Latest News

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

Curriculum for Excellence

SQA update to Advanced Higher Modern Languages visiting assessing

9 November 2021 (SQA)

Visiting assessing documents have been added for modern languages subjects at Advanced Higher.

Visit the SQA Modern Languages Advanced Higher webpage for more information.


Presentations and recordings are now available! Moving Forward with L3: Challenges and Opportunities Event, 10 September 2021

5 November 2021 (SCILT)

If you missed any part of this event, then we have good news for you! Materials are now available on our website to view at your own leisure, including video presentations from Keynote speaker, Joanna McPake, Reader in Education at the University of Strathclyde and Plenary speakers, Dr Łukasz Lutostański, Consul General and Sylwia Spooner, Head of Cultural Affairs at the Polish Consulate in Edinburgh. The event welcomed language leaders and practitioners to share thoughts, ideas, good practice and discuss the challenges we face in embedding L3 into our curricula, including information on the newly launched 10 Steps to Polish Programme, run in conjunction with SCILT.

PowerPoint presentations used from facilitated discussions, including testimonials and speaker biographies are also available to view and will be of interest to the language teaching community.


Modern Languages Newsletter - December 2019

3 December 2019 (Education Scotland)

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


Education Scotland Gaelic Newsletter

20 November 2019 (Education Scotland)

The November 2019 edition of Education Scotland's newsletter for Gaelic Medium Education is now available to view online.

Topics in this issue include:

  • National Improvement Hub resources to support GME in the curriculum
  • Music and wellbeing resources
  • Professional learning and leadership opportunities
  • Early years support
  • Sharing effective practice to support improvement


Secondary Scottish education must be reviewed, MSPs say

16 September 2019 (TES)

A review of the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence is needed to ensure that pupils' aspirations are being met and that they have a wide enough range of opportunities in schools, MSPs have found.

This is one of the recommendations of a report published today by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee, following an inquiry into the number of subjects available to pupils and, in particular, concerns over subject choice at S4.

The committee heard that, following the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), there had been confusion and inadequate support from Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

[...] The committee also heard evidence that the changes to curriculum structure have had a negative impact on the number of pupils taking languages and Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, leading to concerns about the future of these subjects in Scotland’s schools.


Related Links

Review of senior phase (Scottish Government, 16 September 2019)

Education review ordered amid subject choice concern (BBC, 16 September 2019)

SCHOLAR online tutor sessions for Modern Languages

19 September 2018 (SCHOLAR)

The schedule of online tutor sessions for Higher and Advanced Higher Modern Languages 2018-19 is now available online.


1+2 Modern Languages in Parliament

13 September 2018 (Scottish Parliament)

Read the First Minister's response when asked at the Meeting of the Parliament 13 September 2018 what action the Scottish Government will take to improve the implementation of the one-plus-two modern languages policy in broad general education.


SQA Higher Modern Languages webinar

12 April 2018 (SQA)

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

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

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

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


National 5 Modern Languages update

6 October 2017 (SCILT/SQA)

The course specification for National 5 has been updated following the Scottish Government announcement that unit assessments will no longer be mandatory from session 2016-17 at this level. As well as extracting the key points providing an overview of the content and assessment requirements, we now have links to SQA's recording of the National 5 webinar held in April/May and repeated in September/October 2017 on our website.

Other National Qualifications will be reviewed and updated in due course.


French and Spanish courses for nursery and primary teachers

7 September 2017 (SALT)

Offered by Smalltalk Languages, this course is aimed at nursery/primary staff who are currently introducing French/Spanish as part of their curriculum for excellence/1+2 languages programme or intend to do so. Suitable for both complete beginners and people with prior knowledge of the language, the main focus of the course will be on language learning and practical methodology.

On the day participants will look at language from the children’s perspective. They will be shown how to build both their own and the children’s confidence in language skills while learning the importance of adapting and manipulating language for maximum effect.

Visit the SALT website for available dates and locations.


Scots Language in Curriculum for Excellence

30 August 2017 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland has published a report on the impact on literacy of learning Scots. The report ‘Scots Language in Curriculum for Excellence: enhancing skills in literacy, developing successful learners and confident individuals’ is available on the National Improvement Hub.


Choice of subjects is ‘not narrowing under CfE’

27 January 2017 (TESS)

Education directors have dismissed fears that pupils’ subject choices are narrowing under Curriculum for Excellence, insisting they have “far greater” choice than in the past.

MSPs have raised concerns that many pupils are only taking six subjects in S4 under new national qualifications, whereas eight would have been typical under the previous system.

Terry Lanagan, executive officer for education directors’ body ADES, said it was a mistake to look at S4 in isolation, since the “senior phase” was built around pupils accruing qualifications over a three-year period.

