Latest News

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

Language Learning

Beyond the Panda free virtual sessions

2 March 2021 (RZSS)

Beyond the Panda is taking bookings now for live virtual sessions for next school year, we are fully booked for this year until end of June. Beyond the Panda has an exciting 7/8 week progressive programme for upper primary level, P4-P7. The key objectives are detailed on the second page of the pdf attached. This programme is an exciting introduction to the Mandarin language while learning lots of science. Sandie Robb, a registered teacher but has been working with RZSS for many years and manages the Science Specialist Confucius Classroom delivers these interactive sessions using skulls, models and language games. The programme also links with a native Chinese teacher. Sessions 1- 7 are delivered as live virtual sessions but it is hoped that the 8th session may be delivered as an outreach when restrictions are lifted. In addition, there are two individual sessions for lower primary, P1-P3. Sessions are delivered on Microsoft Teams within Glow.

Further information on the Beyond the Panda website. To book contact 


Related Files

Fête de la Francophonie

1 March 2021 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française in Glasgow is hosting a selection of events between 9-22 March for the 24th edition of the International Francophonie Week, including a special Quiz in partnership with the Institut Français d'Ecosse.

Visit the website for more information.


‘SQA has been dumbing down languages exams for years’

25 February 2021 (TES)

In 2017, I looked back on my 46 years of modern languages teaching. Despite fond memories, I felt unease. I sensed a disconnect between pupils’ competences and Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results. I have met Higher pupils whose A grade left them floundering and unable to create spontaneous, simple German.

Three years’ research answered the question: have German teaching and testing – which I used as an exemplifier for modern languages – failed Scottish pupils? 

The SQA decision at the end of January to ditch the talking element of Advanced Higher shows that they continue to fail Scottish pupils and confirms my research findings.


Radio Lingua resources

25 February 2021 (Radio Lingua)

Reading Club for schools resources

  • We hope you are continuing to enjoy our short Reading texts which are a useful supplement for your Senior Phase learners of Spanish and French. Last week we published an article about La Fête des Voisins and another about how to make the perfect Tortilla Española. Each text is available to download for free and comes with an audio file and answer scheme here.


  • It still looks like a while before we can travel abroad again. In the meantime, we published our latest episode of our second series of Travel Diaries in French. Episode two is en route to Rouen in Normandy and includes an explanation about the phrase manger sur le pouce. You can set this link as extra listening practice for your pupils.
  • Have you been following our crime series La vérité éclate toujours for Advanced learners of French? Meet a brand new character in this week’s episode by clicking here.


  • We know that translation is an essential skill for all learners of languages. However, there are sometimes words and phrases which are just not translatable at all. Have a look at our blog post ¡Es intraducible!  and share this with your learners to help them understand the challenge of trying to translate word for word.
  • Did you see our Live lesson, where Marina and Mark practised Listening and Writing as a dictation exercise? This type of activity is very useful and could be used during online lessons. You will find the video on our YouTube channel here.


  • Our Italian Travel Diaries also continue. In this episode, our hosts visit the medieval castle in Thun. Listen here to find out more.
  • Each week on our Facebook page for Italian, we publish a grammar post. Last week we looked at expressions of time. Why don’t you challenge your learners to the translation challenge ?


  • If you want to introduce your learners of German to film in the foreign language, look no further than our blog article in which we list our top six film recommendations for German learners. Click here to read the full article.
  • Each Tuesday we publish a language idiom over on Instagram, and  last week was the phrase auf Wolke sieben sein, where we would say to be on cloud nine, but in German it is to be on cloud seven. Click here to read the full post 

Multilingual Debate 2021

25 February 2021 (Heriot-Watt University)

Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event that showcases the interpreting skills of undergraduate students on our Languages (Interpreting and Translating) degree programme, as well as the developing professional skills of postgraduate students on our MSc Interpreting and Translating programmes.

The event takes the form of a formal debate with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. The teams deliver their views in their various native languages (French, German, Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language (BSL)).

The Multilingual Debates 2021 will take place online via Zoom on Wednesday 24 March and Friday 26 March. 

Visit the Heriot-Watt Multilingual Debate webpage for more information and to register for the free event.


Ciné Club

25 February 2021 (High Commission of Canada)

To celebrate la Francophonie the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom and Délégation générale du Québec in London, with the support of the Francophonie UK group, is offering free screenings of six Canadian / Quebec films and documentaries during March.

Visit the event website for more information about the screenings on offer and to book tickets.


MTOT 2021 - winners announced!

25 February 2021 (SCILT)

Whilst the current pandemic prevented us from hosting this year's Mother Tongue Other Tongue celebratory awards event in the stunning Ramshorn Building in Glasgow, we managed to host our very own online red carpet event instead! Pupils, teachers and parents joined us online to hear the winners announced on the afternoon of Friday 19 February, a date especially chosen to tie in with International Mother Language Day on 21 February celebrating all world languages.

We are delighted to announce the following winners and highly commended entries in each category:

Mother Tongue







Zayne Emengo-Okpo

St Aloysius College JS


Highly commended

Eloïse Harkins

St Aloysius College JS




Lucja Lubanska

St Charles’ Primary


Highly commended

Ahmad Raza

Newmains Primary




Pranay Neppalli

Craigmount High


Highly commended

Filip Strzalka

Craigmount High




Chancelvie Bembo

St Benedicts


Highly commended

Lovely Selwyn

Bishopbriggs Academy


Other Tongue







Abbie Rettie

Goodlyburn Primary


Highly commended

Haroon Majid

Braidbar Primary


Highly commended

Stephanie Mackay-Watt

Goodlyburn Primary




Isobel Ross

Braidbar Primary


Highly commended

Evelina Finkova

Goodlyburn Primary




Rona Bryden

Loudoun Academy


Highly commended

Anna d’Alessio

Bishopbriggs Academy


Highly commended

Alistair Hillis





Lewis Fleming

St Thomas Aquinas


Highly commended

Anya Jarvis

Loudoun Academy


Highly commended

Ellie McGill

Carrick 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.

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!

German Educational Trainees Across Borders 2021/22

25 February 2021 (Get Across Borders / SCILT)

Expressions of interest are now being taken from local authorities who would like to host a German student teacher for a 6 month placement during the 2021/22 school session.

German trainee teachers from Universities in Mainz, Leipzig and Koblenz are available to work in Scottish schools for a six month placement from September/October 2021 to March/April 2022. Participating students are native German speakers, training to become secondary teachers of English. 

German Educational Trainees (GETs) support language teaching and intercultural understanding, bringing language alive for learners with a trained and motivated native speaker. 

Local authorities interested in hosting GETs should register with SCILT by Friday 26th March. For more information and to register your interest please contact SCILT

Glasgow Film Festival 2021

23 February 2021 (Glasgow Film Festival)

Glasgow is one of the friendliest film festivals on the planet with a wide-ranging programme that celebrates every corner of world cinema and provides a fantastic showcase for the best of Scottish film. The 2021 edition will take place from Wednesday 24 February to Sunday 7 March.

There are several foreign language screenings available for learners to practise listening skills.

If you haven't already secured your tickets, visit the website for full programme details and buy now.


Thousands of UK language students left in limbo as Brexit hits travel plans

23 February 2021 (The Guardian)

Thousands of UK students hoping to spend the year abroad are caught in limbo after facing major disruption to their travel plans due to post-Brexit red tape and costs, in respect of which universities say they received inadequate guidance from the government.

Coordinators of academic years abroad who spoke to the Guardian said there had been limited information from the Foreign Office ahead of Brexit on the onerous requirements that the shift in their status would incur in EU countries.

Current advice differs according to the consulate and often conflicts with information from local embassies, with the result that many students have had to cancel or postpone placements, the academics said.

“I don’t think anybody was fully aware of the extent of the entanglement of the UK with the EU. Like any sector – the same goes for fishing, transport and logistics – the university sector is grappling with the complexities of the situation that weren’t known until it happened,” said Claire Gorrara, dean of research and innovation at Cardiff University and chair of the University Council of Modern Languages.

As of 1 January 2021, students arriving in EU countries must submit large amounts of paperwork to obtain visas for their stay, with requirements differing by country. Students must also demonstrate that they can afford their stay in some countries, including proof of more than €6,000 (£5,194) in their bank account in Austria, Italy and Portugal, or of an income of €700-€800 a month in Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

Nigel Harkness, a pro-vice-chancellor and French professor at Newcastle University, said academics and students were unable to prepare for these changes before 1 January. “Most EU countries weren’t in a position to confirm what their own arrangements were because we hadn’t confirmed them on our side, so this has created extra bureaucracy, and it’s been frustrating. We’ve all been developing policy and processes on the hoof.”

Despite the new rules coming into force nearly two months ago, academics said many students were still stuck in the UK awaiting further instructions or attempting to decipher conflicting information. Some students who remained in EU countries over Christmas to avoid Brexit complications have been told they must return to the UK to apply for their visas.


Fears language degrees at risk as Erasmus replacement focuses on UK trade agenda

19 February 2021 (The Guardian)

The dramatic fall in students taking language degrees in the UK could accelerate if the government fails to fund the year abroad in Europe after next year, universities are warning.

Students of modern languages have to spend their third year studying or working abroad in order to pass their degree, and academics say this is the main attraction of many courses. Now, with the UK no longer taking part in the EU Erasmus scheme, there are fears for the future of the traditional European year abroad and for many language courses, with 2020 admissions already down 38% on 10 years ago.

About 15,000 British students a year, across all subjects, used Erasmus to travel to universities in Europe for three to 12 months during their degree. But the universities minister, Michelle Donelan, said earlier this month that Erasmus did not offer “value for money” for taxpayers.

Instead, the government’s replacement programme, the £110m Turing scheme, has a new emphasis on “worldwide” rather than European travel, to countries such as Australia or the US. It is only a one-year commitment, running from September 2021 to August 2022, which leaves a big question mark over placements starting next autumn – when those now in their first year of a language course will be due to set off abroad.

Prof Adam Watt, head of modern languages and cultures at the University of Exeter, a member of the Russell group, says: “If I’m an 18-year-old signing up to do a language degree now, I want to know I’ll have a guaranteed place on a year abroad in two years’ time with financial support. But we can’t make that promise. We can’t confirm there is definitely a scheme in place.”

Language degrees have taken a battering, with numbers of modern language undergraduates more than halving between 2008-9 and 2017-18, and universities fear the current uncertainty could cause even more serious damage. According to the admissions service, Ucas, 3,830 students were accepted on to modern language degrees in 2020, down 38% from 6,165 in 2010. At least nine modern languages departments have closed in the past decade.


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.


Concours de la Francophonie 2021

18 February 2021 (Institut français)

The Institut français d’Ecosse launches le Concours de la Francophonie, a national school competition to encourage all young French learners and their teachers around Scotland and to celebrate the international day of la francophonie.

The competition is open to all Scottish primary and secondary schools offering French. Enter by submitting a short video of classroom activity in French by 15 March 2021.

Visit the Institut français d’Ecosse website for more information.


Mandarin for BGE 2021

18 February 2021 (CISS)

Do you want to include Mandarin in your school's curriculum but don't currently have the resources? CISS is offering 10 week blocks of live-streamed language and culture classes for Primary P5-P7 and Secondary S1-S3 to start in August 2021.

Further information can be found in the attached flyer. Register interest by 12 March 2021.

Related Files

SCILT spring newsletter - send us your stories!

16 February 2021 (SCILT)

Do you have a story to share with the languages community?

We are currently taking submissions for our spring 2021 newsletter. This is a great opportunity to promote what has been happening in your school or local authority with regard to languages. This could cover work going on in schools before Christmas, as well as innovative projects taking place during school closures, Languages Week Scotland celebrations or other languages initiatives. 

We are looking for articles of a maximum of 300 words, with a couple of colourful photos. The deadline for contributions is Friday 12th March 2021.

Visit our website to read the full submission guidelines, and to view previous editions of the newsletter. Submissions can be sent to


Radio Lingua resources

11 February 2021 (Radio Lingua)


  • It's time for some virtual travel once more! This Thursday (11th February) we're launching a brand new series of the Coffee Break French Travel Diaries and you can join Swiss student Charlotte and her friends Lucas and Théo as they take a trip through historic locations in northwestern France. They'll visit the castles of the Loire Valley, the Normandy beaches and the Mont St-Michel among other fascinating locations, and you can improve your French as you join them on this journey. Episode 1 of the new series will be available from Thursday 11th February and you'll find it in the podcast feed on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts
  • Do you know your famous French-speakers? We played a fun game of ‘Guess Who?’ on the Coffee Break French Facebook page last week, in which we provided learners with some clues and they had to guess who we were describing. Here’s one clue to get you started: j'ai combattu dans la guerre de Cent Ans. Think you know who it is? Click here to see the full post and to have a guess. A great idea to share with your remote learners!


  • ¿Qué tiempo hace hoy? (What's the weather like today?) Can your learners answer this question confidently in Spanish? We're taking you back to Lesson 21 from Season 1 of Coffee Break Spanish this week to talk about this very common conversation starter. Join Coffee Break Spanish teacher Mark and student Kara where we learn not only some useful phrases for talking about the weather, but also an explanation of the constructions behind these phrases so that you can build on these in future. By the end of this episode you'll be able to plan your activities around the weather forecast in the Spanish-speaking area you're visiting. Share the link with your classes for some extra online practice.
  • Each week we share a cultural post last week on our social media pages and last week we thought it would be interesting to learn about the Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla, who was known as the ‘master of light’ for his dazzling works. We asked members of our community to have a look online at some of Soralla’s paintings, and to let us know what they thought of his work. We had a very positive reaction, with lots of our learners saying me gustan mucho sus pinturasClick here to see the full post. You could share this with your learners of Spanish or simply enjoy finding out more for yourself.


  • Our Coffee Break Italian Travel Diaries Season 2 also launches on Friday 12th February. Have you managed to guess where we're going yet? Here's a clue - you may need to wrap up in your winter clothes this time! We hope you're looking forward to discovering a different part of Italy and building your language skills along the way. The podcast episodes will be published weekly on SpotifyApple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Enjoy this season’s journey and encourage your intermediate learners to join you.
  • Have you heard of the English expression ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’? If you want to convey this idea in Italian, you can use the expression volere è potere (literally ‘to want is to be able to’). This expression was the topic of our latest weekly #tuesdayidiom post on Instagram. Click here to see the full post and to access the rest of our Instagram content.


  • Was war der letzte Film, den du gesehen hast? (What was the last film you saw?) Many of us have more time to watch films and TV shows at the moment and so this may be a common topic of conversation among your German-speaking friends. Think about the last film you watched and how you could describe it in German. How would you review the film? Which adjectives would you use to describe it to your friends? As a starting point, take a look at this episode from Season 2 of Coffee Break German To Go where our German host, Julia, takes to the streets of Berlin to ask passers-by about the last film they watched. You may hear some useful words and phrases which you could use to talk about the last film you or your learners saw.
  • Our Friday German culture post got the weekend off to a great start last week. We were learning all about Schlager (German pop) and the Schlagerkönigin (Schlager queen), German singer, Helene Fischer. We shared a link to Fischer’s song Atemlos durch die Nacht, which became synonymous with the genre after its release in 2014. Click here to view the full post and have a listen (or a dance) to the upbeat song.

Reading Texts

  • Have you been downloading our free reading texts for secondary schools? Each day on the RLN Education Facebook page we are posting a new cultural text, with accompanying audio and answer scheme. Just follow the link to sign up and give your learners some extra reading material while they are learning remotely.

Madame Jacqueline Munro-Lafon essay competition

11 February 2021 (SCILT/Franco-Scottish Society Scotland)

Jacqueline Munro-Lafon essay competition flyer

In honour of Madame Jacqueline Munro-Lafon’s long and active life in the Franco-Scottish Community, the Franco-Scottish Society of Scotland wish to award an essay prize in her name this year to mark her one hundredth birthday.

This competition is aimed at Advanced Higher learners of French. All essay submissions must present a reflection on life and society from 1921 to 2021 in France and Scotland, to take into account Madame Munro-Lafon’s life and interests.

The winning entry will be awarded a prize of £500, and their essay will also be published in the annual Bulletin of the Franco-Scottish Society. Two runner-up prizes of £100 will be awarded by SCILT.

  • A maximum of three entries can be submitted from each school. Register your interest for your school to get involved by 5pm on 1 March.

Visit the Eventbrite webpage for further information and how to register.


Latest SLEA recipient announced!

9 February 2021 (SCILT)

We are delighted to announce Renfrew High School in Renfrewshire as the latest recipient of the Scottish Languages Employability Award (SLEA) in recognition of their successful partnership working in promoting languages as a key skill for employment.

The school received a Bronze Award for the 'Braehead Brochure' project with their partner Braehead shopping centre. The awarding panel commented: “Renfrew High School’s project and submission is a really interesting and practical one. It has a strong sense of purpose and a tangible, useful outcome.”

Congratulations to everyone involved on their excellent achievement! 

The SLEA, developed by SCILT in partnership with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, encourages innovation and creativity in the promotion of language skills through meaningful engagement between employers and schools. Read more about Renfrew High School's project, and find out how to submit your own entry for the Award, on the SCILT website.


Radio Lingua resources

4 February 2021 (Radio Lingua)

Reading resources for Senior Phase

Each day on the RLN Facebook page we are releasing a short cultural reading text, freely available to teachers. To access the downloadable and one page pdf, along with the audio file and an answer scheme, just follow the link on the text. The texts will alternate between French and Spanish each day and are ideal to share with pupils working remotely.


  • We’ve released a brand new episode of La Vérité éclate toujours here, our series for advanced learners of French. In this episode, we hear many examples of the following relative pronouns: dans laquelle, sur lequel, que and qui, as well as an example of the ne explétif in a comparative structure .
  • As language learners, we all know the power of verbs: the more verbs you learn in different tenses, the greater number of topics you are able to talk about in French. Our Coffee Break French Verbfix course is here to help your learners stay on top of your verbs so that they can use them accurately and effectively in both written and spoken French. Click here to get started with the lesson.


  • On our Coffee Break Spanish Facebook page last week we talked about the phrase por los pelos. This extremely useful expression literally means ‘by the hairs’ but really means ‘by very little’. So, for example, you can say that someone passed an exam por los pelos if they only just scraped through. Click here to see the full post and encourage your learners to use this phrase in their written or spoken language this week.
  • For beginner learners of Spanish it’s important to know which prepositions to use when talking about different modes of transport. In English we travel ‘by foot’ or ‘by train’, but what about in Spanish? Click here to read our most recent Grammar Builder Facebook post, in which we explain the simple rule for getting this right.



  • Take a look at this episode from Season 1 of Coffee Break German where we help you learn how to speak confidently about birthdays and dates in German. Not only that, native speaker Thomas also teaches learner Mark how to talk about the important topic of jobs. In our Grammar Guru segment, Kirsten focuses on prepositions which can take either the accusative or dative case, and Julia visits Vienna in the Cultural Correspondent segment to round off the episode. This is a great introduction for beginner learners of German, or for pupils to spend time at home consolidating language they’ve already met.
  • Continuing with the theme of birthdays, we found out how to wish someone a happy birthday in German in one our recent weekly Word Builder post. We also provided our community with some useful birthday-related vocabulary so you can take everything you learn in the episode above a step further. Click here to see the full post.

SCILT Lessons from Lockdown Learning

4 February 2021 (SCILT)

During the first period of lockdown last year, from early May until the end of June, SCILT delivered a series of online live language classes which were open to learners across Scotland. With the help of feedback from learners and parents, and the input of external observers, we have examined and evaluated this online learning and teaching experience, and in the report, we share these evaluations and the key lessons learned during this time. We hope that it might prove helpful to teachers in the planning and delivery of online lessons.

We would also love to hear from you! We would really value your thoughts about your experiences of online teaching and any suggestions that you have, either for Professional Learning or support which we could provide, or advice that you would wish to pass on to fellow practitioners. Get in touch at!

Read SCILT Lessons from Lockdown – A review of online learning and teaching

Chinese New Year resources

4 February 2021 (CISS)

Learn about Chinese New Year and the Year of the Ox with a range of resources collated on the CISS website. They include some fun videos on this important festival created by the CISS Chinese Exchange Teachers. 


Host a Teacher from Germany - virtually!

3 February 2021 (UK-German Connection)

You can still bring authentic German language and culture to your classroom this year, even if travel isn’t possible at the moment.

Registration is now open to ‘Host a teacher from Germany’ virtually(*) in spring or summer 2021. We’ll put you in touch with a teacher from Germany and help you to plan your virtual hosting experience, with ideas for presentations, interactive lessons, group language practice sessions and other bilateral activities between your classes.

(*) Please note that in registering to host virtually, there will also be the possibility to transfer your hosting experience to a face-to-face visit if you wish, as and when travel is possible again.

Visit the UK-German Connection website to find out more and to register by 23 February 2021.


CISS Nat 4, Nat 5 and Higher online Mandarin offer 2021-2022

2 February 2021 (CISS)

CISS is happy to be able to share the first details of our offer of live-streamed Mandarin NQ classes for the upcoming 2021-22 session. This will allow schools to expand their provision for Mandarin, particularly those who do not have access to a GTCS registered teacher of Mandarin and who have, therefore, been unable to offer NQ classes.  The following details will allow these courses to be added to course choice forms.  The official start date is still to be decided and will be confirmed as soon as circumstances allow.

Please register your school’s interest now

The offer consists of three courses: National 4, National 5 and Higher.

National 4









9.30 – 10.30


National 5










9.30 – 10.30







9.30 – 10.30


9.30 – 10.30




Please read carefully the following information:

  • Learners can access the course from at school or at home. All they will require is access to the internet and their Glow account. All assessments will need to be undertaken in school under controlled conditions, supervised by a teacher.
  • The online teacher is PVG checked and GTCS registered.  She will provide and mark all teaching and assessment materials, and gather evidence of learners’ attainment. Schools will be responsible for:
  • obtaining approval to present these qualifications from SQA
  • presenting candidates for the relevant SQA qualifications
  • administering exams
  • ensuring that any assessment arrangements to which pupils are entitled are in place.

A designated GTCS class teacher must be assigned to support the delivery of Mandarin in your school. This teacher will be responsible for:

  • attendance and supervision of learners for each lesson
  • regular liaison with the GTCS Mandarin teacher via email/ virtual face-to-face conversation
  • co-ordinating reporting to parents
  • accessing and distributing class materials on Glow and uploading pupil work.
  • facilitating assessments.

The class teachers will not have responsibility for language teaching.  However, there is an expectation that they will help facilitate the learning.  They will also require time to deal with the administration associated with the course(s). This, therefore, requires a timetabled commitment from a member of staff.

Teaching materials, resources and assessments will be available for download.

Once notes of interest have been collated, further details will follow.  An online meeting will be arranged for all participating schools.  This will give an opportunity for staff to network with each other and to clarify any questions they may have.

Please get in touch at should you require additional, specific information.

Language education in Europe: the impact of Covid - Take part in the survey!

2 February 2021 (ECML)

The Covid pandemic has had – and is continuing to have - a profound impact on most of our activities, not least on language education. The ECML, in cooperation with its Professional Network Forum, is today launching a Europe-wide project to gather information and exchange views on how language educators are coping with the challenges, and to reflect on the lessons to be learnt from their experiences.

The first step is a survey addressed especially to language educators, though administrators, language students and parents are also welcome to contribute to it. Visit the ECML website to access the survey and submit responses by 28 February 2021.


AR sign language book for children leads UK’s immersive tech boom

1 February 2021 (Design Week)

The first Augmented Reality (AR) British Sign Language (BSL) book for children and a virtual stage-building platform have joined the government’s tech innovation scheme Digital Catapult.


Languages Week Scotland 2021 quiz

1 February 2021 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française Glasgow has produced a fun and instructive digital quiz on a variety of French related topics such as language, sport, music, gastronomy, and more to celebrate Languages Week Scotland.

Interested schools should visit the website for information on how to obtain a link to the quiz, which will be available beyond Languages Week.


Dundee Scots: ‘We have to make sure the language keeps going otherwise the Dundee essence will pass away’

31 January 2021 (The Courier)

Michael Alexander speaks tae twa weel-kent faces fae Dundee’s cultural scene – Alistair Heather and Sheena Wellington – who have launched free online sessions helping participants develop their understanding of Dundee’s Scots language.

For Dundee born and bred traditional singer Sheena Wellington, the Scots language has always been an important part of life.

Coming from a family of weavers, the 76-year old former Blackness Primary and Harris Academy pupil was brought up in a Dundee Scots speaking household.

Yet despite being surrounded by her Dundee Scots speaking father, grannies and aunts at home, she vividly remembers being discouraged from speaking her mither tongue in school.


Speaking removed from modern languages qualifications

29 January 2021 (TESS)

Modern languages teachers have hit out at Scotland’s exam body over its decision not to assess students' ability to speak the language they are learning as part of the Advanced Higher qualification this year.

In the most recent guidance produced by the Scottish Qualifications Authority, published last week, modern languages teachers have been told that, at Advanced Higher level, they are to base their teacher-estimated grades on reading, translation, listening and writing, but not on their students' ability to speak the language.

Modern languages teachers who spoke to Tes Scotland described the move as a “dumbing down” of the qualification, arguing that the key skill for a linguist to acquire is the ability to communicate. 


New French and Spanish reading resources

28 January 2021 (Radio Lingua)

As we continue through these interesting times of online learning, we are delighted to announce that we will be sharing with teachers a free reading resource each day starting on Monday 1 February. Each cultural text will have accompanying comprehension questions, a translation challenge and an audio file , as well as an answer grid. These texts will be available on the RLN Education website, but each day the link to the new text will be posted on our Facebook page here.  We hope you find them a useful addition to your online resources and your learners enjoy the cultural content.


Engage with the wider school community and develop blended learning

28 January 2021 (PowerLanguage)

In order to support Schools and their wider communities, we have created a new package to strengthen Home Learning and promote Home-School Partnership

Our Online Home Learning Courses for Families - available in French or Spanish - have been successfully running in many parts of Scotland since 2016. They were designed to develop the partnership between Schools, pupils and the wider community. Parents and carers can embark on a meaningful and exciting language journey shared by all family members!

The courses are accessible online or through an App. They each contain 6 lessons which follow a gentle progression, reinforcing the key language introduced in Primary Schools. 

In each lesson, new structures are presented in French or Spanish, as well as in English, by a native tutor or in an animation. Watch an extract on Vimeo or Youtube

The cultural podcasts introduce slices of French or Spanish life and focus on playground games, songs, special monuments and various landscapes. Small tasks are attached to each video. Watch an extract on Vimeo or Youtube.

Families can assess their progress through short challenges at the end of each lesson. One of the 3 challenges can be delivered at School or in a blended learning context, thus reinforcing the link between School and home learning.

A case study on the impact of this Course on families and schools was produced in Scotland in 2016 by Scotland’s National Language Centre (SCILT). Find out more at:

You can also watch this video to see the impact of our Course for Families on a school and its wider community in Western Australia.

Cost: in order to make the Course available to all, a licence can be bought by the School and shared with their wider community in the form of a coupon. 

The cost of the licence is £100 per course (French or Spanish) and covers up to 200 families (users)

The coupon will give parents, carers and learners access to all videos and resources for a 3-month duration from the date of activation. 

Schools will be responsible for sharing the coupon with parents and carers within 6 months of the date of purchase of the course.

Some schools which have previously purchased this Course used their Pupil Equity Funding to cover the cost. 

Level: The course is available in French or Spanish for primary school learners and their families who are beginners/post beginners.

Please contact us by email: or visit our website


Discovering the World of Arabic 2021-22

28 January 2020 (SCILT)

SCILT, in partnership with Qatar Foundation International and eSgóil, is currently looking for schools in Scotland who would be interested in opening the door to the Arab world through our Discovering the World of Arabic programme.  

The collaboration will provide an opportunity for both primary and secondary schools to offer L3 learning experiences in Arabic language and culture. Courses have been co-created by the SCILT team and a specially commissioned writing team of native speakers, with language lessons delivered online by a native speaker of Arabic via e-Sgoil. For learners in primary schools the course will be offered as a ten-week interdisciplinary block of learning and is aimed at P5-P7 pupils. For secondary schools, the course will focus on developing conversational Arabic which will enhance learners’ employability skills and runs until March 2022. It is aimed at S6 senior phase learners who are seeking to enhance their language learning experience and their CVs. Both courses are delivered using a mix of live and recorded classes, with supplementary materials being shared via Glow Teams. Participating schools will also receive the support of a fully-trained, native speaking, language assistant. The lessons give learners the chance to explore aspects of Arabic culture as well as providing a solid linguistic foundation for learning the world’s fifth most spoken language.

Classes are provisionally scheduled as follows:

  • Primary - Tuesdays and Thursdays 13.30-14.30, starting August 2021
  • Secondary - Mondays and Wednesdays13.30-14.30, starting June 2021

In addition, participating schools will receive ongoing support from the SCILT team and a grant of £2000. This can provide schools with resources and experiences that enhance and support the language learning and promote a positive experience of Arabic culture.

Places are limited for this opportunity, so if you would like your school to be considered to take part, please contact SCILT at before close of business on Friday 19 February 2021. Please include the following information in your note of interest:

  • Name of school and your nominated contact person
  • Brief reasons for your establishment's interest in this project, and how it would fit into your school's provision for language learning.
  • What ideas you have, if any, for spending the bursary associated with the project.
  • How you would share this learning experience with your wider community (this could be both within your school and externally)?

TECLA 1/2021, magazine for Spanish language teachers

25 January 2021 (Consejería de Educación)

We have published a new number of our review for Spanish language teachers TECLA. It includes:

  • National Languages Estrategy in the UK and opportunities for Spanish
  • Interview with the Consul General of Manchester
  • The experience of a Spanish visiting teacher in the UK
  • A sequence for the classroom playing with Rayuela
  • Irish Film Institute Schools Programme 2020-2021
  • Spain as a destination for school and language tourism
  • Quino and Mafalda: a sequence for the classroom


Express Yourself in Lockdown

21 January 2021 (British Council)

Speaking a language confidently and coherently is an important part of the curriculum throughout the four devolved education departments in the United Kingdom, and forms a critical part of linguistic and cultural development for all learners of languages.

However, the impact of Covid-19 has meant that many pupils have had fewer opportunities to speak the languages they are learning.  Therefore, the Association for Language Learning , the British Council and the cultural and linguistic bodies in the United Kingdom have combined efforts to devise an exciting event entitled ‘Express Yourself in Lockdown’.

This will be an opportunity to showcase language learners’ enjoyment of a language that they are learning or that is normally used in their home community from home (except for English!). 

Visit the British Council website for more information and share performances on the designated social platforms by 28 February 2021.


Welcome back to a new year of language learning with Coffee Break Languages!

21 January 2021 (Radio Lingua)


  • Chapter 15 of our advanced course for French learners, La Vérité éclate toujours has now been published. As we follow the intriguing story, we come into contact with some words and phrases which will help you take your language skills to the next level. Manigancer (to scheme/plot), tueur à gages (hitman), and en avoir vu de toutes les couleurs (to have been through a lot) are just some of the words and expressions you can expect to hear in this episode. Click here to listen to the full episode when it's available.
  • To toast the start of the new year, we welcomed back our Coffee Break French Facebook community after the holiday period with a post all about how to talk about raising a toast in French. You’ve probably heard the word santé, but do you know any other ways to say ‘cheers’ in French? Click here to see the full post and learn some new vocabulary.


