Latest News

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


Speaking in mother tongues shows heritage is a class act

15 February 2022 (Irish Times)

Roll call sounds different in fourth class at Mother of Divine Grace National School in Finglas. Here, students are more likely to respond to their name with a variety of languages such as “thi ni” (Thai) or “tutaj” (Polish) than the traditional “anseo”. Encouraging students to use their heritage language during roll call is just one way teacher Phil McCarthy promotes linguistic diversity in his classroom.

“The Thai answer is really popular because you have to hold the sound at the end. They’re all screaming that every morning,” says McCarthy.

“This is a school with diverse student population. I think there’s about 13 languages spoken in my class this year; it’s a very language-rich environment.”

McCarthy says his initial teacher training did not prepare him for teaching in a multilingual classroom.


The two Roses

18 January 2021 (SCILT/Twinkl)

SCILT has worked in partnership with Twinkl Scotland and Nil By Mouth to produce a new eBook with accompanying resources. The Two Roses is a tale about friendship, inclusion and tolerance available in English and Gaelic. This First Level resource gives educators the opportunity to talk about similarities and differences, friendship and kindness, teasing and bullying, through the lens of the two central characters.

Further, the resource discusses the ways rural and urban lifestyles can be vastly different for young children and how to be considerate of these different lifestyles. There are opportunities for cultural learning that challenge the notion that some ways of living are better than others. The light-hearted approach allows teachers and learners to tackle problematic beliefs in a kind way.


SEND: Why your school should sign up to BSL

3 January 2020 (TES)

How can you make inclusion a key part of your curriculum? One mainstream primary in London has taken the radical step of including British Sign Language – so that every child learns to use it. Headteacher Dani Lang and deaf instructor Tina Kemp explain how it’s benefited deaf and hearing pupils alike

It’s Tuesday morning and a Year 5 class are doing their daily maths lesson. A child looks confused and puts her hand up, but before the teacher can come over, the boy next to her puts his pencil down and signs “Can I help?”

The girl smiles back at him and signs that she can’t work out the answer and points to the question in her maths book. His quick, nimble fingers sign back to help her overcome her confusion about place value, and then they both pick up their pencils and continue with their work.

All this, without a single audible word uttered. This fluent interaction in British Sign Language (BSL) is common at Brimsdown Primary School in Enfield. We are a mainstream primary in North London with a hearing impairment resource base (HIRBiE). This is not an intervention tool, it’s a teaching tool. HIRBiE runs staff and family signing lessons during the day and after school, and teaches BSL to all children from Nursery to Year 6 in class time.

It works for us and we firmly believe it could – and should – work for you, too.

Admittedly, it has taken us some time to get to this point: HIRBiE has been operating for 13 years in the school but its full integration into the school day has been going on only for the past four years.

HIRBiE was set up because there were (and still are) a number of deaf children and staff at the school, and the leadership firmly believed that every child deserved the right to be treated equally and to receive the same quality of education. However, leaders also felt there was a need to bridge the gap between hearing and deaf people and so took the decision to make BSL a significant part of our school curriculum.

(Note - subscription required to access full article).


Supporting EAL students in a mixed-language classroom

19 August 2019 (TES)

Entering a classroom packed with students who have little knowledge of English is every teacher's nightmare. We know how challenging it can be to create an inclusive environment and aid those struggling with English, so we've gathered some useful resources to help you support your EAL/ESL students.


Inclusion in Practice: The CIRCLE Framework - Secondary

13 August 2019 (Education Scotland)

Inclusion in Practice is a badged professional learning module which has been designed to support equitable professional learning on inclusive practice for education practitioners in secondary schools and local authorities in Scotland.​

It is based on The CIRCLE Framework, a collaboration between practitioners in Edinburgh City, Queen Margaret University and NHS Lothian, that has been adapted for modular learning by Education Scotland.​​

Visit the Education Scotland website for more information about the resource and how to use it to improve practice.


New and inclusive!

