Latest News

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

Language Policy

Recent educational reforms in foreign language education policy and practice in Greece

23 May 2022 (ECML)

The purpose of the present paper is to provide an overview of the most significant language policies and innovations implemented in the Greek educational system focusing on the years 2019-22, namely:

i) The introduction of the English language in kindergarten through an innovative pedagogical approach,

ii) The design of new curricula and educational material for primary and secondary education, based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR),

iii) The legal consolidation of alternative methods of student assessment and the development of learners’ transversal and soft skills, through the new curricula and the introduction of the “21st Century Skills Labs” in the programme of study of Kindergartens, Primary and Lower Secondary Schools.


Where next for modern languages? From patterns in recruitment to curriculum reform, six academics examine some of the challenges

7 December 2021 (School of Advanced Studies)

It is no secret that every area of the humanities is experiencing significant change. Questions concerning the coherence, identity, and purpose of modern languages are certainly the subject of a great deal of debate within the education sector.

This edition of Talking Humanities sets out to examine some of the issues that are of most pressing concern to those working in the sector. In the opening post (We have to deploy modern languages in confronting our challenges), Professors Charles Burdett and Claire Gorrara talk about the nature of the challenges that the disciplinary area faces – from patterns in recruitment to reform of the curriculum – and how it is attempting to address those challenges. In the posts that follow, contributors reflect on different elements of the subject area and how it is pursuing reform.


Teach children Polish and Arabic to reflect ‘modern Britain’, schools minister says

18 October 2021 (iNews)

The teaching of foreign languages in schools should be more reflective of “modern Britain”, with greater numbers of pupils learning languages such as Arabic and Polish, the schools minister has said.

Robin Walker said he wanted to expand the “breadth” of languages being offered in England’s schools.

Mr Walker, who was appointed schools minister in last month’s reshuffle, made the comments after a visit to Cardinal Hume Catholic School in Gateshead – one of the “hubs” which the Government is using to roll out new methods for teaching languages.

He told i England had an opportunity to “drive up the capability of people to engage with language teaching”, and that there was scope for teaching more languages beyond the traditional big three of French, Spanish and German.

“One of the things we should be looking at is that actually the UK has a lot of people who speak multiple languages,” Mr Walker said.

“It was interesting looking at the figures from the language school we visited… not only were they entering lots of students in French and Spanish, but they were also entering smaller numbers in Polish, in Arabic, in GCSEs in home second languages.

“One of the things I’m interested in exploring is how we can make modern foreign languages reflect modern Britain a little bit more, and reflect the breadth of languages that we have in our communities, but also our aspirations around the world.”


'Urgent' action needed to reverse decline in pupils studying languages

7 October 2021 (BBC)

More than 70 Irish teachers and speakers have warned of a "critical decline" in pupils studying Irish and other languages in schools.

They are calling for the Department of Education (DE) to recommend that all pupils should study a language at GCSE.

It is currently not compulsory.

Signatories to the open letter from the Irish language body, Gael Linn, said "urgent and decisive action" was needed to reverse a decline in pupils studying languages.

A survey carried out by the BBC in 2019 found that more than a third of schools in Northern Ireland had stopped offering French, German or Spanish at GCSE in the previous five years.

Separate exam figures also showed the number of pupils taking modern languages at GCSE had fallen by more than 40% in the past 15 years.

A more recent study from the British Council said that teaching children modern languages at primary school "all but collapsed" during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A scheme to teach primary pupils additional languages was scrapped by DE due to financial cuts in 2015.


Joint Statement by the University Council of Modern Languages and the Classical Association

12 August 2021 (UCML)

The University Council of Modern Languages and the Classical Association jointly welcome the Department for Education’s recent announcement of support for new and existing initiatives to develop in England the teaching of languages, cultures and societies, both modern and ancient. We share a commitment to the belief that language learning fosters not just competence in specific languages, but the analytical, linguistic, intercultural, literacy and communication skills that are vital to the creation of a prosperous, productive, influential, innovative, knowledgeable, culturally richer, more socially cohesive and healthier society. We also share a firm belief that language learning should be accessible for all. 


Catching up with the rest of the world: The foreign languages revolution in Scottish schools

30 May 2021 (Press and Journal)

Scottish schools are undergoing a revolution in foreign language learning in an attempt to reverse generations of neglect.

After years of being derided as ‘lazy’ linguists abroad, there are plans to produce a multilingual workforce.

Few school systems demand less foreign language learning from their children than those in the UK.

This is not helped by having a native language that is the ‘lingua franca’ of the world.

But a Scottish Government policy is setting out to change all that.

Under the 1+2 Languages initiative, pupils will learn their own language (L1) plus two others (L2 and L3).

The L2 will be taught from Primary 1, and the L3 from Primary 5 to 7. There will be compulsory teaching of at least one foreign language until S3.

Education bosses will fully implement the “ambitious” policy for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Based on the last Scottish Government survey in 2019, 88% of primary schools – approximately 1,760 schools – were delivering the full L2 entitlement.

This already represents significant progress. Anyone in their 30s who went to a Scottish state school won’t have studied foreign languages until secondary school.

The Scottish Government has spent more than £45million since 2013 on increasing foreign language learning in schools.

Teachers are currently being provided with training and support in readiness for the changes.


All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages' statement ​on the MFL GCSE Subject Content review and consultation - 13 May 2021

13 May 2021 (APPG)

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages (APPG MFL) notes widespread concern and disquiet in relation to the review. At a time when languages are already uniquely fragile in English schools, the proposals in their present form represent a fundamental change to the nature of language learning, with unclear evidence that the approach would be successful in relation either to raising standards or increasing take-up. The APPG MFL believes that changes to the GCSE specification should be suspended to allow time for further evidence and expertise to be taken into account to avoid unintended consequences.


SNP announce plans to explore creation of recognised Gaelic-speaking area

14 April 2021 (The Herald)

The SNP has announced plans to secure the future of Gaelic by investing in education and exploring the creation of a recognised Gaelic-speaking area. 

The party said it will work to ensure Gaelic flourishes throughout Scotland as well as in its traditional heartlands if it is re-elected in May.

It also said it would "review the functions and structures" of Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG), the quango responsible for promoting the language. 

BnG has been the focus of criticism over its performance. 

The SNP said it would look into creating a recognised "Gàidhealtachd" to raise levels of language competence and encourage the provision of more services in Gaelic.

The Gaidhealtachd is the area of Scotland where people speak Gaelic and usually refers to the Highlands and islands. 


'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)


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.


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.


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?


Plan to preserve Gaelic language links in Clackmannanshire

4 March 2020 (Alloa Advertiser)

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

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

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


Related Links

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

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

17 February 2020 (Brinkwire)

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

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

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

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


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.


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."


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.


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.


Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages

9 September 2019 (European Commission)

With increasing mobility to the EU and between its Member States, education and training systems need to adapt to the challenges and opportunities posed by Europe’s linguistic diversity.

Language skills are at the heart of the ambitious vision to create a European Education Area. Being able to speak foreign languages is not only a skill needed for studying abroad, but also on increasingly international job markets. Learning languages enables people to both discover foreign cultures and to broaden their perspectives.

However, studies show that EU Member States are not progressing fast enough towards the goal that every European should be able to speak two foreign languages from an early age, set as part of the vision to create a European Education Area.

Language proficiency levels among students at the end of compulsory education are, on average, low across the EU with large discrepancies between Member States. 

With increasing mobility within Europe and many young people arriving from third countries to study in the EU, it is essential to ensure that multilingualism is central to the European project.

The Commission has made a proposal for a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages.


Paul McNamee: Languages can cut through the class gap

26 August 2019 (The Big Issue)

I am hugely impressed by people who can speak more than one language. If you’re up at three or more, I’m at your feet. I would have kept Roy Hodgson as England’s football manager for as long as he wanted purely because he once gave a post-match press conference moving easily from English to Italian to Swedish. He also has some Norwegian and Finnish.

There was a strange mixture of support and sniffiness when Boris Johnson spoke French last week during his meeting with Emmanuel Macron. On the one side, his supporters said, well he can’t be a non-European bigot because he speaks French. On the other, the argument was, well he still is. Neither stack up. And both miss the point.


We need languages graduates to steer us through our post-Brexit troubled waters

31 July 2019 (The Guardian)

Just after the first world war, the UK produced its most comprehensive review of languages provision, the Leathes report. In the Brexit era we’re now faced yet again with different ideological, cultural and economic battles that have us examining our languages capacity, and discovering it falls well short of what is required.

After Brexit we will need a strong language base for trade, international relations and soft power. Yet instead of a growth in languages, we’re experiencing steep decline: the number of modern languages undergraduates fell by 54% between 2008–9 and 2017–18. With fewer students applying, at least 10 modern languages departments have closed in the last decade (the University of Hull is the most recent casualty), and many others have shrunk in size or reduced their range of languages. By one estimate, the number of German units has halved from more than 80 in 2002 to fewer than 40 today.

Second, if Brexit and the debate over the Irish backstop have taught us anything, it is that we need subject specialists with language skills – lawyers, economists, geographers, engineers, and business graduates with the language skills to understand, negotiate, and argue the details.

Third, we urgently need more language graduates with at least two languages to degree level to teach in schools and rebuild and sustain primary and secondary languages. At present we risk most state schools offering pupils only one language to GCSE and many offering none at all to A-level, in a way that would never be tolerated for the sciences.

To win back students, a new approach is needed. 


Calls for Scots children to be taught Chinese and Urdu

24 October 2018 (The Scotsman)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Petition to make BSL first language for deaf children in Wales

5 October 2018 (BBC)

A petition for British Sign Language (BSL) to be recognised as the first language of many deaf children in Wales has been submitted.

Deffo! Cymru, a forum for young deaf people in Wales, wants the Welsh Government to widen access to education and services in BSL.

The petition gathered 1,162 signatures and the National Assembly's petitions committee has recommended changes.