  • Looking for a quick fix of Spanish to fill those small pockets of downtime during your day? Take a look at our Coffee Break Spanish Espresso series in which we cover key grammar and vocabulary points in just 10-15 minutes. In Episode 3 we learn everything we need to know about how to use the tricky word ni in Spanish. Not only that, our native Spanish speaker, Fernanda helps us get to grips with the subjunctive after es importante que. To round off the episode, we share a Spanish quote of the week, this time, focusing on the theme of the fear of danger. Intrigued? Click here to listen to the full episode.
  • Are you and your learners following us on Instagram for some language learning tips? We kicked off the year with a brand-new Tuesday idiom post. The idiom was the Spanish phrase estar en su salsa which literally means ‘to be in one’s sauce’. Can you work out in which contexts you would actually use this idiom? Click here to find out in the full post.


  • As we are still unable to travel, we can still do so virtually! Our new series of Coffee Break Italian Travel Diaries will launch very soon. This time, we'll be transporting you to a completely different part of the Italian-speaking world to explore the area and improve your language skills with some brand new characters. Can you guess where we might be going and what we might be doing? We can't wait for our Coffee Break Italian Community to join us on another virtual journey, starting on Friday 12th February. In the meantime, you can catch up on Giulia and Paolo's Tuscan adventure by clicking here to access Season 1, if you haven't already done so. A presto!
  • For our first Coffee Break Italian Facebook post of 2021, we decided to talk all about the Italian word ciaspolata, which translates rather long-windedly as 'the activity of going for a walk in the snow while wearing snowshoes. Ti piace la neve? Click here to let us know in a comment on the post.


  • We're revisiting Episode 6 from our Coffee Break German Magazine series this week to draw your attention to author Michael Ende, who wrote one of the most famous works of fiction for younger readers, The Neverending Story, among other books. Click here to find out more about Ende and his work in this edition of the Magazine. Not only do we gain an insight into his work, we also learn about German word order with the help of our question from listener, Soumaya.
  • We jumped straight back into improving our German grammar this year with a post all about using umlauts (the two dots on the German öü and ä). We provided our learners with a list of sentences and asked them to pick whether a certain word in the sentence should be written with or without an umlaut. Here’s an example: Hast du heute schön/schon etwas gegessen?Click here to have a go yourself

Languages Week Scotland 2021 - Using film to teach languages

21 January 2021 (Screen Scotland)

Screen Scotland has put together a resource for Languages Week Scotland 2021 on using film to teach languages. See the attached document. There's also a Microsoft Team available to join for all subject teachers looking to teach with film: Screen Scotland: Film Education

British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition 2021

18 January 2021 (British Council)

The British Council is pleased to announce that a digital Mandarin Speaking Competition will take place in a series of online events. The competition provides a great opportunity for secondary school students to practise and improve their Mandarin language skills.

Taking part in the competition:

  • increases students’ motivation for learning the language
  • develops vocabulary and improves pronunciation
  • raises confidence for oral examinations
  • encourages students to interact with their classmates
  • inspires students to discover more about Chinese culture.

Applications are now open until 12 February 2021. Visit the British Council website for more information.


Four tips for learning language through film and TV

14 January 2021 (The Conversation)

Films and TV shows can be great tools to help you become a more competent speaker of another language. By captivating your attention and arousing your curiosity, these formats can instil a positive attitude towards learning. They can also help you be a more active participant and keep you motivated to spend more time on language-related tasks.

There are a host of wonderful and gripping series and films available at our fingertips, from Netflix’s Spanish drama La Casa de Papel (Money Heist, which is the streaming site’s most watched non-English language show) to film classics like Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita or last year’s Oscar winner, the Korean film Parasite.

Learning a language this way, however, is easier said than done. I’m sure many of us have made it to the end of a gripping Scandi noir without actually learning much. So here are four tips to help you make the most of language learning through TV and film.


SCILT Live Lessons for Senior Phase Learners

14 January 2021 (SCILT/eSgoil)

During the current lockdown, SCILT is delighted to support our partners at eSgoil by offering live language lessons. These will be available to all Senior Phase learners in Scotland – learners can register through the eSgoil website.

Daytime Study Support

  • Higher French – Thursdays at 11.15
  • National 5 French – Tuesdays at 11.15
  • Higher Spanish – Tuesdays at 14.15
  • National 5 Spanish – Wednesdays at 09.30

You can register for Daytime Study Support Sessions here-

SCILT is continuing to offer evening support sessions for Advanced Higher:

  • Advanced Higher Spanish – Wednesdays at 17.00
  • Advanced Higher French – Thursdays at 17.00

You can register for Evening Study Support Sessions here -

eSgoil is offering a wide range of support for learners of all ages throughout lockdown, and SCILT is proud to support them and Scotland’s educational community through these challenging times.

World of Languages

14 January 2021 (Stride Magazine)

Sheena Bell, professional development officer at SCILT, explores the many ways in which Learning for Sustainability makes a great context for modern language learning.

“Learning other languages enables children and young people to make connections with different people and their cultures and to play a fuller part as global citizens.”

As this quote from the Scottish Government’s Modern Languages Principles and Practice document clearly shows, Modern Languages classrooms are uniquely positioned to incorporate Learning for Sustainability into their teaching and learning. Learning a language in school is not simply about learning vocabulary and grammatical structures; it offers a window into other cultures, traditions, ways of life and ways of thinking. Every day, pupils in our classes are being made aware in a very real way of their interconnectedness with the wider world, both socially and environmentally. The Modern Languages curriculum, particularly within the Senior Phase, already includes topics such as equality, social justice, environmental issues and gender – as Modern Languages teachers we are very often already teaching around Learning for Sustainability without even realising it!

(Note - The full article includes links to associated professional learning and classroom resources.)


Worldwide Napier magazine - call for submissions

14 January 2021 (Edinburgh Napier University)

Worldwide Napier, the magazine in foreign languages designed by language students to encourage language studies, is currently looking for contributions in French, German and Spanish for its seventh issue. The next issue's overarching theme is Oblivion. Pick a subject associated with oblivion and turn it into an engaging article. 

Students at secondary school, college or university are invited to submit contributions by email by 1 March 2021.

Visit the website for more information.


Online French resources

12 January 2021 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française Glasgow has collated a selection of online resources to explore French culture and language learning at home. There's something for all ages - check out the links on the website.


Engage with the wider school community and develop blended learning

12 January 2021 (PowerLanguage)

In order to support Schools and their wider communities, we have created a new package to help with home learning. 

Our PowerLanguage Online Course for Families - available in French or Spanish - has been successfully running in many parts of Scotland since 2016. It was designed to develop the partnership between Schools, pupils and the wider community. Parents and carers can embark on a meaningful and exciting language journey shared by all family members!

  • The course is accessible online or through an App. It contains 6 lessons which follow a gentle progression, reinforcing the key language introduced in Primary Schools. 
  • In each lesson, new structures are presented in French or Spanish, as well as in English, by a native tutor or in an animation. Watch an extract on Vimeo or Youtube
  • The cultural podcasts introduce slices of French/Spanish life and focus on playground games, songs, special monuments and various landscapes. Small tasks are attached to each video. Watch an extract on Vimeo or Youtube.
  • Families can assess their progress through short challenges at the end of each lesson. One of the 3 challenges can be delivered at School, thus reinforcing the link between School and home learning.

A case study on the impact of this Course on families and schools was produced in Scotland in 2016 by Scotland’s National Centre for Languages (SCILT). 

You can also watch this video to see the impact of our Course for Families on a school and its wider community in Western Australia.

Cost: in order to make the Course available to all, a licence can be bought by the School and shared with their wider community. The annual cost is £100 per course (French or Spanish). Schools can also buy the course for a one-off fee of £500 per course for indefinite use. (Schools who have previously purchased this Course used some of their PEF funding to cover the cost). 

Level: The course is available in French or Spanish for primary school learners and their families who are beginners/post beginners.

Scottish Schools may wish to launch this Course in advance of Languages Week Scotland (1-5 February 2021). 

Please contact us to find out more or visit our website. 


Home learning in Scotland: How to access the new BBC resources for lockdown learners on offer

11 January 2021 (The Scotsman)

BBC Scotland has launched a variety of programmes and resources for school pupils across Scotland as the country begins home school learning today.

The broadcaster is offering TV programmes on BBC Scotland from 10 am this morning for primary and secondary school pupils across the country.

The educational programmes will be on week days and will last till around 11.30 am- 12 pm most days.

As well as a catch-up service for missed programmes, there will also be ‘Stories in Scots’ available via the BBC Scotland website and via BBC Sounds.


Year of the Ox Education Pack

11 January 2021 (British Council)

According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, we enter the Year of the Ox on 12 February 2021.

These education resources contain information and activities to help teachers and pupils learn more about this important spring festival and explore Chinese culture. Your pupils can read a version of the traditional story of the New Year Race, create shadow puppets of the main characters and make a traditional Chinese lantern.

These resources are suitable for primary years and adaptable for early secondary years and older.


La Jolie Ronde French and Spanish Free Trials

11 January 2021 (La Jolie Ronde)

During Languages Week Scotland, 1-5 February 2021, FREE TRIALS will be available of La Jolie Ronde's two award winning French and Spanish resources.  

La Jolie Ronde Languages for Children is a leading early language learning organisation offering a proven method of teaching young children French and Spanish. La Jolie Ronde’s award winning programmes are unique, modern and of the highest quality. FREE TRIALS on their resources are available as follows:

  • Little Languages Resource (P1-P3)
  • French and Spanish Resource (P4-P7)
  • French or Spanish free taster Online class

For more information email



SEET's Our World project update

11 January 2021 (SEET)

Due to the new lockdown measures introduced by the Scottish Government on 4 January, including the closure of schools, SEET have pushed back the storyboard submission deadline to Friday 5 February 2021. They have also adapted the project and expanded the project's reach by increasing participation options for home learning and accommodating for both individual and group participation. Please see below for a summary of the changes:

  • S1-6 may take part in 2021, not only S3-6 pupils.  
  • Storyboard submission deadline extended to Friday 5 February 2021 (extra 3 weeks) 
  • Accompanying video/audio clip explaining the storyboard is now optional. Storyboard and links to SDG theme and languages must be clear if no additional description is provided. 
  • We are accepting storyboard entries from teams AND entries from individual pupils if pupil collaboration is no longer possible. More guidance on team participation available. 
  • We will be able to invite more pupils to take part in the filmmaking stage, as we are no longer limited to in-person venue workshop capacity.  
  • Creation of password protected online portal to support pupils through the filmmaking stages. This will include video tutorials from filmmakers, written guidance and tutorials, resources, and clear instructions for pupils.

Visit the SEET website for more information about the Our World project.


French Pop Video Competition 2021

7 January 2021 (Institut français)

Do you think you could sing or rap in French? Do you have the skills to make a video clip for your song? If so, this competition is for you!

Open to any student or groups of students in full time primary or secondary education in the UK. Entries will be judged in 3 age-group categories: 7-11, 12-15, and 16-18.

Visit the competition website for more information. Register and submit entries by 31 March 2021.


Languages Week Scotland

7 January 2021 (SCILT)

Languages Week Scotland 2021 will take place during the week 1–5 February. The theme is ‘Celebrating Scotland’s languages landscape’ and the aim is to amplify the voices of people, organisations and events that celebrate multilingualism and the many ways it manifests in Scottish communities. 

Follow the hashtag #scotlandloveslanguages or the dedicated Twitter account @LangsWeekScot to find out what is happening or to share anything you will do with your learners to mark the week.

Schools can download the Languages Week Scotland logo from the SCILT website (Resources for Languages Week Scotland). Please add to emails and other promotional materials to show your support. 

Keep your eye out for daily challenges from 1-5 February, which will engage learners whether in the classroom or at home.

French oral revision courses

7 January 2021 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française Glasgow is running online revision courses during January and February for those scheduled to sit Higher and Advanced Higher French exams in 2021.

Visit the website for more information and to enrol.


Why are we learning languages in a closed world?

6 January 2021 (BBC)

Language learning spiked during lockdowns, commercial providers say. But when no-one can travel, and the job market looks unstable, why have people turned toward language now?

When the UK’s second lockdown hit in November, I was learning to decipher a Luwian curse.

Luwian, a language spoken and written in ancient Turkey some 3,000 years ago, may not seem like the most obvious choice for a new hobby. It survives mainly in the form of enigmatic symbols carved into scattered rock monuments. But spending a couple of hours a week cracking this code, under the guidance of a Luwian expert, turned out to be an almost magical form of stress relief. I’d signed up to the course shortly before the lockdown, and after each session, I felt that ­my mind had been cut loose from endless pandemic-related worries, and was free to roam and discover – if only for an evening.

As obscure as Luwian may be, my urge to explore a foreign language was right on trend in 2020. During the first lockdown in March, user numbers for language-learning apps including Duolingo, Memrise and Rosetta Stone rocketed, according to data from the companies. Duolingo reported a 300% jump in new users. The numbers generally eased over the summer, but saw another bump during the second lockdown. While Spanish, French and German were popular choices, Brits also tried out a wide range of other languages. The uptake of Welsh and Hindi soared, for example, with learners citing brain stimulation, cultural interest and family ties as motivating factors. Cultural curiosity also boosted the popularity of Japanese.

Of all the pursuits people have adopted amid the pandemic – making sourdough, working on screenplays – learning a language may seem like an odd choice. After all, the world is effectively closed, with much of international travel off limits. And even for those hoping that language learning could improve their career prospects, the job market remains unstable, with some in no position to change careers. But turning to language may be able to uniquely connect us to something many have longed to feel again.


Nihongo Cup 2021

4 January 2021 (Japan Foundation)

The Nihongo Cup is the Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary School students. Applications for the 2021 contest are now open. Finalists will be invited to perform their speeches as part of an online Finals Day on Saturday 10 July. They will also have a chance to win some fantastic prizes!

Visit the Japan Foundation website for more information and the application pack. The closing date for applications is 29 March 2021. 


Brexit: Boris Johnson's decision to quit Erasmus betrays lie that Britain is leaving EU, not Europe

30 December 2020 (The Scotsman)

There is an old Czech proverb which says that you live a new life for every language you speak. It was coined in a country where even minority languages are widely spoken, but its relevance is universal.

My family, like so many others, has its own stories of how language opened doors and made possible fantastic journeys into new countries and new cultures.

It began with my aunt, the daughter of a shipyard machinist, who had a natural aptitude for languages from a young age. Her skill and interest was encouraged as much as possible in 1960s Port Glasgow, but it was only when she enrolled at the old Langside College that others realised her potential.

Within a few years, she found herself working as a translator in Geneva for the United Nations. In time, she returned home to start a family, but the friendships she forged in Switzerland nearly half a century ago remain strong, and her love of languages was passed on.

Her daughter read French and German at Oxford, and recently graduated with a first class honours degree. That, of course, was simply a nice bonus. The greatest achievement was spending time living and learning abroad, and discovering the very best beer gardens the banks of the Rhine have to offer.


Bonjour Europe: Britons are turning to learning languages like never before

26 December 2020 (The Guardian)

With our exit from the European Union just days away, we should be saying a very firm and British goodbye. Yet for many in the UK, it seems that on the eve of departure it is more a case of au revoir.

The number of people learning a language in Britain has risen twice as fast as the rest of the world in the last year, according to online learning platform Duolingo, and one of the fastest growing groups is those learning French.

Thousands more are learning Spanish, German, Italian, or other EU languages – with some of them hoping to improve their language skills to a level where they qualify for citizenship of a European country.

Maxine Brown, a 27-year-old second year economics student, has been learning Danish for the last six months with the intention of moving to Denmark to pursue a postgraduate degree and work in environmental projects.

“I’m interested in the resource side of economics and Denmark is really leading the way,” she said. “So I started learning Danish in May. Very quickly I was able to start reading newspapers and I joined online forums to really immerse myself and started listening to the radio to pick up the tones and the sounds.”

Since British citizens will no longer have the right to live and work in EU countries after 31 December, Brown will need to pay tuition fees in full and needs a residence permit which requires a grasp of Danish.


Boost German and intercultural learning in your school with a Cultural Exchange Ambassador

15 December 2020 (UK-German Connection)

Calling all schools hosting a German Language Assistant! 

We’re expanding our network of Cultural Exchange Ambassadors - Language Assistants can apply now to join a dynamic group, already running fun UK-German projects with their pupils!

While travel is out of bounds, give your pupils an authentic taste of Germany: encourage your German Language Assistant to become a Cultural Exchange Ambassador, join a UK-German network and run a class-to-class project with a German school. 

This programme, offered by UK-German Connection, has wide-reaching benefits:

  • Pupils gain an authentic connection to their German peers, helping improve both their linguistic and cultural understanding and increase their motivation
  • Language Assistants learn & strengthen valuable skills, including project management, teamwork & communication, and benefit from peer-to-peer exchange
  • Schools benefit from curricular-focused projects, which connect their pupils with another country, culture & language

“A brilliant initiative by our FLA, thoroughly enjoyed by all participants, most of whom have now opted for GCSE German.” (Head of German department)

For more information about the programme, visit: 

You can also sign up for an online Q&A session via the above web page.

Deadline: Monday, 18 January 2021

For questions and further information, please contact


Radio Lingua resources

11 December 2020 (Radio Lingua)

Festive Phrases

  • How would you like to share with your learners a festive phrase in 25 different languages? This December we have launched a brand new, updated version of our Festive Phrases series over on our YouTube channel, where we're releasing a new video every day until Christmas Day. Each of these videos will feature a Festive Phrase for you to learn over the next 25 days. Catch up on the first week of our Festive Phrases here. While you're there, leave us a festive phrase in the comments section in the language you're learning.
  • Our Live Lessons continue this week, but don’t forget, you can catch up on them on our YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe while you're there so that you're notified as soon as we publish new videos.


  • We continue with our To Go series and this week’s question is As-tu déjà mangé quelque chose de bizarre ? This video works well for perfect tense practice and food topics. Take a look at the video here where we hear a range of interesting responses from passers-by in the streets of Nantes. You'll be sure to improve your food-related vocabulary
  • Are you and your advanced learners following our crime drama La Vérité éclate toujours? Our latest episode has been released and is full of challenging language. Listen out for the following adjectives: comblé (fulfilled), épanoui (blooming), and roublard (sneaky) featured in the episode. click here to find out more information.


  • In a similar vein, if you’re looking for a challenge for more advanced learners of Spanish, then check out Season 4 of Coffee Break Spanish. Developed with advanced learners in mind, teacher Mark and native Spanish speaker Carmen help you master the trickiest parts of the Spanish language. This course centres around a story involving characters from different parts of the Spanish-speaking world, and through the story, you'll pick up a huge range of advanced vocabulary, develop a wonderful repertoire of idiomatic expressions and deepen your understanding of complex grammar points. Have a listen to the episodes of Season 4 to get a taste of what our advanced course has to offer.
  • Each week on our Facebook page, we publish language and cultural information. Last week we took a virtual trip to a very luxurious location, where we learned all about the world’s most expensive restaurant, called Sublimotion. But, do you know where in the Spanish-speaking world the restaurant is located? Click here to find out, and to hear about our community members’ favourite places to eat.


  • We hope you're hungry as the latest episode of Coffee Break Italian To Go is all about food, specifically, the strangest food we've ever eaten. With this in mind, Francesca is in the streets of Stresa, approaching passers-by with the following question: qual è la cosa più strana che hai mai mangiato? Can you encourage your learners to give their own detailed answers to this question in Italian? Take some inspiration and key vocabulary from the answers we received in Episode 9 which you can access by clicking here


  • If you’re looking for an different cultural focus for your German learners, we have a historical episode of our Coffee Break German Magazine to share with you this week. Following the events of World War 2, the monumental task of clearing and reconstructing towns and cities fell to the Trümmerfrauen, literally “rubble women”. In Episode 3 of the Coffee Break German Magazine we look at this fascinating period of German history. Not only this, Andrea answers listener Maddie’s question about compound words, and Olivera introduces an interesting idiomatic expression in the Sahnehäubchen.
  • Our cultural post got us all in the festive spirit last week, as we were talking about der Vorweihnachtszeit, or the ‘pre-Christmas season’. We shared a classic recipe for something which will make your home smell like a German Christmas market this year. Can you guess what the recipe was for? Glühwein, of course! Click here to see the full post, and click here to try the recipe yourself at home.

Covid: Students and retirees form long-distance friendships

10 December 2020 (BBC)

Millie Jacoby met her new "French grandma" for the first time last week via video call.

The 21-year-old British student signed up to a scheme pairing language students with elderly French people, some of whom have been left isolated by the coronavirus pandemic.

"I thought it would be a great way to improve my language skills and get to know somebody who was possibly lonely," Millie said.

"My French grandma, as we call them, is in a retirement home and might not be having too much social interaction because of the pandemic so I thought it was the perfect time to do something like this."

Despite the 70-year age gap between the Warwick University student and the senior citizen living near Paris, they instantly hit it off.

"She was just so lovely from the first few sentences," Millie told the BBC.


Why Speak Chinese 2020

8 December 2020 (Chinosity)

Create and share a 1-minute engaging video about any shocking, funny, or weird experiences you had while learning Chinese for the chance to win two round trip flights to China! Please showcase your Chinese speaking skills in the video as well. Open to all learners of Mandarin aged 13 and over. Submission deadline 15 January 2021.

Visit the Chinosity website to find out more.


Euroquiz 2021

8 December 2020 (SEET)

Have you registered your teams for the Scottish European Educational Trust (SEET) Euroquiz competition? The annual project is open to all P6 pupils across Scotland, which sees teams of four working together to broaden their knowledge of Europe and the wider world. Subjects covered include languages, history, geography, culture and European affairs. Heats take place in local authorities from January to March, with the winning teams from all areas progressing to the National Euroquiz Final held in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament in June.

Visit the SEET website for more information and to register.


Cook and learn with Linguacuisine

8 December 2020 (Linguacuisine)

The free Linguacuisine app helps you learn French, German and Spanish while you’re cooking a festive treat! Have fun baking with a friend, learn some new words and then feed your family and friends with a French Bûche de Noël, German Lebkuchen or Spanish Mantecados. You can do it online or by using the attached recipe card. 

Visit the website for lots more recipes in a wide range of languages.


Related Files

Mathématiques sans Frontières

7 December 2020 (University of the West of Scotland)

The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) is again organising the world-wide Maths and Language competition “Mathématiques sans Frontières” in Scotland.

You are invited to participate in this stimulating and light-hearted competition which combines Mathematics and Modern Languages and aims to motivate pupils in these subjects, promote teamwork, and bridge borders.

Please find attached a training test for “Mathématiques Sans Frontières”, and one entry form for the competition proper.

S4 classes should attempt 10 questions and S5 classes 13 questions. A whole class should attempt the test with questions divided up between groups to ensure that the questions can be completed in the allotted time of 90 minutes. Question one will require an explanation in a foreign language. We hope that this encourages cross-curricular working and teamwork. Answers are also attached, in French, another opportunity for teamwork in the translation.

The competition proper will be held on Thursday 11 March 2021. The prize-giving will be held in June (hopefully!) at UWS when the achievements of the top ten schools at each level are recognised. All schools competing will receive a certificate.

Schools who would like to register for the competition are kindly requested to complete the proforma attached and return by 29 January 2021.

We will send out the actual test as a PDF file by e-mail on the Friday prior to the test. This has proved to be very popular and we intend continuing to issue the test in this format. We would therefore kindly ask you to ensure that the e-mail address provided is legible or, preferably, typed. It would also be beneficial to provide an alternative e-mail address, possibly a personal address, which may help prevent firewall issues.

Related Files

Radio Lingua resources

4 December 2020 (Radio Lingua)

Festive Phrases

This Advent we have updated our Festive Phrases videos on our Youtube channel

Each day at 9 am sees the release of a new language, and the short video teaches your learners to say Merry Christmas in that language. The new videos show more recent figures on the number of speakers of that language and where in the world it is spoken. 

Live Lessons

Our live lessons continue on Facebook and Youtube. Our latest lessons focused on dictation, an excellent method to improve both listening skills and accuracy in writing. Catch up with our latest French exercise here


  • At this time of year, thoughts turn to hopes of travelling again soon. Where would you like to go? Pierre-Benoît discusses this topic with native French speakers in Episode 8 of Coffee Break French To Go. Quelle serait ta destination idéale ?  Can your pupils understand the answers? On the second playing of the video, the French subtitles are shown to help you explain new or complex, but natural language. You can watch the episode for free here. 
  • If you’re following  La Vérité éclate toujoursour crime drama for advanced learners of French, you’ll find the latest instalment available. Don’t forget to pay close attention to the language used along the way, in particular, some subjunctive triggers including avant quefaire en sorte que and le temps que.


  • Are you or your learners following us on our social media accounts for free language learning advice? Last week over on the Coffee Break Spanish Facebook page, we had a great reaction from the community to our Monday vocabulary post. We shared a colourful graphic about Autumn weather, and how to talk about the weather in Spanish. We asked all of our learners what the weather was like where they are, and we had lots of great answers. Click here to view the the handy graphic.
  • What are you thankful for? Last week’s Knowledge Builder post on the Coffee Break Spanish Facebook page was all about the Spanish saying: es de bien nacido ser agradecido. The saying expresses the importance of saying thank you; an appropriate saying for this time of year with the US having celebrated Thanksgiving last week. Click here to read the full post in which we provide a list of different ways to give thanks in Spanish.


  • As with our French To Go series, our latest episode of Coffee Break Italian To Go has been published. This week’s question is - Se potessi andare in qualsiasi posto del mondo, dove andresti? (If you could you anywhere in the world, where would you go?). We're dreaming about our ideal holiday destination in this latest episode .Take some ideas from the words and phrases used by native Italian speakers featured in the episode.
  • In our Grammar Builder post on Coffee Break Italian’s Facebook page last week, we reviewed a very important aspect of Italian grammar. We looked at the verb essere and the fact that it needs to agree with the subject in gender and number when used as an auxiliary verb in the passato prossimo. We gave three example sentences and asked our community to fill the gaps and post their answers in the comments section. Click here to see how they got on, and ask your learners for their own answers. 


  • Have you been talking about your town with your German learners? Was gibt es hier zu sehen? (What is there to see here?) or was gibt es hier zu tun? (What is there to do here?) are two useful questions for your pupils. If they would struggle to respond to these questions in German then take a look back at Episode 17 from Season 1 of Coffee Break German where you’ll learn how to talk about what there is to do in your town. By the end of the lesson, you'll also be able to ask important information at the tourist information office when you're visiting a brand new German-speaking area yourself.

SCILT Christmas 2020 webpage - now live!

4 December 2020 (SCILT)

Are you looking for ways to bring the festive season to your languages classroom?

SCILT have compiled a range of online resources for use with your pupils, from interactive advent calendars and games, to lesson plans and festive facts. Find out how Christmas is celebrated in France, Germany, Spain and around the world!


Discovering China is back!

3 December 2020 (CISS)

Duolingo Gaelic app deemed a huge success worldwide

1 December 2020 (The Herald)

More than 560,000 people around the world have signed up to learn Gaelic - nearly ten times the official number of native speakers. 

Bosses at language learning app Duolingo hailed their Scottish Gaelic course a 'huge success', following a surge in popularity - despite only launching last year. 

Around a third of learners on the site are from Scotland, with another third from the US, and the remainder from around the world, including 8 per cent from Canada. 

It comes after Scottish campaign groups issued stark warnings over the decline of the language - claiming for first time in history there is a danger it could become extinct.


Oral revision courses 2021

30 November 2020 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française in Glasgow is holding special online Revision Courses in January/February for pupils who are due to sit their Higher and Advanced Higher oral examinations in 2021.

Visit the website for more information and to book.


FOKUS: Films from Germany

30 November 2020 (Goethe-Institut)

Fokus, films from Germany 2020 is still happening! In keeping with Covid-19 restrictions, and to keep our audiences and performers safe, the annual celebration of German cinema is taking place online between 3-17 December.

Visit the Goethe-Institut website for more information and to book.


Radio Lingua resources

27 November 2020 (Radio Lingua)

Here's this week's selection of free resources from the team at Radio Lingua:


  • If you are looking for some authentic but challenging content for your French learners, why don’t you take a look at the latest episode of Coffee Break French To Go Season 2: qu’est-ce qui t’embête le plus ?  is this week’s question with Pierre Benoît.  Throughout the episode, you'll pick up some useful words and phrases to help you express the things that annoy people the most in life. Click here to hear what annoys the French native speakers we spoke to in the streets of Nantes
  • For advanced learners of French - teachers and pupils alike - the wait for Part 2 of La Vérité éclate toujours is over! The second part of our crime drama for advanced learners of French is now available and episode 11 of the podcast is published in the usual podcast feeds here.


  • This week we're revisiting Episode 9 of our Coffee Break Spanish Magazine series aimed at intermediate to advanced learners. In each episode we present cultural topics and grammar study in an enjoyable way, allowing you and your pupils to build your vocabulary and increase your range of expression. We're revisiting Episode 9 this week and we're working up an appetite as we're heading to Mexico to talk about food.Click here to access the episode 


  • As with our French episode, in this latest episode of Coffee Break Italian To Go Francesca asks the question: cosa ti fa arrabbiare? (What makes you angry?) Join native Italian speakers in the streets of Stresa as they share some interesting words and phrases to express the things that make them angry. Listen to what they have to say about this topic here. You can share this episode with your learners to see how much they understand at the first playing, and then use the subtitles the second time to help discuss any new language or grammar points.
  • If you’re thinking of starting to learn Italian, or have pupils who are interested, why don’t you try out the very first season of Coffee Break Italian. Whatever your language level, you'll be sure to pick up some useful tips in this episode where Mark and Francesca equip you with everything you need to know to acquire the important skill of using the phone in Italian. This episode also features a Caffè Culturale section in which Francesca talks about Italian opera.


  • Don't miss out on the valuable content included in Seasons 1 and 2 of our Coffee Break German To Go series. Developed for beginner and intermediate learners of German, we help you put what you've been learning into practice with access to interviews featuring native German speakers. We cover a different topic in each lesson so by the end of the series you and your learners will be well equipped with the necessary vocabulary and expressions to share your opinions in German. Access all episode from Seasons 1 and 2 for free here
  • In Season 2 of Coffee Break German for lower intermediate learners, we take a closer look at grammatical constructions to help you develop a better understanding of how the language works so that you can communicate more confidently in German. This week, we're revisiting  Episode 13 from Season 2 to learn how to translate 'much', 'many', 'some', 'few', and lots more quantifying words – something learners often find difficult. By the end of this lesson you’ll be able to talk confidently in German using the words viel(e), wenig(e)etwasmanche, and say how much chocolate you eat, how many glasses of water you drink, or how many portions of fruit you have.

Making Space for Languages (1 October) – Event recordings now available!

26 November 2020 (SCILT)

We are delighted to confirm the recently launched toolkit for Phase Two of our ERASMUS+ project, Generation Global, now includes recordings of the sessions that took place at the virtual launch event on 1 October. Entitled Making Space for Languages, the event brought together education professionals, from a range of organisations and backgrounds, to discuss the importance of languages and intercultural studies to all fields of study.

As well as compelling contributions by Fhiona Mackay (Director of SCILT), Laurence Findlay (Director of Education and Children’s Services, Aberdeenshire Council), Louise Glen (Senior Education Officer for Languages, Education Scotland), Dr Paul Hare (Professional Development Officer, SCILT) and partners from Denmark and Norway, visitors to the website will be able to view a fascinating panel discussion involving professionals from a broad range of academic disciplines, all of whom agree that a knowledge of languages gives an extra dimension across the full spectrum of careers.


