Latest News

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


English in the multilingual classroom

30 January 2024 (British Council)

English in the multilingual classroom is a self-study training course, which is divided into three hour modules. The course will introduce you to multilingualism and what it means. Enrol now to learn how to make your classroom and teaching multilingual so that your learners can learn to celebrate and use many languages in the real world. Access this free course from 6 February 2024.


New resource PALINGUI - making language learning pathways visible in young children

19 December 2023 (ECML)

This resource website supports teachers and educators working with children aged 3 to 12 in making all language learning visible in the education system through observation, documentation, and assessment.

PALINGUI offers essential information about early language learning as well as tools and tasks that will help to observe, document, and assess young children's language learning pathways in a multilingual context.

There are also reflective tools for teachers and educators which invite you to reflect on different aspects of your professional practice and the educational context in which you work. 


Open Access workshops – spring 2024 bookings now open!

15 December 2023 (SCILT)

Calling all primary teachers across Scotland. We are hosting three online Tuesday twilight workshops with invited guests in February, March and April 2024.   

These workshops are free and open to all primary teachers and primary education students in Scotland. 

The sessions will be hosted on MS Teams and will not be recorded.  

Registrations for all workshops are open now via the links above. Please also see attached flyer which can be shared with your networks. 

Related Files

Bilingual Learners - Postgraduate Diploma

27 November 2023 (University of Edinburgh)

This specialist pathway is designed for teachers who are currently teaching bilingual or multilingual children in contemporary classrooms.

The University of Edinburgh is the only provider in Scotland of a Postgraduate Diploma in this area. Local authorities in Scotland regard this specialist Postgraduate Diploma as a benchmark for practitioners specialising in working with learners who have English as an Additional Language (EAL).

Visit the university website for more information about the programme and to apply.


European Day of Languages 2023 - how is your school celebrating?

25 August 2023 (SCILT)

The European Day of Languages (EDL) is celebrated on 26 September each year. Now in its 22nd year, it aims to promote the rich linguistic diversity of Europe and raise awareness of the importance of lifelong language learning for everyone. What is your school doing in 2023?

If you're looking for inspiration, SCILT has compiled lots of ideas for primary, secondary and parents & families on our EDL webpage. What about making some multilingual bunting, hosting a languages café, or creating a zine? You will also find links to competitions, blogs and websites with a huge range of celebration ideas and activities. 

Let us know how you celebrate and we'll include you in our EDL 2023 blogUpload a short description and some colourful photos or email

If you're sharing your celebrations on Twitter tag @scottishcilt and use the hashtag #coeEDL to share your celebrations with schools across Europe!


Scotland's Languages Explorers Programme - launch of national languages mentoring scheme

18 August 2023 (SCILT / UCFLS)

SCILT and UCFLS will launch Scotland’s Languages Explorers Programme (SLEP) nationally for the first time following last session’s successful conclusion of a pilot languages mentoring programme in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City. 

Inspired by the success of similar mentoring programmes in the UK, the SLEP aims to raise awareness amongst secondary age learners of the far-reaching benefits of language learning by facilitating a short programme of mentoring sessions led by university students with lived experiences of language learning and multiculturalism. The idea was informed by student mentoring programmes currently running in Wales and Sheffield, which have demonstrated that small group work with a student mentor can have a positive impact on learners in school, and lead to an increase in the number of learners continuing with languages into higher levels of study.

SLEP 2023-24 will run in partnership with 7 universities: the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Strathclyde and the Open University. Interested schools can find out more about the mentoring programme and hear from last year’s student mentors on the programme webpage.

We are currently taking registrations of interest from schools. If you would like to take part in this year’s mentoring programme, please register your interest by Monday 11 September.

Please be aware that this programme runs online. While geographical proximity to a university is not a prerequisite, it is imperative that interested schools have an adequate technical set-up and internet connection to allow for remote interactions between mentees and mentors. Further information, including key dates, can be found on the programme webpage.


Multilingual Approaches through Art - online exhibition is now live!

16 June 2023 (SCILT / University partners)

On Thursday 8 June 2023 SCILT hosted the Multilingual Approaches through Art online exhibition launch event. The event provided the opportunity to hear from pupils, teachers and partners who participated in the project. Parents and families were invited to come along, and we were delighted to welcome those who could us in celebrating the project and the launch of the pupils’ artwork.

The launch commenced with opening remarks from SCILT and CISS Director Fhiona Mackay. Professor Antonella Sorace, Founder of Bilingualism Matters, spoke about the multilingual approach behind the project, and we heard from project partners Dr Lavinia Hirsu from the University of Glasgow, and Jane Catlin from the University of Strathclyde. Following this, the showcase video was shared where attendees had the opportunity to see a snapshot of some of the artworks the children had created. At this point we were blown away by the creativity on view! Here we had a selection of art that included language portraits, exquisite corpse collaborations, calligrams and work inspired by Chagallian idioms.

Attendees then had the chance to hear from participating teachers about their experience taking part in the project. Teachers from Antonine Primary, Bowhouse Primary, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Loch Abar, Mile End School, St Maria Goretti Primary, and Williamston Primary provided feedback with one teacher commenting:

"Despite my love of languages, art and my excitement for the project, I wasn’t initially sure of the impact it could have in my school as the vast majority of pupils have English as their home language. However, the impact that it had was making multilingualism more visible and giving it more value in the eyes of the pupils."

Another teacher commented on combining art and languages saying:

"It was interesting to look at languages in a different way and the project gave me lots of ideas about how to open up languages that we already have in the classroom. It has been great to give the children a chance to use and share their native languages and make connections with them through the medium of art."

For more information about the project, please visit the Multilingual Approaches through Art webpage on the SCILT website via the link below. Here you will be able to access the showcase video, teacher feedback video and of course the wonderful online exhibition. Happy browsing!



Kirkcaldy pupils celebrate success in national poetry competition

18 March 2023 (Fife Today)

Pupils from Valley Primary School, Kirkcaldy, have been celebrating their success in a National Poetry Competition, Mother Tongue Other Tongue.