The committee's report will now be considered by the Welsh Government.

One of the report's recommendations is the development of a national charter for the delivery of services, including education, to deaf children, young people and their families.


17 September, 2018 - Minister Bruton Launches Campaign to Encourage Learning of Foreign Languages & Announces Funding for School Exchanges

17 September 2018 (Department of Education and Skills (Ireland))

(Applies to Ireland) The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. today (17th September 2018) launched a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of foreign languages and announced new funding for teacher upskilling and school language exchanges.  

The campaign is aimed at school principals, teachers, guidance counsellors, parents, students and higher level institutions. Embassies, cultural services and bodies such as IBEC and Enterprise Ireland (EI) are also involved in supporting the campaign to raise awareness of the importance of learning foreign languages.  The campaign will be supported by a new website ( which will act as a one stop shop for schools, parents and students on language learning. 


‘Mither tongue’ Doric is given official status

8 September 2018 (The Times)

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

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

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


Compulsory language education should be reintroduced, says Brighton College head

16 August 2018 (ITV)

A headmaster has called for the reintroduction of compulsory language classes in schools to prevent what he called the “worrying insularity” of society getting worse.

Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College, said the “sorry decline” in the number of students studying languages is “damaging on so many levels” and that the Government needs a plan to reverse the problem.

His comments came as several of his students at the independent school in East Sussex achieved top marks in a range of languages at A-level, including Mandarin.

Experts have raised concerns because the number of students studying languages at state schools has dropped, and recent Press Association analysis of Ucas data revealed the number of applications for foreign language degrees plummeted in the last decade.

More students took A-level Chinese than German this year, according to data from the Joint Council for Qualifications released on Thursday, sparking fears that the European language is heading for extinction.

Mr Cairns said: “The sorry decline in numbers studying languages is damaging on so many levels but must be of particular concern to a Government that espouses a vision of Britain as open for business with the world.

“Compulsory language education needs to be reintroduced, with a national strategy emulating the success of those in the Netherlands or Scandinavia. Otherwise, the worrying insularity in our society will only deepen.

“Contrary to what seems to be happening nationally with pupils choosing not to study languages any more, we have seen a real interest in pursuing languages.

“Pupils can study French, German, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Russian and Mandarin here. Back in 2006, we introduced Mandarin for our pupils from the age of four and the culture of language learning and its benefits are instilled early.”


Glasgow home to largest number of Gaelic speakers outwith highlands and islands

7 December 2017 (GlasgowLive)

A public consultation has been launched on Glasgow City Council's draft Gaelic language plan for the next few years. Views are being sought for the 2018 - 2022 proposals, designed to ensure a sustainable future for the language in Scotland's biggest city and recognise its contribution to the history of the local area. Glasgow City Council currently operates three Gaelic nurseries, two primary schools and one secondary school. There are more than 1,000 young people aged from three to 18 years in Gaelic Medium Education in the city and, in response to demand, the council is currently in discussions about the creation of another school.


Plan for more school pupils to study foreign languages

4 December 2017 (The Irish Times)

An ambitious Government strategy aims to dramatically increase the number of students taking two foreign languages in the State exams despite an acute shortage of qualified teachers for these subjects.

The 10-year foreign language strategy seeks to prepare Ireland for Brexit through a series of steps such as potential bonus Central Applications Office (CAO) points for studying foreign languages, boosting the availability of languages in schools and the introduction of Chinese to the curriculum.


Related Links

Ireland seeks five-fold rise in students studying languages (THE, 12 December 2017)

The need for a national languages policy and a more holistic approach towards languages in the UK

21 October 2017 (MEITS)

In this podcast Wendy Ayres-Bennett from the University of Cambridge talks to Baroness Jean Coussins, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages, about the need for a national languages policy and a more holistic approach towards languages in the UK.


Global Britain needs more linguists if we are to succeed after Brexit

12 October 2017 (The Telegraph)

Ours is a trading nation, connected to countries in every continent by shared history, shared values and, on occasion, shared language.

We are a country that thrives in making its way in the world. Once we leave the European Union we will, once again, be free to forge mutually beneficial relationships with peoples all over the globe.

Drawing on the genius of the great economists of our Union’s history, this Kingdom will once again be at the forefront of global free trade. Once again, it will fall to Britain and her close allies to make the Smith, Mill and Ricardo’s moral and economic case for markets, free trade and comparative advantage.

Key to our success in this endeavour is the preparedness of the next generation to compete and sell their wares in a global economy. In an ever more technical world, it is important that pupils leave school with the knowledge that will best prepare them for the demands of life in 21st century Britain.


'Post-Brexit, we need language more than ever. Why is the government ignoring the decline of MFL in our schools?'

4 October 2017 (TES)

'Instead of focusing on narrowing the curriculum with the Ebacc, the government needs to focus increasing MFL knowledge in schools – it will be crucial in a post-Brexit Britain'.

A press release landed in my inbox earlier this week warning of a looming languages deficit in the UK, post-Brexit.

According to its figures, 61 per cent of Brits speak no other language than English – a proportion, it's speculated that will rise as EU nationals and British linguists leave the country for jobs abroad, taking their skills with them. At the same time, English will decline as a global language – it's already been replaced by Chinese, Hindi and Spanish, which all have more native speakers.

Languages float my boat. I was a first-generation child born in the UK, of immigrant parents, who started school with no English. This was in the days before teaching assistants, EAL and other interventions. I don’t actually recall how, or when, I learned English but it didn’t take long. "Just get on with it" was the approach. I think they called it immersion.

The press release turned out to be promoting a language-learning app but setting that to one side, it raised some important questions.

Are we bad at languages in this country because of the quality of teaching and teacher shortages? Or is it because we’re ambivalent about others and their culture?

As we hurtle towards March 2019, it is one of many issues ministers need to address. As we face the reality of leaving the EU, languages are just one aspect of the deficits in our education system. And, so far, there has been little evidence of any joined-up thinking between government rhetoric and domestic practicalities.


Edinburgh Council publish Gaelic language plan ahead of consultation

2 October 2017 (The Scotsman)

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

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


Related Links

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

Police Scotland rolls out dual English-Gaelic Logo

19 September 2017 (Fife Today)

Police Scotland has today (Tuesday, September 19) introduced its dual language logo featuring both English and Gaelic.

The branding, which carries both Police Scotland and Poileas Alba, will be introduced on the service’s website and intranet.

It will also be carried on signage, stationery and vehicles, and will be introduced on these items as they are replaced on reaching the end of their serviceable life.

The changes are being made as part of the force’s commitment to implementing its Gaelic Language Plan, which sets out the service’s pledge to creating a sustainable future for the language in Scotland by integrating it within Police Scotland’s services and corporate identity.


European Language Gazette Issue 37

31 August 2017 (ECML)

The May-July 2017 edition of the European Centre for Modern Language's newsletter is now available online.

The European Language Gazette highlights the latest developments, programmes and initiatives in language education in Europe.


A-level results 2017: Decline in entries for arts and languages 'makes mockery of social mobility claims'

17 August 2017 (TES)

Heads' union warns of the consequences of a drop in entries for creative subjects and languages, as the number of students sitting music plummets by 9.4 per cent.

A decline in A-level entries for music, drama, French and German is "making a mockery of the government's claim to be promoting social mobility", a heads' union has said.

The Association of School and College Leaders said that schools are having to cut courses in these subjects because the relatively small number of candidates signing up to them means they are no longer financially viable.

The number of A-level entries in England dropped by 1.2 per cent in French compared with last year, 4.2 per cent in German, 4 per cent in drama and by 9.4 per cent in music, according to figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications.

The ASCL said schools cutting back on these subjects was a reflection of "severe budget pressures" on post-16 education, which has experienced a real-terms cut since 2010.

Given the 42 per cent drop in AS-level entries after they were "decoupled" from A levels, ASCL said it was concerned about a narrowing of the curriculum, which was "reducing student choice".


Which language should we teach in school?

2 August 2017 (MEITS blog)

Increasing motivation for language learning in UK schools and encouraging children to maintain their languages study past the point at which they have the chance to stop is an ongoing challenge. One important question here is: to what extent are success and motivation linked to the particular language pupils study?

The myth of the monolingual Brit, who refuses to speak foreign languages, has been supplemented in recent years by the narrative that we are not only unwilling, but also unable to speak foreign languages. For example, the 2012 European Survey on Language Competences, which sought to provide comparable data on standards of achievement in 15-year old learners across 16 participating countries, showed pupils in England languishing at the bottom of the table, where the learning of the first foreign language (French) was concerned.

The figures, however, tell a slightly different story when we consider the learning of the second foreign language. For example, Sweden, which had topped the charts for English proficiency, languished at the bottom when it came to the learning of the second foreign language (Spanish); learners in English secondary schools who were studying German as a second language did better.

Leaving aside the difficulty of providing robust data from such surveys, this study provides support for the idea that the language learned really does matter. Motivation for English learning is so strong in most parts of the world that for many learners it is now a life skill as much as a foreign language. Motivation for studying the second and third foreign languages, however, can be as difficult to achieve in other parts of the world as it is for the first in our own setting.

In Europe and the rest of the world English’s position as the foreign language of choice remains unassailable. For example, the 2017 Eurodice Report, which provides key data on teaching languages at school in Europe, reports that in 2014 virtually all EU students (97.3 %) studied English during the entire period of lower secondary education. After that came French (33.7 %), German (23.1 %) and Spanish (19.1 %), with other languages rarely studied.

The question of which language should we teach our learners in England remains a source of debate.


From Brexit to Scandi-noir: The Importance of Modern Foreign Languages

31 July 2017 (AHRC)

Many of us will be familiar with the sight of groups of young language students in UK cities over the summer months. Their excitement at being abroad away from their parents often for the first time is obvious. In 2016, he International Association of Language Centres (IALC) reported that there were 2.28 million language students travelling abroad each year, with English language travel making up around 61% of this market.