Connecting Classrooms partnership funding

24 November 2020 (British Council)

There’s no more authentic way for pupils to learn about global issues than by working with their peers in another country.

Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning can help UK-based schools find partner schools in more than 30 countries across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Once you’ve made a connection we have a range of support to help you get started and build a strong and sustainable school partnership, including the best online platforms to use for your international school collaboration. One to one partnerships or cluster groups can also apply for funding to cover a range of activities to share learning. The next funding deadline is 2 December 2020.

Visit the website for more information.


SEET's Our World project

24 November 2020 (SEET)

SEET's logo

The Scottish European Educational Trust (SEET) have launched their annual Our World language learning and filmmaking project. With a specific focus on building a sense of gobal citizenship and cultural understanding amongst participants, the project asks S3-S6 pupils to create multilingual films based on topical issues. Teams of 4 have the chance to create their films at an online workshop with professional filmmakers on hand to provide assistance and practical filmmaking tuition. Films must include at least one language other than English, and should be based on, this year, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

If you are interested in entering a team or multiple teams, please sign up here and ensure your pupils send us a storyboard of their film idea by the revised deadline of January 15th, 2021. Tons more information available on SEET's website, or by emailing We look forward to receiving entries!


Inside the MFL Student Mentoring Project

20 November 2020 (British Council)

The MFL Student Mentoring Project was designed as a response to the ongoing decline in the number of learners choosing to study a (modern foreign) language past the compulsory stage of KS3 in Wales. 

The project focuses on changing attitudes and perceptions of languages by training undergraduate students in four Welsh universities ( Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea) to mentor Year 8 and 9 learners (12-14 years old) in Welsh secondary schools to appreciate the value and benefits of language learning. The scheme has inspired the development of comparable projects in the UK.

Find out more on the British Council Wales website.


Radio Lingua resources

20 November 2020 (Radio Lingua)

Live Lessons

  • Do you and your learners need some help with sounding more like a native speaker when talking in the foreign language? This week saw two live lesson with a focus on pronunciation. You can view the German video here and the Spanish one, where we looked at how to pronounce the r / rr sound  here.


  • We're more than halfway through our brand new series of Coffee Break French To Go! In Episode 6, we're discussing different times of the year as we're asking passers-by which season they prefer - summer or winter. Préféres-tu l’été ou l’hiver ? - Do your learners prefer summer or winter? To find out how to express your own opinion in French, join Pierre-Benoît in the latest episode and ask your pupils to state their preference.
  • We are always looking to include different sayings and expressions in our teaching, so why don’t you have a look at our Coffee Break French Facebook page where last week we looked at the expression: faire froid dans le dos, which is the equivalent of ‘to send shivers down your spine’. We asked our community to comment below the post with something that sends shivers down their spine, and we received some great replies, like this one from Jean: Quand je vois une araignée, ça me fait froid dans le dos. Can you encourage your pupils to come up with their own example? Click here to view the full post for some inspiration.


  • If you finished our Coffee Break Spanish Travel Diaries and are missing being virtually in Spain, why not join Mark and the Coffee Break Spanish team 'on the road' in the south of Spain with our popular En Marcha series for intermediate learners of Spanish. Throughout the season we visit some beautiful places in the Málaga area and talk to people who live or work in the area or who are visiting the area. In Episode 2 we find out what it's like to live and work in Málaga as Mark talks to Sara who works in the Tourism department of the Ayuntamiento de Málaga. These conversations feature authentic Spanish, with a whole range of different accents and speeds of delivery, so it’s the perfect way to improve your listening comprehension. ¡Vamos!
  • In our Spanish Grammar Builder post last week, we recapped the different uses of the words bien and bueno, which can often be quite confusing for learners. Click here to see the full post and a full explanation of when to use bien and bueno.


  • Preferisci l’estate o l’inverno? - Do you prefer summer or winter? This is the question Francesca asks native Italians in the streets of Stresa in the latest episode of Coffee Break Italian To Go for intermediate learners. Click here to hear how native Italians express their thoughts on these seasons and listen out for any new words or phrases you're not familiar with.
  • Have you ever had a dream that you’ve set aside, which will hopefully come true one day? In Italian, this type of dream is called a sogno nel cassetto, literally a 'dream in the drawer’. We love the idea of keeping a dream in a drawer until it’s ready to come true! Do you have any 'dreams in the drawer'? Click here to see the full post and to see the impressive dreams shared by our community.


  • If you’re looking for help with Grammar in German for yourself or learners, have a look at Season 2 of Coffee Break German for lower intermediate learners. This week, we're revisiting  episode 13 from Season 2 to learn how to translate 'much', 'many', 'some', 'few', and lots more quantifying words – something learners often find difficult. By the end of this lesson you’ll be able to talk confidently in German using the words viel(e), wenig(e)etwasmanche, and say how much chocolate you eat, how many glasses of water you drink, or how many portions of fruit you have.
  • Do you know the English translations of the German words nach and zu? They are both translated as ‘to’ which means it can be quite tricky for an English-speaking German learner to know when to use each word. In our Grammar Builder Facebook post last week, we gave our community an explanation of the differences in use between these two small words. Click here to see the post, then try and come up with two example sentences using nach or zu correctly.

Fèis Rois launches new songwriting project for young Gaels passionate about the environment

18 November 2020 (The Herald)

Young Gaelic speakers who have a passion for the environment and a talent for songwriting could have their chance to shine, thanks to a new songwriting project launched by Highland arts organisation, Fèis Rois. 

The competition, which is open to applicants until November, Monday 23, is calling on budding Gaelic songwriters from secondary schools across the Highlands to come up with new Gaelic material, connected to the environment and Scotland's landscape. 

Fèis Rois, an arts organisation based in Dingwall, Ross-shire, has collaborated with NatureScot to launch 'Caithream na Cruinne', aimed at emerging Gaelic songwriters who take their inspiration from nature and the current environmental challenges. 


Beyond the Panda free virtual sessions

18 November 2020 (RZSS)

Beyond the Panda flyer

FREE virtual Beyond the Panda sessions available for all primary levels linking science with Mandarin language learning. Delivered on Microsoft Teams within Glow. Fully booked this term but taking bookings now for the new year. Booking up fast! Email

Also see the Beyond the Panda website for follow-on resources.


2020 Virtual Language Show. Now available on catch-up!

17 November 2020 (Language Show Live)

If you weren't able to join this year's online Language Show which took place 13-15 November, all the brilliant speakers can now be watched on-demand and entirely free of charge.


4 quick and easy ways to make language learning fun

14 November 2020 (TES)

Why can't a student have a three-eyed cat at home? After all, if it makes language learning fun and engaging it should be welcomed, says this teacher.

It really doesn’t matter where I get my hair cut, or what remains of it at least.

As a French and Spanish teacher, the response is inevitable as soon as the stylist asks what I do. “Ooh, I’m jealous. I did French at school and I wish I’d kept it up, but I wasn’t interested when I was younger.”

At this point, I imagine many language teacher colleagues across the globe are nodding their head, all too familiar with having to justify their subject’s place in the curriculum to students and, occasionally, even to school administrators.

In a world where a rapidly growing number of people use English as a second language and where translation technology is progressing, justifying the need for language learning to unmotivated learners is increasingly difficult.

Yet as practitioners, we know second language acquisition is beneficial to the learner in so many ways. Research has shown motivation may be the second most important factor in successful language acquisition after aptitude.

So, what can we do to motivate our learners during the short time we have with them, and leave them with positive experiences in language learning?

(Note - Subscription required to access full article).


Radio Lingua resources

13 November 2020 (Radio Lingua)

Here's this week's selection of free resources from the Radio Lingua team.


  • Are you talking to your learners about the benefits of continuing to study a language? It might be useful to hear how native French speakers respond to the question: pour toi, est-il important d’apprendre une langue étrangère ? (Is learning a foreign language important to you?). How would you respond to this question in French? Take some ideas from the responses we receive in the episode by watching here.
  • With autumn well and truly here in the northern hemisphere, we thought that it would be useful to share some autumn-related vocabulary with our community over on the Coffee Break French Facebook page last week. Do you know the French words for rain, pumpkin, wind, chestnuts and dead leaves? Try and test yourself, then click here to view the post and see if you were right.


  • We're going back to basics this week as we're revisiting Episode 14 from Season 1 of Coffee Break Spanish to talk about the town. In this episode we look at places in the town and help learners talk about places in their own town with a very catchy song. After listening to this lesson you'll be able to tell Spanish speakers all there is to offer in the town where you live. 
  • As we mentioned in last week's newsletter, on the 2nd of November, countries around Latin America celebrate El día de los muertos, or the Day of the Dead. We decided to base all of last week’s Spanish Facebook posts around this event, starting with a vocabulary list at the start of the week. Click here to learn a bit more about El día de los muertos, and learn some interesting vocabulary associated with this celebration, from calacas and calaveras to ofrendas.


  • As with our French series, this time with we're talking about the importance of languages. Francesca asks the question: pensi che sia importante studiare le lingue straniere? (Do you think that studying foreign languages is important?) and we received many interesting responses. Click here to take a look at what native Italians had to say about the subject . Their responses might help your learners see the benefits of continuing to study languages.
  • Over on the Coffee Break Languages Instagram page last week, it was time to share an Italian idiom with our followers. The idiom was tutto fa brodo, which translates literally as ‘everything makes broth’ but is used to express the idea that everything, no matter what it is, can be made into something useful. Had you heard of this idiom before? Can you use it in a sentence? Click here to see the full post.


  • If you're looking for some authentic material to use with your beginner or intermediate learners of German then you can take your German 'on the road' with Seasons 1 and 2 of Coffee Break German To Go. In these series, our German presenter, Julia engages with a range of native speakers on location in Germany. We hear their views on a range of topics from family to sport, food, languages, work and more. There are 10 video episodes ready and waiting for you in each season. Access all episode from series 1 and 2 for free here
  • How many different ways of greeting people do you know in German? Have you heard of the phrase Grüß Gott? Used in rural areas of South Germany and in Austria, this greeting literally means “God greet you”. Last week, we challenged our Facebook community to come up with any more regional greetings that they knew, and to share them with their fellow learners.

Facebook Lives

Next week our Facebook Lives are focusing on pronunciation. If you can’t watch the Live, the videos are available to view on YouTube any time after the event. 

  • Wednesday 18 November at 15.30 is German pronunciation
  • Thursday 19 November at 15.30 is Spanish pronunciation

Six in ten UK adults wish they’d kept up the foreign language they studied at school

12 November 2020 (British Council)

A YouGov survey of more than 2000 UK adults was commissioned by the British Council to mark International Education Week, which runs from 16 to 20 November, as part of its work to advocate for the learning of modern foreign languages in the UK. This year’s programme of events has moved online with a series of webinars, activities and resources accessible from anywhere in the world.

  • British Council survey finds that 66 per cent of UK adults did not appreciate benefits of studying a foreign language when they were at school;
  • 64 per cent wish they had kept up the foreign language they studied and 58 per cent regret not spending more time studying;
  • 10 per cent of UK adults tried learning a language during the first lockdown period, with smartphone apps the most popular study method;
  • 66 per cent think languages should be compulsory at primary school and 79 per cent at secondary school;
  • Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese considered the top three most important languages for young people to learn.


“A guide to teacher competences for languages in education”: New resource website for teacher educators and designers of teacher education programmes

12 November 2020 (ECML)

The European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) of the Council of Europe is pleased to announce the completion in both English and French of its resource website “A guide to teacher competences for languages in education”, an output of the ECML programme “Languages at the heart of learning” (2016-2019).

This comprehensive resource platform has been developed for teacher educators and those responsible for teacher education programmes. It provides an overview of frameworks and descriptions of language teacher competences in various contexts, as well as national and regional standards or guidelines for all teachers working in public education. Having considered the overview, users can then examine more closely those frameworks that are potentially useful to them in their specific roles.


Our World film making project

12 November 2020 (SEET)

SEET logo

The Scottish European Educational Trust (SEET) have launched their annual Our World language learning and filmmaking project.

Open to all S3-6 pupils across Scotland, teams of 4 have the chance to create films at a workshop (remotely this year!) with professional filmmakers on hand to help them and provide practical filmmaking tuition. As always, films must include at least one language other than English, and should be based on a set theme, which this year is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

If you are interested in entering a team or multiple teams, please sign up here and ensure your pupils send us a storyboard of their film idea by the deadline of 18 December 2020.

There is lots more information available on SEET's website, or by emailing We look forward to receiving entries!


IDL and languages in primary: November Bitesize

11 November 2020 (SCILT)

SCILT's monthly Bitesize drop-ins are free, themed virtual events that are open to teachers and student teachers working in Scotland. Drop-ins are an opportunity to share your thoughts on that month’s Bitesize resource and/or share your own experience on the theme.

The November Bitesize event looks at examples of using an IDL approach to support language teaching and learning in the primary classroom.

Visit our Bitesize webpage to find out more about the session taking place on Wednesday 25 November and to register.


Oxford German Olympiad 2021

10 November 2020 (Oxford German Network)

The 2021 Oxford German Olympiad run by the Oxford German Network at the University of Oxford is now open.

A range of age-specific tasks can be found on the competition website along with a taster category for entrants with no prior knowledge of German.

All the activities centre around this year's competition theme of Die Alpen.

Visit the website for more information. Closing date for entries: 11 March 2021.


ELAPSE project resources

10 November 2020 (LFEE)

LFEE is delighted to announce that their 2-year Erasmus+ funded project ELAPSE (Embedding Language into Primary and Secondary Education) has been completed.

Visit the LFEE website for information about the lesson plans and resources, all freely available to teachers around the world. 


SQA Modern Languages course reports

9 November 2020 (SQA)

Advanced Higher course reports for the 2019 diet have been added to the SQA website for Gaelic (Learners), German and Spanish.


National 5 Modern Languages - Guidance on gathering key evidence for producing estimates in session 2020–21

6 November 2020 (SQA)

The SQA has produced a document providing subject-level guidance to SQA approved centres on gathering key evidence to support estimates for National 5 Modern Languages in session 2020–21.

You should read this guidance alongside National Courses: guidance on gathering evidence and producing estimates and the SQA Academy resource, Quality assurance of estimates for National Courses (links are contained in the publication).

This document also includes information on subject-level assessment resources. Available now to view online.


Radio Lingua resources

6 November 2020 (Radio Lingua)


  • Are you teaching negatives in French to your classes? We cover ne … plus meaning “no longer”, and ne … que meaning 'only', as well as about ne … plus quein this episode of Walk, Talk and Learn French
  • Qu’as-tu fait hier ? (What did you do yesterday?). Being able to use the perfect tense accurately is fundamental for pupils studying for national qualifications.? Click here to watch Episode 4 from our new season of Coffee Break French To Go, to see the ways in which native speakers use the past tenses in their responses.


  • We have come to the end of this series of the Coffee Break Spanish Travel Diaries. We hope that you've enjoyed discovering some beautiful locations in the north of Spain from the comfort of your own home as we’ve not been able to travel ourselves this year. We arrive in the vibrant city of Santiago de Compostela and take a look at the Spanish language throughout the episode including the word picoteo and the lo + adjective grammatical structure. Listen to Episode 10 for free here 
  • Our Coffee Break Spanish To Go series allows you to take your Spanish 'on the road'. Learners can join Spanish host Marina, as she takes to the streets in Spain to interview native speakers on a number of interesting topics. From the responses we hear, your learners can develop their comprehension skills and learn new natural words and phrases. Access Series 1 and 2 for free here 


  • In a similar vein to our French series, in the latest episode of Coffee break Italian To Go, Francesca asks passers-by in the streets of Stresa: cos’hai fatto ieri? (What did you do yesterday?). We hear lots of interesting responses which will help our intermediate Italian learners with the use of the past tense. Click here to see how native Italian speakers responded to this question 
  • Have you joined our Facebook community? We introduced a very useful little expression in a Facebook post last week. The expression was farcela, which means ‘to make it’ or ‘to manage’. Here’s an example of the expression used in context: L'esame era difficile, ma ce l'abbiamo fatta. Can you use farcela in a sentence? Click here to see a more detailed explanation of how to use this phrase


  • Join us in the 10th and final episode for this series of the Coffee Break German Travel Diaries. Karin and her family are back in the camper van, driving the last few kilometres of their memorable 450km trip. As they make it to their last stop in Lindau, Karin reflects on the time she has spent travelling with her family and the wonderful places they have visited - einen besseren Familienurlaub kann man sich kaum wünschen (one could hardly wish for a better family holiday). While listening to Mark and Andrea discuss the language in Karin's diary entry, listen out for the use of the perfect tense. 
  • Our cultural post on Facebook last week talked about the popular German Jahrmarkt-Süßigkeit (funfair candy): gebrannte Mandeln (candied almonds). Have you ever tried this delicious treat? If you close your eyes, you can almost imagine the sweet smell wafting through a cosy Christmas market. Click here to see the full post on Facebook, and click here for a recipe to make your own gebrannte Mandeln.

Languages and Music

  • Have you ever tried listening to music in a foreign language as a way of developing your vocabulary and range of expression? Here at Coffee Break Languages we love combining music with language learning which is why we created our Tune for Tuesday series on our blog. In each article, we introduce you to some new styles of music from around the world, while helping you develop your language skills. You can find our full range of carefully selected songs in French, Spanish, Italian and German over on our blog. Be sure to check out our Spotify playlist while you're there.

GCSEs 2021: MFL 'one-off' speaking tests allowed

5 November 2020 (TES)

Teachers will have the choice to assess their students’ spoken language skills during normal classroom activities or as individual, one-off assessments for modern foreign language GCSEs next year.

This is according to new requirements published by Ofqual today in response to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

(Note - subscription required to access full article).


Still & Sparkling: UK-German Youth Newsletter

5 November 2020 (UK-German Connection)

With details of upcoming opportunities, fun language features and inspiring alumni stories the UK-German Youth Newsletter brings young people from both countries closer together and helps them discover both cultures through the eyes of other young people.

Written by young people, for young people, the newsletter is aimed at the 14-25 year old age group and contains content in both English and German.

Young people can read the latest edition and sign up to receive the newsletter on the UK-German Connection website. Here they can also find guidance on how to submit a contribution.


uTalk Language Games

5 November 2020 (uTalk)

image of uTalk platform

Teachers in Scotland are offered a free trial of an award-winning way of boosting pupils’ spoken language skills which can be used at home or at school.

The uTalk Language Games uses audio of native speakers and interactive games – which run on computers, tablets or smartphones - to boost students’ speaking skills in any of 140 languages including Scottish Gaelic and Scots.

Importantly the uTalk Language Games also give pupils the chance to learn a new language - eg French - from Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Scottish English or 100+ other languages. 

More than 25,000 students have used this language learning method over the last 20 years and for your free trial please contact Vikki at

Run by London-based education company uTalk, students learn independently by playing language games on their devices, scoring points and competing for ranking on an online leaderboard.

There is no age limit and entry costs £5 per person. For more details see

Teacher Miss Kaye Smith, who entered pupils in last year’s uTalk Language Games, says: “I was so happy to connect with uTalk which provided the children at The Glasgow Academy with a new, meaningful and challenging way of engaging with languages. I would encourage language practitioners and students to engage with uTalk and all the wonderful possibilities it can offer. It was an enjoyable and enriching experience for all who took part.”

The uTalk Language Games was previously called the uTalk Junior Language Challenge which won the prestigious Threlford Cup from the Chartered Institute of Linguists for making a significant contribution to fostering the study of languages.


Learn German with the Goethe-Institut

4 November 2020 (Goethe-Institut)

The Goethe-Institut offers a range of initiatives for language teachers and students of German. Here is their latest selection of upcoming opportunities. Click on the relevant link to find out more:

  • Fun Ways to Teach Syntax and Grammar (10 November 2020) - Presentation of a variety of cooperative games and whole class activities which can be easily adapted to different groups at primary level. Register by 9 November.
  • Arsenal Double Club online workshop (12 November 2020) - Open to primary and secondary teachers, the award winning educational programme combining football and language learning will introduce you to their German language learning resources in this online session. Register by 11 November.
  • German Quiz Challenge drop in session (18 November 2020) - This session is to help teachers get to grips with this new and exciting resource for them and their 13-16 year old learners of German. See a presentation of the new German Quiz Challenge app on YouTube.
  • Poetry workshop with world poetry slam champion Harry Baker (27 November and 4 December 2020) - Pupils in Years 10 and 11 are invited to take part in a poetry workshop allowing them to actively use the German language in a fun setting while also getting to know other secondary school students from across the UK. Register by 20 November.
  • Christmas traditions in the German classroom (1 December 2020) - This session for primary teachers will focus on the traditions and rituals around Christmas and how to integrate them into your German lessons. This is a fantastic way to expand cultural knowledge and motivate your students. Register by 30 November.

FOKUS: Films from Germany

2 November 2020 (Goethe-Institut)

Fokus, films from Germany 2020 is still happening! In keeping with Covid-19 restrictions, and to keep our audiences and performers safe, the annual celebration of German cinema will be an all-digital online affair. The virtual festival will be shorter and smaller than in previous years, and will also move from its usual late November start to December 3-17.

The programme will be available mid-November. Meanwhile you can visit the Goethe-Institut website to find out more about the event and what was on offer last year.


Japan Foundation funding programme

2 November 2020 (Japan Foundation)

The Japan Foundation's annual grant programmes are now open for applications. There are various grants available in the fields of Arts and Culture, Japanese Language and Japanese Studies. 

Important Information:

Government guidelines on work and travel may affect the application process. Please make sure you contact the relevant department before you begin your application. 

The deadline for most of our programmes is 1 December 2020 (except Support Program for Translation and Publication on Japan: deadline is 20 November).

Visit the website for more information about all the programmes funding is available for.


4 top tips for using Scots language in the classroom

30 October 2020 (TES)

Student Len Pennie – better known online as Miss Punny Pennie – has become an internet star with videos that share a Scots language word of the day. One of her most popular videos, in which she recites her poem I'm No Havin' Children (see below), has been viewed nearly 250,000 times on Twitter.

Here are her four top tips for using Scots in school.

(Subscription required to access full article).


Radio Lingua resources

30 October 2020 (Radio Lingua)

Here is this week's selection of resources from the team at Radio Lingua:


  • Do you teach daily routines in French to your classes?  In the second episode of Season 2 of Coffee Break French To Go, Pierre-Benoît asked passers-by about their daily routine with the question: C’est quoi une journée typique pour toi? (What is a typical day for you?). How would you answer this in French? Click here to get some inspiration from the answers we received in the streets of Nantes to share with your pupils.
  • Last Friday we decided that the best way to end the week would be with some music, so we asked the Coffee Break French Facebook followers to share the cheeriest French-language songs that they know. We had some great responses in the comments section such as Je veux by Zaz and Alors on danse by Stromae. Click here to see even more toe-tapping recommendations. Please send us any of your own!


  • We also recently released Season 2 of Coffee Break Spanish To Go for intermediate learners which you can access for free here. In each episode Marina interviews native speakers about a range of topics but this time she's in the city of Málaga, in the south of Spain. These videos are great starter activities for beginner learners of Spanish.
  • Do you follow us on Instagram? Last week, we shared a Spanish idiom over there with our followers: en un abrir y cerrar de ojos. Have you heard of this expression before? It’s equivalent to the English expression ‘in the blink of an eye’. Follow us by searching for @coffeebreaklanguages on Instagram to help your learners build up a bank of useful and natural phrases to use in their classwork.


  • We're also back with Episode 2 of our brand-new season of Coffee Break Italian To Go for intermediate learners of Italian. This week, our host Francesca is talking to native Italian speakers in the streets of Stresa to ask the following question: com’è la tua giornata tipica? (What is your daily routine?). Watch the video and listen to the podcast version here to find out what our respondents get up to on a daily basis.
  • Last week in our Grammar Builder post on Facebook, we talked about the verbs portare and prendere: ‘to bring’ and ‘to take’ in English. We provided our community with a gap-filling exercise as an opportunity to practise using these two verbs. See if you can complete this sentence with the correct verb: Laura ____ la sua borsa dalla sedia. What do you think? Click here to see the answer in the comments section, and to have a go at two more exercises. Follow us on Facebook for some more ideas and practice.


  • Last Friday, we asked our Facebook learners if they had any cultural recommendations to share with their fellow German learners, whether it be a TV series, book or film. As we said in the post, “no one understands the challenges and tricks to do with learning a language better than the community you're learning with.” Click here to see some great suggestions left in the comments.

Live Lessons

We have started our next series of Live lessons which may be difficult for teachers to access during the day. However the videos will be available to view on both YouTube and Facebook. You can download our full schedule of live lessons planned for October to December from the website: click here for more information.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig calls on young people to help guide Gaelic into a new era

30 October 2020 (Bòrd na Gàidhlig)

Gaelic organisations are asking young people across the country to stand up and be heard as Bòrd na Gàidhlig launch opportunities for their voices to be listened to. 
BnG will be running online surveys for young people based on their opinions and ideas for Gaelic usage and how to increase this within their communities. 
The two surveys, which will be distributed to schools and community groups, are for Primary 5-7, Secondary pupils S1-S6 and for school leavers. The surveys will run until 15 November as the Gaelic development body collates opinions critical to the future of the language and how young people can help contribute to this across Scotland. 

More information can be found on the attached press release or by visiting the Bòrd na Gàidhlig website.


Related Files

Language GCSEs biased against poor pupils, say teachers

29 October 2020 (TES)

The majority of language teachers believe GCSE exams are biased against poorer students, children in care and those with special needs, research reveals.

Being asked to describe the disadvantages of a skiing holiday or to describe family members are among examples highlighted by the National Association of Language Advisers (NALA), which has published its research in a report today.

The research, which investigated the past two years of languages GCSE papers, particularly speaking and writing test questions, found that questions about holidays, family relationships, descriptions of a student’s house, restaurant visits and live events were “potentially problematic for vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils”.

And the NALA now recommends that languages GCSE and curriculum should be reviewed carefully “to ensure that no particular group of students is disadvantaged”.

NALA president Jenny Carpenter said: “One of the things we found was that there were a number of contexts that were beyond the experience of some students. The obvious example of this was the question which asked what are the advantages and disadvantages of a skiing holiday.

“Not only are you asking some pupils to invent an answer, but you’re asking them to express it in a foreign language as well. It’s a double whammy in a sense.”


P1 & P2 French language teachers needed for Creative Puppetry Research Project

29 October 2020 (Le Petit Monde)

Cover of Lapin is Hungry book

For her Masters in Education’s Final Year Project, Teaching Artist Tania is planning to conduct a case study to research if a play and creative puppetry based approach to learning can bring changes to Early Years language teaching and learning and if any, which ones. Health & Well-Being potential effects will also be analysed and discussed.

For this:

  • She is looking to remotely collaborate with 2 teachers of French language (one P1 and one P2) to deliver 4 lessons each and 2 suitable observers of the sessions. Ideally, the school will be within the Central Belt.
  • The project will be based on the bilingual picture book Lapin is Hungry, which contains food vocabulary and greeting words. Pupils and teachers will make simple puppets and playfully re-enact the story, speaking French in the process.
  • Lessons will be planned and evaluated through a community of practice method (via online chats) and could be part of the usual time allocated to French learning.
  • Teachers’ time could count as CLPL hours.
  • Possible timeline: sparingly from November with lessons delivered in Jan / Feb 2021.

To register your interest or ask any questions, please fill in this short form.

Learn French with Alliance Française Glasgow

28 October 2020 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française in Glasgow provides a range of language learning opportunities for adults and children. Follow the appropriate link below to find out more about forthcoming classes:

  • Free taster sessions (5 & 10 November) - If you have reservations about joining an online class, we are offering free taster sessions so you can find out all the necessary information on how our current classes are being run before enrolling for a course.
  • Adult classes (commencing 16 November) - Enrolling now for the next term.
  • l’heure du conte (10 November and 8 December) - Join us to hear our librarian’s historiettes/short stories, comfortably wrapped in a blanket at home with your little ones. Free and suitable for all.

Visit the Alliance Française Glasgow website to discover the full range of activities and events on offer. 


New drive to bring Arabic into Scottish schools

27 October 2020 (TES)

A new initiative aims to bring the teaching of Arabic into both primary and secondary schools in Scotland.

This week the Scottish primaries involved in a new programme offering an insight into Arabic language and culture will receive boxes of Arabic artefacts, such as books, scarves, musical instruments and tea sets.

Scottish schools are open but movement in and out of buildings remains restricted as a result of Covid-19. Scilt, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, has, however, found a way to bring the wider world to pupils at a time when their ability to travel is also much reduced.

The centre, based at the University of Strathclyde, is offering an insight into Arabic language and culture in 15 primary and secondary schools around Scotland. The courses include online lessons from native-speaking teachers of Arabic in the UK and link-ups with native Arabic speakers overseas.

The centre was keen to make the experience tangible, hence the delivery of the boxes.

Scilt director Fhiona Mackay says: “It’s really important that we encourage diversity in language learning. That’s what the 1+2 approach to language learning [in Scotland] should be all about – particularly language three should be an opportunity to explore languages that otherwise children would not be exposed to. It is absolutely right that they should have the chance to experience a language that does not have the same script or alphabet as Latin or Germanic-based languages.

“We also wanted to make sure that children were getting a view of the Arabic world that was not about war, terrorism or refugees. We wanted them to see there is something quite wonderful about this ancient civilisation and help them relate that back to their own experience in Scotland.”

The courses offer learners the chance to explore the secular culture of Arabic nations and to receive a grounding in the Arabic language, which is a first language in more than 20 countries and the fifth most widely spoken in the world.


Action on climate change

26 October 2020 (British Council)

British Council eTwinning is offering free live CPD and resources on climate change throughout November. Help your class to tackle #ClimateChange together with pupils from across the world.

Visit the British Council eTwinning website for more information. As well as the Climate Change November programme, you can also find other ready made step-by-step guides to help you start an international project. 


£10m Mandarin scheme set for expansion despite teacher recruitment struggles

24 October 2020 (Schools Week)

A £10 million programme to improve children’s fluency in Mandarin is set to be extended.

The government-funded Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) was launched in 2016 to get “at least 5,000 young people on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020” and train “at least 100 new qualified Chinese teachers by the end of the programme”.

When the programme, run by University College London’s Institute of Education (IOE) and the British Council, started there were 1,000 pupils across England learning Mandarin.

The IOE said the 5,000-pupil target had been exceeded by the last academic year.

The contract has been extended to this year, with about 7,000 pupils now taking part in 75 schools nationally.

But in contrast, 69 teachers have achieved qualified status on the UCL IOE Chinese Language PGCE – 31 shy of the target.

An IOE spokesperson said by summer next year, 83 IOE PGCE graduates will have finished their courses, adding that “in collaboration with other providers a grand total of more than 100 newly qualified teachers of Chinese will have been trained since 2016”.

A spokesperson for the Association for Language Learning praised the MEP for its success, but said it wanted “to see the funding of such projects extended to other languages to allow everyone access to learning a language”.


French Film Festival 2020

23 October 2020 (French Film Festival)

Running from 4 November to 17 December online and in cinemas up and down the UK, the 2020 Fête du cinéma offers a range of films, documentaries and shorts along with a selection specifically aimed at French language learners in schools.

Visit the French Film Festival website for full programme details.


BSL:  New case study alert!