Six P7 pupils wrote original poems in their first language to showcase and celebrate the many languages spoken at Valley Primary School.

As well as entering the competition they also shared their poems at school along with pupils reciting a range of Scots poetry.


Words for the World is back!

13 March 2023 (SCILT)

‘We must believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the world.’ (Malala Yousafzai)

Are you looking for a way to engage your language learners to think about global issues and global citizenship? Our Words for the World competition could be just what you need! Returning for the 2022-23 school session, SCILT is challenging learners to use their words and their languages to show how the world could be a better place.

Participants are invited to use a language (or languages) other than English to show their ideas, hopes or even advice for our world. Submissions can be in any written format, for example a poem, an essay, a cartoon – be creative!

More information about the competition is available on our Words for the World webpage below. The entry deadline for entries is 24 March 2023


New study reveals UK ‘hubs’ set to raise next multilingual generation

23 February 2023 (FE News)

Global learning platform Preply takes a look at some of the most nurturing factors to encourage multilingualism, revealing the UK hubs set to raise the next multilingual generation.

Over half of the world’s population can speak more than one language, with 43% classifying as bilingual and a further 17% identifying as multilingual. Although a respectable one-third of Brits (36%) speak more than one language, the world’s topmost bilingual nation is Indonesia, where ¾ of the population speak a second language.

Taking over 110 UK towns and cities, Preply’s latest research reveals the UK ‘hubs’ set to raise the next multilingual generation. The study considers bilingual/international schools, the demand for learning a language and the size of the bilingual community (bilingual population), to reveal the country’s top locations for nurturing multilingualism in children.

Ranking as the UK's top ten are:

  • Cambridge
  • Reading
  • Ipswich
  • Manchester
  • London
  • Oxford
  • Bristol
  • Derby / Leicester (joint 8th)
  • Nottingham
  • Edinburgh / Exeter (joint 10th)


How to support multilingual international students in the classroom

14 February 2023 (Times Higher Education )

Multilingual students face unique challenges that affect their participation and communication in the classroom, but educators can take steps to make them feel welcome.

[..] Working with multilingual learners can present challenges but can also be rewarding. Multilingual learners come to the classroom with an array of experience and backgrounds. By recognising the needs of these students and supporting them, you can create a more inclusive, safe and welcoming learning environment for everyone. 


Your native tongue holds a special place in your brain, even if you speak 10 languages

3 February 2023 (Science Daily)

Most people will learn one or two languages in their lives. But Vaughn Smith, a 47-year-old carpet cleaner from Washington, D.C., speaks 24. Smith is a hyperpolyglot—a rare individual who speaks more than 10 languages.

In a new brain imaging study, researchers peered inside the minds of polyglots like Smith to tease out how language-specific regions in their brains respond to hearing different languages. Familiar languages elicited a stronger reaction than unfamiliar ones, they found, with one important exception: native languages, which provoked relatively little brain activity. This, the authors note, suggests there’s something special about the languages we learn early in life.


Open access Wednesdays: Creative spring series

9 December 2022 (SCILT)

Paging primary teachers and primary education students across Scotland. Keep your Wednesdays free! On the last Wednesday of each month between January and May 2023, SCILT’s primary professional development officers will host a series of online workshops with a creative twist.  

These workshops are free and open to all primary teachers and primary education students in Scotland.

The sessions will be hosted on MS Teams unless otherwise stated and will not be recorded. 

Registration for the first session on 25 January is open now via the link above. Registration for the remaining workshops will open in January 2023, keep an eye on the SCILT e-bulletin for details.

Please also see attached flyer with further details of each workshop.

Related Files

The future’s bright, the future’s bilingual: Meet the north-east children speaking multiple languages

26 September 2022 (Press and Journal)

We all want our children to grow up to be open-minded citizens of the world.

One of the best ways to broaden our horizons is to learn another language – and the younger the better.

To mark today’s European Day of Languages, the P&J spoke to five multilingual families living in Aberdeen.

The Granite City has long been a multicultural place, particularly since the oil industry took off in the 1970s.

As an example, Hanover Street School pupils speak a whopping 19 different languages at home.

Juliette Kinn Valdelievre doesn’t exaggerate when she says hers is an “international family”.

The fact that Arthur, seven, and five-year-old twins Hadrien and Thomas speak French at home tells barely half the story.


Britain’s multilingual children: ‘We speak whatever language gets the job done’

4 September 2022 (The Guardian)

In modern Britain, millions of kids grow up learning two languages or more – and experts believe fluidity in language has some surprising advantages.

In 2021 there were around 6 million people with non-British nationality living in the UK, with 9.6m people born abroad – 35% of whom live in London. In the social sciences, this relatively new landscape of such diverse national origins is often referred to as “superdiversity” – a term coined by the German anthropologist Professor Steven Vertovec. The UK’s superdiversity is reflected in our school system, with around 20% of pupils speaking English as an additional language. In London schools, more than 300 different languages are spoken.

Bart, three, who lives in London, happily juggles Italian, Dutch and English in his household, with a smattering of Spanish too, thanks to his nursery carer. His dad, Riccardo Attanasio, is the son of Italian immigrants and his mum, Gwen Jansen, moved to the UK from the Netherlands 10 years ago. They are able to switch between different languages in a fluid, organic way. “We have busy, hectic lives,” says Attanasio. “When toys are being thrown around while you’re trying to cook dinner, or doing bedtime, you speak whatever language gets the job done.”


NEW teacher professional development opportunity: Using art-based methods in developing multilingual approaches to language teaching in Scotland

26 August 2022 (SCILT / Bilingualism Matters)

Scotland is a multilingual country. In 2020 the pupils attending Scottish mainstream schools spoke in total 168 languages. These realities call for different pedagogical approaches. SCILT in collaboration with the University of Glasgow and Bilingualism Matters is looking to address it by:

  • developing teachers’ skills in implementing or applying multilingual and multicultural approaches to language teaching and learning
  • developing links across languages and between languages and art
  • developing links between teachers in community and mainstream schools.

Who is it for?   

