 years’ time – but independence could save the language, according to a study.

According to the report, schoolchildren “aren’t familiar” with commonly used terms including bampot, glaikit and stooshie and changes to pronunciation will see the hard “r” sound after vowels disappear from “working-class” speech, with the letter “l” left off the end of words.

The claims are based on analysis of Scots used in Glasgow by an academic from York University and a dialect coach who has worked with a number of Hollywood actors.

In the findings, the pair also claim the picture could be “very different” – but only if “a second independence referendum were to go in favour of Scotland’s separation from the UK”.


Related Links

It's the end of the frog and toad for regional slang, says report (The Guardian, 29 September 2016)

We must be proud of the rise of Gaelic education

16 September 2016 (TESS)

Three decades ago, 24 children enrolled in experimental Gaelic schooling. Now thousands of children are learning the language and exploring the culture.

This has been a milestone year for Gaelic learning. The Education (Scotland) Act 2016 introduced Gaelic-medium education (GME) provisions, assuring a national entitlement at primary-school level. New GME schools opened in Glasgow and Fort William, with building works underway in Portree, adding to three existing Gaelic schools across Scotland, and complementing departments in primary and secondary schools. And, recently, Scotland’s first director of Gaelic education, Mona Wilson, was appointed.

Read the full article in TESS online, 16 September 2016, pages 20-21 (subscription required).


MTOT - Free creative poetry workshops for teachers

9 September 2016 (SCILT)

Once again, we are delighted to be able to offer FREE poetry workshops for primary and secondary teachers at four different venues across Scotland.

Teachers will work with Juliette Lee, a poet and creative writer, for a half-day workshop to develop their own creativity, explore poetry and the impact of language we use. We hope that teachers will leave inspired and able to take back some ideas and examples to work with their own pupils who will then submit their poems/rhymes/raps/songs into the MTOT competition.

Teachers do not have to attend one of the workshops to register their school for the MTOT competition although the workshops are a fantastic opportunity to develop your skills in teaching poetry, languages and to gather ideas to take back into the classroom. Due to the creative and interactive nature of these workshops, places are limited to 15 teachers at each venue, therefore we advise you to book your place early.

Details of the workshops are as follows. Click on the appropriate workshop link below to register for the event.

  • Saturday 24 September, 10.00 – 12.30; Dundee University, Dundee (deadline for registration Friday 16 September)
  • Friday 30 September, 13.30 – 16.00; The Open University in Scotland, Edinburgh (deadline for registration 6pm Monday 26 September)
  • Saturday 1 October, 10.00 – 12.30; Inverness College - UHI, Inverness (deadline for registration 6pm Monday 26 September)
  • Saturday 8 October, 12.00 – 14.30; University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (deadline for registration Friday 30 September) PLEASE NOTE EVENT NOW FULL!
For more information about the competition visit the MTOT page on our website and register your school to take part!


Support for EAL and bilingualism

2 September 2016 (SCILT)

SCILT has developed a new section on its website in recognition of the growing diversity within Scottish schools. The new EAL & Bilingualism section celebrates all languages spoken in Scotland, promotes bilingualism, and supports parents and practitioners in facilitating a multilingual ethos. It also signposts a wealth of resources and advice for learners with English as an Additional Language (EAL).


Welsh language target of one million speakers by 2050

1 August 2016 (BBC Wales)

A drive to almost double the number of Welsh speakers to one million by 2050 has been unveiled by the first minister at the National Eisteddfod.

Carwyn Jones stressed the workplace, family, schools and the planning process as the key areas for action.

Alun Davies, minister for the Welsh language, admitted it was a "deliberately ambitious" target.

But Plaid Cymru's Sian Gwenllian called the announcement "another superficial stunt".

The 2011 census reported a drop in the number of Welsh speakers from 582,000 in 2001 to 562,000, about one in five of the population.

Traditional Welsh-speaking communities have been said to be under threat from young people moving away to find work and new housing developments attracting incomers who do not speak the language.

Ministers who launched the consultation at the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, on Monday cited a growing demand for Welsh-medium education as a reason to be positive.


MOOC: Multilingual Learning for a Globalised World

3 June 2016 (Future Learn)

This free 3-week online course, commencing 13 June 2016, will explore multilingual education and how it can impact and improve education and even wider society.

Our languages are an essential part of who we are as human beings. They are instruments of communication and are often a source of dignity and of human pride. Our life experiences and views of the world are bound up in our languages.

In week 3 you can hear about the Mother Tongue Other Tongue multilingual poetry competition, where school pupils are invited to express themselves either in the language they speak at home or in one they are learning at school, and which will be run again in Scotland by SCILT in the new term.

For more information about the course and to enrol, visit the Future Learn website.


Police Scotland mobilises first Polish officers

24 May 2016 (The Herald)

Two Polish police officers have joined Scotland's national force in a pioneering move to tackle criminality in the country's biggest migrant community.

The men have been seconded for six months as a pilot scheme that may be expanded in the future as EU law enforcement agencies tighten co-operation.

Senior officers at Police Scotland say the two officers have already helped on crucial inquiries involving Poles as perpetrators, victims or witnesses of crimes.

Chief Superintendent Paul Main said: "They are here to advise us and to help us on criminal and other inquiries. "They don't have the power to arrest anybody or question anybody so they are always with Scottish officers.

"But they can assist us with understanding cultural and linguistic issues and connecting with law enforcement in Poland to deal with everything from organised crime to domestic abuse."

[..] However, Poles would also like to see Scottish police raise their knowledge of migrant communities, including learning the language.


Colours of the Alphabet screenings in Scotland

29 April 2016 (Colours of the Alphabet)

Liz Lochhead will be launching the Scottish preview tour of 'Colours of the Alphabet' at the GFT on 11 May and taking part in a post screening discussion on the relationship between language and childhood with director Alastair Cole and producer Nick Higgins.

The launch event will mark the opening night of a run of 11 screenings and discussions across Scotland during which the filmmakers and guest contributors will discuss the issue of mother-tongue education and the impact of teaching additional languages in primary schools.

Visit the website for a full list of dates and venues and to secure your tickets. Places are limited.


MTOT 2015-16 Celebration Event held at Language Show Live

29 April 2016 (SCILT)

The celebration event for MTOT 2015-16 saw 20 award winners receive their prizes on the main Piazza stage at the SECC on Saturday 12 March 2016 as part of the wider Language Show Live Scotland event.

Pupils took the opportunity to perform their poems and rhymes to the audience, showcasing the many languages used by children and young people both in school and at home. The event drew in a huge crowd, with passers-by stopping to also see and hear their work.

Find out more about the day on our MTOT Celebration Event webpage, where you can also find links to the list of winners, pupil videos and recitals, the anthology, press articles and photos from the event.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone again for their support and participation, which helped make the competition and celebration such a success. We hope to run MTOT again next year, so make sure you sign up to our e-bulletin for updates, or follow us on our social media sites Twitter or Facebook.