23 October 2020 (SCILT)

SCILT is delighted to announce the publication of its new case study on engaging parents with languages. This study, in conjunction with Education Scotland, highlights how Moorfoot Primary and Garvel Deaf Centre in Gourock support parents of deaf and hearing children with learning BSL. It provides insightful information on how BSL features greatly within the school, in addition to the other languages taught. Parents, pupils and staff share their experience of using and learning BSL and emphasise the value, significance and importance of all language learning and the impact it can have locally and beyond.


International Education Week is back from 16-20 November 2020!

22 October 2020 (British Council)

Every November we come together to recognise the value of bringing the world into the classroom and celebrate international work in schools. This year we are excited to be going online. For the first time ever, we are offering a week of fantastic events that you can access wherever you are in the world.

The line-up is packed with online webinars, ideas and activities to keep us connected by learning and enable young people to take action on the global issues that matter to them today. 

So whether it's a session on increasing language uptake in schools that interests you, or learning about other cultures throughout the world, visit the website for more information about the range of free webinars and activities on offer. 


Secondary school Gaelic immersion study reports positive effects of bilingualism on language and cognition

20 October 2020 (Bòrd na Gàidhlig)

A ground-breaking study into how Gaelic is perceived by secondary school pupils and how it develops their linguistic and cognitive skills found significant benefits of speaking the language alongside a global language such as English.

The immersion study, funded by Bord na Gàidhlig, was led by Dr Maria Garraffa and a team from Heriot-Watt University, together with Prof Bernadette O’Rourke from University of Glasgow and Prof Antonella Sorace from the University of Edinburgh.

They worked together with senior pupils from The Glasgow Gaelic School, the largest provider of Gaelic medium education in Scotland, to find out how our younger generation of Gaelic speakers view and use the language. It examined for the first time particularly whether older teenagers, after 15 years of education in Gaelic, continued to speak Gaelic or what might lead them to stop.

The research revealed that speaking Gaelic does not affect the ability to speak well in English – and that being bilingual provides more opportunities for those fluent in both.


Königspost German writing competition

20 October 2020 (King's College London)

The German Department of King's College London is seeking to publish one original piece of writing in German on the topic of Die Digitale Zukunft, written by a student of German in Year 12 or 13 (S5 or S6 in Scotland). 

The winning submission will be published in the winter edition of the Königspost, the Department newspaper, which has a wide circulation among university students and learners of German across the UK.

Visit the website and see the attached document for more information. Submission deadline is 20 November 2020.


Related Files

Tutoring sessions - Higher French & Advanced Higher Spanish

19 October 2020 (Language Learning Scotland)

Language Learning Scotland has added free drop-in tutoring sessions for Higher French and Advanced Higher Spanish to their offering. Open to S5/S6 students these sessions begin week commencing 19 October 2020.

Visit the website to find out more and to sign up. 


In Short, Europe ESCAPE

18 October 2020 (EUNIC London)

A free online European Short Film Festival by EUNIC London will take place from 28 October to 4 November 2020.

The second edition of In Short Europe embraces the theme ESCAPE, offering our audience an online collection of short films that negotiate the concept through their form, themes and style. Through a variety of genres and styles, fifteen shorts from all over Europe feature characters and images that appear and disappear, following physical or mental journeys, reaching points of arrival or points of departure, always on the move, seeking an escape that may or may not come.

Whilst most films in the programme are foreign language with English subtitles, there are some with no dialogue providing an opportunity to use these in any language class with learners 16+.

Visit the website for more information.


Discovery Film Festival 2020

18 October 2020 (Discovery Film Festival)

Welcome to the 17th edition of Discovery Film Festival – the first to be online – and another collection of the finest films handpicked for young audiences from around the world.

All films in the online festival programme will be accessible from Saturday 17 October to Sunday 1 November 2020. There's an exciting collection of shorts and brand-new features with accompanying curriculum-linked resource packs. The added benefit this year is that current restrictions and the move online means access to our programme will now be possible for schools across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The school's programme includes some new shorts for language practice! Visit the festival website for full programme details.


The Glasgow teacher who has led Gaelic education surge

18 October 2020 (The Herald)

The head teacher who has overseen a surge in demand for Gaelic Medium Education in Glasgow has said her own childhood experience of English-only lessons as a native speaker fuelled efforts to improve access to the language in schools.

Donalda McComb will now say “Beannach Leibh” to teaching after 34 years and heading up the city’s first joint campus, which combines a nursery, primary and secondary that was ranked ninth best performing high in this year’s league tables.

Glasgow is home to the largest number of Gaelic speakers outwith the Highlands and Islands, a mix of native speakers who move for university or jobs and those coming through Gaelic medium education (GME) or learning independently. 


Radio Lingua resources

9 October 2020 (Radio Lingua)

This week's selection of freely available resources from the team at Radio Lingua:


  • Have you been following our Advanced French novel? This week sees a brand new episode of La Vérité éclate toujours and secrets are revealed!  Listen to Chapter 10 here . Don't forget to pay attention to the spoken register of French featured in this dialogue with words such as les flics (cops) and colloquial questions including comment ça ? (how come?) and où ça ? (where's that?).
  • As we know, learning new verbs and how to conjugate them is key to pupils’ success in developing their range of expression in another language. Knowing which verb to use and of course, how to conjugate it can often be tricky for language learners. That is why we developed our French Verb Fix course, in a bid to help learners 'fix' their verbs with conjugations of various verbs in the present, perfect, imperfect and future tenses. We use the art of repetition, interactive quizzes and even musical backing tracks, to help our learners build their confidence when learning and using verbs. Take a look at the very first lesson of the series where we focus on the verb parler meaning “to speak” or “to talk”. This is an example of a regular -er verb so we not only learn how to conjugate parler in the present, perfect, imperfect and future tenses, but also how to conjugate hundreds, if not thousands, of other regular -er verbs.


  • Our latest episode of our Spanish Travel Diaries takes our couple from San Vicente de la Barquera in Cantabria as they make their way to the village of Lastres in Asturias and visit the Bufones de Arenillas geysers and the Playa de Gulpiyuri – an inland beach. Mark and Anabel talk about these places being de ensueño (dreamlike) and discuss the use of the verb madrugar (to get up early) among many other interesting expressions and phrases. Access the podcastAccess the course
  • The Coffee Break Spanish team is in the classical Spanish city of Salamanca for Season 2 of Coffee Break Spanish To Go. Our host Marina, takes to the streets of this beautiful city and approaches native Spanish speakers to hear their views on a number of interesting topics such as, food, film, languages and much more. You can catch up on all 10 episodes for free on our YouTube channel


  • Are you an intermediate learner of Italian? If so then take a look at our Coffee Break Italian Magazine. In each of the 10 episodes, CBI hosts Mark and Francesca present cultural topics and grammar study, allowing you to build your vocabulary and increase your range of expression. We cover a whole range of topics and in Episode 2 we head south to the region of Puglia and, more specifically, to the area known as Il Gargano. Francesca and Mark also have some advice on how to learn vocabulary, based on listener, Tricia’s question. The episode concludes with a scioglilingua – a tongue twister.
  • Are you following our Coffee Break Italian Facebook page? Our community enjoyed a task we set for them on Italian diminutives, which are used to make nouns sound ‘smaller’. We provided them with three words and asked them to pick the correct diminutive ending from -ino, -ina, -ini or -ine, based on the nouns’ gender and number. Click here to have a go.


  • It’s also Episode 6 of the Coffee Break German Travel Diaries where we head to spend a day in Garmisch-Partenkirchenm, one of the most popular German skiing areas. Although skiing isn't on the cards for the family, they still have a fantastic, fun-filled day and even make some new friends. As Mark and Andrea discuss Karin's travel diary entry, we hear examples of the pluperfect tense as well as some interesting expressions and vocabulary including the word hetzen and the demonstrative pronoun diejenige. Listen to the podcast | Access the course
  • If you have completed Seasons 1 and 2 of Coffee Break German and are ready to take the next step then our Magazine might be the right course for you. In each of the 10 episodes, CBG hosts Mark and Andrea focus on a text, based around a particular topic, and discuss the interesting language points alongside some useful cultural information. In this musical episode, our theme is Schlager, an immensely popular style of music with catchy melodies and happy-go-lucky lyrics. Find out more about this cultural phenomenon, and learn about reflexive verbs and using the perfect or Präteritum with als.

International Education Week 2020

8 October 2020 (British Council)

To celebrate International Education Week 2020 (16-20 November), British Council is offering three opportunities for pupils and language teachers:

  1. 'Welcome to the Arab World' webinar - Friday 20 November from 13:30-14:30

In collaboration with the Qatar Foundation International’s (QFI) Arabic Language and Culture programme a second ‘Welcome to the Arab World’ webinar event for upper secondary pupils (Year 9 and above) from any school.

This event will include sessions ‘An Introduction to Arabic language and cultures’, a session with Zaina Erhaim, a Syrian journalist who was reporting on the Syrian war from within Syria. She is currently a refugee in the UK and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR)'s Communications Manager. Zaina will speak about her life in Syria before and during the war and as a refugee and a live performance and conversation by Syrian American hip-hop artist Omar Offendum. Now living in Los Angeles, California, Omar is also a designer, poet and peace activist whose work blends Arabic and English words and rhythms.

This event will be a Teams Live broadcast to schools. There will be time for questions from pupils to all the speakers. NB this session is designed for those with no previous knowledge of Arabic

To attend this event, please register by completing our online form

  1. To celebrate International Education Week, British Council and Qatar Foundation International’s (QFI) Arabic Language and Culture programme is delighted to offer two opportunities for primary and lower secondary pupils;
  • An online, traditional, Arabic story-telling workshop for a maximum of 30 participants on Monday 16 November (three slots will be available at 9.00, 10.30 & 13.30).
  • An opportunity to connect your class with a native Arabic speaker through the NaTakallam project  on Tuesday 17 November at 11.00, Wednesday 18 November at 12.00 and Thursday 19 November at 13.00. The speaker will be able to discuss Arabic language and culture with your class, as well as share their own experiences as a refugee.

If you would like to express interest for either of these opportunities please contact  by Monday 19 October and include your school details. Successful applicants will be chosen at random. 

For more information on the Arabic Language and Culture programme at the British Council please visit our website  or email the team .

  1. Languages for all: how do we get there? A solutions-focussed look at practical steps schools can take to transform MFL uptake and success. 

The British Council and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages are proud to present this webinar hosted by the British Council on Monday 16 November 2020 from 16.30–17.30 GMT on Microsoft Teams.

This event will include the following presentations:

1.    Pedagogy in MFL at KS3 and KS4: ways forward for schools.
Presented by Ian Bauckham, CEO of the Tenax Schools Trust and Chair of the Teaching Schools Council’s Modern Foreign Languages Pedagogy Review.

2.    Successful primary-secondary transition: ways to give students the best possible start in Year 7.
Presented by Suzanne O'Farrell, MFL Consultant, ASCL.

3.    Fresh approaches to bringing languages alive through cultural knowledge and international connections.
Presented by Oliver Hopwood, Languages teacher.

Followed by Q&A and discussion.

Register for the webinar on the British Council website.

Vacancy: General Manager (CISS)

6 October 2020 (CISS)

Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS), based in Scotland’s National Centre for Languages (SCILT) requires a General Manager to support the network of Scotland’s Confucius classrooms across Scotland. This is an exciting opportunity to work at national level and drive forward the strategic languages agenda in Scotland.

The successful candidate will be part of the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools team based within SCILT at the Ramshorn building in Glasgow’s city centre but flexible working is supported. The centre leads 46 Confucius classrooms across Scotland, including secondary, primary and specialist classrooms.

The General Manager will support the Director with the strategic overview, management and quality assurance of CISS projects. S/he/they will take a lead role in the promotion of Chinese language and culture in response to the Scottish Government’s China Strategy and the 1+2 languages policy. S/he/they will contribute to the development of corporate and operational plans in order to achieve the strategic aims and objectives of CISS, in line with priorities determined by Scottish Government, Confucius Institute Headquarters (CIH), the Chinese International Education Foundation (CIEF) and the University of Strathclyde.

The successful candidate will be a fluent Mandarin speaker and able to use language to negotiate and conduct business. The candidate will have substantial management experience within institutions/organisations. An understanding of the Scottish education system would be an advantage. An excellent networker with an entrepreneurial flair, will be able to work effectively with a wide range of Chinese and UK stakeholders in government, academia and industry. S/he/they will be confident to develop strong partnerships with all stakeholders. 

For full details and to apply visit the University of Strathclyde's vacancy portal. Closing date for applications is 19 October 2020. 


Calling all schools hosting a German Language Assistant!

5 October 2020 (UK-German Connection)

*Boost German and intercultural learning in your school with a Cultural Exchange Ambassador*

While travel is out of bounds, give your pupils an authentic taste of Germany: encourage your German Language Assistant to become a Cultural Exchange Ambassador, join a UK-German network and run a class-to-class project with a German school. 

This programme, offered by UK-German Connection, has wide-reaching benefits:

  • Pupils gain an authentic connection to their German peers, helping improve both their linguistic and cultural understanding and increase their motivation
  • Language Assistants learn & strengthen valuable skills, including project management, teamwork & communication, and benefit from peer-to-peer exchange
  • Schools benefit from curricular-focused projects, which connect their pupils with another country, culture & language

“A brilliant initiative by our FLA, thoroughly enjoyed by all participants, most of whom have now opted for GCSE German.” (Head of German department)

More information about the programme can be found on the UK-German Connection Cultural Exchange Ambassadors webpage, where you can also sign up for an online Q&A session on selected dates during October. 

Application deadline: Monday 26 October 2020

For questions and further information, please contact


Class acts: three lockdown teaching stars discuss being back in school

3 October 2020 (The Guardian)

Staff who made headlines for their dedication during closures talk about the joy of reuniting with pupils and the impact of more restrictions.

[..] When James Innes, AKA the “Joe Wicks for French”, made the decision to share videos of his French lessons online over lockdown, he had no idea that he would return to his school a YouTube sensation.


'Teachers key to development of Gaelic language in Scotland' claim as new three-year plan unveiled

2 October 2020 (Ross-shire Journal)

The vital role of teachers in the promotion of the Gaelic language in Scotland is acknowledged in a new three-year plan.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland) has launched its revised Gaelic Language Plan.

The plan sets out four key commitments:

  • To raise awareness of Gaelic as a language and to support its use through integrated communications.
  • To support the development of learning and teaching in Gaelic throughout Scotland.
  • To encourage growth of the Gaelic language both within GTC Scotland and externally.
  • To promote and support teacher professional development in the Gaelic language.

It complements the National Gaelic Language Plan which aims to promote the language and culture in Scotland. It outlines the need to explore new routes to promote, recruit, educate and retain the Gaelic education workforce and review existing routes into the profession.

And it acknowledges the role GTC Scotland has to play in addressing these challenges.


Related Links

New plan to promote Gaelic revealed (The Northern Times, 3 October 2020)


Radio Lingua resources

2 October 2020 (Radio Lingua)

Here is this week's selection of free resources from the team at Radio Lingua


  • Chapter 9 of La Vérité éclate toujours, our course for Advanced Learners of French has now been released. This episode offers the chance to  look again at the past historic and present subjunctive, as well as the use of the present participle in structures such as tout en + present participle and rien qu’en + present participle. Plenty of challenge here for Advanced Higher pupils and teachers alike. Click here to listen to the episode
  • Our Coffee Break French Magazine series is another course suitable for intermediate learners. Each stand alone lesson helps you build your vocabulary, increase your understanding of grammar and learn to use the French language in a more natural way. Take a look at Episode 5 where we find out more about how the French spoken in Quebec is different from the French spoken in France. We also look at the very useful expression il s’agit de, and learn about how to use this in context.


  • Our Spanish Travel Diaries sees us reach the halfway point of our trip around the north of Spain. In Episode 5 we’re making the most of our time in Santander before heading to our next stop in the Cantabria region of northern Spain. We’re visiting Santillana del Mar, often considered one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. Join hosts Mark and Anabel as they discuss the language used in Victoria’s travel diary entry, focusing on interesting vocabulary such as the adverb bien and the phrase en rumboAccess the podcast Access the course
  • If you're a teacher looking to boost or refresh your Spanish, but short on time and would like a quick 'espresso shot' of some Spanish learning then our Coffee Break Spanish Espresso course is for you. The short lessons in this series have been developed to help you deepen your understanding of the language and help you learn to express yourself in a more authentic way. In Episode 7, Mark talks about the word por and also looks at feminine nouns which use masculine articles. Native Spanish speaker Fernanda introduces the expression es una lástima que in the Subjunctive of the Week segment, and we have a quotation to share with you, focusing on knowledge and how little – or how much – we have. Can you guess which quote we're talking about? Click here to find out.


  • We're almost ready to release Season 2 of Coffee Break Italian To Go so there's not much longer to wait. Until then, we're taking a look back at Season 1 of Coffee Break Italian To Go so that we're ready to move on to the next level in the coming weeks. This time, we're talking sport as Francesca asks the question: qual è il tuo sport preferito? We receive a range of answers from native Italian speakers, featuring a variety of vocabulary and expressions which will help tune your ear to the language used in everyday speech. Click here to hear what passers-by in the city of Milan had to say.
  • It was time to revise a common Italian verb in our Grammar Builder post over on Facebook last Wednesday. The verb was ‘to play’, which is interesting as it can actually be translated in several different ways in Italian, depending on the context. Do you remember which verb would be used for the phrase: ‘to play the guitar’ and which verb would be used for: ‘to play football’? Click here to have a go at translating some sentences which use the verb ‘to play' in different ways.


  • We've also reached Episode 5 of the Coffee Break German Travel Diaries which means that we're halfway through our journey along the Deutsche Alpenstraße. This week, we're joining Karin and her family as they climb to the top of the mountain, Der Herzogstand and enjoy the cable car on the way back down before lunch. As Mark and Andrea discuss Karin's travel diary entry, they identify and review a number of verbs, including separable verbs, reflexive verbs and modal verbs. Listen to the podcast Access the course
  • Do you understand station? Over on our Instagram page last week, we learned a curious German idiom. Where English speakers may say 'it's all Greek to me', meaning they don't understand something at all, German speakers say 'I understand only station' or ich verstehe nur Bahnhof. Do you know any similar idiomatic phrases in other languages? Click here to see the post.

Apply for the new Erasmus+ Key Action 2 deadline

1 October 2020 (Erasmus+)

In response to COVID-19, the European Commission announced a new decentralised call with the deadline of 29 October 2020, 11am (UK time). Schools are invited to apply for Partnerships for Digital Education Readiness (KA226) and Partnerships for Creativity (KA227).

As virtual cooperation opportunities are key to successful partnerships in the Covid-19 context, schools are strongly encouraged to use the eTwinning and the School Education Gateway to find partners and work together before, during and after the project activities. 

Visit the Erasmus+ website to access application forms and guidance documents.


Autumn immersion week

1 October 2020 (Language Learning Scotland)

Calling all S5 and S6 Modern Languages students studying French, German Spanish and Mandarin. From 12-16 October 2020, Language Learning Scotland is running a virtual language immersion week. Come along to learn more about the culture, the course and so much more!

Meet like-minded language lovers and hear talks from native young people and industry professionals. Get help and advice on navigating your way through Higher and Advanced Higher with tips for memorising grammar and vocabulary.

Visit the LLS website for more information and to apply. 


eSgoil study support webinars

1 October 2020 (eSgoil/SCILT)

SCILT is proud to partner with colleagues at e-Sgoil in order to offer additional support to sixth year language learners.

Free live webinar lessons for young people studying Advanced Higher French and Spanish are available on line for eight weeks from the beginning of November.

Advanced Higher Spanish

Wednesdays 5 pm from 4 November 2020

Advanced Higher French

Thursdays 5 pm from 5 November 2020

Going by the response to previous live-streamed lessons, interest is likely to be high.  Please encourage young people to sign up as quickly as possible to guarantee their place. They will need their pupil Glow login details and Scottish Candidate Number to register.

More information and the registration link can be found on the eSgoil website.


MTOT is back!

1 October 2020 (SCILT)

SCILT is delighted to announce the launch of Mother Tongue Other Tongue 2020-21!  This exciting competition is now open, and we want to find the next generation of young multilingual poets in Scotland. The competition has been redesigned to suit our new digital era, and we are inviting young people to submit entries focussing on the spoken word.  Videos, sound files, voiceovers, narrated presentations – whatever format fits best, we want to hear the voices of young linguists showcasing their language and poetry skills. It’s a great time to get involved with the creative side of language learning, so visit our MTOT webpages to find out more.


Why it’s great Scotland is bucking the trend on learning languages

26 September 2020 (The National)

In a report entitled Breaking the Language Barrier, published by Reform Scotland in October 2018, it is noted that the UK Government estimates poor language skills cost the economy £48 billion annually, equivalent to 3.5% of GDP. While Anglophone countries often dismiss other languages, Scotland is demonstrating an appetite to turn the tide.

The flagship for change is the Scottish Government’s 1+2 policy, launched in 2012, providing children with the opportunity to learn a first additional language from primary one and a second from primary five. Seven years later, the 1+2 generation is now starting secondary school.

There are already encouraging signs at Higher level, where, according to recent research by Dr Hannah Doughty on trends over a seven-year period, languages as a whole enjoy a higher percentage uptake than biology or physics.

Further encouragement comes from Holyrood. Ivan McKee, the Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, recently stated that: “It is essential we inspire young people to learn languages, to provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to take full advantage of opportunities in our fast-changing world.”

Crucial here is that McKee mentions “skills”. Languages are not simply about the ability to move between tongues, mechanically expressing information and ideas. Arguably the greatest benefit from the study of languages lies not in their mastery, but in other skills acquired on the journey.


Competition: ‘Rethinking Languages through COVID-19’

24 September 2020 (MLOE)

The competition invites Year 9 language students (S2 in Scotland)  to do a little bit of research on how COVID-19 has affected an area in which a language other than English is spoken. This could be a language you speak outside of school, are learning independently, or are studying in school. 

Students can work individually or in groups up to four to produce a poster submission based on their discoveries. Further guidelines and information about the competition can be found on the Modern Languages Outreach and Engagement website. Submission deadline: 18 December 2020.


Radio Lingua resources

24 September 2020 (Radio Lingua)

The team at Radio Lingua has collated this week's selection of their language learning resources which are freely available.


  • The Coffee Break French team is busy preparing materials for Season 2 of our Coffee Break French To Go series in which Pierre-Benoît is talking to locals in Nantes, the town where he studied. Ahead of the launch, why not take a look back at Season 1? Join Pierre-Benoît in the town of Pornic, in the west of France and take a look at this episode where we're talking sport. Quel est ton sport préféré ?
  • In our cultural Facebook post, we were talking about la bise. Despite the need to practise social distancing at the moment, it’s important to know how to do la bise when life goes back to normal. How many kisses should one give? This depends on where you are in the French-speaking world. Here’s a useful video which explains everything you need to know to prepare yourself for la bise in the future.


  • Have you seen our Coffee Break Spanish to Go videos?  They are ideal for authentic content in your classes or for sharing for online learning. We took to the streets of Málaga in the south of Spain to ask native Spanish speakers their thoughts on a number of topics. In Episode 9 we ask passers-by: ¿qué haces en tu tiempo libre? - what do you do in your free time?
  • Every Tuesday on our Coffee Break Languages Instagram account, we share an idiom of the week. Our latest idiom was a piece of cake to remember… in Spanish to say something is really easy, we can say that it is ‘eaten bread’ or pan comido. Why don’t you follow our account or share with your learners?  Click here to view the post and see the responses we received.
  • In Episode 4 of the Coffee Break Spanish Travel Diaries, we’re leaving Bilbao behind and heading to the capital city of the Cantabria region of Spain – Santander! Listen out for the interesting vocabulary featured in this episode, as well as some useful phrases such as costarle a alguien (to find something difficult). This is a great way to improve your own Spanish or to challenge your advanced learners. Access the podcast Access the course


  • One of last week's Facebook posts was centred around the following question: cosa fai nella vita? which literally means: 'what do you do in life?' This question can be used to ask ‘what do you do?' or 'what is your job?'. We loved hearing about our learners’ jobs in the comments. Check out the post here and try answering the question.
  • It's almost time to release Coffee Break Italian To Go Season 2! In the meantime, we're catching up on episodes featured in Season 1 and this week, we're asking passers-by: di dove sei? (where are you from?). Do you know how to explain where you come from in Italian? Watch Episode 2 to find out how to structure a response to this question in Italian.


  • In Episode 4 of the Coffee Break German Travel Diaries, Karin and her family approach the Austrian border. They explore the new area and take in the nature around them before having some family fun on the Sommerrodelbahn (summer toboggan on metal tracks). Listen out for an example of the pluperfect tense as well as the preposition bei. Los geht's! Listen to the podcast | Access the course
  • Join Mark and Coffee Break German To Go host, Julia as they take a trip to the beautiful town of Potsdam, where Julia grew up. Mark puts his German into practice with Julia’s help and together they visit various parts of Potsdam including the Russische Kolonie Alexandrowka, the Holländisches Viertel, and Park Sanssouci. We’ve provided English captions for the whole video, and all German used in the video has both German and English subtitles. Click here to watch the video, explore Potsdam and brush up your German along the way.

La Fête du Cinéma d’Animation

24 September 2020 (Alliance Française)

The online animated film festival is back with a selection of Francophone animated films which you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home!

From Wednesday 14 to Saturday 31 October you can access and stream for free 2 films and 11 short films.

Visit the Alliance Française website for more information.


Watch the webinars from the Welcome to the Arab World event

22 September 2020 (British Council)

In June 2020 we held our Welcome to the Arab World event for pupils, and the recordings are now available.

There are four sessions each lasting approximately 20 minutes.

  1. An introduction to Arabic language and cultures by Tony Calderbank from the Qatar Foundation International (QFI).  
  2. A traditional Arab story told by Elias Mattar. 
  3. Stereotypes of the Arab world by Hana Mohamed who works for Caabu (The Council for Arab British Understanding). 
  4. A live performance and conversation from Syrian American hip-hop artist Omar Offendum.

Visit the website for more information and to view the webinar recordings.


European Day of Languages 2020 - competition for schools

21 September 2020 (ALL)

ALLNE, NfLNE and partners are once again organising the annual European Day of Languages Competition for Schools and in 2020 it is again open to anyone! The organising committee invites language learners in any key stage to create a piece of text in a language they are learning on the theme: International city.

Submission deadline: Wednesday 7 October 2020.

Visit the ALL website for more information.


Radio Lingua resources

17 September 2020 (Radio Lingua)

Here's this week's selection of free language learning resources from the team at Radio Lingua.


  • In the latest instalment of La Vérité éclate toujours, our course for advanced learners of French, there’s a huge rebondissement (plot twist) as we discover the identity of the mystery visitor. Tune in to find out.
  • Do you know how to thank someone for something in French? Find out exactly when to use when to use merci de and merci pour in this episode of Walk, Talk and Learn French, the series in which we WALK around the streets of France, we TALK about the language we see around us to help you and your pupils LEARN more French!


  • Have you been following our Spanish Travel Diaries? As we all missed out on our trips to Spain, join, Victoria and Abel as they travel through the north of Spain. This episode takes us to the Basque city of Bilbao Access the podcast Access the course
  • The video content included in our Coffee Break Spanish To Go series features our Spanish presenter, Marina in the streets of Salamanca asking passers-by their opinion on a variety of topics. We have two seasons available which are free to watch on our YouTube channel.and are an excellent resource to show authentic Spanish to your learners.


  • Our Italian Travel Diaries series has now been published and you can access all ten episodes. We discover a different area of Tuscany while discussing the language used in diary entries from protagonists Giulia and Paolo as they travel around the wonderful region. Have a listen to the free podcasts 
  • While we're busy preparing materials for Season 2 of Coffee Break Italian To Go, we're taking a look back at lessons from Season 1. This time, we're talking about family as Francesca is in Milan asking passers-by: hai fratelli?. How would you answer this question in Italian? Click here to take some inspiration from responses we received from native Italian speakers.


  • Join Karin, Johannes, Alex, and Janina in this week’s episode of the Coffee Break German Travel Diaries exploring the Wendelstein and the Wasserfall Tatzelwurm before relaxing by the Lagerfeuer (campfire) on the banks of the lake bei Sonnenuntergang (at sunset). As we enjoy the journey, Mark and Andrea review the language used in Karin’s travel diary, this time, focusing on methods of transport and prepositions in German. Listen to the podcast | Access the course
  • For beginner learners of German, our  Coffee Break German To Go Season 1 features simpler questions and answers. In Episode 2, Julia asks the question: woher kommst du? (Where do you come from?). Wondering how you would respond to this question in German? Check out the episode by clicking here.

Les Pépites internationales

17 September 2020 (Institut français)

The Institut français is partnering with the Salon du Livre et de la Presse Jeunesse (SLPJ) in Montreuil to promote French-speaking children's literature to French learners around the world.

In addition to literary selections for 3-14 year olds and associated teaching materials, videoconferences between classes and several authors and illustrators from the book selection are available during October and November 2020.

Visit the Pépites internationales website for more information.


Our World film making project

17 September 2020 (SEET)

Our World is a languages and citizenship based film making project for S3 - S6 pupils. It's designed to complement the Curriculum for Excellence and help tackle the Attainment Challenge by providing a free project, which uses an interdisciplinary approach to encourage pupils to become more engaged in their language learning.

Apply now to take part in the 2020-21 project. 

Visit the SEET Our World webpage for more information.


The Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators

17 September 2020 (University of Oxford)

The Queen’s College Translation Exchange is inviting expressions of interest in our new competition for schools, The Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators. The prize launches this month with ready-made resources designed to be used around European Day of Languages (26 September) and International Translation Day (30 September). The competition is for students of French, German, Mandarin, or Spanish across four levels in Key Stages 3-5. 

The competition is inspired by the 'Juvenes Translatores' competition run by the European Commission, for which UK students are no longer eligible. 

More information can be found on the attached document or on the competition website.


Worldwide Napier magazine - call for submissions

16 September 2020 (Edinburgh Napier University)

Worldwide Napier, the magazine in foreign languages designed by language students to encourage language studies, is currently looking for contributions in French, German and Spanish for its sixth issue, desirably on cultural icons of the XXI Century, our next issue's overarching theme. 

Students at secondary school, college or university are invited to submit contributions by 1 November 2020.

More information is available on the attached document.

Related Files

All the World is Our Stage: Primary Pupils Never Lost in Translanguaging

14 September 2020 (Creative Multilingualism)

This OWRI-funded project celebrates linguistic diversity and reflects on the multilingual, multicultural and superdiverse society represented in Glasgow today. This multilingual performance supports the teaching and learning journey of primary schooling in non-affluent areas of the city. Pupils work together to choose traditional songs and rhymes and script a multilingual play.

Recordings of a webinar series about the project and associated resources are now available on the Creative Multilingualism website. An article about the project can also be found in TECLA Issue 1/2020 (page 11), the magazine resource for Spanish language learning in the classroom.


e-Sgoil Study Support Webinars

11 September 2020 (e-Sgoil)

Young people from across Scotland are participating in a series of live study support webinar lessons being delivered by e-Sgoil. 

Building on the success of the e-Sgoil ‘lockdown’ offer - where over 3,000 young people from across the country participated in real-time e-Sgoil lessons from their homes - the package of study support seeks to complement the work being done by schools by providing free, live, interactive webinar lessons in an extensive range of courses at Level 5 (National 5) and Level 6 (Higher). 