The former West Dunbartonshire education director also highlighted that schools could take more flexible approaches, such as joining forces to offer certain subjects or bringing in college lecturers to work with pupils. Greater priority was now given to so-called vocational qualifications, he added.

[..] Figures published in December show the numbers of secondary teachers by main subject taught from 2008-16. TESS examined subjects with more than 500 teachers in 2016 and found that French, computing and home economics are under extreme pressure.

The article can be read in full in TESS online, issue 27 January 2017 (subscription required).


Cuts forcing schools to axe language and science exams

19 January 2017 (The Herald)

Schools are having to cut the number of subjects they offer to pupils as a direct result of cuts, teachers’ leaders have warned.

An education union said current budgetary pressures meant courses such as extra languages and sciences could not run unless at least ten pupils were interested.

The concerns were raised at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s education committee which is examining the roll-out of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) reforms.


SQA update to AH Modern Languages guidance on past paper usage

16 January 2017 (SQA)

The SQA has produced updated guidance documents on the use of past paper questions for Advanced Higher Modern Languages (Chinese, Italian, French, Spanish, German and Gaelic learners).

These can be found on the SQA Advanced Higher Modern Languages webpage under the 'Specimen Question Papers and Marking Instructions' section.


Capable linguists put off by ‘ridiculous’ grade boundary

18 November 2016 (TESS)

Grade boundaries set at “ridiculous” levels are driving pupils away from languages and leaving talented linguists with lower results than they deserve, it has been claimed.

Languages teachers fear their subjects – which are already suffering from falling numbers – will be sidelined further as they gain a reputation among pupils as “hard” options that could put their university places at risk.

Of the 30 most popular Highers, German and French set the bar highest for an A grade (78 per cent and 77 per cent, respectively); Spanish is also above most subjects, with 73 per cent required for an A.

Gillian Campbell-Thow, chair of the Scottish Association for Language Teaching (Salt), said: “Learners who were expecting to get an A, having had high marks all year, were of course disappointed. For some, it impacted on their access to further and higher education.”

As TESS has reported, the situation for modern languages has already been described as “near critical” this year because of a decrease in pupils taking the subjects at S4.

Ms Campbell-Thow said that, at Higher, “we are now seeing learners opting for subjects where they feel they are more likely to get an A”.

Languages teachers are also reportedly narrowing their focus. Ms Campbell-Thow said that one Salt member “felt she had to take out a lot of the creative content…in favour of teaching to a test, which flies in the face of Curriculum for Excellence”.

She added: “We don’t want to find ourselves teaching to an exam, using rote learning and effectively putting a ceiling on skills development and language acquisition, but the worry of letting down learners and parents…has left our practitioners feeling both vulnerable and under pressure.”

The full article can be accessed on TESS online, 18 November 2016 (subscription required).


Half of schools make big cuts to courses under CfE

22 January 2016 (TESS)

Almost half of Scottish secondaries have significantly narrowed their curriculum at S4, offering just six courses instead of the eight that was typical before the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence, according to figures released today.

Subjects disadvantaged by the new curriculum include languages, business studies, computing, some of the creative and aesthetic subjects, the sciences and social subjects.

See page 6-7 of TESS digital for the full article.  (TES subscription required).


British Council news

30 November 2015 (British Council Schools Online)

The British Council has a number of resources and partnership working opportunities they offer to schools in the UK.  Below are some of their forthcoming developments with a language or international element which may be of interest to teachers:

  • Shakespeare lives - Designed as a cross-curricular activity pack which could also be part of project with a partner school overseas, this resource will be available mid-December and will be available in Welsh, Chinese and Arabic.
  • Teaching the core skills - In today’s globalised world children not only need to be able to communicate and collaborate; they also need to be prepared to do so interculturally, in diverse and often multilingual settings. More information about teaching the communication and collaboration module can be accessed on page 14 of the brochure: Unlocking a world of potential. Sign up to Schools Online to access the training package.
  • Employ a language assistant in Scottish schools - Employing a British Council Language Assistant is a unique way to broaden your pupils' understanding of the world, improve their language skills and increase their cultural awareness. See the online video. Applications open 4 January 2016.
  • International School Award (ISA) - Read about Portlethen Academy's cross-curricular project which took them to France and earned them an ISA in recognition of the global dimension of their work.

Insight: Why Scots face a language barrier

8 August 2015 (The Scotsman)

Our children’s lack of foreign language skills cry out for a shake-up in education policy, and yet constant upheaval in our schools may be one of the problems, writes Dani Garavelli.