Identity 2016: Why I stopped mispronouncing my Igbo name

27 April 2016 (BBC News Magazine)

In Nigeria, the language spoken by one of the largest ethnic groups, the Igbo, is in danger of dying out - which is odd because the population is growing. In the past this didn't worry the BBC's Nkem Ifejika, who is himself Igbo but never learned the language. Here he explains why he has changed his mind.


Community languages saved to ensure diverse curriculum continues

22 April 2016 (UK Government)

Government action means GCSEs and A levels in a range of community languages such as Panjabi, Portuguese and Japanese are to continue to ensure young people can carry on studying a diverse range of foreign languages.

The news, announced today (22 April 2016) by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, marks a significant step for the government in its efforts to extend opportunity to young people and equip them with the skills they need in what is an increasingly global economy.

It follows a government commitment in 2015 to protect a number of language GCSEs and A levels after the exam boards announced that from 2017 they would be withdrawing several courses. In May 2015, the Secretary of State for Education wrote to the exam boards during the pre-election period to convey her concern about their decisions to stop offering GCSEs and A levels in certain languages.


Related Links

Community languages continue as vital part of our curriculum (Speak to the Future, 22 April 2016)

Outlander helping to promote Gaelic and Scots

9 April 2016 (The National)

It's been heralded as a feminist version of Game of Thrones and derided by critics as having a plot with more holes than a pair of well-worn socks. But now Outlander, the cult Highland costume drama, is being credited with fuelling a growing interest in both Gaelic and Scots languages.

Voice coach Carol Ann Crawford, who has helped Outlander stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan perfect their accents, claims that the American-British TV series, which has an international audience of millions, could be just the thing to get the languages known by a wider audience.

Crawford said that the drama, which will return to our screens for a highly-anticipated second season on Sunday, is helping keep old Scots words alive and as well as creating a new growing awareness among an international audience.


Could targeting linguistic talent boost staff diversity?

8 April 2016 (TESS)

A school of education is hoping to boost the number of minority ethnic student teachers on its courses by favouring applicants who speak another language.

As of this year, the University of Edinburgh's Moray House School of Education will take additional languages into account in its selection process, particularly community or heritage languages such as Urdu or Polish.

(Read the full article in TESS online, pages 8-9 - subscription required).


Young poets’ multilingual talents celebrated

22 March 2016 (SCILT)

The multilingual talents of budding young poets from across Scotland were celebrated at a prestigious award ceremony in Glasgow.

Primary and secondary students from Aberdeenshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Renfrewshire, West Lothian and George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh used their language skills to create and share poetry for this year’s Mother Tongue Other Tongue multilingual poetry competition. Winners received their prizes on the main Piazza stage at the SECC on Saturday 12 March 2016 as part of the wider Languages Show Live Scotland event. Their work is published in an anthology.

Mother Tongue Other Tongue is an exciting project which celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity through creative writing and showcases the many languages used by children and young people across Scotland, in school and at home. The competition is organised by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, based at University of Strathclyde. This year over 400 pupils from across Scotland took part in the competition.

Ruth Cunningham, EAL teacher from Renfrewshire, said of the competition: “Being part of the Mother Tongue Other Tongue project has been a privilege. I have heard the ‘other voices’ of my bilingual pupils, witnessed them careful craft their poems, laugh about the differences in language and, above all, feel valued and respected for their ability to speak with another voice. This event has opened my eyes to the importance of supporting children to continue to learn in their mother tongue and of engaging with my pupils’ voices, in whatever language that may be.”

One of the young competitors commented: “I had a great time writing the poem and getting my prize was exciting. It makes me more eager to learn and write in different languages.”

Fhiona Fisher, Director of SCILT, added: “Mother Tongue Other Tongue is a celebration of the many languages that are spoken and learned by children and young people across Scotland. The collection of their poems weaves a rich tapestry of voices that honours cultural diversity and pays testament to the wealth of Scotland’s many languages and cultures. We were delighted to see such a high calibre of entries this year, submitted in 36 different languages. Our congratulations go to the winners and to all who took part in the competition.”

Mother Tongue invites children who do not speak English as a first language to share a lullaby, poem, rap or song from their mother tongue and to write about why this piece is important to them. Other Tongue encourages children learning another language in school to use that language creatively with an original poem, rap or song in that other tongue. Prizes are awarded in both categories.

Mother Tongue Other Tongue supports the Scottish Government initiative, “Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 approach” by allowing pupils to apply their language learning in a creative way. The competition provides children who do not have English as their first language with an opportunity to celebrate their mother tongue. This year saw over 150 entries submitted from primary and secondary pupils across the country. The competition was supported by the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland and creative writer Juliette Lee. Prizes were presented at the ceremony by actor Atta Yaqub and Juliette Lee.

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


Learning English is child's play, thanks to Paisley teacher Ruth

22 March 2016 (Paisley Daily Express)

More than 500 children from all over the world are being helped to speak English fluently by a remarkable council project.

Young people, many from Eastern Europe and some newly-arrived refugees from Syria, are getting to grips with the tongue as it is spoken in Scotland, thanks to Renfrewshire Council’s English as an Additional Language Service.

And not only that – they are also being encouraged to keep in touch with their own native language through literature.

Supporting the primary-age children in the scheme is teacher Ruth Cunningham, who herself speaks fluent Spanish.

As revealed in the Paisley Daily Express, three of Ms Cunningham’s pupils – variously from Norway, Hungary and Lithuania – recently had great success in a poetry competition organised by Scotland’s National Centre for Languages. (Also see the attached, related article courtesy of the Paisley Daily Express).


£1m for Gaelic broadcasting

20 March 2016 (Scottish Government)

Gaelic broadcaster MG ALBA will receive an additional £1m investment this year.

Minister for Scotland’s Languages Alasdair Allan announced the media service will receive the funding following the UK Government’s plan to withdraw all funding to Gaelic broadcasting in Scotland.

MG ALBA is a public body that works in partnership with BBC Scotland to produce BBC Alba. Since moving to Freeview in 2011, the channel viewing figure have increased significantly.


Related Links

Gaelic TV saved in Scotland (The Herald, 20 March 2016)

Gaelic broadcaster gets £1m Scottish government funding (BBC, 21 March 2016)

More backing for Gaelic broadcasting in Scotland (Brechin Advertiser, 21 March 2016)

Gaelic Virtual School for Scotland

18 March 2016 (Stornoway Gazette)

Bòrd na Gàidhlig today announced funding to support the creation of a Gaelic virtual school for Scotland, E-Sgoil.

The announcement was made by the Cathraiche of Bòrd na Gàidhlig at the National Gaelic Language Plan 2017-2022 Seminar in Edinburgh to open discussions on the creation of the 3rd National Plan for Gaelic.

E-Sgoil will look to design and develop an online learning environment that will provide connectivity initially, between all secondary schools throughout the Western Isles and beyond.

It will provide greater quality of subject access, vocational choices and learning opportunities across Gaelic medium secondary schools nationally.