Whilst these language-learners only represented 0.25% of second language learners across the entire globe, most travelled to English-speaking countries to learn English. If the motivation for learning English in our increasing globalised world is clear, the British often struggle to appreciate the reasons for learning another language.

“The headline news for Modern Languages recently has not been good, with decreasing numbers of entrants at A-level and a number of university departments under threat of closure or severe contraction", said Wendy Ayres-Bennett, Professor of French Philology and Linguistics from the University of Cambridge.

In response to this national concern and its global implications, the AHRC has committed £16m to research in modern foreign languages (MFL) in its Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) project. Its aim is to explore and understand the language learning landscape of the UK, and how it might be transformed.

As part of OWRI, the AHRC has invested in four major research programmes, one of which is Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS). Alongside her responsibilities at Cambridge, Prof Ayres-Bennett is Principal Investigator for the MEITS project.

“I think that in the current political climate of Brexit and of extensive migration, the need to learn modern foreign languages has arguably never been more important", says Prof Ayres-Bennett.

“I believe that there are huge benefits from being able to step outside a single language, culture and mode of thought", explains Prof Ayres-Bennett. "It enables you to see the world through other people’s eyes".

Prof Ayres-Bennett argues that the ability to speak another language is valuable to many different areas of society. "Whether we think of international relations, diplomacy, security and defence, or areas such as conflict-resolution and peace-building, or, crucially today, business, international trade, and social cohesion, all of these have languages at their heart."

Linguists are needed to provide vital translation and interpreting services. However, the need for direct communication between parties was well demonstrated by the experience of the British military in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prof Ayres-Bennett also thinks that through reading literature in the language in which it was written, we can begin to see the world through the linguistic categories and worldview of its speakers.

"The gradual opening up of new worlds and the move from incomprehension to being able to make sense of another language and culture can be truly magical ”, says Prof Ayres-Bennett.

Scandi noir dramas have become very popular and one of the biggest hits of the year has been the Spanish language song 'Despacito'. Many young people in Europe improve their English through listening to music and watching films in English so that they no longer need to depend on subtitles.“TV and the internet increasingly provide opportunities for people to view foreign language material and to learn about other cultures.”


Why just speaking English isn’t going to cut it anymore

15 June 2017 (The Conversation)

Britain is facing an uncertain future and an uneasy relationship with Europe after Brexit and the latest general election. Among other things, a key determiner of the success of Brexit will be the UK’s ability to conduct negotiations without language barriers. But the country’s woeful inability to learn languages, and the decline in foreign language learning among school and university students across Britain, does not bode well.

Of course, Welsh, Gaelic, Irish and Cornish are already spoken in some parts of the UK. And while it’s great to see many of these minority languages experiencing something of a revival over recent years, when it comes to life after Brexit it’s languages from further afield that will likely be most useful to Brits.

Many people in the UK may well ask “why we need languages” when “everyone in Europe speaks English anyway”. Indeed, all Brexit negotiations will be conducted in English. But given that the UK’s lack of foreign language skill is estimated to cost the nation up to £48 billion a year, this isn’t something that can just be ignored. Especially considering this figure is unlikely to decrease in post-Brexit Britain.


1+2 FAQS for practitioners: revised and refreshed

13 June 2017 (SCILT)

Following a wide-ranging consultation with the profession earlier this academic session, our 1+2 FAQs for practitioners have been updated and uploaded to the SCILT website.

Sincere thanks go to all the primary and secondary teachers who took the time to participate in our survey.

If you have any further questions about the 1+2 Approach, please contact


In an age of Brexit and closing borders we need to embrace multilingualism

2 June 2017 (The Independent)

Being able to speak to people in their own tongue instantly breaks down hostility and broadens the mind. But in the age of Brexit, the acquisition of other languages has become a political act. Andy Martin wonders was there ever a Big Bang moment when we all understood each other?


1+2 National Events for Principal Teachers of languages and colleagues i/c timetabling : June 2017

30 May 2017 (Education Scotland/SCILT/ADES/GTCS)

These events will focus on 1+2 in the secondary sector and feature inputs from ADES, ES, GTCS, SCILT and a representative from a local business. Purpose of the day:
  • 1+2 – overview of current developments
  • sharing practice across authorities re implementation in secondary
  • transitions between primary and secondary
  • examining the place of languages in BGE and Senior Phase in secondary schools
Scottish Ministers have a clear message to all stakeholders: that learning languages is a normal part of the curriculum from P1 onwards. These regional 1+2 events for the secondary sector are part of the Strategic Implementation Group’s priority to focus on curriculum such that there is clear and effective design which ensures progress through primary and secondary schooling, and on Career Long Professional Learning to ensure practitioners are equipped, enabled and empowered to deliver high quality language learning in primary and secondary schools. Given the significance of the 1+2 policy for secondary modern languages departments, it is important that all schools are represented at these regional events.

Your LA languages contact (usually DO/QIO) will have alerted you to the event for your region, however if you have not yet received the invitation to attend your local event (two invitees per school – PT languages, plus timetabler- usually a DHT) please contact

Your regional event will take place as per the schedule below:


Event Location

Authorities involved

Tuesday 20 June


Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire

Wednesday 21 June


North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian

Venue details, timings and a programme for the day will be emailed to you when you register for the event.

Which languages Americans learn and why

26 May 2017 (BBC News)

John Kerry joked about Americans learning Russian, but global politics do influence languages studied.


Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe – 2017 Edition

18 May 2017 (Eurydice)

The 2017 Edition of Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe depicts the main education policies regarding teaching and learning of languages in 42 European education systems.

Some of the questions answered in the report:
  • How long do students spend studying foreign languages?
  • What are the ten most commonly offered foreign languages?
  • Do foreign language teachers travel abroad for training?
  • How many immigrant students speak the language of schooling at home?
  • Plus much more
The report can be accessed on the European Commission's Eurydice website.


Brexit: English language 'losing importance' - EU's Juncker

5 May 2017 (BBC)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has told a conference in Italy on the EU that "English is losing importance in Europe".

Amid tensions with the UK over looming Brexit negotiations, he said he was delivering his speech in French.

"Slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe and also because France has an election," he said, explaining his choice of language.

[..] Before the UK joined in 1973, French was the main language of EU business.


UCMLS 1+2 action plan published!

25 April 2017 (SCILT / UCMLS)

Following our final consultation with stakeholders at the national UCMLS conference in Glasgow on 10 March 2017 we have produced our cross-sector Action Plan in support of Scotland's 1+2 language policy, and it is now available online. Click below for more details but please REFRESH THE PAGE to get the latest version of the webpage!
Marion Spöring, UCMLS chair.


All Junior Cert pupils to study a foreign language under new plan

19 April 2017 (News Talk)

(Applies to Ireland) All pupils will study a foreign language for their Junior Cert by 2021 under ambitious new plans being announced by the Education Minister.

The strategy also aims to increase the number of Leaving Cert students studying a foreign language by 10%.

Chinese will be introduced as a Leaving Cert subject for the first time, while so-called 'heritage languages' such as Polish, Lithuanian and Portuguese will get a proper curriculum.

Speaking to Pat Kenny, Minister Richard Bruton explained: "We are going to have to, post-Brexit, realise that one of the common weaknesses of English speaking countries - that we disregard foreign languages - has to be addressed in Ireland.

"We need now to trade in the growth areas - and many of those speak Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin. Those are the languages that we need to learn to continue to trade successfully."

On the subject of Eastern European languages, he observed: "We now have many Lithuanians and Polish here, and we can develop those languages.

"We also need to use programmes like Erasmus - we want to increase our participation there by 50%. Clearly it has to become more immersed in the language.

"At the moment if you look at Leaving Cert and Junior Cert, French dominates. French is a lovely language, but we need to recognise that we need to diversify into other languages."


If Theresa May really wants to make Brexit a success, why is her Government making it so hard to learn a language?

13 April 2017 (The Independent)

I can still remember a conversation I had as a teenager about GCSE subject. I had the choice between doing Spanish or Geography. My late father was unequivocal: do Spanish because you have no idea how many doors another language will open for you. Three decades later I am still thankful for heeding his advice, given just how much of an influence it has had on my career and my personal life.

The Conservative Party political broadcast this week, and its 2017 local election campaign, talk about us becoming a new "Global Britain". But this Government is simultaneously failing to address the problem to achieving that ambition – that so many British people cannot speak a second language.

Boris Johnson enjoyed travelling the world to promote London at any opportunity when he was Mayor. But while Boris speaks very good French, as did Tony Blair, these politicians are hardly representative of the rest of the country. Our inability to speak other languages is an international joke which ranks as embarrassing as our perpetual failure to progress in international football tournaments. Three quarters of adults surveyed by YouGov back in 2013 admitted they were unable to hold a conversation in another major foreign language.


Related Links

This is the best way to prepare kids for Brexit (The Independent, 15 April 2017)

Polish ambassador calls for Polish to be taught in Scottish schools

12 April 2017 (Press and Journal)

The Polish ambassador has called for his country’s language to be taught in Scottish schools.

Arkady Rzegocki said he had raised the issue with ministers since taking up his post last year.

He also told the Press and Journal that schools in Poland have “much more knowledge” about Britain and Scotland than their counterparts here.

Mr Rzegocki, who visited Scotland two weeks ago, said: “From my perspective it’s a really great opportunity and great chance because we need more information about Poland and about central Europe generally in British schools, in Scottish schools.

“And also the Polish language should be learned as a foreign language.”

He added: “This lack of knowledge is a real barrier from my perspective, a real barrier to better economical cooperation.

“It’s fair to say we have much, much more knowledge about Britain, about Scotland in Polish schools, in Poland, so we have to make it more equal.”

He also said he is trying to encourage more Polish people to visit Scotland and vice versa.

And he highlighted Polish Heritage Day next month, which he described as an opportunity for British and Polish people to learn more about each other’s history and customs.