Twenty courses are currently on offer in the evenings, in a range of subjects including French, Gaelic, Gaidhlig, Mandarin, Spanish, Business Management, Chemistry, Computing Science, Eachdraidh, English, History, Maths, Music, Physics and RMPS. 

e-Sgoil Study Support live webinar lessons are scheduled to run for a period of eight weeks in the first instance and employ a ‘flipped’ learning approach, where participants undertake prior learning using supplied resources before attending the real-time 45-minute webinar lesson, hosted in Glow. All e-Sgoil live webinar lessons are delivered by subject specialists and are scheduled after school in the evening.  

Angus Mclennan, Head Teacher of e-Sgoil commented:
“e-Sgoil is delighted to offer Senior Phase pupils from across Scotland the opportunity to participate in a wide-range of live webinar lessons that will reinforce school-based learning. Each webinar lesson is a stand-alone learning experience, so new participants are welcome to sign-up to join future sessions”. 

Young people can sign-up directly by simply accessing the e-Sgoil Study Support registration form at

(Pupil Glow login details and Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) are required as part of the registration process). 

In Quarantine, Kids Pick Up Parents’ Mother Tongues

10 September 2020 (New York Times)

A few days into the lockdown here in London, I noticed a surprising side-effect of the pandemic: My 3-year-old son was speaking more German.

German is my mother tongue, and I have used it with him since he was born, but because everyone around us speaks English, including my British husband, we settled into a pattern typical of mixed families. I spoke to my son in German, and he replied in English. Then Covid-19 reshuffled our linguistic deck. As all of us quarantined at home, my son embraced German with unprecedented enthusiasm. Now, almost six months on, it has become his preferred language. In a complete reversal, he even replies to my husband in German.


Online French exam support classes

8 September 2020 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française in Glasgow will be running online classes to support pupils studying for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams and students studying French at university. Follow the relevant link below for more information.

StampIT language learning resources

7 September 2020 (StampIT)

StampIT offers resources to help teach primary learners different languages using the medium of stamps. Follow the relevant link below to find out more about the latest additions to the resource bank:

  • Let's Look at China - StampIT’s new Let’s Look at China Mandarin learning pack with workbooks, Powerpoint presentation for teachers; detailed CfE links across literacy, arts, language and social studies aimed at upper primary level. Investigates the culture and language of China.  
  • Find out all about StampIT - Sandie Robb, Association of Scottish Philatelic Societies Development Officer and Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Language Project Coordinator, explains the concept in this video and how the various courses and resources can assist with language learning but also include links to the wider curriculum.  

Boost your job prospects or do what you love? How to pick the right uni subject

5 September 2020 (The Guardian)

For many students, working out what to study at university is guided by whether they want a route directly to a job, or to keep their options open. But sometimes it’s not easy to decide between the two.

This was Morgan McArthur’s experience. She’s now a 21-year-old languages student at the University of Sheffield – but she nearly became a dentist. 


Japanese Language Local Project Support Programme 2020-21

1 September 2020 (Japan Foundation)

Institutions can apply for up to £3000 for non-profit making activities which promote Japanese-language education in the UK. Priority is given to projects falling within one of the following categories:

  • Introducing Japanese into the curriculum
  • Supporting GCSE or A-level courses
  • Japanese clubs
  • Projects that enable links between secondary institutions and institutions of higher education

Visit the Japan Foundation website for more information and apply by 25 September 2020.


German language courses

1 September 2020 (Goethe-Institut)

The Goethe-Institut in Glasgow is now enrolling for new blended learning courses commencing 14 September 2020.

Visit the website for more information.


TECLA magazine - Issue 2/2020

1 September 2020 (Consejería de Educación)

The latest edition of TECLA has been published with lots of ideas for the teaching of Spanish. It includes, among other contents:

  • the project, with online resources for teachers and students of Spanish;
  • the use of PADLET in the Spanish classroom;
  • a presentation of the 7th edition of Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival, that includes a special program for schools;
  • a sequence for the classroom using posters, labels, signs and other public messages.


CISS Alumni Association webinar series

1 September 2020 (CISS)

The CISS Alumni Association has organised a webinar series which aims to showcase the various experiences the alumni have had with further education, jobs, internships and Mandarin.

The webinars take place on Zoom on 8, 15 and 22 September at 6:30pm and will last just over an hour. 

The speakers are all alumni who will talk about their experiences after the scholarship and the impact the scholarship has had on such opportunities. (Please note - the scholarship opportunity is only available to Confucius hub schools, however all pupils considering studying abroad will hear about the resulting benefits of pursuing similar initiatives).

The details of each webinar are below:

  • 1st Webinar – Education
    8 September at 6:30pm
    Speakers: Sara Cassidy, Leah Duncan-Karim, Grace Paterson
  • 2nd Webinar –Jobs
    15 September at 6:30pm
    Speakers: Cameron Smyth, Connor Cloughley, Natalie Hotchkiss
  • 3rd Webinar – Internships and Summer jobs
    22 September at 6:30pm
    Speakers: Erin Duffy, Owen Wilson, Robin Wilson

All school pupils and teachers are welcome and we kindly ask you to pass on these details to all interested parties. 

Please register via this link and the details of the Zoom will be made available to you.


Virtual after school programme

26 August 2020 (LFEE)

LFEE Europe has created a virtual after school programme (VASCO programme) to offer live language sessions in French and Spanish for primary pupils.

For more information, see the attached flyer.

Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival (ESFF) - School Programme October 2020

24 August 2020 (Consejería de Educación)

The Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival is back for its seventh edition and it includes a School Programme aimed at Spanish learning students (6, 7 and 8 October). 

Due to COVID-19, the regular format has changed to an Online Event: the film will be available for  48 hours. The way this would work would be through a link sent to teachers, allowing them access to watch the films in class within a set time. In this edition, the School Programme films are ‘Los Futbolísimos’ (P7-S2) and ‘Una vez más’ for (S3-S6). 

This programme for Spanish students gives them the opportunity to better their language skills as well as cultural awareness. ESFF has also prepared a set of post-film activities available for students to delve more deeply into films and practice vocabulary. 

Tickets £25 per class. For tickets reservations and further information, please contact 

#oekoropa competition

24 August 2020 (Goethe-Institut)

#oekoropa is a Europe-wide digital youth competition on sustainable travel.

Pupils between the ages of 16 and 19 and teachers from all EU member states are invited to create innovative proposals for a climate-neutral journey across Europe. With the competition, the Goethe-Institut aims to demonstrate that travel is still possible in these times – at least as a concept, and later in a very real way. 

Form teams online and devise an innovative roundtrip from your hometown to the trio capitals of the EU Council Presidency (Berlin, Lisbon, and Ljubljana) and inspire us with your idea of a sustainable Europe. The deadline for submitting proposals is 1 October 2020.

Visit the Goethe-Institut website for more information.


GCSEs 2020: French and Spanish revival continues

20 August 2020 (TES)

New figures show more pupils were entered for GCSE French and Spanish this year than in 2019.

Combined GCSE entries for the main modern languages have risen again this year, with Spanish seeing the biggest increase.

Tables published this morning by Ofqual show that there were 3 per cent more pupils entering either French, Spanish or German in 2020 in England than in the exams of 2019.

(Note - subscription required to access full article)


How technology kept Scotland's Gaelic-speaking community connected during lockdown

19 August 2020 (The Herald)

With lockdown cutting us off physically from the communities around us, technology has been a vital tool for keeping connected.

This was particularly true for Scotland’s Gaelic-speaking community, with some pioneering young people using online methods to keep the language alive - and its community of speakers connected.

Calum Ferguson, 25, and Donnie Forbes, 23, decided to team up to combine their passion for Gaelic with a love of football. During lockdown, they created YouTube videos that challenged youngsters to practice football tricks while speaking Gaelic phrases.

“If I film myself passing a ball while saying the phrase ‘pass the ball’ in Gaelic, kids eventually put two and two together and learn the language that way,” explains Donnie. “People are seeing us deliver the action, say the action at the same time- that helps the language click.”

“People learn languages in different ways,” adds Calum. “Some will learn by sitting down and reading a textbook, some by speaking it, but others might find that visual learning is best. What we feel is important is giving as many resources as you can to people, to offer plenty of opportunities to speak the language.”


French Film Festival UK 2020

18 August 2020 (French Film Festival)

The French Film Festival UK’s Learning programme has always been a class act, bringing French-speaking cinema to thousands of pupils and teachers over the years. In these challenging times instead of welcoming school groups to participating cinemas we will bring the festival to you on either DVDs or blu-rays which can be shown to suit your schedules over a two month period. They will be available from 26 October until 18 December 2020. Accompanying a selection of films for different age groups, teachers can find learning resources online prepared by Lise Morel and Edinburgh Film House.

Visit the Festival website for more information about the programme and to book your dates and titles.


The British Academy responds to 2020 A levels data

13 August 2020 (British Academy)

With the release today of this year’s A level results, the British Academy warns that the continuing decline in the number of students in England taking ‘other languages’ poses significant risk to the UK’s linguistic capacity – a key component in trade, soft power and social cohesion.

Today’s Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) data show a continued decline in the number of students taking qualifications in languages, which has fallen 13% this year. There has been a particularly big fall in students taking ‘other languages’ – including languages such as Mandarin, Arabic, Urdu, Turkish, Russian, and Japanese – where entries this year are 40%  down year on year, following a fall of 14% between 2018 and 2019.

Interest in Spanish continues to increase slightly (up 1%), building on the upwards trend seen at GCSE. Numbers for French seem to have stabilised this year, but at historically low levels. Numbers for German have fallen 6% following a slight upturn last year.


Related Links

Press Release: A Level Results 2020 (ALL, 13 August 2020)

A levels 2020: Languages see big leap in top grades (TES, 13 August 2020)

The hidden tragedy of this year's A level figures (Alcantara Communications, 17 August 2020)

Why employ a language assistant?

11 August 2020 (British Council)

UK schools, colleges and universities can benefit from a language assistant. They can help enrich classroom activities and bring fresh perspectives to language learning, helping to boost results.

Our language assistants are native speakers of French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Irish, coming from 14 partner countries across the world. They are keen to bring knowledge of their culture and language into your classroom, helping to make your students more socially conscious.

Visit the website to learn about the impact language assistants had in schools in Aberdeenshire and the Western Isles and apply today to host a modern language assistant in your institution.


Revealed: A levels with teacher grades odds-on to stay

10 August 2020 (TES)

New analysis has produced a list of A-level subjects where the grades that teachers have assessed are least likely to be changed.

On Friday Tes revealed that teacher assessed grades will not be used as part of the final grade calculation where GCSE and A-level subjects in a school have more than more 15 entries, with statistical modelling used instead.

By contrast, in subjects with no more than five entries in a school, pupils will be awarded their teacher-assessed grades, as statistical modelling would be inaccurate with such a small cohort. 

Now in a blog by Philip Nye for FFT Education Datalab, A-level subjects with the greatest share of entries coming from schools or colleges with five or fewer entries has been estimated. 

"There are three subjects – German, Latin and music – where we estimate that over half of the total number of entries come from establishments with five or fewer entries," Mr Nye said.


StampIT website updated

10 August 2020 (StampIT)

StampIT is the Association of Scottish Philatelic Societies youth programme where children can discover a world of stamps through interactive games and activities. StampIT also provides a number of ideas for teachers to use stamps across the curriculum. Stamps are a great medium for learning about a wide range of subjects including arts, music, history, geography, science, sport, culture and languages.

StampIT is launching ‘Stamp over October’. This series develops various skills and increases knowledge across the curriculum for the broad general education phase. The range of activities cover experiences and outcomes in many areas within expressive arts; language and literacy; mathematics; sciences; social studies and technologies. The activities will also last beyond October!

See the attached flyers for more information and visit the website for a range of games and activities for learners of French, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese.


Related Files

Fall in Welsh-capable teachers risks missing language target, report warns

6 August 2020 (The Guardian)

A “striking” decline in the number of newly qualified teachers able to teach in Welsh could undermine the country’s ambition to have a million speakers of the language in 30 years’ time, a report warns.

The Welsh language commissioner, Aled Roberts, expressed concern about the trend and called for the devolved government to take urgent action to reverse the fall.

Three years ago ministers in Wales launched a plan to almost double the number of Welsh speakers by 2050, with a key plank of the strategy being a steady increase the number of professionals teaching through the language.


Host a teacher / Have your say

4 August 2020 (UK-German Connection)

UK-German Connection provide support to schools in the UK wishing to forge partnerships with schools in Germany. The following opportunities are currently open:

Stay international: Host a Teacher from Germany

You can still bring authentic German language and culture to your classroom next year, without going anywhere: welcome a teacher from Germany to any department for 1, 2 or 3 weeks! This free opportunity is now even more flexible; you can host at a time to suit you.

Applications are open throughout the summer period and up to 18 September / 1 December*, and we're here if you have any questions.


  • 18 September (to host later in the autumn term)
  • 1 December (to host in spring/summer 2021)

Find out more and sign up on the Host a Teacher webpage. 

*Schools unable to host so far this year due to Covid-19 do not need to re-register.

Have your say on the future of UK-German opportunities!

In light of the Covid-19 situation and with the changing landscape of international relations, we’re keen to make sure we’re still offering you the right kind of opportunities and support to keep connections with Europe, and in particular with Germany, alive.

We’re reviewing the opportunities and services we offer and would like you to tell us how we can best support you and work with you and your pupils to bring German and Germany alive in your school.

Deadline: 15 September

Complete the form on the Have your say webpage.

Survey - Resources to support SQA Modern Languages

28 July 2020 (Hodder Gibson)

Publishers, Hodder Gibson, are keen to commission new resources to support Modern Languages departments at National 3-5 and would be grateful to hear directly from teachers to establish what they would find useful.

Please help by taking part in the research survey. It will take about 10 minutes to complete.


Language learning vital to pandemic recovery, the British Academy and partners urge

8 July 2020 (British Academy)

A coalition of partners is today putting forward to the Government a strategy to boost language learning, which has fallen drastically in recent years. The British Academy, the British Council, Universities UK and the Association of School and College Leaders believe this strategy is essential to the economic and social strength of the UK as it emerges from COVID-19.

The economic cost of the UK’s linguistic underperformance, in terms of lost trade and investment has been estimated at 3.5% of GDP. Languages are vital for fostering effective international cooperation and commercial links, as well as for improving educational performance, cognitive function and skills, opportunity, intercultural understanding, and social cohesion.

Towards a National Languages Strategy: Education and Skills is the first UK-wide languages initiative in a generation, and consists of short and medium-term actions for schools, colleges, universities, employers and others. It takes account of the different language and policy landscapes of the UK’s four jurisdictions.


The Big Interview: Meet the Moray man helping to keep dying languages alive across the world

29 June 2020 (Press and Journal)

From the age of 10 Finlay Macleod was fascinated with languages – how they are formed, how they are spoken and what they represent.

Today dozens of tongues across the world continue to be spoken due to the work the linguist has done to help keep them alive.

For weeks at a time the Western Isles native, who runs the Moray Language Centre from his home in Portessie near Buckie, travels to the US and Canada to work with indigenous groups to teach techniques about sustaining one of the most sacred parts of their culture.

Some have blossomed again from being spoken by as few as 10 people in remote locations, while others have grown from hundreds to communities of thousands that have spanned entire regions.

The projects the 65-year-old runs with the worldwide Indigenous Language Institute are on top of the work he does to grow Gaelic in Scotland through nursery classes and immersive experiences – a move he says is in opposition to the UK school curriculum for leaning new tongues remaining rooted in centuries-old traditions.


Surge in online Gaelic learners during coronavirus lockdown

24 June 2020 (The Herald)

It seemed to be on a one-way road to extinction but now signs of a revival are emerging.

The number of people looking to take online lessons in Gaelic has surged to a record high since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, new data shows.

MG ALBA, the Gaelic media service, said that over 114,000 unique users accessed the LearnGaelic website between March 23 and June 2.


Furloughed Eurostar staff become French teachers

24 June 2020 (BBC)

Eurostar staff furloughed during the lockdown are helping London schools with online French lessons.

Rail staff not currently working, including train drivers, have volunteered to help pupils learning at home online.

Only a limited number of Eurostar's services to France and Belgium are running - and about 30 staff have been helping with French lessons.


Be a positive messenger - Homework challenge: Refugees and migrants

17 June 2020 (British Council)

Inspired by Refugee Week’s 20 Simple Acts campaign, we’ve created a homework challenge to help your pupils find out more about the lives of migrants and refugees, show support, and celebrate the contributions they make to societies around the world. The pack offers the chance to explore other cultures and languages.


‘I just need a connection’: the refugees teaching languages across borders

17 June 2020 (The Guardian)

A unique platform lets teachers from Venezuela to Syria to Burundi earn a living teaching their language online.

Louisa Waugh and Ghaith Alhallak have met for language lessons in seven countries. “We counted it up the other day,” says Waugh, recalling the list of places from which she has video-called Alhallak: Britain, Mali, Senegal and Greece. Alhallak has answered from Lebanon, France and Italy, where he is now studying for a master’s degree in political science at the University of Padua.

“You just need a connection,” he says.

The 770 students and 64 teachers at NaTakallam - “we speak” in Arabic – conduct their lessons entirely online, allowing refugees to speak to students who might not otherwise have contact with displaced people. The service also circumvents restrictions on work for refugees and asylum seekers in their new countries of residence, which means they can earn money.

“I really see it as solving two problems,” says one of NaTakallam’s founders, Aline Sara. “Refugees need access to an income, but with no work permit they’re often stuck in limbo. Yet they have innate talents within them in the form of their language, their story and culture, while so many people want flexible language practice,” she says. “There’s an idea that people always want to train and help refugees, but really they can help us.”


Latest SLEA recipients announced!

17 June 2020 (SCILT)

The latest verification round of the Scottish Languages Employability Award (SLEA) has taken place, and two more schools were delighted to receive recognition for their successful partnership working in promoting languages as a key skill for employment.

Bathgate Academy in West Lothian received a Bronze Award for their projects with partners including Clarke Fire Protection Products, Mitsubishi and WL Gore. The awarding panel commented: “The links made with local businesses are strong and purposeful and have excellent long-term potential.”

Broughton High School in Edinburgh received a Gold Award for their projects with a range of partners, including Visit Scotland, The Balmoral Hotel and Social Bite. The awarding panel commented: “The projects are impressive in the variety of ways in which they convey the importance of languages to pupils, fostering the importance of citizenship and cultural understanding as well as language skills.”

Congratulations to both schools on their excellent achievements! 

The SLEA, developed by SCILT in partnership with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, encourages innovation and creativity in the promotion of language skills through meaningful engagement between employers and schools. Find out how to submit your entry for the next verification round on the SCILT website.


University of Dundee Graduate Diplomas in French, German and Spanish by Distance Learning

17 June 2020 (University of Dundee)

Registration for the 2020-22 cohort of the Graduate Diplomas in French, German and Spanish by Distance Learning of the University of Dundee is now open until 11 September 2020.

These 2 years online Graduate Diplomas by Distance Learning for part-time study are accredited by the General Teaching Council for Scotland. They are ideally suited for Secondary MFL teachers seeking an additional qualification in French, German or Spanish.

'A must for any modern languages teacher.' (Diploma student)

They aim to provide the challenge of an undergraduate curriculum in the relevant practical language. They carry a rating of 120 SCOTCAT points (SCQF Levels 9-10). The qualification outcome is bench-marked at C1 in the Council of Europe Reference Framework for Languages. Applicants will normally have a pass in Higher the relevant language (or equivalent, such as the Dundee Intensive/Revision languages courses by distance-learning).

At the University of Dundee, we have a long-established tradition of language teaching, both with students at the University and via distance learning. We use a combination of online tools to give students a range of experiences in the language. Experienced staff are responsible for the course design, delivery and student support.

'I myself am a language teacher. I have been teaching English in Japan for the last 9 years, so it is with a teacher’s perspective in mind that I tell you that the preparation, delivery and assessment of this diploma was excellent.' (French Diploma student)

'The materials were totally relevant as I need the course for teaching and the topics match that very well. I really enjoyed doing the course and would think about doing it for French (down the road)!' (German Diploma student)

'The course is very interesting with its amazing variety of tasks from different domains in different forms and it has opened my eyes to a brand new world so rich with talented people, their literature and arts. Thank you so much for working so hard in making the whole experience so fulfilling and enriching.' (Spanish Diploma student)

For more information visit the Dundee University website or to discuss any aspects of the course or your application, please contact Claire Nicoll 


Language learning needs to be protected from becoming a casualty of coronavirus

12 June 2020 (iNews)

With travel limited and schools closed, our ability to speak to the world is under threat.

When learning a new language, you begin with the words you would normally need every day: words for meeting people, going to cafés and restaurants, asking for the way to the station. Now – in a world where a summer holiday, let alone living abroad, feels like a fading possibility – that rule seems ironic.

While terms like self-isolation and social distancing have become basic vocabulary in English, those classic foreign phrases have evoked a strange sort of wanderlust, tainted by a festering frustration.

With millions of pupils now staying at home until September at the earliest – language degrees and lessons could be among the most disrupted – and foreign travel affected for the foreseeable future, it is vital our ability to talk to the world does not turn into another casualty of coronavirus.


Language GCSE entries up but a mixed picture at A level

11 June 2020 (TES)

Provisional data on GCSE entries in 2020 released today reveals a rise in the number of pupils studying for a modern foreign language at GCSE.

Overall, language entries increased by 2 per cent, from 268,955 to 275,000. Entries for Spanish and German rose by 5 per cent and 3 per cent respectively, while French entries remained stable.


Coffee Break Conversations: Season preview

10 June 2020 (Radio Lingua)

Coffee Break Conversations is a new podcast in which we talk about life, learning and languages. Over the past 14 years, Coffee Break Languages podcasts have helped millions of language learners around the world learn French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Swedish and English. In this new podcast we’re going to be having conversations with some of these learners.


IFcinéma à la carte

9 June 2020 (Institut français)

The French and African online film festival, « IFcinéma à la carte » is free and open to all.

From Friday 12 June to Monday 13 July 2020, 11 short films and 10 feature films from France and Africa are available online, free of charge and without registration.

The films are subtitled in various languages (English and Spanish at least as well as, in some cases, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, etc.) and accessible worldwide.

Visit the website for more information about the programme.


Coronavirus: French teacher's Hebridean lockdown

9 June 2020 (BBC)

A French language assistant who remained in the Western Isles during the coronavirus lockdown has been praised for the unique contribution she has made to young people's education.

Mathilde Forgerit arrived in Lewis last August for what was her first experience of teaching French abroad.

During the pandemic she has been able to use the islands' digital learning facilities to deliver classes to young people in other parts of Scotland too.

She said that despite being far from her family, the kindness of islanders stopped her from feeling isolated.

[..] Mathilde returned home to France last week, but the comhairle said she had left behind a positive language learning legacy across island schools.

Senior education officer Mary Clare Ferguson said: "She proved to be such an asset and a natural teacher.

"The pupils loved working with her and gained so much insight from a young person about her life in France, her culture and language. She really motivated them to improve their language skills."


Russian Language & Culture Education Pack

6 June 2020 (British Council)

To celebrate Russian Language Day, the British Council has a new teaching resource to help primary teachers introduce some aspects of Russian language and culture to their pupils. It contains lessons and assembly plans, factual information and resources to help pupils develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the rich language and culture of Russia and the lives of young Russians.


Scots Story Competition 2020

3 June 2020 (The Story Is)

Could you be Young Scots Writer of the Year 2020? Enter our fantastic competition for young people aged 11-18 to write a poem, a story, a play or a song in the Scots language.

Visit the website for more information about the competition and submit entries by 24 June 2020.


SEET @ Home: Take Two!

3 June 2020 (SEET)

Whilst we are all carry on with our home learning, SEET continues to offer opportunities for pupils to engage in language learning and citizenship projects from home. Due to such a high demand for our new SEET @ Home project, and the quality of entries for the 'Community in Isolation' theme (judgement of films ongoing), SEET is proud to launch SEET @ Home: Take Two! Once again, all pupils need is access to a smart phone or tablet (any device that shoots video), and to download a free app or two! 

This project is open to all ages (both primary and secondary pupils). We invite pupils to make a short film (maximum 2- minutes) based on the theme 'Sustainability at Home'. We also ask that pupils include at least one language other than English in their films, making this excellent opportunity for pupils to develop and showcase their language learning. Our favourite films will win cinema vouchers! 

If you would like to take part, and we really hope you do, then please get in contact with us by emailing and we will send you more information. Alternatively, you can find more information on our website. We have created an online document that includes a suggested timetable, a list of recommended free apps and a few useful filmmaking tips and tricks which we think will really help.

The deadline for these films is Monday 22 June 2020 at 5pm. Please don’t forget to tweet about your experience using #SEETatHome to @SEET_scotland.


Transform your playground into an outdoor classroom

1 June 2020 (La Jolie Ronde)

Outdoor play is great for encouraging children to be physically active as well as improving health and well-being. So why not transform your playground into an outdoor classroom with one of La Jolie Ronde's award-winning language learning Theme Days? The Theme Days are perfect for small groups of children, across the school, to join in a fun and worthwhile language learning activity, in either French or Spanish, plus "no specialist language skills" required so any teacher or teaching assistant can participate.  

Schools why not replace Sports Day with our Olympic Theme Day? Create your own mini Olympic games! Perfect for pupils to learn all about the history of the games. Includes: Mini Olympic events, templates for coloured flashcards of the events, role play activities, templates for passes, ideas for certificates, 3 board games to revise language learning.

French -

Spanish -

If you're wanting an abundance of playground games, then our Around My School Theme Day ticks all boxes - Such a great topic for everyone to have fun with! There are plenty of outdoor activities in this Theme Day. Includes: Video clips of French/Spanish children showing us their school, lots of typical French/Spanish playground games, a school treasure hunt, and a fun non-uniform day activity to reinforce items of clothing & colours. Buy here:

French -

Spanish -

Celebrate on 14 July, with our Bastille Day Theme Day.  Perfect for teaching pupils all about France's very important holiday. Includes: the story of the storming of the Bastille, ideas for a Bastille Day picnic, traditional French games like pétanque, instructions for making French flags and rosettes. Buy here:

French -

***SPECIAL OFFER FOR SCILT  - We're giving you 20% OFF all our Theme Day, simply use promotional code TD20 at checkout.

We can invoice you as well - simply email your order to quoting SCILT.

Goethe on Demand

1 June 2020 (Goethe-Institut)

In collaboration with Filmgalerie 451, the Goethe-Institut has launched Goethe on Demand, an online streaming programme. It contains a small but exquisite selection of films, is free of charge and will be available worldwide through the end of June.

Visit the website for more information and to request your passcode.


Genes And Musical Ability Both Affect How People Hear Tonal Languages

27 May 2020 (Forbes)

In some languages, the meaning of each word is not only conveyed by the order of its syllables, but also by the pitch. Tonal languages such as Cantonese, Mandarin or Yoruba are difficult to learn for people who are used to non-tonal languages like English. They require you to be able to pick up on subtle pitch differences, and new research suggests that your ability to do so may be genetic. However, they also noted that genetics only played a small role. Whether or not someone had taken music lessons was more likely to affect how well they hear lexical tones.


Gary Lineker: Learning a language is one of the most important things you can do – in Spain once I really ballsed it up

27 May 2020 (The Sun)

Want to get a real sense of Spanish? Then learn from a footie legend who picked up the lingo while playing for one of the country’s top teams.

Sports pundit Gary Lineker is among a host of famous faces who have signed up to teach kids on CBBC show Celebrity Supply Teacher.

[..] Gary will be livening up the classroom by helping little ones learn Spanish through football.

The ex-England striker learned the language when he transferred from Everton to Barcelona in 1986. He also attempted to master Japanese during two seasons at League club Nagoya Grampus Eight.


New Website Harnesses The Power Of Music And Drama To Teach Welsh And Spanish

27 May 2020 (Wales 247)

Primary school teachers and parents can now harness music and drama to help children learn Welsh and Spanish by using a new, free to use website. 

The website includes more than 30 activities, such as simple drama games and songs in three languages.

Everything needed to lead children through the activities is provided, including full instructions, demonstration videos, downloadable sheet music, lyrics, audio files and suggestions for extension and reflection.


eTwinning - Online training, workshops and courses

26 May 2020 (British Council)

eTwinning offers various free online professional development at both a UK and a European level. 

Visit the website for a full schedule of online events beginning in June 2020, including a one hour introduction to eTwinning.


Connecting Classrooms - Learning for sustainability

26 May 2020 (Learning for Sustainability Scotland)

Get funding to collaborate locally and internationally on the big issues that shape our world.

Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning is here to help you bring Learning for Sustainability and the Global Goals to life for your learners! There are a host of learning opportunities and support on offer through the Connecting Classrooms programme. Whether you are looking for personal development opportunities, or want to collaborate with other schools.

Visit the website to find out more. Next funding application deadline is 15 June 2020.


Watch new PowerLanguage Challenge videos

25 May 2020 (PowerLanguage)

Pupils in Scotland have been using their language skills to produce some quality videos. Take a look at these podcasts made by learners, for learners. Why not take up the challenge in your school? 


Scotland Learns - Gaelic medium resources

21 May 2020 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland has created a new portal, Scotland Learns, to help practitioners and parents support children's home learning during school closures.

This week on Scotland Learns the team has added a range of learning activities for parents and carers whose children learn through the medium of Gaelic. Learning activities are also available in English to support parents and carers who may not speak Gaelic. 


British Council Campaign

19 May 2020 (UCML)

The British Council has been a major disseminator of knowledge about the United Kingdom and of the English language since its foundation in 1934, working with over 50 countries. Since the start of the Covid-19 public health crisis, the British Council has had to close most of its schools and test centres across the globe, leading to a substantial budget deficit. Although a public body under the auspices of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the government response to the council’s financial situation has not been positive, and the council’s future is now significantly under threat.

UCML considers the British Council one of its closest allies in its mission to support study, teaching and research in modern languages, and has therefore launched a campaign to raise awareness of the vital role the British Council plays in languages education. To this end we have written a letter to the Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, as well as other key stakeholders, and support the campaign launched by the Public and Commercial Services Union, which includes an Early Day Motion in Parliament.

Visit the website to read the letter and find out how you can participate in the campaign.


Online French classes

14 May 2020 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française offers a variety of opportunities for learners of French. Follow the relevant link below to find out more:

For information on all other initiatives offered by the organisation, visit the main website.


Shadow Heroes

13 May 2020 (RSA)

Gitanjali Patel FRSA believes that translation is a force for change, as well as an untapped resource for teaching students how to harness their linguistic abilities to become critical, yet responsible, global citizens.

Earlier this year, five translators delivered five original workshops in two north London state schools – William Ellis and Camden School for Girls – as part of a Shadow Heroes series supported by the RSA’s Catalyst fund. Our aim was to demonstrate the power of translation in teaching critical thinking and as a socially inclusive endeavour, highlighting the fun, varied and cross-disciplinary nature of working with languages. Following on from our earlier introduction to the series, here are some of our reflections. 

Shadow Heroes workshops aim to introduce students to a range of languages and perspectives from outside western Europe, and this series was no exception. Our opening workshop, got students thinking about how our different perspectives, interests and worldviews influence the way we read and interpret, and what effect this might have on our translations. A second workshop on translating Arabic comics, led by Nariman Youssef and Sawad Hussain, introduced concepts of foreignisation and domestication, helping students to make self-aware decisions as they adapted translations for different audiences. Next, Ayça Türkoğlu’s workshop used Turkish pop songs to offer an in-depth look at voice, idiom and onomatopoeia. This emphasis on the complexities of translating voice continued throughout the series. Yuka Harada-Parr guided students in their retranslations of the Japanese dialogue of a Dragon Ball Z trailer, and the final session, on translating slang, drew on the skills built during previous workshops to highlight the power structures evident in the language(s) we use.