Gaelic 'should be preserved' to benefit the brain

15 February 2016 (The Herald)

Languages on the brink of dying out should be preserved in light of evidence that shows juggling different tongues is good for the brain, claims a British expert.

Professor Antonella Sorace, founder of the Bilingualism Matters Centre at the University of Edinburgh, is investigating the potential benefits of studying minority languages such as Sardinian and Scottish Gaelic.

Previous research has already shown that being multilingual can improve thinking and learning ability, and may reduce mental decline with age.


North-east councillors assert commitment to Doric… and Mandarin

5 February 2016 (The Press and Journal)

Aberdeenshire councillors have cemented their commitment to both the region’s native dialect – and a far Eastern tongue.

Both Doric and the Chinese language of Mandarin have been earmarked as priorities in Aberdeenshire’s schools.

Councillors were given an update on the implementation of the “one and two languages initiative” across Aberdeenshire Council’s schools at yesterday’s education, learning and leisure committee.

The progress of the scheme – which ensures that youngster learn two languages in addition to their mother tongue – was hailed by councillors.


Matthew Fitt: Pairlament should mirror aw oor three languages

4 February 2016 (The National)

"Let our three-voiced country sing in a new world..."

Bauld hopefu words scrievit by the makar Iain Crichton Smith, in a poem that opened the Scottish Pairlament on July 1st 1999.

In the first verse he urged us aw tae sing in oor English, oor Gaelic and oor Scots and the last wis sung by the woman that cam tae symbolise the history and promise o that day.

When Sheena Wellington sae memorably hanselled the new Scotland wi Burns’ anthem o social justice A Man’s A Man, the language that partially endit roon aboot three hunner year o London rule wis Scots.

Fast forrit tae Holyrood 2016. Look for Scots in the Scottish Pairlament Buildin. If ye find ony, gie me a shout.


Ambulance crews to get Gaelic lessons

18 January 2016 (The Herald)

Scottish Ambulance Service staff will be given lessons in Gaelic as part of the government’s push to boost the language. The service has proposed to introduce measures between now and 2020 that will include “Gaelic awareness and Gaelic language skills training”.

But the idea has been attacked by critics who believe that Gaelic lessons will take staff away from helping patients.


Related Links

Gaelic logo plan for ambulance service (The Express, 17 January 2016)

Paramedics could be forced to learn Gaelic, under new Scottish Ambulance Service plans (Press and Journal, 18 January 2016)

From Creole to Scots, all our tongues need preserving, says top linguist

16 January 2016 (The National)

Few people know more about the power and influence of minority languages than linguist Hector Poullet, an expert on the Creole tongue of the Caribbean.

The softly-spoken 75-year-old is a source on Creole in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe. You could say he wrote the book on the language, co-authoring one of the world’s first Creole dictionaries and helping to introduce it into the school curriculum.

This week, Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland launched a free online resource for children. Gifting Every Child includes Scots songs and Gaelic lullabies, providing an introduction to the traditional arts for the classroom or family home.

“All of the world’s languages are like a kaleidoscope – every single one of them is multiform and each one must be protected,” Poullet says.


What comes first? Practitioners in Glasgow City Council’s EAL service share their experiences of supporting learners who are new to English

14 January 2016 (Teaching Scotland (Issue 62))

See the article in the latest edition of Teaching Scotland magazine (page 32/33) where EAL teachers in Glasgow share how they're supporting incoming migrants to the city.


MTOT deadline for submissions – 18 December

15 December 2015 (SCILT)

Last chance to submit entries for this year’s MTOT multilingual poetry competition!  You have until midnight 18 December to get your entries in.

Thanks to all those who have participated. We look forward to seeing all the great work which has been produced and will be in touch again in the New Year once judging has taken place. 

If you still need to submit your pupils’ entries, follow the guidance in the Teacher's Pack within the RESOURCES tab on our MTOT pageOr see the MTOT blog where you can also find submission guidelines.


St Andrew’s Day 2015 – Seven educational ways to celebrate!

30 November 2015 (Education Scotland)

The Scots language co-ordinators at Education Scotland have put together a list of seven suggestions for meaningful learning about Scotland for St Andrews Day.

Find links to Scots language websites, songs, poems and other resources, as well Gaelic language materials.


Warnings of blow to Gaelic TV

26 November 2015 (The Herald)

Campaigners have warned of a "major blow" to Gaelic television after George Osborne quietly axed UK Government funding.

The Chancellor did not renew a £1 million-a-year grant from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

[...] Two years ago the then Culture Secretary Maria Miller described the service as playing a "crucial role in the cultural and economic well-being of Scotland".

She also said that the Scottish Gaelic language was an "integral part of our incredibly diverse culture".

And she said that the sum provided the "funding certainty that the channel needs to continue bringing high-quality Gaelic language programmes to the small screen".


Animator King Rollo Films planning first Gaelic series

16 November 2015 (BBC News)

Animation studio King Rollo Films plans to make its first Gaelic language television series. 

The makers of children's TV programmes Spot, Humf and Deer Little Forest previously announced plans to develop a new series from a base on Skye. 

It also emerged last month that it will hold free workshops for artists next month and in January as part of an effort to create a local workforce. Gaelic language college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI will host the training.


Jersey language to be taught in more schools

10 November 2015 (BBC News)

Jersey's native language, Jerriais, will be taught by a larger group of qualified language teachers in island schools from next year.

Education Minister Deputy Rod Bryans said it would be included in the new cultural programme.

Tony Scott Warren and Colin Ireson from L'Office du Jerriais are due to retire soon and will train the new teachers.

Mr Scott Warren said teaching the language to a wider group would help keep it alive.

A year ago Jerriais was listed among 33 European tongues most endangered in the UNESCO Languages in Danger project.


Councillors urged to back Stronger BBC Alba in Royal Charter

6 November 2015 (BBC News)

Showing more original, high quality programming on Gaelic TV channel BBC Alba would benefit Gaelic education, it has been suggested.

MG Alba, which operates in partnership with the BBC, has asked that a stronger BBC Alba should form part of the BBC's next Royal Charter.

Highland Council officers have urged councillors to support this call. The officials said more Gaelic programmes would support "significant growth" in Gaelic medium education.

Councillors on Highland Council's Gaelic implementation group will be asked to back MG Alba's position at a meeting on 12 November.


Don't neglect the UK's indigenous languages

29 October 2015 (The Guardian)

Would you be surprised if I told you that, far from being a land of monoglots, there are ten indigenous languages spoken today in the British Isles? Yet we are very quick to tell ourselves that we're rubbish at languages. We are linguistically isolated monoglots, marooned on a cluster of islands on the edge of the Atlantic. If we were in the mix of mainland Europe, we tell ourselves, we'd be blethering away in at least two languages.

Except, as you read this, people the length of these islands are using indigenous languages other than English to communicate with friends, family, teachers, colleagues and public services. That they are in the minority doesn't meant that they don't exist. In fact, the numbers of primary school-age speakers are growing; almost a quarter of school pupils in Wales are educated through the medium of Welsh, Northern Ireland is home to 30 Irish-medium schools, Scotland's capital has just opened a new, dedicated Gaelic school due to increasing demand, and the Isle of Man has a Manx-medium school.