Related Links

Polish language advocates lament lack of classes (The Times, 14 April 2017)

Prepare British children for life after Brexit – teach them another language

10 April 2017 (The Conversation)

The formal negotiations to untangle the UK from the intricacies of the European Union are now well underway. And it is clear that looking forward, Britain’s new relationship with the EU will necessitate conducting trade and political communications in a new dynamic – one which is unlikely to be done in the medium of English.

When the UK leaves the EU there will be no member state remaining where English is the lead official language. “Ah”, you say, “what about Ireland, they speak English there”. Yes they do, but in Ireland, Irish Gaelic is considered the first official language.

So to trade with the EU, the UK will need high-level negotiators fluent in German, French and Spanish, which it currently does not have.

Additionally, leaving the EU will result in a restriction of immigrants from across EU member states. The need for visas will drastically reduce the number of workers who can come to the UK to fill jobs British people are either unwilling or unable to do.

And recognising this gap, the Foreign and Common Wealth office and the Ministry of Defence have opened in-house training centres to provide lessons in up to 80 different languages for their staff.


Why Britain's monolingualism could be costly for the nation

5 April 2017 (World Economic Forum)

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it has a huge number of considerations to ensure its economy prospers. One, which is perhaps overlooked, is Britain’s language policy and how important this is as an economic resource. A strategic language policy and the cultivation of language experts in post-Brexit Britain are essential if it wants to connect with fresh markets overseas.

This has long been a feature of international diplomacy – stretching back long before globalisation as we know it. All the big powers of the Old World depended on understanding other people’s languages to trade across cultures. A “modern” solution was found in Babylonia, an ancient commercial metropolitan hub in the Near East, where a polyglot community of traders came together from the Mediterranean, Persia and Turkey, and beyond.

There are accounts of King Hammurabi deftly exploiting his city’s growing cultural mix as a resource in the 1790s BC. He used bilingual foreign traders as cross-cultural brokers. With their language skills, they played a key role in facilitating long-range trade with distant markets.

One of the biggest challenges facing the UK economy now is a skills shortage. Although funding is promised to support technical skills training, UK business also requires professionals with language skills to achieve sales in fresh markets. These experts will need to speak the languages of trading partners and understand the cultures of new overseas contacts to negotiate and seal deals. Investment in this crucial soft skill is needed.


Teachers ‘ill-prepared’ for primary language strategy

14 March 2017 (The Herald)

Teachers have warned an ambitious strategy to expand language learning in Scottish primary schools lacks direction.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union said training for school staff was variable and had led to lower confidence levels in some areas.

The criticism centres on the Scottish Government’s flagship 1+2 languages policy under which primary pupils are to be taught at least two modern languages in addition to their mother tongue, starting in the first year of schooling and adding a second foreign language no later than P5.

The government has argued primaries should incorporate as large a pool of languages as possible, including Portuguese, Punjabi, Urdu and Polish.

However, critics say schools and teacher training universities need a much smaller group of languages to focus on to ensure continuity of study and expertise among staff.

In a letter to councils, Andrea Bradley, EIS assistant secretary for education, said information from primary teachers had identified training that was not of a consistently appropriate standard.

She said members had highlighted a “lack of direction” as to which languages would be taught at which stage as well as “variable quality of teachers’ experience of training course delivery”.

She also said there was “inconsistency” in the duration of training courses and therefore inconsistency in “outcomes for our members in terms of their levels of confidence to teach foreign languages”.

She added: “The EIS therefore calls upon all local authorities to work with Scottish Government to address the issues that are raised here, with a view to ensuring coherence of approach and adequate resourcing in order that the worthy aims of the policy can be met.”

The concerns were echoed by Gillian Campbell-Thow, chairwoman of the Scottish Association for Language Teaching.


Related Links

SALT's response to EIS (SALT, 15 March 2017)

UCML and others send Brexit letter

10 February 2017 (UCML)

This letter has been written by a number of heads of UK modern languages and linguistics subject associations, including UCML, and endorsed by several others. It will be sent to the media and a number of leading UK politicians.


Formal consultation of new extended CEFR

8 November 2016 (SALT / Council of Europe)

An invitation to participate from Villano Qiriazi, Education Department of the Council of Europe.

Fifteen years after its publication, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR) remains one of the best known and most used Council of Europe policy tools. Since its official publication in 2001, an impressive ‘toolkit’ has been built around the CEFR: samples illustrating the reference levels in a number of languages, a databank of descriptors, manuals for examination bodies, guides for different categories of users… A number of policy documents also further develop the underlying principles and education objectives of the CEFR. And, of course, the European Language Portfolio has largely contributed to the implementation of these principles, strongly promoting objectives such as reflective learning and learner autonomy.

You are invited to take part in a formal consultation process concerning the proposed new version.

Visit the website for more information.


We must be proud of the rise of Gaelic education

16 September 2016 (TESS)

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

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

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


What keeps me awake at night: 'Inadequate provision of modern foreign languages in primary schools'

31 July 2016 (TES)

Teaching and learning languages needs to be taken seriously, says one French teacher.

Did foreign language teaching become a statutory part of the primary curriculum back in 2014, or was that just my imagination?

Because, as we reach the end of another school year, I find myself thoroughly disappointed – and here’s why.

Having learned no more French than she did at nursery, my 10-year-old daughter has tried to use her role within the school council to campaign for better French lessons at her school, not just because she is passionate about learning languages, but because all her friends are, too.

“We only get 15 minutes,” they exclaim.

I know that, of course, for many primary schools, language teaching becoming compulsory at key stage 1 and 2 means nothing more than business as usual and many children are benefitting from well structured, fun and engaging lessons.

However, I also know that I am not the only one to be experiencing exasperation at the inadequate and quite often inaccurate provision of modern foreign languages in UK primary schools.


More money needed to keep the conversation flowing

29 July 2016 (TESS)

Experts say extra funding is vital if the government's 1+2 foreign languages programme is to succeed.

Read the full article in TESS online, 29 July 2016, pages 8-9 (subscription required).


ADES 1+2 languages implementation review

5 July 2016 (Scottish Government)

The independent review of the implementation of the 1+2 languages policy recently undertaken by the Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES) is now available to download from the Scottish Government’s website.


‘How will we fare in post-Brexit trade negotiations if no one has studied MFL?’

2 June 2016 (TES)

There are few things so depressing about the current schools system as the precipitous decline in languages, writes this veteran education journalist.

If one thing that has saddened me over the past couple of weeks, it is that modern foreign languages has been the first core subject to be axed by a major exam board.

For at least two decades I have campaigned, cajoled and done what I can to persuade the powers that be to do more to promote languages in schools.


Why children should learn a second language

7 April 2016 (EuroTalk blog)

The Scottish Government has committed to every child learning a second language at the age of 5. Alongside this, they’ll learn an additional language in P5, which means children will know 3 languages by the time they leave school. It’s called the 1+2 policy and we think it’s a great pledge, as there are so many reasons why children should learn another language.

Earlier this week an article came out stating that ‘bilingual babies are smarter’. Growing up learning or hearing a second language helps to increase their learning capabilities including problem solving and memory. This means not only do children benefit from knowing a second language; it also helps them improve across all other subjects that they’re learning.


Poor language skills and strategies contributing to UK record trade deficit

10 February 2016 (ATC)

Britain's poor language skills and strategies are contributing to the record £125 billion UK trade deficit, according to the Association of Translation Companies.

Commenting on the figures released by the Office for National Statistics, Geoffrey Bowden, General Secretary for the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) comments: “As an organisation whose members are focused on helping UK companies from all sectors maximise international trade opportunities, we are concerned to see a reduction in the value of UK exports for December 2015.

“Recent research shows that poor language skills are costing the UK economy £48 billion a year in lost export sales and that organisations which have made the conscious decision to invest in professional language services achieve a far higher export to turnover ratio."


European Language Gazette (December 2015)

11 January 2016 (ECML)

The latest edition of the ECML's European Language Gazette is now available.

The newsletter provides news about the ECML's events, projects and resources, the Language Policy Unit and other relevant sectors of the Council of Europe as well as their partners. It focuses on national developments in the field of language education in the member states and beyond.

Access French and English versions of the bulletin on the ECML website.


Languages: a world of opportunity – web page now live

7 January 2016 (Scottish Government)

In September 2015, Michael Russell MSP hosted a parliamentary reception, entitled Languages: a world of opportunity. While celebrating language learning in Scotland, the event set out to inspire people to appreciate language skills as valuable, enabling, achievable, career and life-enhancing.

Through real life examples about how stronger language skills are already making a difference, not only in education, but in employment and on a personal level, attendees were invited to consider how to further promote language skills, and an understanding of their value, in the interests of Scotland’s global position.

As an employability skill, Scotland as a whole stands to gain from language skills becoming the norm for us all. This is why Scottish Government is committed to radically enhance language learning in schools across Scotland through Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 approach.

This webpage contains information from the event, films about and using language and links to websites of organisations who promote, develop and advocate language learning.


What should we teach our kids?

8 December 2015 (BBC)

What will the world economy look like 30 years from now? And how should we be preparing British schoolchildren today to find employment in it? Robert Peston travels to four cutting edge schools that claim to provide the way forwards for secondary education.

Should the focus be on languages and cultural knowhow for an increasingly globalised world? Should we be striving to create more of the engineers and programmers that so many employers are crying out for? Or - with the unstoppable march of the robots gobbling up ever more human jobs - should we be preparing kids with the social skills to be future entrepreneurs, employing their own personal fleets of automatons? Or is a traditional academic education the answer.

Robert Peston tries to get answers to perhaps the most important question all parents must ask from economists, scientists and teachers - and argues that what matters may not be the detail of the curriculum but the way children are taught to learn.

Listen to the programme which was broadcast on 8 December at 20:00 on BBC Radio 4.


'More inspiring teachers' needed to tackle UK's language skills shortage

11 November 2015 (Cambridge News)

More inspiring teaching is needed to prevent Britain falling further behind in foreign language skills, a Cambridge linguist has claimed.