3 February 2017 (SCILT)

Content for the ‘Languages for all’ area of our website is now up. The blog has launched. Pointers to professional learning opportunities are there. Links to relevant materials already on SCILT are listed.

We promise even more to come in the months ahead, so check back regularly for updates.

We’re also very interested to hear your comments about your experiences of inclusive practice in languages. To contact the group, please email SCILT or tweet @Lynne_SCILT using the hashtag #langs4all.


Bilingualism, Autism and the Brain

7 November 2016 (DART, University of Edinburgh)

A new PhD research project will shortly be starting to explore whether bilingualism could also help autistic people to improve social cognition abilities.

Visit the University of Edinburgh's DART website to find out more and to see how you can participate in the study.


Supporting Bilingual Learners in the Mainstream Classroom

13 October 2016 (University of Strathclyde/SCILT)

Do you work with bilingual learners? Would you like to develop your ability to support them to develop their linguistic competence and to learn through English in mainstream primary or secondary classrooms?

This course is designed to enable you to understand and act on theories of bilingual learning and policy to support bilingual learners in Scottish schools, and to gain experience of current classroom-based practice in Scotland and around the world.

The next course starts on 14 January and runs from January to December 2017 at the University of Strathclyde. Classes are held at the University on Saturdays, on average once a month. See the attached leaflet for further information.

For information on other initiatives and organisations supporting bilingualism and multilingualism in Scotland, visit the EAL and Bilingualism webpages in the Learners and Parents section of the SCILT website.


For children with autism, multiple languages may be a boon

25 July 2016 (Spectrum)

Pediatricians, educators and speech therapists have long advised multilingual families to speak one language — the predominant one where they live — to children with autism or other developmental delays. The reasoning is simple: These children often struggle to learn language, so they’re better off focusing on a single one.

However, there are no data to support this notion. In fact, a handful of studies show that children with autism can learn two languages as well as they learn one, and might even thrive in multilingual environments.


Related Links

Guten Tag! Why foreign languages have a place in autism education (Network Autism, 6 June 2016)

An exchange with a visible difference

16 May 2016 (British Council)

Transferable and vocational skills are providing a focal point for an exchange between specialist colleges for visually impaired students in the UK and France.


From autism to Chinese, a headset to help you with your language

4 May 2016 (New Scientist)

Learning a tonal language like Chinese is notoriously difficult – it’s easy to end up calling your mother a horse. But soon there could be a wearable headset that can help.

The system was created for people with autism who want help with social interactions, but it could be adapted to help with speech or anxiety problems – or even language learning, says LouAnne Boyd at the University of California at Irvine, part of the team that designed it.


Autism and bilingualism

29 February 2016 (Bilingualism Matters)

Bilingualism Matters has produced a factsheet on autism and bilingualism. Because there have been very few research studies that have directly investigated the impact of bilingualism on children with autism, Bilingualism Matters has created this factsheet summarising some of the issues parents may want to consider when making the decision whether to use two language to communicate with a child with autism.

Further information sheets from Bilingualism Matters are available from their website.


Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching - free online course

12 January 2016 (FutureLearn)

Registration is now open for this online course commencing 18 April.

This free online course is designed for current and trainee teachers of additional languages. It offers you practical tools, as well as theoretical insights, to best accommodate and meet the needs of students with dyslexia in foreign or second language classes.

The course gives an up-to-date overview of current theoretical knowledge about the nature of dyslexia and how it affects the learning of additional languages.

You will learn about a variety of useful techniques, including recent computer-assisted tools, which you can take into your classroom, to help students with dyslexia in acquiring another language.

Sign up on the FutureLearn website.


The school with 42 languages in the playground

5 May 2014 (BBC News)

With immigration a big topic in the European and local elections, BBC News local government correspondent Mike Sergeant visits a school in north-west London, where there are 42 languages spoken in the playground. Byron Court in Brent is one of the most diverse schools in the UK. The playground at lunchtime is an extraordinary mix of vibrant London life.

Children from Iraq, the Philippines, Somalia, India, Nepal, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia, to name but a few, mingle happily and play together.