Scotland becomes first part of UK to recognise signing for deaf as official language

18 October 2015 (The Herald)

Campaigners have hailed new legislation which will recognise signing as an official language in Scotland as a step towards breaking the “brick ceiling” which the deaf community faces in everyday life.

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill, which is due to become law in the next few weeks, will see Scotland become the first part of the UK to recognise signing for the deaf as an official language.

It means the Scottish Government and public bodies will have a responsibility to promote the language and consider how services can be provided in British Sign Language (BSL).


Police launch plan for wider use of Gaelic language within service

15 October 2015 (The Herald)

Draft plans for greater use of the Gaelic language within the police service have been launched.

The plans are part of the Scottish Government's commitment to raise the status and profile of Gaelic, and create practical opportunities for learning and use of the language.

The draft plans from Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) were unveiled at the Royal National Mod in Oban, with the support of Bord Na Gaidhlig, with officers wearing uniforms bearing English and Gaelic forms of Police Scotland and a vehicle with the Gaelic version of the Police Scotland logo.


All pupils to learn two foreign languages by high school

13 October 2015 (Edinburgh Evening News)

It's the pioneering programme aimed at making ­language learning as easy as un, deux, trois.

Every pupil in the Capital will receive lessons in at least two foreign languages by the time they leave primary school under radical plans aimed at helping them keep pace with peers across Europe.

City bosses have confirmed they want to introduce the new scheme, called 1+2, by the start of 2017 – three years ahead of a national deadline set for 2020.

Youngsters will be offered classes in core languages including French, Spanish and Mandarin, as well as Gaelic, Scots and “heritage” tongues such as Polish and Farsi.

The Edinburgh roll-out is part of a Scottish Government-led initiative which will see all children learn a second language from P1 and have experience of a third from P5 at the latest.

Parent leaders in the city have hailed the development and said it would help prepare youngsters for the modern world.


New online resource for teaching the Scots language

10 October 2015 (The Falkirk Herald)

A new online resource featuring support materials and educational resources to help improve learning and teaching of Scots language was unveiled at this year’s Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow.

The new Scots Language hub sits within the languages section of the Education Scotland website and will feature educational resources including a short animated history of the Scots language as well as a range of materials to support learning and teaching of the mother tongue in primary education and the senior phase.


Related Links

Education Scotland's Scots Language hub.

Schools ‘need to focus more on Gaelic skills’

2 October 2015 (The National)

Provision of Gaelic medium education is too slow to safeguard the language, according to the principal of Scotland’s Gaelic college.

Professor Boyd Robertson, who heads Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye, spoke out yesterday after the latest census data showed the number of people who have some ability to speak, understand or write the language had fallen to 87,100 in 2011.

The rates fell in every group for those aged 18 and over, with just small rises of 0.17 per cent amongst 3-4 year olds, 0.22 per cent for 5-11 year olds and 0.06 per cent for 12-17 year olds.


Cocker spaniel learns basic Gaelic in 3 weeks

21 September 2015 (The Scotsman)

A cocker Spaniel has stunned members of a conversational Gaelic speaking class by mastering the necessary basics - for a dog - of the notoriously difficult-to-learn language in three weeks.

Four-year-old Ginger responds to “suidh” (sit) “fuirich” (stay) and “trobhad” (come here) and understands when his owner, retired Neil Smith, praises him with “cu math” - good boy.


Gaelic plan 'could cost Aberdeenshire Council more than £300,000'

14 September 2015 (BBC News)

Implementing the Gaelic Language Plan could cost Aberdeenshire Council more than £300,000, councillors are to be told this week.

The Gaelic Language Act has the aim of securing it as an official language of Scotland, commanding equal respect with English.

It would cost more than £200,000 to make changes to road signs and introduce a bilingual logo.


Related Links

Aberdeenshire taxpayers to fork out £300k for Gaelic plan (The Scotsman, 15 September 2015)

Taxpayers could foot the bill for six-figure Gaelic language plan (The Courier, 15 September 2015)

MTOT - Free Creative Poetry Workshops for Teachers

4 September 2015 (SCILT)

In taking MTOT to a national level this year, we are delighted to be able to offer FREE poetry workshops for primary and secondary teachers at four different venues across Scotland.

Teachers will work with Juliette Lee, a poet and creative writer, for a half-day workshop to develop their own creativity, explore poetry and the impact of language we use, including our Mother Tongue and also experimenting with poetry in an Other Tongue too. We hope that teachers will leave inspired and able to take back some ideas and examples to work with their own pupils who will then submit their poems/rhymes/raps/songs into the MTOT competition.

Due to high levels of interest for the competition in general, we have decided to leave registration for schools open until Friday 9 October. Teachers do not have to attend one of the workshops to register their school for the MTOT competition although the workshops are a fantastic opportunity to develop your skills in teaching poetry, languages and to gather ideas to take back into the classroom.

Spaces are still available at the following workshop:

  • Friday 9 October, 13.30 – 16.30 ; Open University, Edinburgh (deadline for registration Friday 2 October)

Register by completing the MTOT workshop registration form on the SCILT website.

For more information about MTOT and to register your school to take part in the competition visit the MTOT 2015-16 page of our website.


MTOT 2015-16 registration extended

1 September 2015 (SCILT)

Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) 2015-16 has launched in Scotland!

The multilingual poetry competition celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity through creative writing. Mother Tongue encourages children who do not speak English as a first language to share a remembered poem from their mother tongue. Other Tongue encourages children learning another language in school to write an original poem in that other tongue.

The competition was successfully piloted in Glasgow last year and we're delighted to now offer all primary and secondary schools in Scotland the chance to participate.

Take a look at our MTOT 2015-16 webpages for full details about this year's competition. You'll also find a section on previous events and testimonials from those who took part, as well as links to the MTOT blog and a host of other useful resources, including the teacher's pack containing the categories, criteria and rules.

During September and October there will be some Saturday workshops available for teachers from schools registered for the competition. There will be a limited number of places which will be allocated on a first come first served basis, so watch for more details about these soon and ensure you don't miss out!

Register your school for MTOT now*! Deadline extended to 9 October 2015.

*Some schools are reporting an issue with accessing the online registration form. If your authority is also blocking the page, we would suggest registering from a home PC or emailing us to be registered manually.


More than 300 different languages spoken in British schools, report says

24 July 2015 (The Telegraph)

More than 300 different languages are now spoken in British schools with English-speaking pupils becoming a minority in hundreds of classrooms, a new investigation has revealed.

There are 1.1 million children who speak 311 dialects and in some schools English speakers are the minority, the inquiry revealed.


Future of community language qualifications secured

22 July 2015 (UK Government Department for Education)

The government has stepped in to secure the future of GCSEs and A levels in community languages such as Panjabi and Turkish - Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced today (22 July 2015).