The workshops drew on contemporary fiction, film, music and art from across the world. Each looked to shift the idea of language as simply a system for communication and emphasise its grounding in people and societies, cultures and politics. Feedback showed an enthusiastic response from students and teachers at both schools to a broader presentation of language learning. 

[..] We would love to hear from teachers and educational practitioners who are interested in getting involved with future iterations of our project, or who have questions about this one.


Tackling the languages ‘crisis’: Supporting multilingualism in the new curriculum for Wales

13 May 2020 (BERA)

A commitment to languages is front and centre of the Welsh government’s education policies. This is evident in the pledge to achieve 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050 (Welsh Government, 2017) and the Global Futures strategy and plan (Welsh Government, 2016) to build a ‘bilingual plus one nation’. Nonetheless, there remains an alarming decline of uptake of GCSE modern foreign languages (MFL).

What can be done to inspire an uplift for modern foreign languages across Wales in the future?

As a non-compulsory subject beyond KS3, the landscape for language learning in Wales (beyond English and Welsh) has been challenging for the last two decades, with entries for GCSEs in MFL falling by 60 per cent between 2002–2019 (Tinsley, 2019). However, in our article, ‘Multilingual perspectives: Preparing for language learning in the new curriculum for Wales’ (part of a new special issue of the Curriculum Journal), we discuss how the New Curriculum for Wales 2022 could offer hope for arresting and reversing the decline (Gorrara, Jenkins, Jepson, & Machin, 2020).

It focusses on the value of promoting a younger learner’s experience of all languages: Welsh, English and what are now termed ‘international languages’ (encompassing all non-indigenous languages in Wales). In this context, languages are positioned as ‘key to understanding the world around us’ (Welsh Government, 2020).

This commitment to the social and cultural benefits of multiple language learning creates opportunities for schools to diverge from a traditional emphasis on transactional language learning towards a multilingual approach. In our article, we argue that such multilingual practices and methodologies can reinvigorate a younger learner’s connection to languages by making them more dynamic and relevant to our globalised and connected world.


SCILT's COVID response: Live streamed classes

7 May 2020 (SCILT)

This Monday (4 May) saw the launch of the first week of language classes, courtesy of our partnership with e-Sgoil. Demand was far greater than anticipated and despite some issues with registration, valid email addresses and technical challenges, hundreds of youngsters from P1 to Advanced Higher took part in a range of interesting classes. We have now had to stop taking new registrations for BGE and senior phase classes in French and Spanish and Give it a Go Italian as classes are full. Spaces are still available for NQ classes in Gaelic, German, Italian and Mandarin. For secondary pupils who would like to try something new, there are some places available on "Discovering the Arabic World". This gives the opportunity to learn a language that is less frequently taught in schools and explore the fascinating cultures of Arabic speaking countries. Spaces are limited and are allocated on a first come basis.  

See the attached timetable with links to enrol.

Related Files

The future of language education in Europe: case studies of innovative practices

7 May 2020 (ECML)

This new analytical report aims to explore emerging innovative approaches and strategies of language teaching in Europe supporting learners’ plurilingualism, inspire educators and policy makers to innovate and implement forward-looking policies and practices in language education, and contribute to the implementation of the EU Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages (adopted in May 2019).

The publication also refers to the work of the Council of Europe’s European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) and highlights 8 projects and tools promoting plurilingual pedagogies.


Fancy a PowerLanguage challenge?

7 May 2020 (PowerLanguage)

Get your learners to take the PowerLanguage Challenge and to create short podcasts in order to teach their language as well as share their culture and passion, and to learn from other young people around the world. Watch the existing videos on and find out how to publish your own creation!

Thousands sign up for Birmingham teen's BSL lessons

6 May 2020 (BBC)

A 15-year-old has created a series of videos teaching British Sign Language (BSL) during lockdown.

Tyrese Dibba, who has Charge Syndrome, and is deaf and partially sighted, released the videos with charity Sense in a bid to tackle isolation among people with disabilities.

The Birmingham student said more people learning BSL would "help the deaf community feel part of wider society".

More than 7,000 people have signed up for the free classes.


SEET @ Home

4 May 2020 (SEET)

Whilst schools remain closed and we all continue to work from home, we will not let COVID-19 interrupt what SEET does and what we can offer you. We love making films and know that many of you do too. So, whilst schools are out, we are asking you to make short films at home, with a little guidance from us. All you need is a smart phone or tablet (any device that shoots video), and to download a free app or two!

Normally we open our filmmaking project up to young people in S3-S6, but this project is open to all ages  (both primary and secondary pupils). We invite pupils to make a short film (maximum 2-minutes), based on the theme 'Community in Isolation'. As always, we want to see pupils using languages; even if it is just a few words, we want to hear it! Let’s share our films far and wide and connect with communities across the globe. Our favourite films will win cinema vouchers!

If you would like to take part, and we really hope you do, then please get in contact with us by emailing and we will send you more information. This includes a recommended timetable that should allow pupils to make these films within one school week, and some useful tips about filmmaking, amongst other things!

To be in with a chance of winning cinema vouchers, the deadline for film submissions is Monday 1 June 2020 at 3pm. 

Don't forget to tweet about your experiences using the hashtag #SEETatHome to @SEET_scotland. Lights, camera, action!

Virtual activities for school partnerships

30 April 2020 (UK-German Connection)

Have you had to postpone your exchange visits due to the Coronavirus situation? Keep your partnership going with some virtual joint activities!


The Stephen Spender Prize and Polish Spotlight 2020

28 April 2020 (Stephen Spender Trust)

The 2020 Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation and the Polish Spotlight are now open for submissions! There are some exciting changes this year – as part of our aim to make the prize more inclusive and vibrant than ever, we are welcoming translations from rap and spoken word, as well as from BSL poetry. There will also be more prizes and commendations in our youth categories.

Stephen Spender Prize

Translate into English any poem from any language – ranging from Arabic to Uzbek, from Danish to Somali—and win cash prizes! There are categories for young people (14-and-under, 16-and-under, and 18-and-under) as well as an open category for adults

The ‘Polish Spotlight’

This is a special strand of the Stephen Spender Prize for the translation of Polish poems. Open to all UK or Irish citizens or residents, or pupils at British Schools overseas, there are usually three age categories for entrants: 18-and-under14-and-under and 10-and-under. Additionally this year there will also be a 16-and-under category. This year, we are inviting entrants to translate one poem from our curated selection of Polish poetry.

Visit the website for more information about both strands of the competition and submit entries by 17 July 2020.


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.


Education Scotland News Digest

24 April 2020 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland's latest news digest is now available to view online. This edition includes resources available to support schools and parents during closures, information about new Gaelic Bookbug stories and the Young Scots Writer of the Year Competition.


Live-streamed classes: SCILT support for schools

22 April 2020 (SCILT/e-Sgoil)

SCILT is delighted to have partnered with e-Sgoil to contribute to their national offer of timetabled, live, online classes that will support youngsters of all ages throughout the period of school closures. 

These interactive, real-time classes are all led by experienced language educators on a secure platform. All participants will require is access to a computer and their Glow password.

Aimed at supporting youngsters who are about to enter new senior phase classes, the NQ courses will focus on providing an overview of the year ahead and will develop the skills required for success at each level. Complementing what will be offered by their own schools and classroom teachers, these courses will give young people the best possible start to their new language courses under the present circumstances.

It is equally important that we create opportunities for language learning throughout all stages of the school curriculum. We have, therefore, developed a range of classes in a variety of languages that will appeal to learners at all ages and stages of the curriculum. Interactive, culturally rich and suitable for family learning, youngsters can explore new languages and cultures that might not be otherwise available to them.

Download the attached flyer for the full timetable and links to enrol. 

Please share this offer as widely as you can so that the maximum possible number of children and young people can benefit from this innovative and creative partnership.

Six ways to bring language learning to life at home

21 April 2020 (BBC Bitesize)

Learning a new language is a great way to spend your time while staying at home - even Harry Styles is doing it!

And guess what? It doesn’t have to be all vocab lists and verb tables.

The first stages of learning a language are often all about you and your life - what time you get up, what you have for breakfast, what your dog watched on TV last night…

We checked in with the director of languages at the Share Trust in West Yorkshire, Juliet Park, about how to make our homes the perfect location for language learning.

Here are our top tips for bringing languages to life at home.


Language learning resources during school closures

21 April 2020 (SCILT/CISS)

If you are a parent or carer looking for materials to support language learning for your child while the schools are closed, we have compiled a list of materials for children of different ages/stages and in different languages. These resources:

  • are free to access
  • children can do independently and
  • can be enjoyed together as a family

They can be found on the 'Home learning' page of the Parents section of our website.


Survey - Language learning across the lifespan

20 April 2020 (University of Edinburgh)

The University of Edinburgh is hoping to gather the opinions and experiences of both teachers and students in language learning classrooms across the lifespan. The survey should not take more than 10/15 minutes to complete.


Life on the inside: 10 educational activities to make the best of lockdown

18 April 2020 (Largs and Millport News)

People in the UK are spending more time at home than ever before during the coronavirus lockdown. While this may mean less activity outdoors, it can also be the perfect opportunity to learn something new.

Here are 10 educational activities to try during lockdown:

1. Learn a language

Learning a language can be time-consuming, and with plenty of unfilled hours, understanding an extra vocabulary may be a useful skill to acquire. Though it always looks good in a CV, learning a language could also enable you to work abroad, or to socialise with locals while travelling overseas.


Coronavirus: Homeschooling in a language you don't speak

18 April 2020 (BBC)

Until a few weeks ago, non-Welsh speaking parents who had chosen Welsh-medium education assumed their children would spend about 30 hours a week immersed in the language - at school. Now attempting to "home school" in a language they don't speak, they face an extra layer of challenge.

In Cardiff, for example, about 63% of pupils in Welsh-medium schools come from homes where no Welsh is spoken. On top of anxiety about coronavirus and general concern about education, some parents are worried their children's Welsh language skills will suffer.


Competition - Ich habe einen Traum (I have a dream)

17 April 2020 (German Foreign Office)

Are you between 5 and 19 years old? Do you love books and stories? Do you like to write? If so, please take part in our competition and get your prose, short story, essay or poem published in the next Foreign Office e‑book!

Tell us about your dream for the future. 

All entries submitted in German or English will be edited by professionals and accepted in the following age groups:

  • 10 years and under 
  • 11‑14 years
  • 15‑19 years

The deadline for entries is 1 July 2020. The e-book will then be published and launched in August, when it will be available to download for free.

Visit the German Federal Foreign Office website for more information about the competition. You can also access previous editions of the e-book.


SCHOLAR Modern Languages online tutor sessions

17 April 2020 (SCHOLAR)

The schedule for online SCHOLAR tutor sessions for the coming term is now available online. Modern Language students should note next dates are:

  • 20 April - Introduction to Higher Modern Languages
  • 27 April - Introduction to National 5 Modern Languages
  • 4 May - Introduction to Advanced Higher Modern Languages

Sessions are all led by Modern Languages tutor, Douglas Angus, and commence at 6:00 pm.

Visit the SCHOLAR website for more information.


uTalk Classroom

16 April 2020 (uTalk)

uTalk Classroom - an offer free for all UK secondary schools from now until the end of July. 

  • Choose 3 languages out of over 140, plus EAL if required.
  • An unlimited number of students can use the award-winning uTalk app to play speaking and listening games in over 60 topics. 
  • Works on any standard device - tablets, phones, laptops... online or offline.
  • Each learner has their own account.
  • Teachers get a dashboard to monitor pupil progress and attainment.
  • Easy set-up; we do the work so your students can start learning immediately!

See the attached document for more information.


Get in touch - 07749288578 so we can get you up and running straight away.

Related Files

More Gaelic TV from BBC Alba to help pupils in lockdown

14 April 2020 (The National)

Gaelic broadcasting bosses are to show more children’s content to support young speakers while schools are off.

Extra programmes on science, maths and other curriculum mainstays will be shown on BBC Alba from today.

The Gaelic-medium channel already runs children’s shows from 5pm-7pm every day. Additional content will also be available on the BBC iPlayer.

It is hoped that “children won’t even realise they are learning and developing their skills” when watching the tailored material.

Margaret Mary Murray, head of service at BBC Alba, said: “We hope these fabulous learning programmes will offer useful support to teachers, parents and carers and fun learning opportunities for children.”


Number of Gaelic learners outstrips entire population of Highlands and Islands

13 April 2020 (The Scotsman)

Around 300,000 people are now learning Scottish Gaelic on the free Duolingo app with the course launched just over five months ago.

The number of Gaelic learners using the app now outstrips the entire population of the Highland and Western Isles council areas, where a total of around 265,000 people live.


Coronavirus: ‘Pupils need live online teaching’

13 April 2020 (TESS)

Scotland’s e-Sgoil – based in the Western Isles – has revealed its plans to deliver a national timetable of live lessons that will be streamed online in a bid to support teachers and pupils in the wake of the UK wide school closures, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking exclusively to Tes Scotland the e-Sgoil – which has four years’ experience in beaming lessons into schools across the country – said it was hoping to partner with online learning platform Scholar in order to deliver live national qualification lessons in a wide range of subjects, as well as offering some lessons aimed at primary pupils.

Scholar – a partnership between Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and education directors’ association Ades – runs online courses in a range of National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher subjects, providing pupils with learning materials and assessments.

Meanwhile e-Sgoil – which was set up to ensure equal access to courses and subjects for pupils irrespective of where they live – has a team of teachers on its books who have experience of delivering remote lessons in real time in everything from Higher physics, to primary Gaelic. This year it has had a presence in 15 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

The plan is to start streaming the lessons incrementally, beginning with maths and languages – thanks to Scotland's National Centre for Languages (Scilt), and Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools.

Together the languages bodies and e-Sgoil plan to offer taster courses in Spanish, Arabic, Italian, Gaelic and Mandarin suitable for primary and secondary pupils, as well as delivering national qualification courses in French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Gaelic.


Around the World resources

8 April 2020 (British Council)

We all know the importance of keeping connected whilst distancing. That’s why we’ve curated a special collection of our favourite resources about life and culture in different countries around the world. Designed by specialists and tested by teachers, our resources are packed with ideas and projects to help you plan face to face or online classes and support parents with home-learning.

Why not plan a virtual trip around the world for your students and choose which countries you’d like to explore together? We’re always here to help you bring the world into your classroom, wherever your classroom is.


Coronavirus: top tips on how to learn a language in lockdown

5 April 2020 (The Herald)

Here is some secret good news. Even with planes grounded, borders closing and a deadly virus stalking the planet you can take an exciting journey that will take you right under the skin of other nations and cultures. And from the comfort of your own home. How? By learning another language. 

To be fair, thousands of people in lockdown have figured this out. A lot are dusting down old textbooks or downloading the phone app Duolingo. But can you really learn to speak "foreign" without leaving your house? Can your children? Can you or your family refresh or improve existing skills.

The short answer is yes – thanks to the internet and its incredible resources, especially teachers using Skype, Zoom or other video links.


Coronavirus: How can parents help with home schooling?

2 April 2020 (BBC)

Schools are likely to be closed until August in a bid to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

Teachers have provided learning packs and online activities for students and many parents will want to help.

So what should parents be doing?

Education correspondent Jamie McIvor posed some common questions to a number of experts in Scottish education to get a sense of what they would advise.

None of this advice is statutory and there will be a range of different opinions. Parents with specific concerns should speak to their child's school, most practically via e-mail.


uTalk Language Games

1 April 2020 (uTalk)

In case you are looking for fun language learning activities for your schools - we've responded to the need for home learning with a competition, called the uTalk Language Games, the format gives entrants access to any one of our languages -  pupils and teachers from the same school or class can learn together and compete, learning the same language - tracking their scores and rankings on a leaderboard exclusive to their group.

The competition builds on our award-winning Junior Language Challenge competition (JLC) which has helped more than 25,000 children learn languages over the last 15 years, but is now open to all - this has resulted rather amusingly in people of all ages, from grandchildren to grandparents competing against each other - spread around the country - indeed world ... entrance is £5, $5 or €5 and the competition runs until the end of July 2020.


SCEN surveys

31 March 2020 (SCEN)

SCEN has drawn up two short surveys, one to gather information ahead of our website revamp, and another to gather information on people's experience with our events and ambassador programme. 

Together, they take under ten minutes to fill out, and would be a great help to us in gaining a better understanding how we can improve our engagement and communication. 

If you could please complete the surveys from the two links below, and share them with any peers, colleagues, students, or friends you know have an interest in or affiliation with SCEN, it would be much appreciated.

We ask that you please complete the surveys by Monday the 20th of April, so that we can act on the data gathered as soon as possible. Thank you in advance for your participation. 

SCEN Website Survey - 3 Minutes to Complete

SCEN Events and Ambassadors Survey - 4 Minutes to Complete


Addressing the needs of language professionals in times of Covid-19: new ECML resource website “e-lang”

31 March 2020 (ECML)

Are you a language teacher in upper secondary or in the university sector now adapting to the challenge of delivering your classes online? Would you like to discover motivating real-world tasks for your learners which will help develop their learner autonomy?

Are you a language teacher educator looking for creative ways to develop your teachers’ digital literacy skills, so that they in turn can support their language learners?

Are you a language researcher, interested in pedagogies based on social interaction?

If so, this new open-access resource website, developed through expert cooperation in the field of language education across geographic Europe and beyond, is most definitely for you.


Online beginner Mandarin classes

30 March 2020 (CISS)

banner advertising upcoming online Mandarin beginner classes

Related Files

Lockdown surge in language learning

30 March 2020 (University of Oxford)

A surge in interest in language learning has emerged as a phenomenon of the current social distancing. One popular language learning apps has claimed increased usage of more than 200%, while others are reporting new sales up more than 50%.

Academics maintain it shows a pent-up interest and wish to study languages. For a nation supposedly averse to speaking other languages, the British have been turning in numbers to foreign tongues as a first resort – in the absence of more traditional forms of entertainment.


Beyond the Panda resources for home learning

30 March 2020 (RZSS)

New online books for home learning. Everyone can access these and they include a good mix of science and Mandarin. These are different from our other online content as they don't require to be downloaded and printed. They also all include sound files and Mandarin learning points. 

At present, there are books which provide an online experience of the giant panda expert visit aimed at upper primary level and the Chinese Endangered Species outreach. In addition there is a book version of the Science Specialist Confucius Classroom 'China's animals and habitats'. Finally, a section comparing China and Scotland. This China/Scotland project is in partnership with the JASS scheme.

All the books are available on the Beyond the Panda website.


Mathématiques sans Frontières 2020

26 March 2020 (UWS)

Announcement from Alan Walker, University of the West of Scotland:

Due to the current pandemic, we've had to make a big change to the marking of the entries this year, and unfortunately we won't be able to hold our annual prize-giving. However, the overall winner of the Scottish side of the competition will still be offered a prize, and certificates to all schools who entered will be made available (once I can get back into my office).

With regards to the Top 10 teams of each competition, I'll release these over Twitter, in a countdown over the next couple of weeks. If you (or your school/department) don't already follow the MSF twitter account, please do so at

For those of you not on Twitter, I'll email the Top 10s after announcing, and will be in touch with the winners directly.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting this competition each year. Thanks also to those who volunteer to mark each year (even though they got a year off this year!). A big thanks too to my colleagues Wan and Ken for their help in putting the questions together for the Scottish side of the competition.

Five exciting challenges launched for Year 12 students

26 March 2020 (University of Cambridge)

Could you imagine how the English language might change in the next 500 years? How about devising a sustainable long-term strategy for freight transport in the UK? Or could you write an object biography to bring history to life?

These are just three of the five exciting challenges Gonville & Caius College have launched this week for Year 12 students in any UK school (S5 in Scotland). This year set in Engineering, History, Linguistics, Modern Languages, and Natural Sciences, our Schools Prizes are designed to prompt lower sixth form students to think creatively and individually about the subjects they love. Each competition carries a first prize of £600, to be split equally between the winning candidate and his or her school or college, and a second prize of £400, which again is to be shared equally between the candidate and his or her school or college.

Visit the website for more information. Entry deadline: Friday 5 June 2020.


French Institute in Scotland's new cultural blog

26 March 2020 (Institut français)

Created with the hope that it will provide you with content to keep in touch with French culture and activities during the confinement period, this blog will also allow you to know our team better by offering articles written by different members of staff on their favourite topics. Please get in touch with us at and tell us what you’d like to see or hear from us on our blog and social media! Don’t forget to take care of each other, to keep your spirits up and to stay safe and healthy.

Two new posts will be uploaded each day at 10am and 3pm.


The Great Languages Challenge

26 March 2020 (British Council)

The Great Languages Challenge can be completed during a planned lesson or also set as a language-themed homework task. We even have a blank version available that students can use to design their own challenges for their classmates or peers in their partner school overseas.


SecEd Newsletter

26 March 2020 (SecEd)

SecEd is the voice of secondary education. Their latest bulletin has a focus on teaching and learning during the Coronavirus pandemic, with a range of advice and links to numerous resources for teachers continuing to practice in schools and parents who are now homeschooling.


The 1+2 Languages Leadership Programme 2020 - **CANCELLED**

26 March 2020 (SCILT/Education Scotland)

Unfortunately, due to the current uncertainty relating to COVID-19, it has been decided with careful consideration to cancel the Summer School this year.
SCILT and Education Scotland will continue to work closely and plan for next summer 2021. Further updates will be communicated in due course.

SCILT and Education Scotland's flagship national leadership programme has been running since 2014 and was recognised at GTCS Excellence in Professional Learning Awards in 2017 and 2018.


BTS want to teach you Korean while self-isolating

25 March 2020 (Esquire Middle East)

South Korean superstars BTS have said they will be holding language learning sessions to “make it easy and fun for global fans who have difficulty enjoying BTS’s music due to the language barrier.”

The announcement could not have come at a better time, as millions shelter at home in self-isolation. 

Each episode (which will be available in 30 languages) will focus on specific Korean grammar and expressions. Each lesson plan was developed with help from the Korean Language Content Institute and the Department of Korean Education at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. 


Supporting online learning - links for practitioners

25 March 2020 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland has compiled resources and links which are intended to support practitioners in developing online opportunities for learning at home. There are resources for all areas of the curriculum which will be supplemented as time goes on. See the Supporting Online Learning webpage on the Education Scotland website.


How to keep your kids educated and entertained during lockdown

25 March 2020 (Wired)

We've collected together the best products and resources to keep your children educated, entertained and exercised without having to leave the house.

Article includes offers for a range of subjects, including languages.


How to homeschool your kids with free apps and videos

24 March 2020 (STV)

As schools close due to coronavirus, here's some handy resources for educating children at home.

[..] Natasha and Kelly-Ann will host British Sign Language workshops every day from 1pm live on Facebook and YouTube. Search for Natasha Lamb.


WATCH: How can you home school your children effectively during the coronavirus crisis?

24 March 2020 (East Anglian Daily Times)

With schools closed to all but the children of key workers and the vulnerable, one educator has released a handy guide of how to home school successfully. Watch the video online.

[..] Rosetta Stone is offering children free language classes for three month, while British Sign is offering British Sign Language (BSL) classes online for just £3 for students or those struggling financially during the coronavirus crisis.


COVID-19: SCILT and CISS update

24 March 2020 (SCILT/CISS)

Given last week's announcement about the cancellation of the exam diet, the SCILT and CISS teams are refocusing their efforts on supporting the BGE. Officers are currently collating high quality, freely available, online materials into an easily accessible section of the SCILT website. Teachers, parents and youngsters  will be able, therefore, to find interesting resources and activities in a range of languages, appropriate to their age and stage, all in one place. As you can imagine, this is a huge task, but we are determined to have it completed by mid-April. 

In addition, we are currently in discussion with our friends at e-Sgoil so we can provide live streamed classes in Mandarin suitable for beginners in both primary and secondary school stages of the BGE. More news about this and other language learning opportunities via e-Sgoil will be announced nearer the time. 

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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.


Estonia offers its digital education solutions for free to support other countries

16 March 2020 (Estonia Ministry of Education)

Estonia, the leading education nation in Europe (No 1. in PISA test in Europe), announced that it is humbled to share all of its digital education tools to support other countries’ education systems during the COVID-19 crisis.


Young Scots Writer of the Year Competition 2020

16 March 2020 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland has a fantastic competition for young people aged 11-18 to write a poem, a play, or a song in Scots Language. The competition is run in partnership with Scottish Book Trust, Scottish Government, Scots Hoose and Hands up for Trad.

Visit the competition website for more details and submit entries by Wednesday 24 June 2020.


Bring the world into your classroom

13 March 2020 (TES/British Council)

We believe every young person should have intercultural and international experience. As the UK’s cultural relations organisation, the British Council creates opportunities for schools and teachers in the UK and worldwide to connect and work together to share ideas and practices.

Our range of international education programmes can help develop teaching skills with funded professional development, connect schools across the globe and bring language learning to life.

TES and the British Council have joined forces to explore different ways to bring the world into the classroom and open the door to a host of international learning opportunities.


SQA Markers

12 March 2020 (SQA)

The SQA is currently recruiting for new markers who would like to be considered for a marking team for 2020.

A Marker marks candidates’ work in line with detailed marking instructions and in accordance with SQA policy and procedures. The prime role is to ensure consistent application of national standards when marking candidate submission(s).

Applications which meet the selection criteria will be accepted on a first come first served basis. Thereafter applications will be reserved for future opportunities in marking in your selected subject.

Visit the SQA website for more information and submit your application by 27 March 2020.


PALINGUI – Language learning pathways of young children – Making early language learning visible: webinar recording (5 March 2020) online

10 March 2020 (ECML)

The new PALINGUI project from ECML aims to explore the diverse linguistic journeys of young learners in educational contexts and how to make these visible through a range of methods and tools. These will make it possible to identify, understand and document language learning of children age 3 to 12 and thereby create learning opportunities allowing them to progress along their language learning pathways.

The first project webinar held on 5 March is now available to view online.


Should all children learn sign language?

7 March 2020 (BBC)

A teenager and her brother are leading a campaign to make sign language part of the school curriculum.

Doctors said Christian would never be able to communicate because of brain damage sustained at birth. But his sister, Jade, learned sign language just so she could teach him. Now they have a large following on social media, where they sign along to popular songs to teach others.

Jade also started a petition to make sign language lessons a part of the primary school curriculum - she has had over 100,000 signatures.

Some schools, like the James Wolfe Schools in east London already teach sign language, but would it be possible to roll out on a nationwide scale?


Making the Most of Language Learning on School Trips

The School Travel Company (6 March 2020)

John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in educational trips in destinations all over the world.

Today’s teachers of languages face something of a challenge: persuading their students to invest time and commitment into learning to speak another language. It is a challenge that teachers are embracing with increasingly innovative and proactive solutions.

Faced with reluctant teenagers who repeat messages such as, “The Europeans all talk our English much better than we can talk their language, which is why we don’t bother,” teaching professionals are constantly searching for arguments and incentives that will persuade their students that language learning is just as relevant to their education as maths, science, English and other subjects.

The importance of motivating children to learn a second language cannot be overstressed. We all know that universities still set a high value on a potential student’s ability to read and write something other than English. And, it goes without saying that actually being able to talk in another language puts your students streets ahead of their counterparts when applying for a job on the international platform.

It is beholden upon every school to find ways to ignite an interest and hunger for language learning among their pupils, and to bring this subject back to the centre stage.

Learning in Context

Study after study continues to demonstrate that one of the best ways to inspire a child and to interest him or her in learning is to get them out of the classroom and into an environment that is conducive to the specific area of learning. Bringing any subject to life enhances understanding and often leads to increased motivation. By organising school trips to other countries, young people are transported to a place where they can be fully absorbed in the culture and language without even thinking about it.

Benefits of School Trips to Foreign Countries

Increase Confidence

In the United Kingdom we are by nature quite reserved and we certainly don’t like to make mistakes. This is a cultural commonality among us and unfortunately has an inhibiting effect on our language learning. When children are taken to a place in which they hear people speak in the language they are learning and are encouraged by locals to have a go, they will be more motivated to try. On such trips, teachers often split the group of students, meaning that an individual may not feel so intimidated to try a sentence or two, as they will be less fearful of appearing silly in front of their peers.

By challenging themselves students will learn more about who they are and the achievements they make, and hopefully this will be transferred to other aspects of their continued educational and personal development.

Speaking in Context

If pupils speak the language they are learning in real-life situations, they are often incentivised by a sense of empowerment when they are able to make themselves understood. While they may make mistakes, they are more likely to remember the mistake and correct it the next time; this is down to the fact that the error was made in context.

Starting with simple exchanges in shops and then encouraging students to continue conversations with the people running the hotel they are staying in, helps them grow in confidence. Every conversation has a purpose and can give the student a great sense of achievement when they get a response. Such an experience has far more impact than the role play scenario in a classroom where children often feel inhibited by the anxiety of embarrassing themselves in front of their peers.

Encountering New Cultures

When we talk about the benefits of school trips to other countries, alongside a student’s learning we are talking about the impact it has on them personally. Many youngsters don’t have the opportunity to develop acceptance and tolerance for other cultures and yet this is the basis for positive social and professional success. Those same youngsters may choose not to learn French or German, for example, because neither bears any relevance to them, but once they have visited France or Germany, they may well have their eyes opened and be inspired to learn more.

Lessons in Situ

While learning by absorption is a real privilege for students, a language focused school trip can also include structured lessons to support learning. In those circumstances where a student can not only have time in the classroom, but also have the opportunity to join in with sports, social events and other interesting activities their language practice is enhanced.


There is no doubt that school trips offer the perfect platform for encouraging the youngsters of today to engage with language learning. Strong foundations are more likely to sustain future growth when it comes to learning a subject and if we can persuade our teenagers of the benefits of having a language string to their bow, we know that they will also grow in confidence and success as adult individuals.

Posted in: Language Learning

DiscoverEU free travel passes for young people

6 March 2020 (Erasmus+)

Do you know an 18-year-old up for an adventure? DiscoverEU is back – giving them the chance to travel across Europe!

If you’re unfamiliar with this European Union initiative, it offers young people aged 18 the opportunity to discover Europe by providing them with a free travel pass. They can travel by themselves or with a group of up to four friends.

The next round of applications takes place from 12 to 26 March 2020 and 30,000 travel passes are available.

Visit the Erasmus+ website for more information, including a short video about the initiative.


'I was lucky': the asylum seeker campaigning for others to learn Welsh

6 March 2020 (Guardian)

When Joseff Gnagbo arrived in Cardiff as an asylum seeker he did not realise Wales had a language of its own. “To be honest I didn’t know much about Wales at all,” he said. “I knew about the dragon flag but not a lot else. When I discovered Wales had a language I decided to learn it. If you live in a country, it’s normal to speak that country’s language.”

Gnagbo, who fled persecution in Ivory Coast, worked hard and is now a fluent speaker, playing a lead role in a new campaign to help ensure other asylum seekers and refugees get the chance to learn Welsh.


The German Olympics (IDO)

3 March 2020 (Goethe-Institut)

The German Olympics (IDO) is the biggest competition for the German language. Every two years over 100 students from all around the world meet to compete in their most beloved foreign language.

The competition is open to secondary school students born between August 2002 and July 2006.