  • mainstream primary and complementary school teachers interested in developing multilingual and multicultural approaches to language teaching, 
  • mainstream primary and complementary school teachers interested in developing art-based methods in language teaching.


Four online workshops culminating in the exhibition of children’s work in the spring/summer term. Dates of workshops will be confirmed to registered participants.

Please note:

  • participants will be expected to actively participate in the workshops, test the approaches in their own context and share their plans and experiences with others during the workshops
  • all art materials will be provided

If participating in this project is of interest to you, please register your interest via the form below.

* This project is subject to the success of the funding application. It builds on Polish through Art and Creative Language Practices projects.


Related Files

European Day of Languages 2022 - how is your school celebrating?

25 August 2022 (SCILT)

The European Day of Languages (EDL) is celebrated on 26 September each year. Now in its 21st year, it aims to promote the rich linguistic diversity of Europe and raise awareness of the importance of lifelong language learning for everyone. What is your school doing in 2022?

If you're looking for inspiration, SCILT has compiled lots of ideas for primary, secondary and parents & families on our EDL webpage. Perhaps creating a scavenger hunt, taking a virtual city tour, or designing languages stones? You will also find links to competitions, blogs and websites with a huge range of celebration ideas and activities. 

Let us know how you celebrate and we'll include you in our EDL 2022 blog. Upload a short description and some colourful photos or email

If you're sharing your celebrations on Twitter tag @scottishcilt and use the hashtag #coeEDL to share your celebrations with schools across Europe!


Experience: I speak more than 50 languages

12 August 2022 (The Guardian)

From a young age, I was fascinated by language. I grew up in Chester, to Merseyside-born parents, with Welsh and English heritage. I absorbed the Welsh words my nan taught me and parroted my relatives’ scouse accents.

I remember a holiday in Spain, aged seven, when two boys asked if I spoke Norwegian. When I couldn’t respond, they ran off, leaving me sad. Back home, I’d search shops for old language books and enjoyed trying all these different words to express what was in my head. I thought it was amazing, and still do.

The first language I learned was French, at school, aged five. I got top marks each year. The teachers wouldn’t let me study German too, though, and I was devastated. In high school, I joined a geography trip to Germany, just to be around the language.

At sixth-form college, I completed Spanish GCSE, then A-level. From there, it became a way of life. I did a combined languages degree at the University of Hull, studying French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. I sat in on Swedish and Old Icelandic lectures, and did language exchanges for Romanian and Catalan. I went to Lyon, playing darts with the French gas and electricity trainees who were sharing my accommodation, then to Málaga. I spent time in Verona, where I read the Bible in Italian (I had never even read it in English).


How our brains cope with speaking more than one language

20 July 2022 (BBC)

Speaking a second or even a third language can bring obvious advantages, but occasionally the words, grammar and even accents can get mixed up. This can reveal surprising things about how our brains work.


Plurilingual parenting: why many experts think families who speak multiple languages should just go with the flow

8 July 2022 (The Conversation)

Many of us live not just in diverse societies, but what anthropologist Steven Vertovec terms “super-diverse” societies. More and more people are moving around and bringing their languages and cultures with them.

In the UK, 20% of school children are multilingual. They speak at least one other language in addition to English.

Parents, of course, have a lot on their plate simply keeping their children fed, safe and educated. But if you do have more than one language in your family, then decisions have to be made on how to navigate that terrain too.

If linguists have long paid attention to the idea of bilingual parenting, a new appreciation of linguistic and cultural complexity in super-diverse societies has seen the advent of a new approach. What experts call plurilingualism views language use as fluid and dynamic.


Multimind Project - Final conference and resources

9 May 2022 (Bilingualism Matters)

Bilingualism Matters is delighted to be a dissemination partner on the Multimind Project, a multidisciplinary and multisectorial training network on multilingualism. 

Visit the website to find out about the MultiMind Project Final Conference, taking place in a hybrid format from Konstanz, Germany, from 27 to 29 June 2022, and how to access free resources on multilingualism, including a fun quiz, flyers and videos on multilingualism and developmental language disorders, and policy reports for professionals.


Supporting trainee teachers to teach EAL pupils

25 April 2022 (SecEd)

As multilingualism and English as an additional language become an integral feature of school life, how can school-based initial teacher training programmes prepare student teachers to work within linguistically and culturally diverse settings? Sheila Hopkins advises.

Britain has always been multicultural and multilingual; greatly benefitting from diversity over the centuries. Today is no exception. In fact, many British cities are what we now call superdiverse communities where people with vastly different languages, cultures and backgrounds live side by side enhancing our schools and neighbourhoods.

The Department for Education’s (DfE) January 2021 School Census provides us with the current EAL landscape in the UK. Almost 1 in 5 pupils (19.4%) in the UK school system, nursery through secondary, are learners who use English as an additional language (EAL).

This number rises to nearly one third of pupils in nurseries (28.9%), most of whom were born in the UK. These numbers reflect the multilinguistic landscape which our current student teachers will enter.

In an effort to determine the extent to which EAL is taught in initial teacher training (ITT) programmes, and how well student teachers are prepared to work within multilinguistic settings, The Bell Foundation commissioned a study on EAL in ITE with the University of Edinburgh (Foley et al, 2018).

Key findings show that while prevailing policy (National Curriculum, 2013) has prioritised integration and inclusion, little attention has been given to expanding the knowledge-base of trainee teachers to enable them to address the English language and literacy needs within linguistically and culturally diverse classrooms.

The report provides evidence showing many trainee teachers and teacher educators feel that they lack confidence and experience as they work to address the learning needs of pupils using EAL.

Significantly, one-third of trainee teachers felt they had “little” or “little to no” understanding of the English language and literacy needs of multilingual learners.


Polish through Art - online exhibition now open!

3 February 2022 (SCILT / Bilingualism Matters)

The Polish through Art online exhibition is now open! Visit our website to see the children's multilingual artwork, which explores their diverse identities, their linguistic competencies and their cultural heritage. Browse their wonderful creations, read their commentaries in their own words, and see the impact of a languages rich classroom. 