Exam boards have said that there are a number of community languages which may not be continued at GCSE or A level but the government is today announcing that it is taking action to work with the boards and Ofqual to make sure as wide a range of language subjects as possible continue to be taught in the classroom.


Budding police constables must speak second language in Met pilot scheme

20 July 2015 (The Guardian)

Aspiring police constables must speak a second language to join London’s Metropolitan police under a month-long pilot scheme.

Scotland Yard is hoping the new criterion will help police “engage with London’s diverse communities as effectively as possible”.

From Monday, to be considered for one of the sought-after positions with the capital’s police force, applicants must speak one of 14 languages as well as English. 

They are: Arabic, Bengali, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Sinhala (Sri Lanka), Spanish, Turkish or Yoruba (Nigeria).


Related Links

Language recruitment campaign launched (Metropolitan Police, 20 July 2015)

BBC review to look at whether Gaelic broadcasting offers value for money

16 July 2015 (The Herald)

Funding for Gaelic broadcasting could be reduced after ministers questioned whether or not the service offered taxpayers value for money.

The Conservative government has launched a review of the size and ambition of the BBC as part of the renewal of the corporation's royal charter.


Police Scotland launch Facebook page for Polish speakers

16 July 2015 (Holyrood Magazine)

Scottish police have launched a Polish language page on social media to help improve links with the migrant community.

Police Scotland has set up a dedicated Facebook page that will include updates of current incidents as well as other relevant information to Polish nationals living north of the border.


Related Links

Scots cops launch Polish website (Evening Times, 22 July 2015)

Review of Bord na Gaidhlig long overdue, says professor

15 July 2015 (BBC)

An academic who advised Scottish ministers to set up Gaelic development body Bord na Gaidhlig has said a review of its work was "long overdue".

Prof Donald Meek said the 12-year-old Inverness-based organisation needed to "look seriously" at its purpose.


East Ren plan to boost Gaelic language use

6 July 2015 (The Extra)

Residents in East Renfrewshire are being asked their views on a new draft Gaelic language plan.

The ERC plan is aimed at promoting and developing the use of the language, from encouraging communication with it to integrating it into day-to-day council business.

The council proposed making certain documents available in Gaelic, as well as having a Gaelic language section of its website.

The proposals are part of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 passed by Scottish Government, aiming to secure the language status as an official Scottish tongue.


Left Foot Forward: a crowdsourced Scots dictionary means we can ensure our linguistic legacy

6 July 2015 (The Herald)

Before the meteoric rise in printing technology, most European nations were a hodgepodge of dialects and linguistic variations. More of a flowing fabric of interwoven words across the continent, than our current situation of bounded nation-states.

With the popularity of print publications came the need to standardise written languages - translating every book into the hundreds of French dialects would have been an unwieldy and costly project, much more complicated than developing dictionaries for people to learn the standard.

Thusly, the new and increasingly ubiquitous print media at the time effected spoken variations, with institutions like L'Academie Francaise established with the sole role of linguistic arbiter; policing the nation's speakers to communicate 'properly'.


Airbrushing Gaelic from Scotland's story

4 July 2015 (The Herald)

Visitors are denied a real understanding of Scotland because the tourism industry obscures the true story of Gaelic Scotland and allows historical nonsense to be promoted, important new research has found.

The author challenges VistScotland to take steps to prevent "just any Tom Dick and Harry setting themselves up to take money from unsuspecting tourists" by talking rubbish to them about the Highlands and Islands, when they know little.


Related Links

Has Scotland betrayed its Gaelic heritage? (The Herald, 4 July 2015)

Gaelic broadcaster turns its ambitions to foreign screens

22 June 2015 (The Herald)

Scotland's Gaelic broadcaster is to broaden its horizons to international TV and productions, and increase its appeal to young viewers.

MG Alba, which with the BBC runs BBC Alba, publishes its annual report today, which is expected to show that Gaelic broadcasting contributes £23m to the creative industries.

The company is now to re-emphasise its international credentials, encouraging production companies to work with foreign companies to make programmes that can be shown at home and abroad.


It is important that the Scots language survives

22 June 2015 (The Herald)

From Herald Scotland letters pages

I would like to take a broader view of the languages currently and previously spoken in Scotland than expressed by Alexander Waugh (Letters, June 19).

For this discussion we should bypass the Scots whose language inheritance is from the Indian sub-continent, China, Eastern Europe or even south of the Border.


Ebola: a crisis of language

16 June 2015 (Humanitarian Exchange Magazine)

In the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak, the humanitarian community is taking a hard look at international response mechanisms, evaluating what went well and what can be improved.
[..] Language was one of the main difficulties faced by humanitarian workers responding to the Ebola crisis. Information and messages about Ebola are primarily available in English or French, but only a minority of people (approximately 20%) in the three most affected countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, speak either language.


McCash poetry competition now offers £3,500 in prize money

8 June 2015 (The Herald)

The 2015 James McCash Scots Poetry Competition, announced today, offers total prize money of £3,500, making it among the UK's major poetry prizes.

The total has more than doubled since last year, when it was £1,500.

The free-to-enter competition, which has been run jointly by The Herald and Glasgow University since 2003, aims to celebrate and encourage the use of the Scots language in all its rich diversity.


Related Links

Tinto Hill Withoot Oxygen (The Herald, 9 June 2015)

Exam board chief: 'Unless we act soon, even GCSE French and German could face the chop'

8 May 2015 (TES)

The furore around the announcement by some exam boards that they will no longer provide GCSEs and/or A-levels in ‘lesser-taught’ languages such as Turkish, Polish, Urdu and Gujarati begs some big questions. Given that the boards are a mixture of not-for-profits and commercial organisations, it is clear this is not simply a matter of money. The challenges are systemic and the root causes are a mixture of cultural attitudes, failed infrastructures and policy failures over many years.

Formal education has seen an overall decline in the study of traditionally taught foreign languages – French, German, etc – while the study of lesser-taught and community languages has failed to grow.

Any rational analysis of trends in school language education reveals that all languages, apart from English, are in danger of becoming ‘lesser taught’. The number of A-levels awarded in all available languages in 2011 was 40,685 and by the summer of 2014 it was 32,680. Many languages departments in universities are facing a real threat of extinction. Unless something is done soon to correct this we will wake up one morning to learn that GCSE French and German are also for the chop.


Related Links

Newham lecturer’s concern over end to community language exams (Newham Recorder, 6 May 2015)

How the Manx language came back from the dead

2 April 2015 (The Guardian)

In 2009 the Manx language was declared extinct. Today Isle of Man residents are using Twitter, music and schooling to help revive their ancestors’ mother tongue.


Talks to put Polish language on curriculum under way

30 March 2015 (The Herald)

For a decade the Polish language has been heard in the playgrounds of Scottish schools as thousands of children whose parents moved to Scotland with EU expansion settled in alongside Scots.