Last week Professor Wendy Ayres-Bennett welcomed over 100 representatives from assorted Whitehall departments, including the MOD and GCHQ, to Murray Edwards College, for a debate on the future of the UK's language policy.

Speaking to the News after the conference she said improving language teaching in schools would have far-reaching benefits for the nation as a whole.

She said: "It was a very wide-ranging group of people, with a lot of civil servants coming together, which is very important."

"Language policy is not just about education, but what we were trying to shown is the lack of languages in the UK is such a problem for cases like diplomacy, conflict resolution and business."


We need to make more of our children multilingual

19 October 2015 (The Telegraph)

Applies to England

In 2012, the Minister of Education announced that from September 2014 it would be compulsory for children aged 7 to 11 years to learn a foreign language.

This ambitious plan, a product of Michael Gove’s term in Office and endorsed by his successor as Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, was intended to close the gap between the British education system and school systems abroad, as well as the yawning gulf between state and independent schools in their language provision.

The rationale was, and is, self-evident, as Nicky Morgan explained:

"We want our young people to have the best possible start in life – that is why, as part of our plan for education, we want every child to learn a foreign language. It doesn’t just help them to understand different cultures and countries, it opens up the world."


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

18 October 2015 (The Herald)

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

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

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


The Language Dimension in all Subjects – A handbook for curriculum development and teacher training

16 October 2015 (ECML/Council of Europe)

Mastery of the language of schooling is essential for developing in learners those skills that are necessary for school success and for critical thinking. It is fundamental for participation in democratic societies, for social inclusion and cohesion.

This Handbook is a valuable resource for education authorities and practitioners in Council of Europe member states. It will help them to reflect on their policy and practice in language education, and support them in developing responses to the current challenges of education systems.


All pupils to learn two foreign languages by high school

13 October 2015 (Edinburgh Evening News)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Scots Language Policy

10 September 2015 (Scottish Government)

A national Scots Language Policy has been launched today by Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages.

This national Scots policy sets out the Scottish Government's position on the Scots language, its aims and objectives for Scots and the practical steps we will take to achieve these. It has been developed in co-operation with a number of key interests and will be reviewed periodically.


Related Links

Supporting Scots (Scottish Government, 10 September 2015)

Holyrood launches drive to promote Scots language (The Scotsman, 10 September 2015)

Mind your language: Scottish Government to step up promotion of Scots (CommonSpace, 11 September 2015)

Insight: Why Scots face a language barrier

8 August 2015 (The Scotsman)

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


European Language Gazette 26 - June 2015

22 June 2015 (ECML)

The European Language Gazette, the ECML's e-newsletter, provides up-to-date news about the ECML (events, projects, resources), the Language Policy Unit and other relevant sectors of the Council of Europe, as well as our partners. It focuses on national developments in the field of language education in the member states and beyond.


Traditional GCSE subjects for all pupils

11 June 2015 (BBC News)

(Applies to England) All secondary school pupils in England will have to take GCSEs in five core academic subjects, under plans to be set out by Schools Minister Nick Gibb.

Mr Gibb will say he makes "no apology for expecting every child" to have a "high-quality education".

The Conservative manifesto pledged that all pupils would take GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and either history or geography.

Heads' leader Brian Lightman says it will be "challenging" for schools.


European universities ‘hobbled’ by language laws

7 May 2015 (THE)

Rector at Maastricht University fears that curbs on using English are preventing some institutions from innovating and internationalising.

[..]Professor Soete added that English has become the common language for research. However, all foreign students at Maastricht can also take an optional Dutch language course, alongside their main subject, as part of a target to encourage 22 per cent of them to stay in the Netherlands region after graduating. About 85 per cent of all foreign students now take basic Dutch lessons.

“If a French-speaking student studies in Belgium, they will leave their degree unilingual which means it will be difficult for them to get a job in Belgium itself,” he said.

“But if they go to Maastricht they can become a perfect English speaker, still hold on to their native language and learn Dutch by integrating with the community. That’s why we’re seeing a significant increase in the number of French-speaking students. Other Dutch universities are moving in the same direction.”


Topic 5: What does the future of language learning look like?

3 May 2015 (Warwick Language)

Slide show conversation from the latest twitterchat on the UK’s language policy available.


French Education Minister sparks diplomatic situation with Germany by proposing to abolish 'two-language' classes for 11-year-olds

29 April 2015 (The Independent)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes the political friendship between the two countries will never be complete unless more youngsters from both nations speak both languages - and will raise the subject with French President François Hollande.


SB 15-19 Education (Scotland) Bill

23 April 2015 (Scottish Parliament)

The Education (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Parliament on 23 March 2015. It covers a range of school policy issues, in particular school attainment and Gaelic-medium Education. This briefing sets out the legislative and policy context of the proposals.


UCML Initiative: #languagepolicyUK

9 March 2015 (Women in German Studies)

The University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) has recently announced a new strategy to influence the debate surrounding modern languages, and to highlight the potential languages have to inform UK issues such as immigration, terrorism, and social cohesion in the run up to election day.

Using Twitter as the primary social media platform to encourage this debate, the UCML are calling on corresponding organisations – and individuals – to promote the importance of modern foreign languages, and to connect on the aforementioned issues using the hashtag:#languagepolicyUK.

Every fortnight there will also be a twitter ‘chat’ session that will last for one hour. The first of these #languagepolicyUK hours will take place on Saturday 21 March 10am and will be repeated on Sunday 22 March at 2pm for those who could not take part in the first hour. Both sessions will focus on the topic: ‘Connecting for Languages – Why?’.


Business leaders call for action on languages

4 March 2015 (The Herald)

Business leaders have called for greater efforts to be made to ensure the survival of modern language learning in Scottish schools.

CBI Scotland, the Institute of Directors in Scotland and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said it was essential to the future competitiveness of the Scottish economy that pupils were able to learn a range of languages.

The call comes after the Scottish Government came under fire from some of the most powerful countries in Europe over its languages policy.

Representatives from Germany, Switzerland and Austria have written to Dr Alastair Allan, the minister for learning, warning that current policies to expand language learning may lead to the "ultimate demise" of German in Scottish schools.


Related Links

Change attitudes to language teaching (The Herald, 5 March 2015)

There is no case for extending the teaching of foreign languages in our schools (The Herald letters, 10 March 2015)

Modern Languages: Oral answers to questions in the House of Commons

2 March 2015 (They Work For You)

Question from Nigel Evans, Conservative MP to ask what steps are being taken to encourage pupils to study modern languages.


Dónde está our love of language learning?

30 January 2015 (TES)

The old stereotype of monolingual Brits is more true than ever, but it’s no joke. Adult education is key to remedying this ignorance

The decline in language learning in the UK is causing a crisis, in business and in culture. It’s not rocket science that if you are trading with someone who speaks another language, it helps if you can communicate with each other. Likewise, being able to order a drink, ask for directions and translate a menu enhances the experience of overseas travel, just as being able to hold a conversation (however slowly) or read the paper in the local language enriches understanding of a region.


Consultation on Gaelic Medium Education Bill: Analysis of written responses

9 December 2014 (Scottish Government)

A consultation paper was issued in July 2014 seeking views on proposals on how best to introduce an entitlement to Gaelic Medium Education. The responses will help inform the development of the policies, the guidance and draft legislation.

Access the analysis of responses on the Scottish Government website.


News at a glance: ‘Nicola Sturgeon ups the intensity on attainment’

5 December 2014 (TESS)

The attainment of schoolchildren is to be a key focus of government plans under first minister Nicola Sturgeon.  [..] The government reiterated its support for existing programmes such as 1+2, which seeks to give children a working knowledge of two foreign languages by the end of primary school. And it introduced a bill aimed at improving children’s rights and Gaelic education.


Teaching this way? C’est impossible

14 November 2014 (TESS)

Teachers are being asked “to do the impossible” in foreign language lessons, a leading figure has warned.

Dr Dan Tierney, a former chair of the Scottish Association for Language Teaching (Salt) who is now responsible for training French, Italian, German and Spanish teachers at the University of Strathclyde, said that modern teaching methods – such as collaborative learning and increased use of technology – could not work with current class sizes.

At Salt’s annual conference in Glasgow earlier this month, Dr Tierney explained that there was a “mismatch between methods, policy and large class sizes”, adding: “We have new methods we are expected to do but old class sizes. We are being asked to do the impossible.”

One solution would be to bring back modern language assistants, he said. “Either we need smaller class sizes or we need assistants to help us do what we are being asked to do.”


Majority want Welsh and English bilingual push in schools - poll

10 November 2014 (BBC News)

Most people in Wales would like to see school pupils taught to speak both Welsh and English, a survey claims.

A YouGov poll was commissioned by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society), who said the results were a "challenge" for the government.
It shows 56% of people agree that schools should aim to ensure pupils can communicate effectively in both languages.


Pre-schoolers to learn a second language under Government trial following a decline in the number of high school students studying languages

10 November 2014 (Daily Mail Australia)

It's hoped a new trial, which is set to see pre-schoolers learn a second language, will help to boost the declining numbers of high school students studying languages across Australia.

The federal government has selected 40 pre-schools from more than 1,000 applicants to take part in the trial, called Ella, which will use play based apps starting from next year.


2014 SALT Conference Report

8 November 2014 (SALT)

Around 250 delegates from across Scotland and beyond attended this year's SALT conference on 1st November at the John Anderson Buildings in Strathclyde University, Glasgow.

[...] We've put together this special conference newsletter as a souvenir for delegates, and the SALT Executive Committee hope that everyone gained something from the day and that you will all come back and join us again next year.


Born Global interim report published

3 November 2014 (British Academy)

Interim findings from the new policy research project, 'Born Global: Rethinking Language Policy for 21st Century Britain' have now been published on the British Academy website  The project is looking into the extent and nature of language needs in the labour market and the implications for language education from school to higher education.