About the project

SCILT’s Polish through Art project, developed in collaboration with Bilingualism Matters, showcases through art, a multilingual approach to language teaching. A multilingual approach recognises that each learner has their own individual repertoire and opens the classroom door to languages and experiences learners bring to the classroom. The online exhibition showcases the artwork of each pupil involved in the project from the four particpating mainstream and complementary schools. 


We launch a Storytelling Month to celebrate multilingualism and your stories

31 January 2022 (National Literacy Trust)

Today we kick off Storytelling Week by launching the brand-new Storytelling Month to celebrate the value and skill of speaking multiple languages and the ways that these voices and stories shape our community.

The virtual initiative, which forms part of the National Literacy Trust’s Connecting Stories campaign, is to run until International Mother Language Day on February 21 and promote community literacies – with an equal focus on speaking and reading.

Across the month various activities and resources will be made available. With free videos ranging from a reading of Enormous Turnip in Czechthe Little Turtle and Little Rabbit Have a Race in Mandarin Chinese and Romanian fairy stories, Storytelling Month is packed with weekly activities and resources that will help young people and parents build new skills and improve their literacy.


Would you like to participate in a study on active trilingualism in children?

11 January 2022 (University of Cambridge/Radboud University Nijmegen)

What’s the project about?

Because multilingual families come in all shapes and sizes, this can affect whether and how well children can speak and understand their multiple languages. There has been plenty of research on this topic concerning bilingual children, but very little on trilingual children. In this study we aim to better understand which circumstances allow trilingualism to thrive, and which factors predict whether children will actively use each of their three languages. We hope that our findings will help parents, teachers and other professionals to make better-informed decisions and offer better advice when it comes to raising children trilingually. The study is part of the Q-BEx project, a collaboration between researchers in the UK, France and the Netherlands, where we have designed a new questionnaire to measure how much contact and what kind of contact multilingual children have with each of their languages.
What’s involved?

If you choose to participate, we will ask you to complete the questionnaire. It contains questions about you, your child and the way in which your family members use and understand your different languages. The questionnaire is online and it should take no longer than 20-35 minutes to complete. We will ask you to complete the questionnaire on behalf of one child only, even if you have other children that match the criteria below. 

Who are we looking for exactly?

For this study, we are looking for children who:

  • are between 5 and 10 years old.
  • attend a school where lessons are taught in English, with no more than 2 hours of classes per week in other languages.
  • were born in the UK or Ireland, or moved there before the age of 3 years.
  • heard two languages other than English at home before starting school. This applies even if the child doesn’t speak both languages. For example, if the child’s parents speak one language only to each other but not to the child, we still want you to participate!

How do I take part?

To participate in the project, parents just need to click the following link:

Any questions?

If you have any questions, please contact James Algie (, doctoral researcher at University of Cambridge (UK) and Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands).

TRANSLA - New resources for parents and educators

8 December 2021 (Bilingualism Matters)

Bilingualism Matters Luxembourg launches TRANSLA, a new program for multilingual children, with resources for teachers and parents in English, French and German.

The programme contains 8 sessions on multilingual classroom, home-school collaboration, multilingual brain and cross-linguistic transfer, oracy, literacy, and teachers’ own experience with translanguaging pedagogy.


New project alert! Polish through Art

30 September 2021 (SCILT / Bilingualism Matters)

Primary teachers, would you like to be involved in an exciting and innovative project focusing on language learning (Polish) through Art? This project, in partnership with Bilingualism Matters, aims to explore and develop skills in applying multicultural and multilingual approaches to (Polish) language teaching in the primary school. We are looking to recruit primary teachers working in mainstream schools and teachers working in the Polish complementary schools.

The project will run over a 5-month period and will feature 4 online workshops/sessions scheduled to take place on:

  • Wed 27 Oct 15.30-17.30 
  • Wed 3  Nov 15.30-17.30 
  • Wed 17 Nov 15.30-17.30
  • Wed 19 Jan 15.30-17.30

All workshops will be delivered on MS Teams and will be a blend of professional learning and practical activities. 

You will work in pairs or small groups with colleagues in the mainstream/complementary schools and will have the chance to plan and share knowledge with each other. There will be the opportunity to contribute to SCILT’s knowledge exchange event taking place in February where you will be able to share your experience from participating in the project with colleagues from across the country. To showcase the pupil’s art, an online gallery will be created in which you and your pupils will have the opportunity to contribute.

If you would like to participate in this new project, please register via the link below. By registering you are committing to attending all 4 workshops.


European Day of Languages 2021 - how is your school celebrating?

27 August 2021 (SCILT)

The European Day of Languages (EDL) is celebrated on 26 September each year. Now celebrating its 20th year, it aims to promote the rich linguistic diversity of Europe and raise awareness of the importance of lifelong language learning for everyone. What is your school doing in 2021?

If you're looking for inspiration SCILT has compiled lots of ideas for primary, secondary and parents & families on our EDL webpage. Perhaps a Eurovision-style song contest, a QR code scavenger hunt, or a food festival? You will also find links to competitions, blogs and websites with a huge range of celebration ideas and activities. 

Let us know how you celebrate and we'll include you in our EDL 2021 blog. Send a short description and some colourful photos to or tag @scottishcilt on Twitter. Use the hashtags #coeEDL #20EDL or #happybirthdayEDL to share your celebrations with schools across Europe!


Why monolinguals 'cringe' in a multilingual society

4 June 2021 (Bilingualism Matters)

Do you apologise for your poor foreign language skills in multilingual encounters? Find out about the hidden social effects of this common monolingual practice.

Investigating the language experiences of migrants in multilingual societies like Luxembourg can shed light on principles of international encounters in global cities. A recent phenomenon of interest is the habit of ‘monolingual cringe’ among English-speaking migrants in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg is a small European Union country with about 630,000 inhabitants. It is a very multilingual place, with Luxembourgish, French, German, and German sign language as official languages. The number of languages spoken in public is even higher due to migration, with people of non-Luxembourgish nationality making up nearly half the population!