Until now there was no prospect of a formal route for young Poles to be able to take Polish language as part of the fourth and fifth year curriculum despite the research showing Polish is the language young Scots are most likely to hear in school other than English.

Talks are under way, however, to make the provision a reality for the first time.


Related Links

Herald View (The Herald, 30 March 2015)

Supporting Polish shows Scots are different (The Herald, 30 March 2015)

Polish language to be added to Scottish curriculum? (Radio Poland, 22 April 2015)

Why we need our community languages exams

16 March 2015 (Alcantara Communications)

(Applies to England) Back in 2013 my colleague Kate Board and I undertook some research for the British Council investigating which languages the UK will need most in the next 20 years, and why. We took into consideration not just trade and the potential for UK exports, but whether cultural and strategic ties were likely to expand or need strengthening. We made the point that our country already has a rich asset in the pool of speakers of different languages amongst its population. Children whose parents speak Turkish, Arabic or Chinese are in a position to make much more rapid progress with those languages than those whose only contact with the new language is in the classroom.

For over 20 years, the education system has recognised this important fact by providing a range of languages at GCSE and A level (and even more through the Asset Languages scheme, which was withdrawn in 2013). But as exams become tools for measuring school performance rather than accrediting what individuals can do, the rationale for offering a wide range of languages is melting away. The exam board AQA has announced that it will be withdrawing A levels in Bengali, Hebrew, Panjabi and Persian after 2018 and OCR plans to do the same with GCSE and A levels in Dutch, Gujarati, Persian, Portuguese and Turkish.


Mothers' advice, in their mother tongue

12 March 2015 (Gathered Together / Beamis)

This blogpost features videos of parents who have been actively involved in community and school groups giving their advice to other parents in their own languages – Arabic, Chinese and Urdu.


Turkish GCSEs and A Levels axed

11 March (Londra Gazete)

Teachers and politicians have expressed astonishment at the decision to entirely scrap Turkish GCSE and A Level exams in just two years.


In praise of…the Polish language

6 March 2015 (The Guardian)

There is a straightforward reason why Britain’s exam board should rethink its decision to scrap the Polish A-level.


Scots language being revived in schools

13 February 2015 (BBC)

A scheme has been launched to encourage the use of the Scots language in schools.

Specially recruited ambassadors are working to raise the status of the language and to help teachers incorporate it across the curriculum.

BBC Scotland's education correspondent Jamie McIvor reports from a school where they have found Scots a useful part of the timetable.


Broadcaster calls on BBC to rescue Scots language

9 February 2015 (The Scotsman)

The Scots language should be heard on radio and television as part of mainstream programming and not confined to comedy shows, an award-winning broadcaster has said.

BBC Scotland’s Frieda Morrison, who also presents a monthly podcast on Scots Language Radio, will host an event next week and call for Scots to be given the same airtime as Gaelic.

“Scots is in a far more perilous situation than Gaelic. Yet in recent memory we had children ridiculed for using it at school and it only being acceptable once a year learning a poem for Burns Day,” she said

“Using Scots is all about confidence and identity. So many people are proud they speak it and it has not held them back.

“But we need a multi-pronged attack. Education Scotland has made it part of the curriculum but we need it heard much more often.”


Hi-tech schools rescuing an ancient language

30 November 2014 (BBC)

Technology and education have a long, complicated and sometimes exaggerated relationship.

[...] So you might not expect to find tablet computers being deployed to defend a language first written down 1,700 years ago when "writing on a tablet" would have meant carving on a stone.

But in an innovative blend of ancient and modern, online technology is being used to keep alive teaching in the Irish language.


Community languages not supported in UK education system, survey suggests

28 November 2014 (The Guardian)

Despite the fact almost one in five young people have a first language other than English, research reveals their skills go unsupported and unrecognised by exam system.

Most young people in Britain whose native language is not English believe speaking a second language is an advantage in life. However only just over a third take a qualification in their mother tongue, according to a Guardian/ICM poll.


Related Links

Ten ways to support community languages in the UK (The Guardian, 2 December 2014)

Live Q&A: how can we better support community languages?

12 November 2014 (The Guardian)

There are hundreds of languages spoken across the UK. How can we capitalise on their educational, economic and cultural value? Join us on 14 November, 1-3pm BST, to discuss.


1+2 - a new approach to language learning in Scotland

11 November 2014 (Gathered Together/BEMIS)

The Scottish government recognises the value of speaking more than one language; Scotland however is behind many European countries in the area. To help address this and ensure that children in Scottish have the advantages of being able to speak other languages, the “1+2” policy is being rolled out.


Police Scotland take recruitment drive to Poland as they hunt new officers to police growing Polish community

10 November 2014 (Daily Record)

Law enforcement agencies in Warsaw will be approached as the Scots force look to recruit officers to help liaise with agencies back home and communities here.

[..]Maciej Dokurno of Fife Migrant Forum, who previously trained Scottish police in how to deal with his compatriots, said: “It is really good that the police understand they have to try to improve their cultural, linguistic and legal understanding of Polish issues.


Girlguiding Scotland launches new Gaelic resource

21 October 2014 (Stornoway Gazette)

A Gaelic version of the activity book used by girls when they join local Rainbow units has been launched by the charity Girlguiding Scotland.

‘Ready for Rainbows’ is a resource available to all new Rainbows when they join a local group. The book explains things such as the Rainbow song, uniform and promise to girls who are new to the group, along with activities to complete and games for the girls to play.

The new Gaelic translation – ‘Deiseil Airson Boghan-Froise’ – was developed after several Gaelic-speaking girls joined a Rainbow unit in Skye.


Can Northern Ireland learn lessons from the world's only Manx-speaking school?

15 September 2014 (BBC News)

As you approach the front gates it is clear this is not an ordinary school. The pupils do not look twice at the camera or recording equipment; TV and radio crews are here all the time.

In the playground some of the children whisper in English. They know they should not be speaking the language, even though the school is in the very heart of the British Isles.

About 70 pupils attend Bunscoill Ghaelgagh, the world's only Manx-speaking school.  The primary school is situated in St John's village in the Isle of Man and the children are taught all their lessons solely in Manx Gaelic.


Polish pupils celebrate exam success

2 September 2014 (Press and Journal)

A group of Polish students have created history by becoming the first pupils in the Highlands to pass a GCSE exam in their native language.

The seven young people, aged between 12 and 19, celebrated their success at Inverness High School yesterday, watched by proud pupils, politicians, teachers, and tutors.

With no provision for accreditation in their own language in the current Scottish education system, the Inverness Polish Association set up the course with the help of Highland Council.


Julia Donaldson, James Robertson (trans.) - Room on the Broom in Scots

27 August 2014 (The List)

An already engaging and exciting story becomes even more theatrical when ‘performed’ in a new language.