Visit the Goethe-Institut website for more information about eligibility and how to enter the competition. Submission deadline is 27 March 2020.


eTwinning Spring Campaign - Climate Change and Environmental Challenges

2 March 2020 (eTwinning)

We are launching the eTwinning Spring Campaign around the annual theme of Climate Change and Environmental Challenges on 2 March.

Our Spring Campaign in 2020 celebrates eTwinning and eTwinners on a local level while raising awareness on climate change and environmental challenges.

During this campaign, eTwinners are encouraged to get inspired by the annual theme and to create on-site events in their schools and the classrooms! Activities and resources are aimed at both experienced eTwinners and newcomers.

Visit the website for more information about how to get involved.


Japanese Language Proficiency Test

2 March 2020 (Japan Foundation)

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is designed to evaluate and certify the Japanese-language proficiency of non-native speakers of Japanese. The test is conducted twice a year, in July and December, in Japan and various locations around the world.

Registration is now open for the July JLPT to be held at the two UK test locations:

SOAS, University of London
Opens: Tuesday, 17th March 2020
Closes: Friday, 3rd April 2020

University of Edinburgh
Opens: Tuesday, 10th March 2020
Closes: Friday 3rd April 2020

Visit the Japan-Foundation website for more information.


Nihongo Cup 2020

2 March 2020 (Japan Foundation)

Last chance to apply for this year's Nihongo Cup, the Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary School students.

Finalists will be invited to perform their speech at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford in front of a panel of judges and VIPs from the field of Japanese language education and Japan-UK relations, for the chance to win some fantastic prizes – including a trip to Japan!

Visit the website for more information and to download an application pack. Closing date is 20 March 2020.


Gaelic-English book sent to Moray primary schools

28 February 2020 (The Northern Scot)

A children's book written in a mixture of English and Gaelic has been sent to primary schools in Moray.

Bheat an Sù (The Zoo Vet) was sent to schools all across Scotland. It's the first bilingual book from the educational publisher Twinkl, which creates books and online resources used across the world.

The book provides an accessible and inclusive route into Gaelic for all learners, regardless of their background or previous experience of the language. The book has been designed to help schools deliver the Scottish Government's Languages 1+2 policy, where all pupils have the opportunity to learn one other language from primary one and a second from primary five.


Language Linking Global Thinking 2020-21 - registrations now open

28 February 2020 (SCILT)

Applications are still being taken for this programme with the intention of it running as planned in session 2020/21. Please get in touch if you have any questions.
SCILT is now inviting schools to register their interest in taking part in the Language Linking Global Thinking project for session 2020-21. 
The project links students on their year abroad with primary and secondary schools. Students communicate with a designated class in their partner school during the course of the year to illustrate how enriching it is to spend a year abroad using a language other than English. 

While the student is abroad they keep in regular contact with the partner school using blog posts, emails and other resources. The correspondence between student and class brings the language alive for pupils and shows them the real relevance of learning a language. New for this year - you can now be linked with a CISS scholar spending a year in China! Just complete the registration form with 'Mandarin' as your preferred language for a link. 

Key points for teachers

  • Please note this is a two-way correspondence, and schools are expected to reply to blog posts, submit questions, and fully engage with their link student. 
  • A representative from the school, ideally the class teacher using the link, must attend the training afternoon on 12th June in Glasgow. 
  • There is no cost for schools to participate in the programme, however schools will need to cover travel costs for teachers attending the training session. Students are expected to visit their link school before they go abroad, and schools may wish to help with the travel costs for that visit.

Visit the LLGT webpage for more information on Language Linking Global Thinking, and to read some of the student blogs from previous years.

Please note places are limited. Please email to request a registration form. 


Creativity with Languages in Schools: bringing research into the classroom

27 February 2020 (Creative Multilingualism)

Having already featured some of the inspiring work of the Creative Multilingualism initiative on episode 3 of the #mfltwitterati podcast, I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend one of their recent free events at SOAS in central London in person to find out more, writes Joe Dale.

The day focused on the theme of creativity in languages in schools and showcased the work that the Creative Multilingualism team of researchers have carried out with secondary and primary schools since the start of the project, encouraging students to engage more creatively with language learning.


Being bilingual at any age is an advantage because of how it changes the brain

27 February 2020 (i News)

Here’s a moral dilemma: a train is speeding towards five people. You’re standing next to a large man wearing a heavy backpack. If you push this man on to the tracks below, he will die, but he and his heavy backpack will stop the train, thus saving the five workmen. Do you push him?

You might rationally know it makes sense to kill one person to save five others, but it’s an emotionally horrible choice to make. Scientists have found that someone who speaks two languages is more likely to make a utilitarian, less emotional choice when asked this moral dilemma in their second language. A bilingual person will probably kill one to save five.

This is one of the most interesting findings in The Bilingual Brain, a new book by neuropsychologist Albert Costa. All humans make choices based on some element of emotion – perhaps a fear of loss, fear of risk, or a sense of morality. The decision you make will depend on the way it has been phrased to you, which words have been used that will trigger different emotions. Costa’s research shows that if you make a decision in your second language, it is more likely to be more rational than emotive.


Glasgow Film Festival 2020

25 February 2020 (Glasgow Film Festival)

The Glasgow Film Festival 2020 takes place from 26 February to 8 March. There are lots of foreign language films in the programme, so it's an ideal opportunity to test your skills!

Visit the website for full programme details.


SCHOLAR Modern Languages tutor sessions

25 February 2020 (SCHOLAR)

SCHOLAR’s next on line tutor sessions with tutor Douglas Angus will be as follows:

  • Monday 2 March at 6pm - Higher Modern languages and will focus on preparing for external assessment of Reading Listening and Directed Writing. There is an associated worksheet available from SCHOLAR, which includes a task learners can attempt in advance
  • Monday 9 March at 6pm - Advanced Higher, looking at preparing for Reading, Listening and Discursive Writing. There will also be a worksheet accompanying the session.

Visit the website for more information and login.


Spring break revision courses

25 February 2020 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française in Glasgow is running semi-intensive revision courses in April for Secondary School pupils and University students who are due to sit their French examinations in 2020.

Visit the website for more information and to enrol by 30 March 2020.


Gaelic CLPL Opportunity - Streap: Postgraduate Certificate in Gaelic Medium Education

24 February 2020 (Sabhal Mòr Ostaig)

The fully funded Postgraduate Certificate in Gaelic Medium Education (Streap) is a Master’s Level qualification of 60 credits at SCQF Level 11. 

The programme is aimed at Gaelic speaking GTCS registered teachers (nursery, primary or secondary) who are seeking Gaelic medium education CLPL, or those who are currently in English medium education and who wish to further develop their skills, knowledge and understanding in order to teach in Gaelic medium education. 

Visit the website for more information and apply now for September 2020 start.


Skye's the limit at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig - a unique Gaelic-only college set in a stunning island location

24 February 2020 (The Herald)

As global interest in Gaelic grows, students from across the world are travelling to Skye to study at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture.

Situated in the stunningly beautiful peninsula of Sleat in the south end of the island, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is a unique Gaelic-only environment and the only college of its kind offering further and higher education through the medium of the language.

The college offers a range of provision from beginners’ courses to a PhD, with the flexibility of studying part-time or full-time, on campus or via distance learning. At a crucial time in the survival of the language, graduates have helped create a Gaelic speaking workforce that now holds key posts across a wide range of sectors in Scotland.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is one of the key partners in fulfilling the government’s objectives in the National Gaelic Plan, which aims to increase the number of people speaking the language and accelerate the growth of Gaelic.

Many people are keen to learn more about the language because of its rich culture and the college provides a wide range of short courses in Gaelic language, song and traditional music. Ceilidhs, workshops, conversation circles and music sessions all create an encouraging atmosphere that bring together students from 30 countries across five continents. 


French pop video competition 2020

24 February 2020 (Institut français)

Do you think you could sing or rap in French? Do you have the skills to make a video clip for your song? If so, this competition is for you!

The competition is open to any student or groups of students in full time education in the national-curriculum primary and secondary schools of England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the Channel Islands, in 3 age-group categories: 7-11, 12-15, and 16-18.

Entries should be original compositions around 3 minutes long and must be performed in French.

Visit the competition website for more information and submit entries by 3 April 2020.


Cuts to teacher subject advisers could explain declining exam results

23 February 2020 (Brinkwire)

Cuts to subject specialists, advisers and teacher support networks may be the cause of falling exam results, according to a new report.

An analysis of the falling exam pass rates, published on Thursday evening by the Scottish Government, also cites an growing gap in attainment between the richest and poorest pupils in the country.

Bridging that gap, as well as improving education standards, has long been a key priority for the Scottish Government, which critics now argue they have failed on.

Last night, trade unions and experts spoke out about the contents of the report which had been commissioned by Education Secretary John Swinney last year.

[..] The number of teachers who are specialists in their fields has also declined in the past decade, which has been cited by trade union chiefs as part of the decline in standards.

Figures obtained by the Herald in 2018 show that between 2008 and 2018, the number of subject specialists in secondary schools in Scotland had fallen by 11 per cent overall, with some areas seeing as much as a 44% fall in numbers.

The number of English teachers had fallen by 20% in the decade up to 2018, while the number of French teachers had plummeted by 32%.

German teachers fell by 44%, maths teachers by 15% and general science teachers had declined by 11%.


Education Scotland Modern Languages Newsletter

21 February 2020 (Education Scotland)

The latest edition of Education Scotland's newsletter for Modern Languages is now available to view online. This issue includes links to the second suite of resources to support progression from Second to Third level.


Secondaries failing to deliver ‘right’ to languages

20 February 2020 (TESS)

The Scottish government has been accused of a "dereliction of duty" as new figures show almost a third of Scottish secondaries are failing to teach their pupils a modern language for the first three years of high school – even though Scottish government policy is that children should be learning two foreign languages from upper primary onwards.

A new survey of Scottish councils has revealed that 30 per cent of secondaries are not delivering a second language consistently from S1 to S3.

Scottish government policy states that “language learning is an entitlement for all from P1 to S3”, with the government committed to delivering its 1+2 languages policy by August 2021. This means that pupils should learn two foreign languages – one from P1 and the second from P5 – as well as their mother tongue.

However, the research shows that many secondaries are struggling to deliver even one foreign language for the first three years of high school, let alone two.

These new figures come at a time when there is real concern over the uptake of languages at qualification level in Scottish secondaries, with Higher French entries last year 27 per cent down on entries in 2012 and German Higher entries down 30 per cent over the same period.

Spanish entries at Higher have, on the other hand, almost doubled but this increase has not compensated for the decreases seen in French and German.

The Languages Strategic Implementation Group set up in 2013 to lead the practical implementation of the 1+2 language learning policy has expressed concern that the term “entitlement” – as in the entitlement to learn a language up to S3 – is too vague and could be being “misinterpreted” by schools as “optional and not a right of the child”.

(Note - subscription required to access full article)


Edinburgh's fight for Gaelic school immortalised in new book

19 February 2020 (The Scotsman)

It was a fight that deeply divided language activists and their opponents and rumbled on in the Capital for 14 long years.

Now the campaign to have a dedicated Gaelic primary school in the Capital has been turned into a new book.

Ever since 2013 the city has had its first Gaelic medium education (GME) school at Bun-Sgoil Taobh na Pàirce, a formerly mothballed primary school in Bonnington.

Previously the Gaelic “school” had been simply a unit within Tollcross Primary.

Às na Freumhan, “From the Grassroots”, by Gaelic language expert Tim Armstrong tells the story of the sometimes bitter debate which raged around the subject of Gaelic medium education in the late 20th and early 21st centuries and the fight to get agreement for Taobh na Pàirce to be built.


Gaelic education detractors 'like bad 1970s comedians'

19 February 2020 (TES)

Critics of Gaelic-medium education are so out of touch they are like embarrassing 1970s comedians, the Scottish Parliament has heard.

And Gaelic's "very existence is at stake" so debate around the language must be depoliticised, according to a Tory MSP, whose comments were in marked contrast to recent pronouncements from his party.

Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles), said: "Thirty years ago, I remember hearing a prominent Scot – one who should have known better – offering the opinion on the radio that he was 'grateful' that his Gaelic-speaking parents had never spoken Gaelic to him when he was growing up in case that had 'held him back'.

"Let me be clear: the idea that Gaelic or any form of bilingualism might hold children back is a view that I thought had been long relegated to the same embarrassing corner as the views that were expressed by comedians on Saturday night TV around the year 1975."

Dr Allan was speaking – in Gaelic – to a motion calling on MSPs to welcome the decision by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) to enrol Primary 1 pupils into Gaelic-medium education (GME) as the default choice.

His motion also noted that the percentage of children entering GME in the Western Isles has steadily increased over the past decade, and commended the council's "progressive step to consolidate the national language in its heartland communities".

Dr Allan, a former junior education minister, added that "there is an overwhelming consensus among academics and researchers in support of the cognitive benefits of bilingual education". He highlighted a 2010 University of Edinburgh study showing that GME pupils, on a whole, were by Primary 5 outperforming their English-medium education peers in English reading.


Le Grand Quiz de la Francophonie 2020 - Spécial Québec

18 February 2020 (Francophonie UK)

Vive la Francophonie Quiz is back!

Last year's quiz was a huge success, with more than 787 entries (individuals or collectives) around the UK. 

This year the quiz is prepared by the Québec Government Office in London, together with the group Francophonie UK;  so expect lots of question about la Belle Province, and not only about poutine, maple sirup, circus or Céline Dion!

There will also be the same number of questions about la Francophonie and french speaking countries.

The quiz is a fun way to test your French (or the French of your students) and learn more about the culture of the 88 countries part of l'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)!

This quiz is open to UK learners of French in the United Kingdom. For the first time, we are also introducing a new category open to anyone living in the UK (all ages). Here are the categories:

● UK Secondary Schools : KS3 pupils (S1,S2, and S3 in Scotland) - can enter as teams or individuals

● UK participating Alliances Françaises and Instituts Français : all students, teens and adults

● UK people interested in French and French speaking countries

Registration is open until 13 March 2020. The quiz will be available online during la Francophonie week, from 14 to 22 March 2020. 


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.


Welsh language education scheme rolls out across Wales

17 February 2020 (BBC)

A scheme to help preschool children learn Welsh more quickly is being rolled out across the country.

Croesi'r Bont, or Crossing the Bridge, has been developed by Mudiad Meithrin, which runs most Welsh-medium early years provision.

The focus is on ensuring staff at playgroups and primary school teachers use the same language patterns.

The aim is to ease the transition into Welsh-medium education for children whose families do not speak Welsh.

Mudiad Meithrin is taking a key role in the Welsh Government's aim of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.


Mandarin dream: The UK pupils vying for a trip to Beijing

17 February 2020 (BBC)

Pupils from across the UK headed to London for the national final of a Mandarin speaking competition.

At stake is an all-expenses-paid trip to Beijing where they can test their language skills for real.

See the video.


Call for all schools to teach sign language 'to make world more inclusive'

16 February 2020 (Sky News)

Nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition set up by an 18-year-old calling for all schools to teach basic sign language.

Jade Kilduff, 18, launched the campaign after seeing how sign language transformed her younger brother's life. Christian, four, has brain damage and cerebral palsy and his family were told he would never be able to communicate, so Jade spent two years teaching him sign language.

"Christian communicates by using sign language and a lot of people when talking to Christian would have to talk through me," Jade told Sky News.

"And I thought it was unfair that he could only communicate to me and a few of our family members and I thought if everybody just knew a little bit of sign then it would make the world more inclusive."


‘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.


Corpus Christi Primary pupils celebrate tapas night at Tennent’s Cook School

14 February 2020 (Clydebank Post)

Pupils from Corpus Christi Primary School marked the end of a weekly cooking club by celebrating a Spanish tapas night.

Youngsters who attend Spanish Club “El Club Español Familiar” along with family members, travelled to Tennent’s Cook School last Thursday - coinciding with Language Week Scotland.

The event marked their final week with a family celebration theme to apply all of their new language skills.


Modern Language Assistants 2020-21 applications open

14 February 2020 (British Council)

The British Council Language Assistants team is now welcoming requests from host schools, colleges, universities and local authorities for the 2020-21 academic year.

Language Assistants are an invaluable resource for the development of language skills and the raising of inter-cultural awareness. Language Assistants can help learners build their confidence while gaining new cultural insights. Assistants are native speakers of French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin from our 14 partner countries around the globe.

Visit the website to apply or contact the Language Assistants team for more information at

British Council Language Assistants banner


Gaelic Sports Leader SCQF Level 4 Award

14 February 2020 (Highland Council)

A Gaelic sports leader’s level 4 will be running in Plockton High School for pupils aged 13+ between Monday 30 March and Thursday 2 April (3 overnight stays).

The feedback from previous courses has been positive and this gives participants a great chance to enhance their leadership whilst also using Gaelic as the tool to do this.

There are up to 16 places available (8 Highland 8 Western Isles to begin with but this could be flexible depending on demand).

The course is free of charge and all accommodation and hot food is provided - breakfast, lunch and dinner all served at the hostel which is on site at Plockton High School.

See the attached flyer for more information and the booking form.

Multilingualism and additional language learning

13 February 2020 (RiPL)

Summaries of research papers that relate to multilingualism and additional language learning are available on the Research in Primary Languages (RiPL) website. Each summary is worded to be reader-friendly, and covers no more than one side of A4.


eTwinning 2020 Annual Theme - Climate Change and Environmental Challenges

12 February 2020 (eTwinning)

Supporting the European Green Deal, eTwinning acknowledges that students of today are the adults of tomorrow most likely to experience the effects of climate change. That is why it is imperative to learn to live sustainably in order to counteract climate change and other environmental challenges.

2020 is the year of 'climate change and environmental challenges' for eTwinning. It's free to sign up, meet and partner with teachers from schools in 44 countries and start an international classroom project.

See the website for more information and get involved.


Issue to action: Teaching toolkit for a fairer world

11 February 2020 (Scotdec)

An online course for secondary school teachers across Scotland with an interest in Global Citizenship Education.

From the comfort of your own home, at a time and location that suits you, you can take part in the Issue to action in a way that fits around your other commitments.

Open to all Scottish Secondary school teachers of Maths, English, Modern Languages, Science and Social Subjects, Issue to action will connect you with a network of teachers across Scotland and equip you with the skills to teach your subject through a Global Citizenship lens. You’ll come away having undertaken a minimum of 12 hours of CLPL and a subject-specific toolkit of classroom activities, along with inspiration, ideas, a network of like-minded practitioners and practical activities that will empower you to teach through a global citizenship lens.

The course kicks off with a face-to-face meet up of all teachers involved across Scotland on 21 March 2020 in Edinburgh. The remainder of the course is delivered digitally.


New app launches courses in 150 languages with Scottish-voiced tuition

8 February 2020 (The Sunday Post)

A new app is aiming to help Scots learn 150 different languages from across the world, with the help of a Scottish voice.

Bluebird Languages, based in Wyoming, has teamed up with Highland broadcaster Colin Stone for the interactive audio lessons, which can be narrated in both Gaelic and English.

Scots can learn any of the 150 languages in their own dialect, something which creator Robert Savage saw as a gap in the market.


The Twinstitute - Learn a language

6 February 2020 (BBC)

In the heart of Birmingham, doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken have set up a unique centre for science. 

But theirs is no ordinary lab because inside it is crammed with 30 pairs of identical twins! Thanks to their matching DNA, identical twins are the perfect candidates for scientific comparison.

In this episode, two pairs of identical twins are finding out the best way to learn a language - putting the two most popular styles of learning head to head in self-taught versus taught. With 65% of us saying we would like to be able to speak another language, this test will determine the best way to go about it for you! 

Watch the programme (available on iPlayer until 6 March 2020).


Funded summer courses in Germany - applications now open!

6 February 2020 (UK-German Connection)

We offer three summer course opportunities for pupils and teachers, all combining language-learning with cultural trips and excursions, as well as staying with host families. All are part or fully funded. Follow the appropriate link to find out more about each course.

Application deadline for each programme: 1 March 2020.

If you have any questions about the courses, don't hesitate to get in touch with the UK-German Connection team at

Mastering foreign languages is like playing a video game

6 February 2020 (Study International)

Did you know that for every native English speaker in the world, there are five non-native speakers? Approximately 96 percent of all English conversations involve non-native speakers. You could say that this language is an essential tool to navigate today’s world.

That’s why communication skills trainer Marianna Pascal has trained thousands of Southeast Asians to communicate effectively over her past two decades in Malaysia. Having observed several approaches to speaking in English, Pascal shared how the secrets to mastering foreign languages can be found in everyday behaviour.

Here are some tips from her speech at TEDxPenangRoad.

Pascal noticed that many non-native English speakers feel pressured when interacting with native speakers. However, she says that proficiency level should not be a barrier to getting your message across.

“In schools all around the world, English is not being taught like it’s a tool to play with. Students are judged more on correctness than clarity,” she said. “Instead of looking at a foreign language as an art to be mastered and perfected, think of it as a tool you can use to get a result.”

Languages are essential tools we use to navigate everyday life. When we begin to view them as such, we are able to shift our perspective and move past any fear or insecurity.


Attitudes to education: The teaching profession, higher education and foreign languages

6 February 2020 (FE News)

Applies to England

Today (6 Jan) DfE have published the research report ‘Attitudes to education: British Social Attitudes Survey 2018’.

The report represents a broad survey of 3,000 adults across a range of subjects including the teaching profession, higher education and foreign languages in school.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: 

“Foreign languages are not only increasingly important to a modern, global economy; they also open up opportunities for young people. It’s clear that society recognises the value in having a language qualification in later life, which is why we are working to increase language uptake in schools.

“The introduction of the EBacc helped halt the decline in languages. Since 2010 the proportion of pupils studying a language at GCSE has risen from 40% to 47% in 2019. We recognise that we need to increase that further which is why we are creating a network of schools to spread best practice and introducing funding schemes like the Mandarin Excellence Programme.”


Scotland-China Association primary schools competition 2020

6 February 2020 (Scotland-China Association)

Open to all pupils in P5, P6 and P7 in Scottish schools, this year's competition from the Scotland-China Association asks students to design a kite.

Kites have been made and flown all over the world for thousands of years, and are very popular in China. The aim of the competition is to inspire the creativity of Scottish primary school pupils and to encourage them to learn more about Scotland and China. Entries should explore ideas which demonstrate understanding of links between Scotland and China through the design for a kite. We are working in partnership with RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, where the prize giving will be held.

Individual or group entries are welcomed and should take one of the following forms:

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Craftwork (for example an actual kite)
  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Video/media/film (no more than 10 minutes long)
  • Embroidery/stitching/textile

See the attached flyer for more information and the entry form, which must accompany all submissions. The deadline for entries is 15 May 2020.


How Nicaragua's deaf children invented a new sign language

5 February 2020 (BBC)

In the 1980s deaf children in Nicaragua invented a completely new sign language of their own.

It was a remarkable achievement, which allowed experts a unique insight into how human communication develops.

"What we learnt from Nicaragua about language still isn't over," says American linguist Judy Shepard-Kegl, who documented the emergence of Nicaraguan Sign Language.

Visit the website to watch the video report.


SCHOLAR Modern Languages revision sessions

4 February 2020 (SCHOLAR)

The remaining online revision sessions for this year for Modern Languages are as follows. Each will be presented by Douglas Angus, the SCHOLAR online tutor for Modern Languages:

  • 2 March 2020, 6:00pm - Exam skills - HIGHER MODERN LANGUAGES
  • 9 March 2020, 6:00pm - Exam skills - ADVANCED HIGHER MODERN LANGUAGES

Visit the SCHOLAR website for more information and log-in.


Martina Navratilova: ‘Learning multiple languages helped me on the court and in life’

3 February 2020 (The Independent)

Frustrated in her desire to learn the piano and unable to find anyone in her small Czech village to teach her English, Martina Navratilova sought out French and German lessons instead. Here, in an extract from a new book, the tennis superstar says the sport that made her name is a language too.

Two “passports” expanded my horizons, transformed my life and opened up the world: the game of tennis and languages. To learn a different language is to encounter a different logic, a different cadence, a different sequence of words. It prepares you to think differently and to adapt, and tennis is all about adapting, every point, every shot. You have to figure things out fast and react to instantly changing circumstances.

Subscription required to read full article


The Linguacuisine ‘LinguaChef’ Prize 2020

3 February 2020 (Newcastle University)

The LinguaChef Prize will be awarded to the person who uploads the best language learning recipe using the Linguacuisine recipe author software during the period 1 February to 15 June 2020. The prize consists of a payment of £200 plus a LinguaChef Gold Certificate. There are 2 runner-up prizes with £50 each plus a LinguaChef Silver Certificate. All will feature on the front page of all Linguacuisine media and the recipes will be promoted around the world on the website.

The language learning recipe can involve learning any language and any recipe. Entry to the competition is open to all and is free.

Visit the website for full details and submit entries by 15 June 2020. For any queries regarding the competition, contact Professor Paul Seedhouse -



Erasmus+ funding deadline extended

3 February 2020 (Erasmus+)

Due to technical issues with the web forms, the European Commission has announced an extension to the first funding deadline of the 2020 Call. The new deadline for online application forms to be submitted is Tuesday 11 February.

Erasmus+ offers funding to UK schools for life-changing international opportunities. You can apply for one or more of the following funding streams:

  • School Education Staff Mobility (Key Action 101):
    Revised application deadline - 11 February 2020 at 11am (UK time)
    School staff can teach, train or job shadow abroad - to develop their professional practice, build relationships with international peers and gain fresh ideas.
  • School Exchange Partnerships (Key Action 229):
    Application deadline - 24 March 2020 at 11am (UK time)
    Pupils and students can take part in international exchanges and study experiences, and staff can do training and teaching assignments overseas - to develop new skills, get inspired and gain vital international experience.
  • Strategic Partnerships for School Education (Key Action 201):
    Application deadline - 24 March 2020 at 11am (UK time)
    Schools can collaborate with international partners - to drive innovation, share best practice, and offer new opportunities to young people.

The funding is open to UK schools and colleges providing general, vocational or technical education to pupils aged 3 – 18 years. Local and regional authorities, school coordination bodies and consortia can also apply.

Please visit the website to find out more and apply for Erasmus+ schools funding now.  There are online guides and video tutorials to assist applicants, but any queries can be directed to the Erasmus+ UK National Agency at:


The cost of Britain’s language problem

31 January 2020 (The New Statesman)

As chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne thought he had found a key to boosting British competitiveness: teaching more children Mandarin. In September 2015, he announced a £10m investment in the Mandarin Excellence Programme, which aimed for an extra 5,000 children in the UK to be learning the language by 2020. Two years later, the country’s first entirely bilingual English-Chinese school opened its doors in London. At Kensington Wade, founded in 2017, children shout out answers in Mandarin in one classroom, practice calligraphy in another, and sing English songs in the next. Pinned to the wall of the school’s waiting room is a quote from businessman Sir Martin Sorrell: “Chinese and computer code are the only two languages the next generation should need”.

But the 61 pupils at the £17,000-a-year establishment, expected to be fluent in Mandarin by the age of 11, will be in the minority of young Brits who speak a second language. According to Eurobarometer, only 32 per cent of Britons aged 15-30 can read and write in more than one language. The EU average is 80 per cent. Given that it is compulsory for children in Wales to take Welsh until GCSE, fluency in non-UK languages is likely to be even lower.


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.


Championing Gaelic is an easy win for language learning

31 January 2020 (TESS)

When Scottish Conservative Liz Smith criticised Gaelic-medium education, she was way off the mark, writes Henry Hepburn.

Monsieur Boudon adored the English language. In a rural corner of France, where hardly anyone could string together more than a few words of English, he spent evenings decoding Bruce Springsteen concept albums and parsing the prose of Charles Dickens’ most doorstep-like novels.

I had just started as an English language assistant at a lycée in Le Puy-en-Velay, in Auvergne, where Monsieur Boudon was an English teacher. In what was both a benevolent gesture and a prime opportunity to test his linguistic mettle, he quickly invited me over for dinner along with two Irish students who were working in other schools.

[..] I thought about Monsieur Boudon last week for the first time in many a year when there was a political stooshie over Gaelic-medium education. Following news of the landmark move that Gaelic would become the default language of schools in the Western Isles, the Scottish Conservatives’ education spokesperson, Liz Smith, was quoted in The Scotsman describing this as a “deeply troubling step” that could put children “at a distinct disadvantage to their peers”.

This felt like an echo of culture wars from a bygone era. There are still a few mutterings on social media about whether train station signs should be in Gaelic, but you rarely hear the overblown denunciations of the language that you used to get.

Now, middle-class parents in Edinburgh and Glasgow – often with no heritage in Gaelic’s heartlands – are clamouring for their children to be taught in the language. And a few weeks ago, it was reported that the Gaelic version of the Duolingo language learning app had become the company’s fastest-growing course ever, with 127,000 sign-ups in the month since its St Andrew’s Day launch.

[..] Attempts to boost Gaelic education should be celebrated, not disparaged – because we are all enriched by a plurality of languages.

(Note - subscription required to access full article)

Science Specialist Confucius Classroom / Beyond the Panda

29 January 2020 (RZSS)

The RZSS offer the following education programmes to support the teaching and learning of Mandarin in schools.

  • Science Specialist Confucius Classroom - limited FREE sessions at Edinburgh Zoo extended to June 2020. We have two sessions available within our Specialist Classroom. Please note the updated conditions. Please see the attached pdf for details. 
  • Beyond the Panda - new booklet available which details the overall Beyond the Panda programme and provides guidance on the website. The booklet includes a planning and learning map detailing various Mandarin language topics, the games within the programme and where to find them. See the attached pdf for more information.

The German Olympics (IDO)

28 January 2020 (Goethe-Institut)

The German Olympics (IDO) is the biggest competition for the German language. Every two years over 100 students from all around the world meet to compete in their most beloved foreign language.

We are happy to welcome the German Olympics for schools worldwide to the United Kingdom in 2020 for the third time. The competition is open to secondary school students born between August 2002 and July 2006.

Visit the Goethe-Institut website for more information about eligibility and how to enter the competition. Submission deadline is 27 March 2020.


New report reveals stark gender gap in foreign languages

27 January 2020 (British Council)

A new report from the British Council reveals a stark gender gap in foreign languages and highlights the methods of schools who are trying to close the gender gap in language learning by tackling boys’ underperformance.

The report, produced by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), found that boys’ entry and performance in GCSE languages is persistently lower than girls, with a pupil’s gender a stronger predictor of outcomes than a pupil’s level of disadvantage: a girl from a poorer background is more likely to outperform a boy from a more affluent background.  

Boys studying modern foreign languages at GCSE in schools in England  was commissioned to investigate the latest trends in the entry and attainment levels of boys, and examine what schools are doing to tackle the growing gender divide.

This comes as overall entries into languages have undergone a significant decline in recent years. In contrast with all other subjects in the government’s ‘EBacc’ group of core academic subjects, such as maths, sciences and English, foreign languages have seen an increasingly low rate of entries.  


Related Links

Girls more likely to pass foreign language GCSEs than boys (The Student Room, 28 January 2020)

How do we encourage boys to learn languages? (TES, 28 January 2020 - subscription required to access)

Parlez-vous français? Maybe not if you're a boy

27 January 2020 (BBC)

Applies to England

Girls are more than twice as likely as boys to pass a GCSE in a modern foreign language, a report suggests. Just 38% of boys in England took a foreign language at GCSE in 2018, compared with about 50% of girls, a report for the British Council says.