English is widely used alongside other languages, so that people who have moved to Luxembourg from English-dominant countries don’t necessarily need to use other languages to get by. But how enjoyable is their position if they speak English only? Researchers at the University of Luxembourg spoke to twelve English-speaking migrants who have settled in Luxembourg to find out about this, analysing interview data and drawings of multilingual experiences. An interesting ambiguity emerged in the results.


Stornoway Primary School Boy Wins Gaelic Award Four Years After Arriving From Syria

26 April 2021 (Stornoway Gazette)

A Stornoway Primary School Pupil, whose family moved to Lewis from war-torn Syria, has gone viral this week after receiving an award for the progress he has made in learning Gaelic.

Ten year old Abdullah Al Nakeeb moved to Stornoway from Homs, four years ago. Now in Primary Six, Abdullah has a good grasp of the local language.

The Al Nakeeb family said: “We are really proud of Abdullah, he loves going to school here and Gaelic has become one of his favourite subjects.

"Addullah always works really hard and it is nice to see him get praise for all his efforts.

“We never expected our son to learn the language but since moving here he has managed to pick up Gaelic very quickly.

"His younger brother Majd has also got a good grasp of the language and received a certificate for his progress in December.

“Hopefully Abdullah’s brothers will continue to follow in his footsteps, it would be great to have them all speaking a new language.”


10-Minute Talks: More than one language – why bilingualism matters

21 April 2021 (British Academy)

Research shows that multilingualism in any languages, regardless of prestige or worldwide diffusion, can provide a range of linguistic, cognitive, and social benefits at all ages. It enables communication with international partners and understanding of local cultures as well as enhancing metalinguistic awareness, focusing, seeing both sides of an argument, and flexibly adapting to changing circumstances. However, as Antonella Sorace outlines in this talk, there are still many misconceptions about multilingualism and this contributes to the lack of language skills in countries, like the UK, that rely on ‘privileged monolingualism’ in English, which can undermine social cohesion and economic growth.


Creative Multilingualism: A Manifesto

20 May 2020 (University of Oxford)

The Creative Multilingualism research team have published a new 10 chapter book, Creative Multilingualism: A Manifesto. It presents four years of collaborative research on multilingualism across disciplines, from the humanities through to the social and natural science. The book is available to read for free from the Open Book Publishers website, under a creative commons licence. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Episodes of the Linguamania Podcast series are also available based on the same research strands.


Multilingualism and additional language learning

13 February 2020 (RiPL)

Summaries of research papers that relate to multilingualism and additional language learning are available on the Research in Primary Languages (RiPL) website. Each summary is worded to be reader-friendly, and covers no more than one side of A4.


The importance of becoming multilingual in a global job market

19 November 2019 (Study International)

Does knowing more than one language really elevate your career prospects, allowing you to strategically position your talents in a competitive job market?

Citing numerous benefits of being multilingual, the British Academy considers language skills to be essential for thriving in the future of work and enhancing your professional and personal development.

In a shared statement, the British Academy, the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Academy of Engineering all maintain that the “UK’s poor language capacity has resulted in the loss of economic, social, cultural, and research opportunities,” stating that, “The economic cost of the UK’s linguistic underperformance in terms of lost trade and investment has been estimated at 3.5 percent of GDP.”

President of the British Academy, David Cannadine, requests a step-change in the way the nation approaches language learning.


Languages: We can do better for our bilingual students

7 November 2019 (TES)

The UK is famously bad when it comes to learning languages, but this means we’re missing out on an amazing resource already in our schools, says Sameena Choudry.

One language, one person; two languages, two persons” – Turkish proverb

The lack of a coherent languages policy is evident in England. 

Our learning of languages is quite poor compared to many other countries (in 2016, we were voted the worst country in Europe for learning other languages).

This is despite calls from industry (and others) to increase the number of pupils learning languages. 

There is, however, a possible part-solution to this dire situation that needs to be drawn to the attention of policymakers: approximately 1.5 million young people in schools in England are either bilingual or multilingual in more than 300 different languages. 

This extremely valuable and rich resource is largely untapped and little attention, if any, has been given to how their linguistics skills could be nurtured and developed to support the individual, the community and the country as a whole. 

(Note - subscription required to access full article)


Unleashing the creative potential of linguistic diversity in our classrooms

15 October 2019 (Creative Multilingualism)

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

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

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


Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) multilingual poetry competition 2018-19

14 September 2018 (SCILT)

Today we're launching the 2018-19 Mother Tongue Other Tongue (MTOT) multilingual poetry competition in Scotland.

All students who are learning a language at school, college or university, or who speak a native language at home, can get involved in celebrating their linguistic and cultural diversity through creative poetry writing as there are options to enter in either the Mother Tongue or Other Tongue category. All entries must be the students' own, original work.

For more information about this year's competition and previous events, visit our MTOT website and register to take part! The closing date for registrations is 26 October 2018.


New School Year – New Season of NALDIC blogging

3 September 2018 (EAL Journal)

NALDIC has an ever-expanding membership, creating a vibrant and supportive national (and increasingly international) community of educators and advocates. If you’re in EAL you need to be in NALDIC! If you’re not yet a member please consider signing up. All members get our flagship magazine The EAL Journal every term, full access to the members’ area of our website, and free or reduced price entry to NALDIC events. 

This year we will be taking the national conference to Leeds on Saturday 17 November, where the theme of the event is Evidence Informed Practice for EAL, and features keynote speaker Jean Conteh author of The EAL Teaching Book, among many other classics on teaching multilingual learners. 

We’d love to hear from you if you would like to write for NALDIC. We are always on the lookout for contributors to the blog. We accept pitches for posts about research, practice, and advocacy around EAL and multilingualism.

Read the blogpost for more information on NALDIC's upcoming events and opportunities.


European Day of Languages 2018

24 August 2018 (SCILT)

The European Day of Languages (EDL) is celebrated across Europe on the 26th of September every year. It aims to promote the rich linguistic diversity of Europe and raise awareness of the importance of lifelong language learning for everyone.

SCILT is helping schools across Scotland to celebrate by distributing materials developed by the ECML. These resources are free to order and act as excellent prizes and rewards.