The Free Enclopaedia That Awbody Can Eedit: Scots Wikipedia Is No Joke

5 August 2014 (Slate)

At first glance, the Scots Wikipedia page reads like a transcription of a person with a Scottish accent: "Walcome tae Wikipaedia, the free enclopaedia that awbody can eedit," it says. The main page's Newsins section includes info about the FIFA Warld Cup and a Featurt picture of a Ruddy Kingfisher from Kaeng Krachan Naitional Pairk in Thailand. If you type "scots wikipedia" into a Google search, the first autocomplete suggestion is "scots wikipedia joke," and a top hit is a Wikipedia talk page with a proposal for getting rid of Scots Wikipedia containing the following comment: "Joke project. Funny for a few minutes, but inappropriate use of resources."

But Scots is totally real, "not a joke," as pointed out by one of the Wikipedia editors, who overwhelmingly rejected the proposal. Their final verdict stated that the "proposer should educate him/herself in linguistic diversity," and included a link to the Wikipedia page for Scots.


Language issues in migration and integration: perspectives from teachers and learners

22 July 2014 (British Council)

This new book from ESOL Nexus is about the role of language in the integration of migrants. The writers of the chapters are all engaged in the education of migrants as teachers, researchers or policymakers in a wide variety of contexts and they provide us with a rich and thought-provoking array of perspectives from teachers and learners on language issues in migration and integration. Through them we hear directly from learners, migrants who have arrived in a new country and are now striving to master the host language. We learn much from them about the place of language and language learning in their new lives.


James Robertson: Scots Literature speaks to all

5 July 2014 (The Scotsman)

Shall There Be a Scottish Literature? It may seem that the question, posed to hundreds of international delegates gathered in Glasgow for the first World Congress of Scottish Literatures, is redundant. But it is worth asking, for three reasons.

First, there was certainly a time when a Scottish Literature did not exist. Second, even when its existence was asserted, it was often disputed. Third, prior or present existence does not guarantee future existence.


Pupils look to Polish-Scottish festival

14 June 2014 (Scottish Government)

Pupils, parents and staff at Edinburgh’s No Boundaries Polish school welcomed Education Secretary Michael Russell today (Saturday). During his visit to the Polish Saturday No Boundaries School in the name of Wojtek the Bear, based at Leith Academy, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning heard how bilingual learning helped the pupils integrate better in their English-language school while also celebrating their Polish heritage and community.


At least 1.1m pupils speak English as a second language

12 June 2014 (The Telegraph)

The number of schoolchildren speaking English as a second language has soared by a third in just five years amid fresh concerns that immigration may be putting a strain on the education system.

Official figures show that the number of pupils who speak another language in the home exceeded 1.1 million for the first time this year.

The proportion of non-native speakers in primary schools has now reached almost one-in-five following a year-on-year increase over the last decade.


Related Links

More primary pupils speak a foreign tongue (The Times, 13 June 2014)

Creative Scotland to develop a plan for the Scots language

12 June 2014 (The Herald)

The nation's main arts funding body, Creative Scotland, is to make its first concerted efforts to back the Scots language and culture.

In its annual plan, launched today, the funding body pledges to develop a Scots Language policy and to ensure "it considers all aspects of Scots in the cultural life of the country".


Learning Polish, the UK's second most spoken language, is a plus

5 June 2014 (The Guardian)

Already 16,000 children attend Polish Saturday schools, but local authorities could do more to support such work, writes the Polish ambassador to the UK.


Can we do more to value the languages of immigrants? – open thread

3 June 2014 (The Guardian)

Did you teach your children your native language or do you have encouraging language-related experiences you would like to share?


How do health services care for those who can't speak English?

28 May 2014 (The Guardian)

A handful of organisations ensure that for refugees, asylum seekers and communities where English is not widely spoken, language is not a barrier to getting help.


“Mother Tongue Other Tongue” Poet Laureate Education Project Coming Soon to Glasgow!

2 May 2014 (SCILT)

From August 2014, SCILT will be piloting the inspiring multi-lingual poetry competition and Poet Laureate Education Project, Mother Tongue Other Tongue, in Glasgow schools. If you are a teacher in a Glasgow primary or secondary school who is looking for a creative way to motivate language learning and celebrate all the languages spoken by your learners, go to our webpage to read more about what MTOT can offer you.


Book helps Polish speakers learn Scottish slang

14 April 2014 (The Scotsman)

They are the sort of obscure Scots phrases that can leave even a native English speaker scunnered and or possibly black-affrontit. And for those who are learning the language from scratch, some of the phrases used by Scots can be almost impossible to understand – until now.


Great Scots!

4 April 2014 (The Economist)

Among the publications that the Scottish Book Trust, a charity funded in part by the Scottish government, sent to bairns last year was “Katie’s Moose: A Keek-a-boo Book for Wee Folk.” In this tale, Katie hunts for a menagerie of beasties, locating a pig “ahint the chair, daein a jig” and a “broon bear” whose “airm looks gey sair.” The Scots language, long derided as bad English with a thick accent or merely a northern dialect, now enjoys the backing of the state.

In 2011 the Scottish census asked for the first time whether people spoke Scots. Some 1.5m said yes.


The role of schools in building community links through languages

28 March 2014 (The Guardian)

(Applies to England) Schools play a key role in the community, but the devolution of budgets has put funding for specialist language services at risk.


Census 2011: Identity, Language and Religion in Scotland

19 March 2014 (Scottish Government)

The statistics published today by the Registrar General for Scotland on the Scotland’s Census website, present further details from the 2011 Census in Scotland on Ethnicity, Identity, Language and Religion, from national to local level.

Other tables in this release, within the Standard Outputs menu, present information on: 

  • Gaelic language skills by sex by age 
  • English language skills by sex by age 
  • Language other than English used at home by sex by age


Related Links

Graphical data on languages in Scotland (Scotland's Census 2011)

The Irish language is for life, not just for St Patrick's Day

17 March 2014 (The Guardian)

As celebrations take place around the UK, Gavin O'Toole asks what more can be done by local government to address the indifference towards the Irish language.


PaiBa! Photo Club

07 March 2013 (Ricefield)

Literally meaning “Shoot it!” in Chinese, PaiBa is one of Ricefield’s new, free monthly meet-ups for keen photographers to enjoy shooting and sharing photos inspired by Chinese photography and culture:
* Chinese inspired photo assignment each month
* Bring your photos along to share views and techniques
* Chat in a relaxed setting at Feast restaurant (upper floor)
* Amateurs and beginners welcome!

Featuring presentations from Chinese photographers Yao Hui, Cui Ying and Guo Xueci.

To join PaiBa please contact


International Mother Language Day, 21 February 2014

11 February 2014 (UNESCO)

International Mother Language Day has been celebrated every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. This year the theme of the International Mother Language day is “Local languages for global education: Spotlight on science”.  UNESCO highlights the importance of mother tongue as part of the right to education and encourages its member states to promote instruction and education in the mother tongue.


Languages reading list: Disney ignores Africa, whistling and Polish for police

1 February 2014 (Guardian - The case for languages learning series)

In Northamptonshire police officers learn Polish, the ancient art of whistling lives on in Turkey and Disney is accused of ignoring African languages.