Agenda: Time to speak up on the vital role of modern languages in our schools

1 November 2014 (The Herald)

Scotland's language teachers - the good, the curious, the battle-scarred and the plain worn-out - gather today to share, learn and do some professional hand-holding at the annual conference of the Scottish Association of Language Teaching, or Salt.

With the grim news about the decline in Scotland's ability to talk to the rest of the world; the challenges of the Curriculum for Excellence; the Scottish Government's ambitious 1+2 policy to teach primary school children two languages; and the overhaul of national qualifications, it might be expected that language teachers would be waving the white flag.

But is it really a case of "nil points" for les profs? The keynote speaker at our conference is Dr Dan Tierney, who is championing meaningful continuing professional development for teachers and giving us a voice in national policy.


A vital conversation everyone should join

31 October 2014 (TES)

Teaching English for speakers of other languages is the mark of a humane society – so why don’t we have a proper strategy for it?

Imagine you have arrived in Uzbekistan. You have no money to speak of and don’t speak the language. You don’t recognise the alphabet and you don’t understand much about locally approved ways of interacting socially. You know you are there for the long haul. You need to find a doctor, sort out schooling for your children, negotiate the local shops. The situation is no different for many migrants to Britain.


Primary pupils learn languages in new scheme

30 October 2014 (Evening Telegraph)

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of Scottish Government funds have been pumped into Dundee to give every child the opportunity to learn two foreign languages in primary school.

Currently core languages such as French, German and Spanish are being introduced to the primary school curriculum, but there is scope for children to be speaking Gaelic, Russian and Mandarin in the near future.

Dundee City Council has received £131,170 to finance the 1+2 Approach for the 2014-15 school session in addition to the £103,973 it received in 2013-14.

Last year Hillside Primary School piloted the programme in which they started learning a foreign language as early as P1 before picking up another by P5, and now 16 more primaries are taking on the new language learning.


'Children should start learning languages at age three'

10 October 2014 (The Telegraph)

Our European neighbours shame us by their ability to converse in English. The Government would like that to be a thing of the past. So would Catherine Ford.


1+2 updated support documents

14 August 2014 (SCILT/Education Scotland)

In light of discussions with the languages community, Education Scotland has updated the key messages from the 1+2 report, produced further information about language continuity and developed a support paper to help local authorities and schools identify priorities and plan their strategic approach to 1+2.

To access the most recent recommendations and support documents for schools and local authorities, please visit the 'Supporting self-evaluation and strategic planning' section of our 1+2 webpages.


Learning languages is key to UK's success in the global economy

19 June 2014 (The Guardian)

The under-resourced teaching of foreign languages in the UK must improve if Britain is to compete in the global economy, a Guardian roundtable found.


Sweeping changes to language education underway

1 June 2014 (Kensington & Chelsea Today)

(Relates to England) Last month, a report published by the British Council (BC) and CfBT Education Trust found that most primary and secondary schools in England feel ill–equipped for the upcoming changes in foreign language education, with a striking 24 per cent admitting that their teachers are not educated beyond GCSE level for the language they are teaching. Six months ago, another report by the BC revealed that the vast majority of British adults do not speak any of the ten most vital languages for the country’s ‘future prosperity and global standing’, warning that foreign languages are still not given ‘the same prominence as STEM subjects’ (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in our schools. These two reports certainly paint a rather grim picture, but are they really that surprising?


French Government slams Wales over cuts to language body

3 April 2014 (Wales Online)

The French government has condemned cuts approved by Welsh ministers to the body that promotes learning foreign languages.

Welsh business leaders have also condemned ministers, stressing the importance of speaking languages abroad.


Gaelic strategy

25 March 2014 (Teaching Scotland)

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has two key aims –to increase the P1 intake from 400 to 800 and see an annual rise of pupils learning the language in English-medium schools.

Download PDF of Issue 54. Article is on page 44.


Scottish Government: Foreign language engagement strategy

21 February 2014 (Scottish Government)

At the meeting of the Scottish Parliament on 19 February 2014 during Portfolio Question Time - Education and Lifelong Learning, the Scottish Government was asked for an update on their foreign language engagement strategy.

See the Official Report for details.


Lack of foreign languages skills ‘hurts firms,’ warns Oxfordshire businessman

14 February 2014 (Oxford Mail)

An Oxfordshire businessman has told the Government that schools must teach more foreign languages for British businesses to thrive.

Gary Muddyman, chief executive of translation agency Conversis, based in Chesterton near Bicester, spoke in the House of Lords to highlight the issue. He warned that the deepening language skills shortage is affecting UK competitiveness abroad.


Language learning cash to be cut by two thirds

4 February 2014 (BBC News)

The National Centre for Languages (CILT Cymru) - which encourages children to learn foreign languages - is having its funding slashed by two thirds. BBC Wales understands that Cardiff-based Cilt Cymru will have its government funding reduced from around £600,000 to around £200,000 in the financial year starting in April. The Conservatives have attacked the Welsh government's decision. But ministers say in a time of austerity they have to prioritise.


Exclusive: Core A-level courses scrapped after Michael Gove cuts £100m from sixth-form colleges

3 February 2014 (The Independent)

Michael Gove will be embroiled in a fresh controversy on Monday as it emerges that his department’s savage spending cuts have forced sixth-form colleges to scrap A-level courses in core subjects such as languages and maths, regarded by the Government as crucial to the future of Britain’s economy.


Primary schools in Wales 'should teach foreign languages'

23 January 2014 (BBC News)

Primary school children in Wales should be taught foreign languages to boost the number studying them later, the National Centre for Languages has said.

Welsh government figures show a drop in pupils choosing a language at GCSE and A-level.
In 2005, 12,826 children studied a language at GCSE, but in 2014 it has fallen by a third to 8,601.

A government spokesperson said primary schools are encouraged to teach languages.

The number of teenagers studying a language at A-level has more than halved to 668 from 1,467.
A government spokesperson said they were looking at ways to improve secondary school take up.

The Welsh Conservatives said the figures were disappointing because the economy is so dependent on international links.

The National Centre for Languages (CILT Cymru) said primary school children in England and Scotland do learn a language.


Related Links

Schools science project aims to boost foreign language take-up (BBC News, 21 December 2013)

1+2 Secondary School Case Studies

7 January 2014 (SCILT)

We now have two new case studies uploaded on our website. Read how Breadalbane Academy and Queen Anne High School are working to embrace the recommendations in the 'Language Learning in Scotland: A 1 + 2 Approach' report. To ensure you are viewing the most up-to-date pages on our website, please refresh the page by pressing the CONTROL and F5 key simultaneously.


Languages to be compulsory in English primary schools

7 January 2014 (BBC News)

It will be compulsory for primary school children aged seven and above to learn another language, from September 2014 in England.

The government is encouraging schools to adopt a wider variety of languages after a study found that teenagers at schools in England had the worst language skills in Europe.

Tim Muffett reports in this video footage.


Pupils as young as four to be taught Chinese

16 December 2013 (Edinburgh Evening News)

Children as young as four will be given lessons in ­Mandarin under radical plans to equip them for a world in which China is an emerging superpower.

The drive will see dozens of native Chinese speakers from Edinburgh University visit classrooms across the Capital and East Lothian as teachers bid to spark an enduring ­interest in foreign languages.

Co-ordinated by the ­Scotland-China Education Network, the programme is being rolled out as the Scottish Government works towards a target of having every child learn two foreign languages on top of their mother tongue, with the first taken in P1 and the second by P5.


Related Links

Chinese classes P1 for pupils (The Herald, 17 December 2013)

New £3m Gaelic school to be built on Skye

16 December 2013 (The Scotsman)

Highland Council is to receive £3 million over two years to build a new Gaelic school in Portree, on the Isle of Skye.

Minister for Scotland’s Languages Alasdair Allan made the announcement during a visit to the site of the new school, where building work will begin in 2015.

An additional £250,000 will also be invested in Gaelic learning for early years, to encourage sustained growth in the number of pupils going through Gaelic medium education (GME) and encourage parents to choose bilingual schooling.


Related Links

Funding offered for new Gaelic school (BBC, 16 December 2013)

New future for the Auld Alliance

16 December 2013 (The Scottish Government)

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop today visited a school near Paris to see the benefits of partnership between France and Scotland in Education.

Ms Hyslop visited École Marbeau, le Plessis-Trévise, which is twinned with St Kenneth’s RC Primary School in Lochgelly, Fife, to see first- hand the teaching of language, ICT and Science, Technology and Maths related activity.

She met with pupils from the school and read with them from Asterix Chez les Pictes, in which the French cartoon hero visits Scotland.


Related Links

Hyslop's tale helps the French connection (The Herald, 17 December 2013)

£20k campaign produces one extra Gaelic teacher

13 December 2013 (The Scotsman)

A major new recruitment drive has been launched to attract more Gaelic teachers into Scotland’s education system – as the number of registered teachers rose by only one in the last year.

A £20,000 advertising campaign promoted by the government’s Gaelic quango Bòrd na Gàidhlig aims to find new teachers and help teachers who may wish to transfer their skills from mainstream schools.

The organisation insists it has been succeeding in attracting more people to train in the medium, and says it takes time for those in the system to qualify.


Related Links

'Scandalous' failure to find Gaelic teachers (The Herald, 14 December 2013)

Transforming a culture of monoglots

11 December 2013 (The Guardian)

How do we change a determinedly monolingual culture, in which people remain disinterested in other languages, as well as convinced that they're punishingly hard to learn?


Academic warns of muddled language strategy

26 November 2013 (The Herald)

A leading academic has issued a warning over the Scottish Government's "muddled" strategy to increase language learning in primary schools.

Dr Dan Tierney, a reader in languages at Strathclyde University, believes the plan is currently unworkable because it lacks national continuity.

The warning comes two years after the Government announced proposals to teach all primary pupils at least two modern languages in addition to their mother tongue - known as the 1+2 model.
Since then, the Languages Working Group has recommended 35 improvements, including better training for teachers and greater support for pupils in the classroom.