Visit our European Day of Languages 2018 webpage for information on how to order packs, for ideas on how to celebrate, and to find out how your school could feature in our EDL 2018 blog.


Manchester’s Language Army

28 June 2018 (CIOL)

Set in the culturally diverse Crumpsall/Cheetham Hill area of Manchester, Abraham Moss Community School is one of very few schools in northwest England to operate a formal programme that identifies bilingual pupils and offers them basic training in the skills required to act as language mediators within the school environment. 

More that 60 languages are spoken at Abraham Moss, which began the programme five years ago with a group of just eight pupils in Key Stage 4 (ages 14-16). Since then it has blossomed into an impressive ‘language army’ – nearly 40-strong – of ‘young interpreters’ aged 12-16, who cover languages as diverse as Arabic, Chinese, Hungarian, Italian, Pashtun, Polish, Spanish, Turkish and Urdu.


Creative Multilingualism

14 June 2018 (University of Oxford)

Creative Multilingualism is a 4-year research programme aiming to release the creative potential of languages, shine a spotlight on the UK's hidden multilingualism and celebrate the many benefits of language learning.

Visit the Creative Multilingualism website to explore the programme and projects.


Should we take a more 'German' approach to MFL?

8 June 2018 (TES)

Applies to England

If you’re a modern foreign languages (MFL) teacher, you’re probably already familiar with the horror stories about your subject: more and more schools are cutting MFL at GCSE and A level, while fewer students are expressing interest in learning them.

Despite plans to increase the teaching of Mandarin in schools, European languages have sustained some heavy losses, German faring the worst with a 38 per cent fall in GCSE student entries since 2010.

Meanwhile, the German school system is efficient at producing confident English speakers, with an EU study claiming that 56 per cent of Germans can speak English "well enough to have a conversation", and it is rare to meet a recent high school graduate from Germany without near-fluent English skills.

So, why the gaping divide?


Why using a foreign language could improve your work

29 May 2018 (BBC)

I recently spent four months working at the BBC in London, and English always sounded far smarter in my head than when it came out of my mouth. I often forgot words, made grammatical slips, and missed the usual precision of my native Spanish. It felt like trying to eat soup with a fork. As I write this, I have a dictionary open in front of me because I have learned to mistrust my ideas about what some words mean.

But there is a silver lining for those who are working in languages other than their native one. Research has recently shown that people who can speak a foreign language are likely to be more analytical. Other studies have suggested that people who are bilingual make decisions in different ways from those with one language.

It suggests that as well as giving you an extra string to your bow in terms of where you can work and who you can work with, a foreign language also makes you a different kind of worker. But the real question is – does it make you a better worker?


Why teachers shouldn’t be afraid of other languages being spoken in the classroom

21 May 2018 (The Conversation)

More than 20% of all primary school and 16% of secondary school children in the UK speak languages other than English. And there are now more than 360 languages spoken in British classrooms.

But more often than not, in mainstream schools in the UK, the “home languages” of children can be sidelined at best, and prohibited at worst. English is the language of the classroom – this is despite the fact that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear that children from linguistic minorities should not be “denied the right” to use their own languages.

In my recent research, I found there was often a lot of fear associated with the use of “home” languages among the typically white, monolingual demographic of the teaching profession.


MTOT celebration event - webpage now live!

20 April 2018 (SCILT)

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

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


The English language is the world’s Achilles heel

3 April 2018 (The Conversation)

English has achieved prime status by becoming the most widely spoken language in the world – if one disregards proficiency – ahead of Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. English is spoken in 101 countries, while Arabic is spoken in 60, French in 51, Chinese in 33, and Spanish in 31. From one small island, English has gone on to acquire lingua franca status in international business, worldwide diplomacy, and science.

But the success of English – or indeed any language – as a “universal” language comes with a hefty price, in terms of vulnerability. Problems arise when English is a second language to either speakers, listeners, or both. No matter how proficient they are, their own understanding of English, and their first (or “native”) language can change what they believe is being said.

When someone uses their second language, they seem to operate slightly differently than when they function in their native language. This phenomenon has been referred to as the “foreign language effect”. Research from our group has shown that native speakers of Chinese, for example, tended to take more risks in a gambling game when they received positive feedback in their native language (wins), when compared to negative feedback (losses). But this trend disappeared – that is, they became less impulsive – when the same positive feedback was given to them in English. It was as if they are more rational in their second language.

While reduced impulsiveness when dealing in a second language can be seen as a positive thing, the picture is potentially much darker when it comes to human interactions. In a second language, research has found that speakers are also likely to be less emotional and show less empathy and consideration for the emotional state of others.

For instance, we showed that Chinese-English bilinguals exposed to negative words in English unconsciously filtered out the mental impact of these words. And Polish-English bilinguals who are normally affected by sad statements in their native Polish appeared to be much less disturbed by the same statements in English.

In another recent study by our group, we found that second language use can even affect one’s inclination to believe the truth. Especially when conversations touch on culture and intimate beliefs.
Since second language speakers of English are a huge majority in the world today, native English speakers will frequently interact with non-native speakers in English, more so than any other language. And in an exchange between a native and a foreign speaker, the research suggests that the foreign speaker is more likely to be emotionally detached and can even show different moral judgements.

And there is more. While English provides a phenomenal opportunity for global communication, its prominence means that native speakers of English have low awareness of language diversity. This is a problem because there is good evidence that differences between languages go hand-in-hand with differences in conceptualisation of the world and even perception of it.


Healthy Linguistic Diet website

15 March 2018 (Healthy Linguistic Diet)

Created as a result of collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and UCL, the newly launched Healthy Linguistic Diet (HLD) website aims to initiate and facilitate a shift in thinking about learning another language/other languages as a key skill or an academic subject, to understanding that using two languages is a key ingredient in our cognitive development and well-being.

Visit the website to find out more.


Multilingual Debate 2018

15 March 2018 (Heriot-Watt University)

The Multilingual Debate 2018 takes place on Wednesday 21 March at Heriot-Watt University's Edinburgh campus. As with previous years, the event is being streamed live over the internet. Schools should visit the website for information on how to participate in the online stream.