How schools are breaking down the language barrier for EAL students

5 March 2014 (The Guardian)

The number of students who speak foreign languages at home has risen by 20% in five years. Nick Morrison explores the integration and teaching strategies being used in schools.


Related Links

Translating maths in a multicultural school community (The Guardian, 5 March 2014) English is the second language at Sacred Heart primary school, but specially designed learning programmes and an inclusive environment enable students to thrive.

Students with English as a second language 'outperform native speakers' in GCSEs (The Independent, 5 March 2014) Lord Nash, the Schools Minister, said students who speak English as an additional language (EAL) scored better grades in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) than native speakers.

Embedding the international dimension at Milton School

18 February 2014 (eTwinning)

Milton School, which caters for children with complex learning needs, has become a model of how to use international education to improve standards within the classroom and support the professional development of teaching staff.

The situation at Milton in April 2012, when the school first joined eTwinning, was extremely challenging. Staff morale was low following an HMI inspection in early 2012. However, with follow-up support through HMI Education Scotland’s Transformative Change programme, staff at Milton were able to work together to develop a whole-school strategy for improvement. In particular, they were interested in exploring how international education and ICT could help transform teaching and learning.


Free ebook – “Promoting Plurilingualism – majority language in multilingual settings”

28 January 2014 (ECML)

A free downloadable ebook from ECML which provides tools for majority language teachers focused on recognising, supporting and promoting plurilingualism. Registration is required.


Dyslexia and Languages

26 November 2013 (Dyslexia Scotland)

Learning another language is, for most, an exciting and worthwhile experience, and one from which they can gain much satisfaction, win friendships and make business connections. For those with literacy difficulties and dyslexia however, it can be challenging for both learners and teachers. Recent years have brought some interesting developments in the foreign language learning area, and the research base for making recommendations for learning and teaching is now growing..

Come along and hear Dr Margaret Crombie speak about dyslexia and languages on Thursday, 28 November 2013 (7-9pm) - Kaimhill Community Centre, Pitmedden Terrace, Aberdeen.


CODA - Breaking Barriers in Language Learning

24 November 2013 (CODA Project)

CODA (Consolidation, Outcomes, Dissemination, Agency) is a one-year project being implemented by a consortium of five European partner institutions, and funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the EU Commission. It builds on two previous initiatives led by Nottingham Trent University (UK): ALLEGRO (2002-2005) and VIVACE (2006-2009). Starting from the assumption that all EU citizens, regardless of social status, disadvantage or disability, have a right to share in the vision of a united and multilingual Europe, these award-winning projects brought language learning to disadvantaged groups of all kinds.

Inclusive language learning is at the heart of this project. CODA’s aim is to organise wide-scale dissemination of the results of the two previous projects, further spreading the message that access to language learning strengthens social cohesion and personal development and promotes intercultural dialogue. CODA will take the work forward and bring the concept, the methods and the results of the ALLEGRO and VIVACE projects to new audiences within and outside the education sector across Europe: teachers, teacher trainers, education and training institutions' managers, but also educators, social care providers, governmental and non-governmental bodies potentially interested in the issue.

CODA includes different publications (online and printed) as well as formal training on inclusive language learning for teachers of adults and for teachers in primary and secondary schools.
A major conference, which will bring together stakeholders from all sectors with an interest in inclusive language learning, will take place in Nottingham at Nottingham Trent University on 22 January 2014.

Visit the website for further information about the CODA project.


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)

Immigrants to be banned from taking driving tests in foreign languages in bid to stop cheating and boost road safety

6 February 2013 (Daily Mail)

Immigrants are to be banned from taking driving tests in 19 foreign languages in a bid to stop cheating and boost road safety, it was announced Tuesday. As well as beating fraud and keeping unsafe drivers off UK roads, the move to end foreign translations and translators will increase ‘social cohesion and integration’ in Britain and cut costs, the Government said. Those learning to drive can currently take their theory and practical driving tests in any of 21 languages.


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