Modern Languages Experiences and Outcomes at First Level

30 March 2015 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland has published Experiences and Outcomes at First Level for Modern Languages. These new Experiences and Outcomes will allow practitioners delivering  Modern Languages as part of the Scottish Government 1+2 languages policy to benchmark learners’ progress in the skills of listening and talking, reading and writing.


Related Links

All information on the 1+2 approach to language learning including the new experiences and outcomes can be found in the modern languages section of the Education Scotland website.

SQA Verification process is changing!

27 February 2014 (SCILT/SQA)

Are you aware of the latest changes to the SQA Verification process which will take place with immediate effect? The main changes are highlighted below:

  • “The third round (of verification), due to start in April, will now focus on verifying the Added Value Unit assessment and the internally assessed components of Course assessment, with a greater emphasis on subjects where there has been most change.”
  • “For the 2014/15 academic session, the approach to verification will involve supporting and strengthening teachers’ experience in applying standards. The first round of the quality assurance system will involve the delivery of understanding standards events using exemplar materials. There will also be more targeted quality assurance activity of Unit and Course assessments, with the second round focusing on Unit assessment and the third round focusing on Course assessment.”

Further information and details can be found on the SQA website.


Course comparison documents for new Higher courses

25 February 2014 (SQA)

SQA has published tables which outline some of the changes for each of the new Higher Courses in comparison with the existing Higher Courses. This is intended to help teachers/lecturers identify what is changing, and what will remain the same, within their subject.

The information in these tables is not exhaustive, but provides links to more detailed subject documentation that can be accessed from the SQA's subject pages.

Course comparison documents can be found on the 'Related Information' panel on each of the subject pages on the SQA website.  See the panel on the Modern Languages subject pages.


Edinburgh Zoo and SCILT's short story competition

17 January 2014 (Edinburgh Zoo/SCILT)

Open to any P5-P7 pupils who have studied Chinese culture and/or some Chinese. 

A little reminder that the short story competition deadline is 31st January 2014.

Please do support this competition. The winning entry will be presented to the Chinese Consulate. Also the story will be translated (or subtitles added to a video etc) into Chinese and Gaelic. In addition there will be a small token prize for the group or class from Edinburgh Zoo.

Please remember that the story is a class entry but can take any format - it could even be of a mixed format - allowing the whole class to be involved. If it easier to work in smaller groups then we will accept up to 5 entries from the one class.  Criteria - a short story, video, presentation on anything about China, Chinese culture and/or the giant panda.

It also doesn't have to be very long - we are looking for quality and not quantity!

For example:

  • a short story 
  • 3-5 minute video 
  • short Powerpoint presentation 
  • set of drawings/pictures/photographs with descriptions/anecdotes

Entries can be sent as jpegs; Powerpoint presentations; videos; etc and can be emailed to this address or sent by post on CD Roms/DVD to the address below.

Similarly, written material can be emailed as pdf or word documents or sent by post to the address below.

Sandie Robb 罗桑迪
Senior Education Officer, Discovery & Learning,
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland 苏格兰皇家动物协会
134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS

tel: 0131 314 0335, mobile: 07963 070654

Teach Scots to kids as standard says leading head

13 January 2014 (The Scotsman)

Scots should be put at the centre of the Scottish Government’s initiative to promote language learning in the country’s schools, it has been claimed.

Headteacher Isabel Lind said the Scots language was a valuable educational tool and should be included in the 1+2 initiative, which seeks to have children learning two foreign tongues alongside English at primary school.


Summary of National 3, 4, 5 and Higher Qualifications

10 January 2014 (SCILT/SQA)

We have produced an at-a-glance summary of the National 3, 4, 5 and Higher Qualifications for languages in a table format.

The document can be downloaded below, or found on the Senior Phase section of our website.


SQA Frequently Asked Questions

26 September 2013 (SCILT/SQA)

We have compiled a list of questions we have been frequently asked at Outreach events regarding the New Qualifications. We have worked in partnerships with SQA to answer these questions as fully as we can.

Download the attached document.

Related Files

New National Qualifications – August 2013 Update

3 September 2013 (Education Scotland)

The latest updates on the new National Qualifications are now on SQA’s website.

The following will be of particular interest to language teachers:


Materials for National 4 Added Value Unit

22 August 2013 (SCILT)

Materials created by one of the teachers in North Ayrshire Council have been uploaded onto #mlscilt for National 4 Added Value Unit in French.

You will need a Glow userid/login to access the materials.


Bucking the languages trend

13 June 2013 (SecEd)

In the midst of a decline in foreign language learning in Scotland, some schools are inspiring young people to buck the trend. Sam Phipps finds out how.



New resources to support MFL National 4 and 5

2 May 2013 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland have recently published new resources to support the implementation of National 4 and 5 in Cantonese, French, German, Italian, Mandarin (simplified), Mandarin (traditional), Spanish and Urdu.