Languages identified for primary schools under the plan include Arabic, Chinese, French, Gaelic, German, Italian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish and Urdu.

However, Mr Tierney argues that, unless the Scottish Government prioritises some of these, pupils will arrive at secondary school with a wide variety of different experiences.


Related Links

Greater worries than muddled language strategy (The Herald, Letters, 28 November 2013)

Modern Foreign Languages - New initiative gets chorus of approval

22 November 2013 (TESS)

1+2 boosts enthusiasm and employability, conference hears

Primary children taking part in a pilot of Scotland’s ambitious national languages initiative have made rapid progress, and secondary students on the scheme have found a new enthusiasm for languages, a conference has heard.

The Scottish government is also likely to match, for another two years, the £4 million already given to local authorities to implement the scheme, it has emerged.

Under the approach known as 1+2, all primary schools should by 2020 offer a language other than English from P1 and another by P5. The scheme also demands that progress should not stall after children move up to secondary school.

Staff in primaries piloting the 1+2 initiative have shown greater confidence and commitment to languages, while parents have been very supportive, Education Scotland inspector and modern languages national specialist Fiona Pate told delegates at an event in Stirling last week.


Related Links

Will 1+2 prove to be more than the sum of its parts? (TESS, 21 November 2013)

Shortfall in the languages the UK needs the most

20 November 2013 (The Guardian)

Three-quarters of the UK public are unable to speak one of the 10 most important languages for the country's future, a British Council report has found.

The British Council has called on government and business to work together to develop educational policy and priorities relating to languages. This follows a YouGov poll commissioned by the British Council, which found that of 4000 UK adults polled, 75% are unable to hold a conversation in any of the languages highlighted as crucial to the UK's economic standing.

The Languages for the Future report identified those languages, in order of importance, as: Spanish, Arabic, French, Mandarin, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Turkish and Japanese.


Related Links

Read the British Council report here.

'Alarming shortage' of foreign language skills in UK (BBC, 20 November 2013)

UK warned over shortage of foreign language speakers (BBC News, 20 November 2013) - includes a link to audio item 'But why are British students so behind with foreign language skills?' BBC Radio 5 live's Breakfast reporter Rowan Bridge visited language teachers and students at Manchester College to find out.  (Available to listen to until Wednesday 27 November 2013).

Britons are told they must learn languages of success (The Herald, 20 November 2013)

Arabic beats French, Mandarin beats German and Spanish is best: UK's international education body highlights most important foreign languages to learn (The Independent, 20 November 2013)

Poor Language Skills 'Hampering UK Economy' (Sky News, 20 November 2013)

Languages must be as important as maths and science, British Council says (TES News blog, 20 November 2013)

Languages - Gift of bilingualism is too often 'squandered' (TES, 22 November 2013)

Dr Allan blog – The National Language Conference in Stirling

18 November 2013 (Engage for Education blog)

The National Language Conference, held in Stirling, offered a valuable opportunity to harness the expertise and experience of education experts to drive forward our work to ensure that every child in Scotland has the opportunity to learn two languages in addition to their own mother tongue by 2020.

I am fully aware of how ambitious this target is, but I am confident we can and will deliver it. To ensure the nation’s prosperity, it is essential that young people are attracted to learning modern languages, which will help them develop a truly international outlook and, equip them with the skills needed in the new Europe and in the 21st centrury global marketplace.


Boris Johnson: ‘Teach Mandarin in UK schools’

16 October 2013 (The Scotsman)

British children should be taught the Chinese language Mandarin as standard in schools, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said.

Johnson, who is studying Mandarin himself, suggested Britons should be learning as much as possible about China as the East Asian giant continues to expand its global influence.


Government looks to double Gaelic learners

15 October 2013 (The Scotsman)

A new Gaelic resource to encourage greater uptake of the language was launched at the Royal National Mod yesterday.

The new Fios is Freagairt [Information and Answers] packs are targeted at parents who may want their children to learn Gaelic, as well as prospective teachers of the language.

Containing DVDs, CDs and literature about the resources in Gaelic-medium education, the project aims to highlight the benefits of bilingualism.


Policy needs to change to address the US and UK's language deficits

11 October 2013 (The Guardian)

Britain and the United States must rapidly increase their number of competent foreign-language speakers if they are to compete in the global jobs and services markets of the future – but how best to do it?


Language teaching is facing a state-independent divide

4 October 2013 (The Guardian)

As the gulf between state and independent language teaching widens, Emily-Ann Elliott investigates how to bridge the gap.

Every one of the Kennet School's 280 GCSE pupils sat an exam in a modern foreign language this summer. Were this 2003, this would not be unusual for a state school. At that time studying a language was still compulsory at GCSE level, and the majority of pupils left at the age of 16 with at least one to their name. But when the government announced it was making languages optional in 2004, the decision was marked by a sharp downtown in the number of state school pupils choosing to take them.

At its lowest level, in 2010-11, just 40% of young people who attended a state school studied a language to GCSE level. That number is slowly rising, but this year it was still only 44% of the cohort who took a language.

However, the numbers at Kennet School have never dropped, because headteacher Paul Dick continued to make a language compulsory for pupils.


Sarah Breslin: New Executive Director of the ECML

1 October 2013 (ECML)

Thank you, Waldek! Welcome to Sarah!

The ECML is pleased to inform you that Sarah Breslin takes up her new duties as Executive Director of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) of the Council of Europe today 1st October.

Sarah is a passionate linguist, with a thorough understanding of both policy and practice in language education and general education, having worked in a range of sectors and countries since she graduated with first class Honours in French and German from the University of Glasgow in 1986.


The importance of languages in the curriculum

30 September 2013 (Great Education Debate)

Teaching foreign languages to English speaking children in a world where the international lingua franca is English is a proposition that deserves some exploration and justification. In non-English speaking countries, learning English is more akin to studying a key skill or a core subject, such as mathematics. There is no reason even to hesitate over its importance or centrality, just as no one in medieval Europe would have questioned the importance of Latin in the curriculum of the educated.
However, for us, it is different. How does one justify the inclusion of a (randomly or historically chosen) language in the curriculum for our secondary or primary schools?


Foreign Language Learning in Primary Schools Inquiry

23 September 2013 (Scottish Government)

The European and External Relations Committee conducted an inquiry into foreign language learning in primary schools during 2012–2013, and published a report of its findings and recommendations in June 2013. The Scottish Government responded to the Committee’s report on 30 July 2013. The response sets out the Scottish Government’s position on each of the Committee’s recommendations (see Annexe A of the 19 September 2013 meeting papers).

The Scottish Government has indicated that it will update the Committee three times a year on its new languages policy and its use of the 1 + 2 languages model, which was scrutinised in the inquiry. This will allow the Committee to monitor the policy and the Committee’s recommendations, and the Committee may wish to carry out further work following these reports once the policy has had sufficient time to become established. These updates will be published on the Committee’s website so that those interested in the inquiry can follow this process.

See the meeting papers and official report from the EERC meeting on 19 September.

Full background information to the Inquiry and related documentation can also be found on the 'A 1+2 Approach to Language Learning' webpages on the SCILT website.


Related Links

A 1+2 Approach to Language Learning (SCILT website)

Move to protect teaching of languages in Scots universities

20 September 2013 (The Herald)

Greater protection is to be given to threatened language teaching at Scottish universities.
Any institution that wants to cut languages in future will have to alert funding bosses before any decision is made.


No Island Is An Island: European Perspectives on Language Learning in Britain

9 September 2013 (CLERA blog)

“Only 30% of English native speakers in the UK can have a conversation in a foreign language, compared to an EU average of 54%.” (European Survey on Language Competences 2012).

Alongside this year’s Language Show Live 2013 (18-20 October) in London, the European Commission’s conference ‘No Island Is An Island: European Perspectives on Language Learning in Britain’ will take place on Friday 18 October. The event will focus on the social, economic and political significance of languages in Britain.


All we learn is bonjour... why language lessons bore young pupils

2 September 2013 (Daily Mail)

Boring, repetitive language classes are letting down a generation of young pupils, a survey suggested yesterday.

Language classes will become compulsory next year for Key Stage 2 pupils – those aged seven to 11 – in English state schools.

But the research warned urgent improvements were needed in teaching, with many primary pupils saying they were repeatedly taught basics such as counting to ten or saying ‘bonjour’.

Those in Year 7, the first year of secondary school, complained they had to redo topics completed at primary school because some of their new classmates were starting from scratch.


Related Links

Children criticise language lessons (Daily Express, 3 September 2013)

1+2 Clarification and Key Messages

26 August 2013 (SCILT/Education Scotland)

Education Scotland has identified the key messages from the 'Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 approach' report to help local authorities and schools identify priorities and plan their strategic approach to 1+2. This can now be accessed on the 1+2 section of our website, alongside the ‘Supporting self-evaluation and planning for improvement’ audit tool Education Scotland also developed to help Local Authorities identify their priorities and next steps for taking forward the recommendations.


Committee calls for local authorities to teach one foreign language from primary through to secondary school

21 June 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

Local authorities should ensure one language is taught across primary schools and into secondary schools according to a report published today (Friday 21 June) by the European and External Relations Committee.

The report endorses the goal of teaching primary school children two languages in addition to their mother tongue. However, the Committee has highlighted the need for a locally relevant language selected for continuity from primary to secondary school. The Committee also calls for children with Additional Support Needs to be adequately provided for.


Related Links

Scottish schools' language funding 'hard to assess' (BBC News, 21 June 2013)

Concern over cost of school languages (The Herald, 21 June 2013)

MSPs in dark over cost of more language lessons (The Scotsman, 21 June 2013)

More Scots must learn foreign languages (Evening Times, 21 June 2013)

A word on primary languages

7 June 2013 (TESS)

It was ironic that in an edition where the main news article ("CfE reforms have caused workload hike, survey finds") was about the burden on primary teachers a linguistics professor should call for them to face the "challenge" of an early start in teaching languages (Interview: Antonella Sorace).