MTOT 2017-18 winners announced!

9 February 2018 (SCILT)

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

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

Mother Tongue





P4 – P6


Julia Wólszczak (Polish)

St James' Primary


Highly commended

Rayan Al-Boushi (Arabic)

St Albert's Primary


Highly commended

Zinaida Benya (Hungarian)

St James' Primary

P7 – S1


Nora Dhanou Rodriguez (Spanish)

West Primary


Highly commended

Bahadar Esakhiel (Pashto)

East Fulton Primary


Highly commended

Mohamad Al Chouhel (Arabic)

Williamsburgh Primary

S2 – S3


Erika Aitkenhead (Russian)

Kirkintilloch High

Senior Phase


Danai Nikitea (Greek)

Graeme High


Highly commended

Sayma Hossain (Italian)

Craigroyston Community High


Highly commended

Anett Ziegler (Hungarian)

Johnstone High 



Su Min Lai (Chinese)

University of Dundee


Highly commended

Yinuo Wang (Chinese)

University of Dundee


Highly commended

Hong Lin (Chinese)

City of Glasgow College


Other Tongue





Early Years


St Bridget's Early Years Class (Gaelic)

St Bridget's Primary

P4 – P6


Ava Stewart (German)

Gartcosh Primary


Highly commended

Kole Murray (Spanish)

Moray Primary


Highly commended

Nathan Decuyper (German)

Gartcosh Primary

P7 – S1


Maria Stewart (Irish)

St Mari Goretti Primary

S2 – S3


Emily McNally (French)

St Margaret's Academy


Highly commended

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

Craigroyston Community High


Highly commended

Harley Ewen (French)

Graeme High

Senior Phase


Maria Dorot (Spanish)

Craigroyston Community High


Highly commended

Simi Singh (French)

Graeme High


Highly commended

Jasmin Jardine (French)

Loudoun Academy

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

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

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

Thank you all once again and keep writing!

New Celtic signing Marvin Compper might speak SIX languages but insists his talking in Scotland will be done on the pitch

21 December 2017 (Daily Record)

Marvin Compper speaks six languages. Now the new Celtic defender hopes to speak the language of football in Glasgow.

Compper signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Scottish Premiership champions.

The international reeled off his impressive linguistic skills which include speaking German, French, Italian and English fluently with a touch of Dutch and Russian thrown in for good measure. However he insisted that he much prefers to do all his talking on the pitch.

Compper said: “I speak four languages fluently and one if I was to spend a week in Holland I would also speak that fluently.

“I also speak a bit of Russian so it is five-and-a-half. I am half-French half-German, so I speak those languages and I did English at school and developed it from there watching television shows and then my team mates.


English as a second language? Schools need to stop treating it as an obstacle to success

21 November 2017 (The Telegraph)

When columnist Andrew Pierce tweeted earlier this year that 1.3 million children “do not speak English as a first language, underlining strain immigration puts on schools”  he understandably caused something of a social media stir.

Alongside some tweets of support, others were quick to point out that not having English as a mother tongue need not correlate to a student’s ability to learn in their second, or third language. Even the author JK Rowling, a former teacher herself, joined the argument to point out that “second and third languages can be fluent”.   

With over 300 languages spoken in classrooms across the UK, and many schools in big towns and cities such as London and Birmingham, it is understandable that many will wonder how schools will be able to cater to all pupils and students equally.    

However, as an educator who has taught in international schools across Europe, I strongly believe that such language issues needn’t be a problem. In fact, if embraced they can stand to benefit all students, and by extension aid in supporting better understanding in areas with culturally diverse populations.    


Why limited resource models are of limited use, particularly when it comes to languages

14 November 2017 (University of Edinburgh)

In the early 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and lifting of travel restrictions, Vienna become a favourite destination for Eastern Europeans keen to buy hitherto unavailable Western goods. My West German friend Wilhelm recalled a conversation with an East German colleague while looking at the frantic markets. “Poor Viennese”, said the East German, “those Eastern Europeans will buy everything and leave them with nothing”. “Lucky Viennese”, answered Wilhelm, “they are doing the business of their lifetime”. Obviously, their comments reflected different economic reality under which they grew up, but they illustrate rather well the general contrast between “limited resource” and “added value” models.

Limited resource models are so seductively simple and intuitively compelling, that they tend to be applied implicitly, without much critical reflection (let alone empirical evidence) to a wide range of economic, social and political debates (e.g. immigration). Their major weakness is that, unlike the added value models, they do not take into account interactions between individual components and the capacity of well-functioning systems to adapt and re-configure. People buying goods are not just depleting a storehouse, they stimulate the production of new goods and development of better products. Immigrants do not just take away existing jobs; by stimulating economic growth, they can in fact create new ones.

When I first met Dina Mehmedbegovic in European Commission Multilingualism Panel in Brussels in September 2016, we were stunned to discover how much our two disciplines, education and cognitive science, have in common in terms of implicit assumptions made in respect to language learning and use. In our first joint publication, in May 2017, we explored the idea of a “healthy linguistic diet” (1), from primary school education to cognitive ageing and dementia prevention (2). In the second one, published this week, we examine systematically three important implicit assumptions underlying current controversies around multilingualism (3).

The first one is the above-mentioned limited resources model, well illustrated by the recent “Guardian” debate about the merits and disadvantages of learning foreign languages (4). One of the most commonly used arguments against teaching foreign languages at schools is that they prevent pupils from learning “more useful” subjects, such as maths (limited resources). No mention is usually made how learning languages can in fact improve the performance in other subjects (added value). These arguments continue across the lifespan: a new social enterprise Lingo Flamingo has a lot of work convincing professional carers that teaching languages to dementia patients is not dangerous and can even improve their cognitive abilities.

The second assumption is the “myth of the mother tongue”, the idea that the “normal” state of human brain, mind and society is to have one clearly defined “mother tongue”; other language can be learned, but are only secondary. Census questions like those used in the UK, allowing each individual to name only one “home language”, perpetrate this misconception. The third one is the belief that the only worthwhile aim of language learning is to reach a “native-like” proficiency. Although the drive to reach high proficiency is well meant, ultimately such attitude prevents people from appreciating multiple benefits of language learning.