Using statistical modelling, the Education Policy Institute study found when factors like background and ability were accounted for, boys were 2.17 times less likely to succeed.

But some schools are bucking the trend.

Researchers used a set of characteristics to model the likelihood of different types of pupils achieving a pass in a language GCSE, finding different results for different groups. In most areas of education, the biggest achievement gap is between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers. In languages, however, a pupil's gender has the biggest effect on the likelihood of whether they will succeed.


The man teaching 300 million people a new language

27 January 2020 (BBC)

If anyone ever doubts the positive impact of immigration tell them about Luis von Ahn.

A 41-year-old from the Central American nation of Guatemala, he went to the US in 1996, aged 18, to do a maths degree at Duke University in North Carolina. After that he studied computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

[...] Fast forward to today, and Luis is the co-founder and boss of Pittsburgh-based Duolingo, the world's most popular language-learning app, which has more than 300 million users around the globe.

[...] The inspiration behind Duolingo was to create a language learning app that was free for people to use - be it in Guatemala, or around the world - so that they could gain the economic advantages that often come with being at least partially bilingual.


'It's no shock that boys are avoiding languages'

27 January 2020 (TES)

We need to think more about how language-learning in schools is seen through a teenage boy's eyes, says Isabelle Dépreux.

The news that boys are eschewing the learning of languages does, while sad to hear, not come as a shock to me.

As the head of language learning at an all-girls’ school, I am also the mother of two boys, one a teenager. Benefiting from a multilingual mother, my children are, I’m glad to say, language and culturally fluent.

However, had it not been for this parental input, I’m not so sure it would have been the case.

Learning a language is like having a baby: you are far removed from you normal comfort zone.

Beginning a new language at the often emotionally-fragile teenage years is hard enough as it is and, what's more, I find that boys are naturally more inhibited in general.

Not to mention that everyone is familiar with the jokes about women asking for directions while men drive around for hours rather than possibly losing face.

It’s the same in a language class. Girls bounce back from mistakes more easily, while boys are concerned about being seen as weak and having their peers’ judge. 

(Note - subscription required to access full article)


No history, no languages… the end of humanities only deepens divides

26 January 2020 (The Guardian)

Sunderland University wants to become more “career-focused”. So it is to shut down all its language, politics and history courses and promote instead degrees that “align with particular employment sectors”. It’s an illustration of what happens when universities turn into businesses, and their ethos is defined by the market. It’s also symbolic of the divisions that now rend Britain’s social fabric.


Languages for all?

24 January 2020 (MEITS)

On 17th January 2020 the House of Commons published a briefing paper on language teaching in schools in England. It highlights results from a European Commission survey which reported that only 32% of 16-30 year olds in the UK felt confident reading and writing in two or more languages. To put this in (a rather dismal) perspective, the average across all EU member states is 80%. Yet, it is perhaps unsurprising that this number is so low given that fewer than half of secondary school students in England currently choose to study a language at Key Stage 4 (age 14-16). Given the strategic importance of languages both socially and economically, the Government has set a target to increase the proportion of students studying languages at Key Stage 4 to 90% by 2025 (as part of the English Baccalaureate).

But what do languages teachers think of this and what needs to be taken into consideration in order to achieve these targets? I took to social media to find out. A total of 229 teachers responded to a (very) informal poll I posted on Twitter and several Facebook groups for UK Modern Languages teachers. First of all, I asked when they felt language learning should be compulsory in schools. Here’s what they said.


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.


Write Away!

24 January 2020 (Light Bulb Languages)

Write Away! is a magazine celebrating the writing that primary children do in their language lessons.

All primary schools across the UK are now invited to enter submissions for Issue 4. The closing date is 23.59 on Friday 31 January 2020.

Visit the Light Bulb Languages website for full submission guidelines and to read previous editions of the magazine.


Espacios Increíbles 2020 – Get your school involved!

24 January 2020 (SCILT)

Following the successful pilot last year, this exciting competition, using Spanish, design team work and creativity is now officially open to secondary schools across all local authorities in Scotland to take part in this year.

Aimed at S3, learners will work in teams to research and design a building in a Spanish speaking area. They will present their design in Spanish, and then go forward to represent their school at national level. The finalists will take part in a live event at the University of Strathclyde where their designs will be judged by industry professionals and academics. The winners (as part of their prize) will have their model made in 3D by the School of Architecture.

This highly motivating project for learners has had a positive effect on uptake in the senior phase for those schools who participated in the pilot in 2019. The skills focus delivers on key aspects of Developing the Young Workforce. The learner materials that are designed to fulfil evidence requirements for achieving Level 4 Benchmarks are available on the SCILT website, and can be easily adapted to suit your chosen group. 

Visit the Eventbrite page to find out more and register your interest by Friday 27 March 2020. 


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."


German Educational Trainees Across Borders 2020/21

23 January 2020 (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz / SCILT)

Expressions of interest are now being taken from local authorities who would like to host a German student teacher for a 6 month placement during the 2020/21 school session.

German trainee teachers from Universities in Mainz, Leipzig and Koblenz are available to work in Scottish schools for a six month placement from September/October 2020 to March/April 2021. Participating students are native German speakers, training to become secondary teachers of English. 

German Educational Trainees (GETs) support language teaching and intercultural understanding, bringing language alive for learners with a trained and motivated native speaker. 

Local authorities interested in hosting GETs should register with SCILT by Friday 31st January. For more information and to register your interest please contact SCILT


Gaelic to be 'default' language for new pupils in Western Isles schools

23 January 2020 (BBC)

Children starting school in the Western Isles this summer will be taught in Gaelic, unless their parents opt-out.

Until now parents had to opt in to Gaelic-medium education (GME) on the islands, where lessons in English was the default.

But from August, all new P1 children will enrol in GME unless their parents request otherwise.

The move was prompted because more than half of parents were expected to choose Gaelic-medium education.

Western Isles council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, is the first of Scotland's 32 local authorities to make the move.

The islands has Scotland's largest Gaelic speaking community.

GME sees lessons delivered in Gaelic until P4 and then English is introduced, with the aim of giving children a bilingual education.


Language competitions

22 January 2020 (RZSS)

RZSS and our partner StampIT have launched language competitions. All are based on a fantastic activity which covers many curriculum objectives starting with just one postage stamp. Tell the story of a Spanish, French, Chinese or in fact any country/language stamp. Full details are on the attached pdf leaflets. There are specific leaflets for Spanish, French and Mandarin. There is also another leaflet 'Stamps from around the World' and for this competition any topic (including any language) can be entered. This activity links to the RZSS & StampIT language series.

The competition will continue to run each year, therefore there is no time limit for entries. However for entries to be shown in the 2020 Scottish Annual Congress, please send by 1 March 2020. Entries are encouraged from all age groups. Example pages are shown but younger pupils can still enter and possibly draw around the stamp and write a word or two in the language as appropriate. Pupils can enter more than one of the competitions.

Check out the attached leaflets for more information on each of the competitions. If anyone has difficulty in finding stamps, please contact Sandie Robb -

Multilingual Debate 2020

21 January 2020 (Heriot-Watt University)

Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event that showcases the interpreting skills of undergraduate and postgraduate students. The event takes the form of a formal debate with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. The teams deliver their views in their various native languages (French, German, Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language (BSL)).

The audience is mainly made up of pupils coming from Scottish and English secondary schools, along with university undergraduate students considering entering the interpreting profession, as well as government and local authority representatives, The audience participates by listening to the arguments, putting questions to the speakers in the languages represented and voting on the motion.

The Multilingual Debate 2020 will take place on Wednesday 25 March at Heriot-Watt University's Edinburgh campus. Two sessions are available and bookings are now being taken. Schools can book up to 15 tickets free of charge.

Visit the website for more information.


£2.5 million to boost international exchanges for schools

19 January 2020 (Department for Education)

Thousands more young people will have the chance to take part in international exchanges and visits thanks to a new £2.5 million programme, the Education Secretary announced today (19 January).

Schools in England will be able to apply for grants to take pupils aged 11 and above to visit partner schools around the world, giving them the chance to experience different cultures, improve language skills and build independence, character and resilience.

The programme, which will be principally focused on supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds, will be run in partnership with the British Council – whose own research has found that only 39% of secondary schools run international exchanges. For independent schools, the figure is 77%.

As education ministers from around the world prepare to gather in London for the Education World Forum, Damian Hinds has stressed the importance of ensuring disadvantaged young people don’t miss out on the life-changing experiences and academic opportunities offered by overseas visits.

Evidence shows that businesses are increasingly looking for employees with international experience and language skills – and, according to a British Council survey, almost two-thirds of university language students said that an international exchange helped inspire them to choose their degree course.

The programme will build on the government’s work to encourage more pupils to study a foreign language, including their inclusion in the English Baccalaureate. Since 2010 we have seen 45% more entries in GCSE Chinese and 51% more entries in GCSE Spanish.


e-Sgoil National 5/Higher Gaelic (Learners) course

17 January 2020 (e-Sgoil)

e-Sgoil is taking applications from S4-S6 pupils for its 2020-2021 Nat 5 and Higher Gaelic (Learners) courses. These courses are fully funded by the Scottish Government, are delivered online and are open to pupils from anywhere in Scotland. See the attached flyer for more information.


Related Files

Immersion courses in France and Spain

17 January 2020 (LFEE)

LFEE Europe has been an international course provider since 2002. Our team of experienced and fully qualified native teachers are committed to promoting French and Spanish language and culture throughout Europe.

Teachers wishing to apply for courses in France and Spain for 2020-2021 can also benefit from Erasmus+ funding to cover the tuition fee, accommodation, subsistence and travel costs. The next funding application deadline is 5 February 2020.

Please contact LFEE Europe as soon as possible to pre-register and receive guidelines to help your application.

For more information, see the course brochure.


DofE scheme draws up 'experience list' to build teen resilience

16 January 2020 (The Guardian)

The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme’s leaders are calling on the government to support character building in schools.

Teenagers who want to grow in confidence and resilience are being urged to try “character building” activities such as trying veganism, performing random acts of kindness, taking a digital detox, attending a music festival and going dancing.

The DofE scheme, best known among its millions of graduates for its intrepid, all-weather expeditions into the wilds of the British countryside, has drawn up the checklist of 25 experiences.

Other suggested activities on the list include: public speaking, learning a foreign language, doing work experience, spending time getting to know an older person, volunteering for a charity, campaigning for something you believe in, spending time in nature, engaging in politics, learning about climate change and becoming a mentor to someone younger.

While most teenagers will be able to tick off at least some of the activities on the list, leaders of the DofE scheme are calling on the government to do more to support character building in schools to help develop resilience in all young people.


Ofsted starts subject reviews with maths and languages

13 January 2020 (TES)

Applies to England

Ofsted's reintroduction of thematic subject reviews will be "state of the nation" looks into teaching in maths and languages, it has been revealed

The reviews will be using data gathered by inspectors from "deep dives" into these subjects during school inspections.

Daniel Muijs, Ofsted’s deputy director for research and evaluation said the thematic subject reviews would be the the inspectorate’s "biggest programme of new research".

"For this, we will be using data from inspection deep dives to look at the state of the nation in different subject areas across key stages," he said.

"The first subjects we will be researching will be mathematics and languages. 

The plan for Ofsted to return to producing thematic subject reviews was first announced by chief inspector Amanda Spielman last year.

Ms Spielman told the Association of School and College Leaders conference, in Birmingham last year, that she hoped these reviews would start "thoughtful debate informed by evidence."

(Note - subscription required to access full article).


Everyone in Wales will be able to speak Welsh in 300 years - believe scientists

12 January 2020 (Wales Online)

Researchers say that the Welsh language will "thrive" and by 2300 two-thirds of the population could be Welsh speakers.

More than a third of the world's 7,000 languages are currently classified as endangered and more than half are expected to go extinct by 2100. There are a number of strategies in place in those countries to boost the language.

The researchers have developed a model which can predict changes in proficiency levels over time and, ultimately, whether a given endangered language is on a long-term trajectory towards extinction or recovery. The data, published by the Royal Society, compares Welsh and te reo Māori, the indigenous language of New Zealand, as a case study. That shows that while Māori is on a pathway towards extinction, Welsh will "thrive in the long term".

The model is based on Welsh in Wales, where researchers say "significant development in bilingual and Welsh-medium education and the presence of the language throughout the public and private sectors have positively contributed to an increase in the number of Welsh speakers."


Worldwide Napier magazine - Call for submissions

10 January 2020 (Edinburgh Napier University)

Worldwide Napier, the magazine in foreign languages designed by language students to encourage language studies, is currently looking for contributions in French, German and Spanish for its fifth issue, desirably on [changing] places, our next issue main focus.

Students from secondary schools, colleges and other universities are invited to submit articles, written individually or collaboratively in the language(s) they are studying. The magazine will be published by the end of April and will be available in digital and hard copy format, distributed for free in Scottish schools, Edinburgh cafés and cultural institutions.

See the attached flyer and poster for more information. Submission deadline is 1 March 2020.

Government decision to scrap Erasmus scheme will harm UK's bottom line

10 January 2020 (City AM)

The UK has always lagged behind its European neighbours in foreign language learning, and the vote this week to eradicate the Erasmus scheme will only slow that adoption further. 

For many, Erasmus was an opportunity to live and learn a new culture and language, free from class and income boundaries. The programme gave the UK’s youth an international edge. But now that the government has denied university students this exchange scheme, following Wednesday’s Brexit votes, it runs a serious risk of making British students more insular, constricted, and less culturally open.

Concerns about this decision don’t just begin and end with the loss of cultural and social benefits for students — it will inevitably affect the UK’s future workforce and bottom line. 

In the midst of the Brexit process, where we have already seen a reduction in net migration since the referendum, how will British industries fair without this source of diversity in learning and incoming talent?

This decision is arguably the worst one made for the British education system since 2004, when Tony Blair’s Labour government chose to scrap compulsory foreign language learning at the GCSE level, which led to a severe drop in the number of UK pupils taking subjects such as French and German. In fact, there has been a huge 63 per cent fall in GCSE entries for French and a 67 per cent for German since 2002. 

The government is setting a dangerous precedent. It sends the message to young Brits that foreign language skills aren’t important, and that English is the language of the world. 

It isn’t. In fact, only 20 per cent of the world’s population speaks English — this includes both native and second language speakers. 

In 2013, the now-dissolved Department of Business, Innovation and Skills revealed that the UK’s language skills deficit could be costing the economy up to £48bn each year. So it is concerning that this Brexit-driven decision has gone ahead without a regard for its implications. 


SCHOLAR Online Tutor Sessions - Modern Languages

10 January 2020 (SCHOLAR)

The next online tutor sessions for Higher and Advanced Higher Modern Languages take place on Monday 13 January 2020.

  • 6:00pm - Higher Modern Languages: Interactive translation
  • 6:45pm - Advanced Higher Modern Languages: Interactive translation

Visit the SCHOLAR website for further information.


Discover the Arabic world – A unique experience for Scotland’s schools

10 January 2020 (SCILT)

SCILT, in partnership with Qatar Foundation International and eSgóil is currently looking for ten state schools in Scotland who would be interested in opening the door to the Arab world with an innovative new pilot project. 

The collaboration will provide an opportunity for both primary and secondary schools to offer L3 learning experiences in Arabic language and culture.  Courses will be co-created by the SCILT team and a specially commissioned writing team of native speakers, with language lessons delivered online by a native speaker of Arabic via e-Sgoil. For learners in primary schools the course will be offered as a ten-week inter-disciplinary block of learning.  For secondary schools, the course will focus on developing employability skills and be aimed at S6 senior phase learners who are seeking to enhance their language learning experience and their CVs.  Participating schools will also receive the support of a fully-trained, native speaking, language assistant. The lessons will give learners the chance to explore aspects of Arabic culture as well as providing a solid linguistic foundation for learning the world’s fifth most spoken language.

In addition to teaching support and professional learning opportunities, schools participating in the pilot phase will also receive a grant of £2000.  This can provide schools with resources and experiences that enhance and support the language learning and promote a positive experience of Arabic culture.

If you would like your school to be considered to take part in the pilot, please note your interest at SCILT before close of business on Friday 31 January 2020.

School Partnership Bursaries for 2019-20

9 January 2020 (UK-German Connection)

Did you run any activities with your German partner school last year?

School partnership bursaries are available once more to help you to keep your UK-German partnership alive.

All you need to do is answer a few short questions about your partnership activities last year and your plans for 2020.

For further details and to enter your information, please visit the UK-German Connection website and submit your information by 31 January 2020. 


Winter 2020: C’est la rentrée!

9 January 2020 (Institut français)

The Institut français in Edinburgh is now enrolling for winter term classes commencing 13 January 2020.

Visit the website for information on the courses available and to enrol.


Learning foreign languages should be compulsory, says report

9 January 2020 (The Guardian)

Learning a new language should be compulsory for pupils up to the age of 16, according to a new report highlighting the UK’s recent abysmal record in encouraging young people to study languages other than English.

The report published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) cites an EU-wide survey showing that just 32% of young people in the UK say they are able to read or write in more than one language, compared with 79% of their peers in France and more than 90% in Germany.

The report calls for the overturning of the government’s 2004 decision to drop compulsory study of languages at key stage four – when pupils take GCSE exams in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – which has led to a steep decline in the numbers in England going on to study languages at colleges and universities.

It also recommends that the government should start subsidising the teaching of languages at universities, “in light of declining enrolments and growing vulnerability for lesser taught languages”, for strategic and cultural reasons.


Mandarin eclipses French, say private school heads

8 January 2020 (TES)

Mandarin is the best language for pupils to learn in today’s world, while French lags far behind in importance, according to girls’ school headteachers cited in a poll published today.

The survey, conducted by the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), which represents independent all-girls schools across the UK, found that 38 per cent of heads feel Mandarin is the most important modern language for pupils to learn.

This is despite pupils' quicker progress in European languages, according to a language expert, who also argues that more job opportunities area available for French and German speakers.

Spanish was the second most popular option among the headteachers polled, with 31 per cent choosing it as the most important language, while 7.1 per cent chose Russian.

Just 2 per cent of those surveyed said French is the most important language for pupils to know.

A further 21 per cent selected “other”, with many commenting that any modern foreign language is useful for pupils.

[..] But Teresa Tinsley, who wrote the British Council’s 2019 Language Trends report, said schools needed to consider the practicalities of opting for Mandarin over languages spoken by geographical neighbours, such as French and German.

[..] Ms Tinsley said she supported the introduction of Mandarin to give pupils more variety in the languages they learnt, but said European languages tended to support pupils’ literacy in English, which could not be said of Asian languages.

(Note - subscription required to read full article).


JACT Greek Summer School

7 January 2020 (JACT Summer Schools)

The UK’s largest classical summer school now offers teachers’ Greek courses at Beginner, Intermediate and GCSE levels.

Students cover a large amount of Greek within a scholarly and academically-intensive environment. The courses represent an ideal CPD opportunity for those wishing to acquire new expertise.

Teacher courses in 2020 will last for one week (Sunday to Saturday), with options as follows:

  • Week 1 (26 July - 1 Aug): Beginner - A course for those with little or no Greek at present - no prior knowledge is assumed. 
  • Week 2 (2 - 8 Aug): Intermediate - This course assumes some knowledge. 

It will be possible for teachers to attend the Beginner course in Week 1 and stay on for the Intermediate course in Week 2 if they wish.

Applications will open in January. For the best chance of gaining a course place and/or bursary apply by 31 March 2020.

Visit the JACT Summer Schools Trust website for more information.


What are the hardest GCSE subjects? A student's view

6 January 2020 (TES)

When it comes to GCSEs, a mixed bag of results is often expected by teachers and students alike. 

It’s generally accepted that students have stronger and weaker areas; some are more Stem-oriented, while others perform better in English and the arts.

But are all GCSE subjects of the same difficulty? 

And should we be concerned about this?

I propose that the difference in performance across subjects is partially down to disparities in the difficulty of the courses and exams.

I achieved 10 grade 9s last summer, but I did not find it easy. 

These are the subjects that I – and others – found the most difficult.


French Pop Video Competition 2020

6 January 2020 (Institut français)

Do you think you could sing or rap in French? Do you have the skills to make a video clip for your song? If so, this competition is for you!

The competition is open to any student or groups of students in full time education in the national-curriculum primary and secondary schools of England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the Channel Islands, in 3 age-group categories: 7-11, 12-15, and 16-18.

Entries should be original compositions around 3 minutes long and must be performed in French.

Visit the competition website for more information and submit entries by 3 April 2020.


French classes in Glasgow

6 January 2020 (Alliance Française)

The Alliance Française in Glasgow is currently enrolling for the following courses/examinations. Click on the relevant link for more information.

For further information about the organisation, visit the Alliance Française website.


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).


Language apps: Can phones replace classrooms?

2 January 2020 (BBC)

Can apps ever replace classroom language learning or even help revive minority or dying languages?

Apps offer languages - real or invented - not popular enough to be taught at evening classes or most universities. Esperanto, invented to create world peace, Avatar's Na'vi, Elvish and Star Trek's Klingon are all on the table.


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.


Why we offer Mandarin and Spanish, not German and French

20 December 2019 (TES)

Secondary head Chris Woolf explains why he ditched the modern language stalwarts in favour of giving all students the chance to learn Mandarin and Spanish.

It was very quiet. There was no one to talk to. There were no phones to ring. There was no one knocking on the door. Getting in early to make some progress before students and staff arrived for the day was pointless: they wouldn’t be here for another nine months. It was June 2015 and I had been appointed founding headteacher of Pinner High School.

Much of the next year was spent making and enacting plans. But foremost in my mind, on those quiet days when the school had not yet come into being, was the curriculum. What should it look like?

A lot of it would be traditional, of course: English, maths, science. However, there was an opportunity to make it a bit more exciting, too. This is how we came to ditch French and German, teaching Mandarin and Spanish to every child in the school instead.

Mandarin teaching has increased over the past 20 years but it is still offered by only a minority of state schools. Even then, it is usually in addition to the more traditional languages. We didn’t want it to be an add-on – we wanted it to be the main event.

Meanwhile, the number of students taking Spanish at GCSE has soared, while French has fallen markedly. But trying to counter the former and respond to the latter were not our only drivers.

Governors asked appropriately challenging questions. Why? What’s wrong with French and German? Through telling audiences about our language options as I toured local primaries to promote the school, I honed my response. When schools first started teaching modern foreign languages, we looked to our nearest neighbours in Europe for the most useful ones to learn: French and German.

But the world has changed. If we look to the future, we want jobseekers of the 2020s to be equipped for success, and that means a more dynamic approach. Teaching students in an English-speaking school Mandarin and Spanish means that they get to study the top three most widely spoken languages in the world. That must be a good thing.

Having settled on Mandarin and Spanish, I had to consider who would be eligible for these languages. This was an easy decision: everyone. We are a truly inclusive school and we believe that everyone can access the same curriculum, given the proper support.

Then I had to actually make it happen. I had expected recruiting Mandarin teachers to be difficult. However, when I advertised, there was a strong field to pick from and we now have brilliant colleagues.

(Note - subscription required to access full article).


Chinese New Year

19 December 2019 (British Council)

Get ready to celebrate Chinese New Year on 25 January 2020!

This education resource from the British Council is packed full of exciting ideas and activities from across the curriculum, helping you and your pupils celebrate Chinese New Year 2020 and the Year of the Rat.

Play the sound files and practice saying the names of different Chinese festivals and greetings in Mandarin. Read a traditional story about a pair of ambitious rat parents trying to find a husband for their daughter. Get creative making rat finger puppets, Tangram puzzles and steamed rice dumplings. Learn together about Tomb Sweeping Day, the Spring, Moon and Dragon Boat Festivals and read letters from Chinese children about how they celebrate with their friends and families.

This resource is suitable for primary years and adaptable for early secondary years and older.


European Language Gazette Issue 49

19 December 2019 (ECML)

The latest issue of the European Language Gazette is now available.

The e-newsletter provides up-to-date news about the ECML (events, projects, resources), other relevant sectors of the Council of Europe, as well as our partners. The current issue is dedicated to the ECML 25th Anniversary Conference "Languages at the heart of learning: 25 years of inspiring innovation" (Graz, Austria, 5-6 December 2019), the forthcoming resources resulting from the ECML programme 2016-19 "Languages at the heart of learning programme" and the launch of the new programme 2020-23 "Inspiring innovation in language education: changing contexts, evolving competences".


Latin / Latin and Classical Studies

16 December 2019 (University of Edinburgh)

The Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) Secondary - is a one year (36 week) programme which begins mid-August. Places are available for 2020.

Visit the University of Edinburgh website for more information and to apply.


School partnership bursaries

16 December 2019 (UK-German Connection)

UK-German Connection is again offering bursaries of £1,000 to help keep UK-German school partnerships alive. The bursaries can support pupil visits and joint activities taking place in 2020.

Visit the website to find out more and submit your application by 31 January 2020.


Mathématiques sans Frontières 2020

16 December 2019 (UWS)

Mathématiques sans Frontières is an annual international mathematics competition for S4-S6 schoolchildren, centrally run by the Académie de Strasbourg since 1989. This interclass competition involves a number of mathematical puzzles where one of the puzzles is posed, and must be answered, in a foreign language. The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) is organising the competition in Scotland and invites schools to register for the competition by 31 January 2020.

More information can be found in the attached invitation letter. Also attached is the registration form and a competition training test and answer sheet.

Further information about previous competitions can also be found on the UWS Mathématiques sans Frontières website.


Related Files

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.


Japanese online course for teachers

10 December 2019 (Japan Foundation)

Why don’t you teach your pupils Japanese language and culture at your school? We think your pupils will love it!

The Marugoto A1-1 (Katsudoo & Rikai) Tutor Support Course gives a comprehensive introduction to Japanese language and culture. This course will combine online self-study with submission of assignments to a real-life tutor, in addition to live lessons (1 live lesson covers 1 Topic) with the tutor. The course commences 15 January 2020.

Visit the Japan Foundation website for more information and to register for the course by 18 December 2019.


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.”


Secondary students urged to learn foreign languages to boost career prospects

6 December 2019 (Irish Times)

Some 3,000 students attended an event in Dublin’s Convention Centre aimed at highlighting the personal, social, professional and economic benefits of language learning.

While most Irish students study foreign languages in school, surveys show Irish adults lag behind other Europeans in language competence.

Karen Ruddock, director of Post Primary Languages Ireland, said the global dominance of English has given rise to the mistaken belief that “English is enough”.

This, she said, can result in complacency and a lack of motivation to learn other languages.

“Today’s event is about delivering a message that learning a foreign langauge will create more work opportunties, more chances to make friends and have great life experiences,” she said.


The Glasgow school using play to boost literacy and numeracy

6 December 2019 (TESS)

From making imaginary pizzas to becoming interior designers for a doll’s house, learning through play isn’t just for the youngest pupils, argue two Glasgow teachers. They tell Emma Seith how they are using it to support children who speak English as an additional language – and to connect with colleagues around the world.

Have you heard the tale about play-based learning, a viral Facebook page and one of Scotland’s most diverse communities? It involves two young teachers in Glasgow, who have gained thousands of followers around the world for their imaginative use of play in the classroom.

The magic happens at Holy Cross Primary in the Govanhill area, which serves a truly multicultural community. Holy Cross has a significant Romanian and Slovakian pupil population, and there are a large number of children with Pakistani heritage, many of whom speak Urdu and Punjabi. Overall, 80 per cent of pupils speak English as an additional language – something that proved challenging for Rebecca Meighan and Claire Scally when they were both teaching P1.

So, what are they doing that has struck such a chord with teachers around the world?

Meighan and Scally quickly realised that before they could push on with reading and writing skills, they needed to first build up their pupils’ English vocabulary. But they didn’t want to simply show pictures – they wanted pupils to be able to “see and touch and feel these objects”. The solution was to enable them to acquire language in a more natural way: to let them play.

“When we got to teaching phonics, initial sounds and word blends, we were finding it really difficult because the children were coming either with little English or no English at all,” explains Scally. “You always start with the letter S – the ‘sss’ sound – but when we were trying to get them to think of words that start with the letter S, they were just looking at us blankly.”

Meighan and Scally decided to change tack. After brainstorming words with the sound they wanted children to learn that week, they set up play activities related to that sound. For instance, with the “V” sound, one activity was to make a volcano erupt (with lava produced by combining vinegar and baking soda). The children were also given the chance to role-play being a vet; one of the suggested activities was taking a pet dog for a vaccination.

The plan achieved the desired result: instead of looking blank when they were asked to give examples of words featuring the sound they were working on, the children were able to reel off a list. And, importantly, they remembered these words because they had been immersed in a world (albeit an imaginary one) where they were relevant.

“We knew that if we gave children the chance to interact with these objects – to do and not just see – they would remember them and gain some more language from that,” explains Meighan.

Meighan and Scally set up The Power of Play Facebook page to collaborate with teachers outside their school ( They quickly discovered that teachers across the UK – as well as from Finland, Norway, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – were on similar journeys and wanted to introduce more play into their classrooms.

At the time of writing, the page had attracted more than 17,000 followers and 16,000-plus likes. Some of Meighan and Scally’s posts, meanwhile, have attracted hundreds of comments.

Many Facebook commenters ask them where they get their resources from, including the miniature apples decorating their cardboard apple trees, brightly painted numbers with googly eyes and “bones” (dog biscuits) used for Halloween activities.

What they have created is a community of teachers helping each other. The ideas that go down well, they say, are the ones that are relatively easy to do, and which feature resources that can be adapted and used again.

(Note - subscription required to access full article)


Parlons français 2020

6 December 2019 (AMOPA)

The competition for Advanced Higher students of French has now been running for over ten years and is back again for 2020!

To enter, all that's needed is a short recording of students as they prepare for their speaking test. Judges will assess it, provide feedback to everyone and some will be awarded prizes and certificates. It is hoped that taking part will be a useful exercise to support pupils' learning and preparation and not a distraction. Since they are practising anyway, why not let them have some feedback on that?

For more information and how to enter see the attached flyer.

Related Files

Scottish school pupils show off their language skills in Mandarin Speaking Competition

6 December 2019 (CISS)

Over 40 pupils from 14 Scottish Schools put their linguistic skills to the test on 26 November as they bid to be crowned Scotland’s best Mandarin speakers. They took part in the Glasgow heat of this year’s British Council Mandarin Speaking Competition, held at the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS) within Scotland’s National Centre for Languages (SCILT).

The winners of the heat will be announced next month after all the UK heats have been completed, and they will be put forward to the final in London in February 2020 with the overall winner winning a fully-funded educational and cultural visit to China. Now in its sixteenth year, the national competition aims to build interest in Chinese language and culture.

Mr Jiayi Chen, Teacher of Mandarin at Kinross High, said:

“Learning Mandarin has been incredibly important at Kinross High and our pupils gain so much confidence when using the language and taking part in the competition.  We’ve seen a big impact from the opportunity to put language skills to use outside of a classroom setting. It’s also great to see that many of our students have been inspired to continue studying languages to a higher level.”

As the most spoken language in the world, Mandarin is recognised as a valuable skill for young people in the UK to acquire. 77 per cent of British business leaders surveyed in 2018 saying that speaking Mandarin will give school leavers a career advantage. Research by the British Council has found that Mandarin is the second most important foreign language for the UK’s influence on the global stage.

However, the numbers of pupils studying Mandarin are low when compared to other languages. This year, in Scotland for example, just 232 pupils took the Scottish National 5 exam in Mandarin compared to more than 10,720 students who took French and over 7000 pupils who took Spanish.

Jackie Killeen