The research evidence does not support that. Ms Sorace's expertise lies in bilingualism and I would be delighted if we were able to surround P1s with, say, French spoken by fluent speakers, as happened in Walker Road Primary in Aberdeen. But that is not what the government is proposing.


Related Links

Antonella Sorace interview (TESS, 24 May 2013)

Workload worries over CfE (TESS, 24 May 2013)

Languages expert puts the onus on English grammar

17 May 2013 (TESS)

Teachers must help children grasp the basics of English before true success with Scotland's ambitious foreign language targets can be achieved, a major event on language teaching has heard.

The message came from one of Europe's leading figures in language learning, who underlined that all teachers must take responsibility for English.

His comments were timely, as Scotland presses ahead with the 1+2 policy - the idea that young Scots should routinely learn two languages in addition to English, and at least one from P1.


Related Links

Two foreign languages by age 12? Watch video highlights of the European + External Relations Committee Languages Enquiry conference.

Scottish Government plans: teaching of two languages in primary school (ECML, 14 May 2013)

Teaching one plus two languages for under 12s is examined

10 May 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

Teaching primary children two languages in addition to their mother tongue will be examined as the topic of debate in the Scottish Parliament today (Friday 10 May) as part of an inquiry by the European and External Relations Committee. Teachers, policy makers and European organisations are coming together to discuss the findings so far of the Committee’s languages inquiry and look together at the issues before the Committee publishes its report.


Why are modern languages failing to grip the younger generation?

30 April 2013 (BBC Radio Scotland)

Listen to today's episode of 'Call Kaye' where callers are invited to discuss the declining numbers of Scottish pupils taking language learning to Standard Grade and Higher levels.  Callers are asked what should be done to address the situation, or whether language learning is actually necessary in today's society.

The programme is available on the BBC iPlayer until Monday 6 May 2013.  Listen to this item from 38.38 minutes into the broadcast.


Learning new languages is now a primary concern

26 April 2013 (TESS)

The Languages Working Group should listen to those who urge caution if it is to avoid repeating mistakes.

In 2012, the Languages Working Group issued its report on the future of languages, Language Learning in Scotland: a 1+2 approach. While the government's wish to improve language skills is welcome, there is a danger that this report fails to address some key issues.


DfE and Ofsted set out their foreign language learning priorities

25 April 2013 (SecEd)

(Relates to England) The new languages curriculum at key stage 2 and 3 went under the magnifying glass at a recent Westminster Education Forum, when teachers got to quiz both the DfE and Ofsted. Languages teacher Suzi Bewell was there.


Something in common: should English be the official language of the EU?

24 April 2013 (The Guardian)

German president Joachim Gauck's cost-cutting proposal has been welcomed – but not by all.


Languages plan 'presents challenge'

18 April 2013 (icScotland)

Plans to teach two foreign languages to primary school pupils will present significant challenges for schools, a Scottish Government minister has said. But Alasdair Allan, the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages, said the "bold" policy can be achieved.

The Scottish Government wants children to learn two foreign languages in primary school, with the plans to be rolled out over two parliaments. The model would see children start learning their first foreign language in primary one, followed by a second one in primary five.

Mr Allan said: "Delivering additional languages from primary one is a bold and ambitious objective. There will be significant challenges for schools but it can be done and some schools are already providing such early access to language learning. As a Government we certainly recognise an earlier start to language learning may be something that raises challenges in terms of schools' capacity to deliver. Some teachers may not have language training, others may wish to update those skills."


Related Links

Claim language teaching damaged by English TV shows (The Herald, 19 April 2013) - Plans to improve foreign language teaching in Scotland are being hampered because most television programmes watched by children are in English, according to a Government minister.
Alasdair Allan, Scotland's Minister for Learning, made the claim as he gave evidence to MSPs on the SNP's language strategy for primary school pupils.

Hugh Reilly: TV hinders foreign tongues? Crazy talk (The Scotsman, 23 April 2013)

Foreign language teaching to be subject of debate at Holyrood

29 March 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

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

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

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


Je ne sais quoi

11 March 2013 (Holyrood)

Can Scottish school children, most of whom finish their education without knowing a second language, pick up a third by the time they leave primary school? That’s the ambition expressed in the Scottish Government’s ’1+2′ policy, first in its 2011 election manifesto and last year in a report authored by a commission of academics and educationalists. The plan is to introduce a first modern language at P1, and a second by P6. The European and External Relations Committee of the Scottish Parliament has been taking evidence on the proposals since the turn of the year, and the consensus so far is that while the ’1+2′ is a laudable ideal, the execution will pose a significant challenge.


Related Links

At very least, decline in teaching of modern languages must be reversed (The Herald, 12 March 2013)

Think again on languages plan (The Herald, 9 March 2013)

EIS warns over foreign languages (The Herald, 8 March 2013)

Languages class target unachievable

21 February 2013 (The Herald)

Parents have criticised the Scottish Government's ambitious strategy of increasing language learning in Scottish schools, branding it unachievable.  Council officials have also cast doubt on the policy, arguing current funding for the costly initiative is insufficient. The warnings come two years after the Government announced plans to teach all primary pupils at least two modern languages in addition to their mother tongue – known as the 1+2 model.


Languages face ‘extinction’ in Scots colleges

21 February 2013 (The Scotsman)

Efforts to promote languages in Scotland’s schools are likely to fail due to a lack of qualified teachers, with the study of foreign tongues now “almost extinct” in the country’s colleges, it has been warned.

The Scottish Government hopes to introduce a “1+2” model in primary schools, with pupils expected to learn two languages, alongside English. But in its submission to a Scottish Parliament inquiry into the plans, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) said 
that while the idea was well-intentioned, it was likely to be hamstrung by a shortage of teachers with the necessary skills.


Let's talk about languages

15 February 2013 (TESS)

I thank Judith McClure for making my point for me ("Let's talk language policies", 8 February). She supports language learning. Antonella Sorace, Brian Templeton and I also support it, but the report is "unclear" about what that means.

(Extract of letter from Daniel Tierney, reader in language education, University of Strathclyde)


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

6 February 2013 (Daily Mail)

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


Olympic Games 2012: Legacy — Motion to Take Note

25 January 2013 (They Work For You)

Baroness Coussins raises the question in the Lords as to whether we took seriously enough the commitment to deliver a multilingual Games, and consequently whether we have short-changed ourselves on this aspect of the Olympic legacy.

Visit the website to read the full transcript.


Languages drive is crucial for Scotland's future, MSPs told

10 January 2013 (STV News)

Children as young as nine will be taught three languages amid rising immigration, tourism and increasing demand for workers that speak more than just English, MSPs have heard.

The Scottish Government has set aside £4m for a pilot project to ensure Scotland's economy does not suffer as a result of its citizens' relatively poor language skills.


Having difficulties convincing your school to spend money on MFL?

14 December 2012 (Brilliant Teaching Resources)

As MFL Coordinator, you know that teaching foreign languages is important.  But does everyone else in your school? To help you convince them of the importance of MFL, we have produced an information sheet: 10 Reasons for Teaching Foreign Languages in Primary School.


Language Learning in Scotland: a 1 + 2 Approach

14 December 2012 (Teaching Scotland blog)

Tom Hamilton, Director of Education and Professional Learning at GTCS, talks about the teaching of languages report.


Inquiry into language teaching

14 December 2012 (BBC News)

A Holyrood committee has launched an inquiry into language teaching in Scottish primary schools.
It follows research suggesting Scotland lags behind many other countries in linguistic skills.


Related Links

Scottish Parliament launches inquiry into foreign language learning (Language Rich blog, 17 December 2012)

Improving language opportunities for Scotland’s young people

27 November 2012 (Engage for Education)

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


Foreign language skills 'cost Scottish businesses'

27 November 2012 (BBC News)

A widespread lack of language skills could be damaging Scotland's ability to trade abroad, a report has suggested.  The British Council study warned there was a tendency among Scottish firms to limit their export markets to English-speaking countries.


Related Links

Fears raised for overseas trade as young Scots shy away from studying foreign languages (The Scotsman, 27 November 2012)
A crisis in foreign language teaching across Scottish education is damaging overseas trade, the British Council warns today.

Analysis: Speaking the lingo goes to prove that it’s not only travel that broadens the mind (The Scotsman, 27 November 2012)

Leaders: Greater language skills key to breaking trade barriers (The Scotsman, 27 November 2012)

Crisis in study of languages a risk to trade (The Herald, 27 November 2012)
A lack of foreign language skills is limiting the ability of Scottish companies to tap into lucrative overseas export markets, according to a new report.

Kaye asks why Scots are so bad at learning foreign languages (Call Kaye, BBC Radio Scotland, 27 November 2012) - programme available until 3 December 2012.

Trade danger of language teaching cuts (Scottish Daily Express, 27 November 2012)

Language cuts 'will hit Scottish economy' (Morning Star, 27 November 2012)

Language Rich Europe - Scotland (British Council, 2012)

Publication of Scottish Government Response to the Languages Report

20 November 2012 (Scottish Government)

Scottish Ministers have welcomed the Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 Approach report and its 35 recommendations, either in full or in part, while recognising that taking these forward will require discussion, collaboration and partnership with local authorities, schools, parents and other key stakeholders. 


Related Links

More information on Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 Approach

New approach to language teaching is unveiled

18 November 2012 (Falkirk Herald)

Bold plans to make language lessons a key part of every child’s classroom experience have been unveiled. The Scottish Government has announced it aims to introduce the European Union 1+2 method of teaching over the course of two parliaments. It will mean putting the resources in place to allow every child to learn two languages in addition to their own mother tongue and is driven by a determination to deliver equality for hundreds of thousands of young Scots


New benchmarking tool being developed for CfE senior phase

8 November 2012 (Engage for Education)

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


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