How schools cope with teaching children who speak 14 different languages

31 January 2014 (Telegraph)

How the schools where nine in ten pupils do not speak English as their first language help bring their pupils up to speed.


French for bilingual children

31 January 2014 (Institut français)

In association with la petite Ecole, the Institut français offers workshops in French for children who are growing up with a bilingual background using CLIL methodlogy (learning and improving language skills through other topics like science and arts).


Scots Language Radio

30 January 2014 (Scots Language Centre)

Episode 2 of Scots Language Radio is available to listen to.  The episode includes information about the new ‘Scots Toun Award’ which encourages communities to get involved to have a chance of winning up to £6000.


Northamptonshire Police officers to learn Polish as part of multicultural training

27 January 2014 (Northampton Chronicle & Echo)

Police officers in Northamptonshire will be learning Polish and other Eastern European languages as part of a new cultural awareness training programme.

Northamptonshire Police has joined forces with The Association of Northamptonshire Supplementary Schools (ANSS) to provide frontline officers with access to short language courses to give officers some basic phrases in different languages.

The training also covers a variety of subjects such as how to engage with people from different cultures, facts about the major faiths, festivals and local places of worship and face-to-face sessions with people from a range of communities.


Scots language prize launched

22 January 2014 (Scottish Government)

Communities with strong links to their Scots heritage are being urged to nominate themselves for the new Scots Toun Awards.

The first prize of £6,000 will help the winner to develop new projects aimed at encouraging the Scots language, Minister for Scotland’s Languages Alasdair Allan announced today.

The awards have been launched by the Scots Language Centre and applicants have until February 28 to put themselves forward.


Related Links

Scots language prize launched – Awards for communities celebrating Scots heritage (Engage for Education blog, 23 January 2014)

Talking the talk in a global economy

20 January 2014 (The Telegraph)

A recent report warned that we are risking the economic health of the country by not teaching second languages effectively enough; we need to tap into the linguistic richness of today’s pupils, says Fiona Barry.


7th National Russian Essay Competition 2014

18 January 2014 (Russian Teachers’ Group UK (RTG))

Students learning Russian in schools, colleges and universities in the UK, as well as heritage learners from Russian-speaking families and adult learners, are invited to take part in the 7th National Russian Essay Competition. This is a high-profile event which will give your students a chance to win great prizes including cash (1st prize - £100) and see their essays published on-line! It is a great opportunity for students to be creative, compete nationwide with their peers and raise the profile of Russian. The deadline for submitting entries is 11 March 2014. Judges will review the entries in March and April, and winners will be announced by 30 April 2014.


Qualifications - Recognising Polish would 'open doors'

9 January 2014 (TESS)

School qualifications are failing to keep pace with immigration in Scotland, with the result that the language skills of thousands of children and young people from Poland are not being recognised, campaigners have warned.

According to the latest census, carried out in 2011, Poles are Scotland's largest migrant group. They number 61,000, overtaking the 49,000-strong Pakistani population, which was the largest migrant group at the time of the 2001 census.

However, although it is possible to sit National and Higher exams in Urdu there are no national qualifications in Polish in Scotland. GCSE and A-level qualifications in the language are available in other parts of the UK. But support from Scottish schools and local authorities for Polish students to take these qualifications is patchy, according to Beata Kohlbek, who sits on the Polish Council, a body set up by the Polish Consulate General in Edinburgh to campaign on issues affecting the community.


CISS Newsletter Autumn 2013

12 December 2013 (CISS)

The latest edition of the CISS newsletter has been published. This edition highlights the promotion of Chinese language and culture around the country. Please download the newsletter if you'd like to find out more.

Related Files

Dragon premieres at the Citizens Theatre

15 October 2013 (CISS)

In conjunction with the Confucius Institute at Glasgow University, CISS was given the opportunity to take 350 pupils from all over Scotland to see the premiere of the play Dragon at the Citizens Theatre. This wonderful co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland, Tianjin Children’s Art Theatre and Vox Motus is highly unusual given that there are no words spoken throughout the play. The audience is invited to take a visual and emotional journey using their imagination. The use of puppetry, illusion and music allows this to happen.


Related Files

Beast in the classroom, but nobody's panicking

14 June 2013 (TESS)

That's because this is a story about a wolfboy from Mars who is making children feel at home in Scotland, says Emma Seith.

Edinburgh's most multicultural school has found a unique way to welcome new students - a story book, in six different languages, written and illustrated by P6 children at the primary.


Related Links

Dalry Primary publish book on school’s diversity (The Scotsman, 14 June 2013)

“Use your Gaelic”, visitors to Parliament encouraged

15 May 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

The Scottish Parliament has a push on the use of its Gaelic services, encouraging visitors, MSPs and staff to take advantage of the many opportunities to use and learn about the language.


Gaelic studies enjoy support

12 May 2013 (Times)

Half of Scots want children to have the right to attend schools where they are taught in Gaelic rather than English. New data from the 2012 Scottish Social Attitudes survey of 1,229 people found that 48% believe pupils should be entitled to attend specialised Gaelic-medium units to learn subjects such as maths and history, regardless of where they live.


Related Links

Related articles:

'Hello, hello, hello, or should I say jak sie masz?' Police in London learn 18 languages to communicate better with capital's ethnic minorities

30 March 2013 (Daily Mail)

(Relates to England) PC Plod is about to get even more PC. Met Police officers in London are being trained to take on crime in the multi-cultural melting pot that is the nation's capital. The Met's 31,000 officers will be offered the chance to learn 18 languages, ranging from French to Farsi, so they can speak in the mother tongue of the capital's burgeoning ethnic communities.


eTwinning Plus launches on Monday 4th March 2013!

1 March 2013 (eTwinning)

Ever wondered what is life like in Lviv? Or what’s on the curriculum in Chisinau? What kind of technology is most popular in Tbilisi?  From the 4th of March 2013, you’ll be able to find the answers to these questions, and many more, with the official launch of eTwinning Plus. eTwinning Plus is a pilot that will see a select number of schools and teachers from Ukraine, Tunisia, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan join the thousands of eTwinning teachers who are already collaborating online.


Say sayonara to languages that have not made the list

22 February 2013 (TES)

(Relates to England)
Community languages such as Urdu, Polish and Hebrew have been excluded from the new primary national curriculum despite opposition from the majority of responses to a government consultation. Ministers have decided that key stage 2 pupils should study one or more of a list of languages restricted to French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Latin or ancient Greek.
But 61 per cent of the 562 teachers, parents, schools, universities, unions and other organisations and individuals who expressed a view believe the primary national curriculum should cover a much wider range of languages.


Inverness Gaelic school set to grow in size

19 January 2013 (BBC News)

A Gaelic medium education school in Inverness at the centre of difficulties with the appointment of a head teacher looks set to increase in size.


Gaelic speakers urged to ‘use it or lose it’

12th October 2012 (Scottish Government Press Release)

Gaelic speakers will today be urged to make the most of their language skills to ensure that a key part of Scottish heritage continues to grow for future generations.


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