To access the materials follow the link below to Glow (you’ll need your Glow password).


New National Qualifications - April 2013 Update

30 April 2013 (SQA)

The SQA’s latest update on the new national qualifications is now available, including finalised documents for the new Advanced Higher Courses commencing in August 2015.


Put Arabic on curriculum, says charity

21 April 2013 (The Herald)

Moves are under way to get Arabic taught to schoolchildren in Scotland.

Muslim charity Dar Al-Falaah Community Education Association has begun lobbying MSPs for the inclusion of the language in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.

The charity says there is a high demand for the subject, which the group already teaches to more than 100 four to 16-year-olds at weekend classes in Glasgow.


Related Links

Arabic should be taught to Scots children, campaigners say (Deadline news, 21 April 2013)

Planning for improvement

16 April 2013 (SCILT)

At this time of year the focus for many of you will be on reviewing this year’s work and identifying areas for development to inform your new improvement plan. SCILT can offer you some useful documents that could help you with this process.

The key messages have been extracted by the SCILT team from this year’s Principal Assessors’ Reports. These abridged versions are available on our website and could help you identify some key areas for development. We have also developed an audit tool to help you plan for the 1+2 approach to Modern Languages. Although initially aimed at supporting local authorities, the tool could be easily adapted to help planning at school level too.

Furthermore, if approaches to assessment are likely to figure highly on your improvement plans, then SCILT can help you navigate the NAR with our NAR Guidance tool and if you want your department to really get to grips with the BGE and those Es and Os, then the Key Aspects of Achievement and the Modern Languages: Guidance Paper could give you the extra information you need to come to an agreed understanding of the standards and expectations in Modern Languages.

The team at SCILT is always ready to support professional learning through our Outreach events. Please let us know what you think your priorities and development areas might be in 2013/14. Your information and comments will help us review this year’s work and will ensure that next year’s menu of workshops is tailored to meet your professional learning needs.

Foreign language teaching to be subject of debate at Holyrood

29 March 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

The teaching of foreign language learning in Scottish primary schools will be the focus for a conference taking place at the Scottish Parliament in May. The European & External Relations Committee is holding the event as part of its inquiry into the Scottish Government’s recent proposal to increase foreign language learning in primary schools. It will bring together parliamentarians and those involved in language learning to discuss the key findings of the committee’s inquiry to date.

Open to all with an interest in language education, whether as a parent, teacher or policy developer, the conference takes place on the morning of Friday 10 May 2013 at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

Anyone wishing to attend the event should contact the Parliament by 19 April to secure a space.


Professional Learning Resource for Modern Languages

11 January 2013 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland have supplemented the advice in the Modern Languages Principles and Practice paper to support primary and secondary practitioners in making assessment decisions about learners’ achievement and progress. The Professional Learning Paper gives further guidance and information on significant aspects of learning and outlines what breadth, challenge and application looks like in the Modern Languages classroom.

The “Modern Languages: key aspects of achievement” document gives further, useful support to help practitioners moderate the experiences and outcomes and details what can be reasonably expected from learners who have achieved second and third level in Modern Languages.


Wirkin Wi Wirds – Modren Scots Grammar

13 December 2012 (Engage for Education)

Modren Scots Grammar: Wirkin Wi Wirds is one of the recent projects undertaken by Scottish Language Dictionaries to celebrate their first ten years.
The book accords with Curriculum for Excellence in that it seeks to give readers an understanding of how language works and to give them the tools with which to discuss Scots, English and other modern languages.


New National Qualifications – November 2012 update

30 November 2012 (SQA)

The latest progress on the new national qualifications from the SQA, including a reminder of the CfE subject implementation dates being run throughout Scotland. Modern Language events are taking place in February 2013 and places can be booked via the SQA website.


Improving language opportunities for Scotland’s young people

27 November 2012 (Engage for Education)

Sarah Breslin, Director of SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages at the University of Strathclyde, talks about the importance of the Scottish Government’s 1+2 languages policy.


New report published on Sustainable International School Partnerships

23 November 2012 (Education Scotland)

British Council Scotland and Education Scotland have recently published ‘Sustainable International School Partnerships – Make the Difference’.

Effective practices, challenges, opportunities and a framework for reflection combine to illustrate how the development of sustainable international school partnerships can ‘make the difference’ within Curriculum for Excellence. This new publication draws on the experience of practitioners who have been closely involved in developing international school partnerships.


New benchmarking tool being developed for CfE senior phase

8 November 2012 (Engage for Education)

The Scottish Government and its partners are developing a new benchmarking tool to help local authorities and secondary schools to analyse, compare and improve the performance of pupils in the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence. The new tool will be available from August 2014 onwards.


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