As we demonstrate, there is hardly any evidence in favour of these assumptions, either in education or in cognitive and brain sciences; in fact, most of current research contradicts them. However, as we discuss in the paper, these assumptions are closely connected to political ideologies, dictating what is considered to be “normal” for individuals and states. We argue that such underlying, often implicit, beliefs can exert a profound influence on our thinking. Participants, whose performance we are examining as well as the researchers who analyse and interpret the data are human beings, deeply rooted in their languages, cultures, societies and values. We cannot study human performance in isolation from human beliefs and attitudes which influence it. Social and cognitive sciences and humanities are usually treated separately and there is remarkably little exchange of ideas between them. But we believe that we have much to learn from each other. As proposed by the added value models, a synthesis is more than the sum of its parts. The path is long, but we hope to have taken a step in the right direction.

Thomas H Bak, University of Edinburgh, Strand Leader of Strand 6 (Cognition, health & wellbeing) of the AHRC Project, “Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies” (MEITS). Co-Director, Bilingualism Matters (Bilingualism in later life, healthy ageing & dementia).

(1) Healthy Linguistic Diet (MEITS blog, June 2017) 

(2) Healthy Linguistic Diet: The value of linguistic diversity and language learning across the lifespan (Languages, Society and Policy, May2017)

(3) European Journal of Language Policy

(4) Just speaking English won’t get us very far in the world (Guardian,August 2017)

Bilingual toddlers have incredible advantage over other children, finds study

2 November 2017 (The Independent)

Bilingual children have an advantage over others who speak only one language, a study has shown. 

Children aged four and younger who speak two languages or are learning a second have more rapid improvements in inhibitory control, a study by the University of Oregon has said. 

Inhibitory control is the ability to stop a hasty reflexive response in behaviour or decision-making and use higher control to react in a more adaptive way. 


Speaking with Smaller Tongues

7 July 2017 (BBC Radio 4)

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

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


New Content Announcement for Language Show Scotland 2017!

10 February 2017 (Language Show Live)

Language Show Live, 10-11 March at the SEC, Glasgow

Europe’s largest event dedicated to language teaching and learning is just 1 month away and the teaching seminar, TEFL forum and language class line ups have all been announced and are now live online! Every seminar at this free-to-attend event is fully CPD accredited and packed full of exclusive content. Head online today to claim your free ticket and enjoy all the content that Europe’s premier language event has to offer.

Remember: Alongside our trademark seminar, workshop and panel session line ups we also have our fantastic cultural piazza stage, free language taster classes, over 80 exhibitor and much, much more!
Language Show Live Scotland logo


Many Languages, One World - 2017 student essay contest

7 February 2017 (Many Languages One World)

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), in collaboration with ELS Educational Services, Inc., (ELS) invites students, 18 years and older, who are enrolled in a full-time course of study at a college or university, to participate in the Many Languages, One World Essay Contest.

The essay should discuss global citizenship and cultural understanding, and the role that multilingual ability can play in fostering these and must be written in one of the six official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian or Spanish).

Visit the Many Languages, One World website for more information about the competition and how to enter. Submission deadline is 16 March 2017.


Meet the world’s first Gaelic rapper

15 January 2017 (The Herald)

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

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


Heriot-Watt Multilingual Debate 2017

12 December 2016 (Heriot-Watt University)

Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event showcasing the interpreting skills of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The 2017 Debates will take place on Wednesday 22 March with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. There are two Debates; one in the morning, one in the afternoon.

The Multilingual Debates are open to schools, colleges and universities and aim to stimulate interest and dialogue among young people in the international politics and social issues of the modern world whilst also setting language acquisition in a realistic context.

The topics for the 2017 Debates have just been announced and can be viewed on the YouTube video.

Visit the Heriot-Watt website for further information.


Scots Makar, Jackie Kay, supports MTOT

4 November 2016 (SCILT)

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

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


Raising a Trilingual Child

2 November 2016 (Wall Street Journal)

Raising a bilingual child is a goal for many parents. For others, it is just the first step.

Stefano Striuli, an IT executive in Atlanta, speaks to his daughters, Letizia, 10, and Maite (Mah-ee-tay), 7, in his native Italian. The girls speak to their mother, Pilar Guzman, in her native Spanish. The girls switch into English when speaking to each other at home, and they are learning French at school. When the whole family is together, they speak mostly Italian, or English when in public.

There are many reasons for encouraging children to learn a third or fourth language. Parents from two different countries often want to create a home for their children where both native languages are spoken. A bilingual family temporarily living overseas might want to encourage children to become fluent in the local language.

To work, a trilingual household needs rules, and rules must be enforced. Mr. Striuli says if his daughters get confused and use English at home, he ignores them—“but not in a rude way”—until he hears Italian.

“They know that Daddy equals Italian and Mommy equals Spanish,” he says.

The right time to commit to introducing a second or third language to a child is at birth. Parents need to create an environment where children are comfortable speaking, says Annick De Houwer, professor of language acquisition and multilingualism at the Universitat Erfurt in Erfurt, Germany.


How a deaf teenager from Congo found her voice in poetry

6 October 2016 (STV News)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Related Links

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

UK voted worst country in Europe at learning other languages as world video dictionary launched

26 September 2016 (The Independent)

The UK is the worst country in Europe at learning other languages new data suggests.

As part of a vote organised for European Day of Languages, Britain was revealed to be the most monolingual country in the continent.

More than one in three (35%) chose Britain as the worst in Europe for communicating in any other language apart from their mother tongue. French citizens came second in the vote with 22 per cent, followed by Italy with eight per cent.


Antonella Sorace: Why language learning matters (now more than ever)

26 September 2016 (University of Edinburgh blog)

There is no better way to celebrate the European Day of Languages than reminding people how good it is to have more than one language in the brain. Multilingualism is a very good investment both for individuals and for societies, but this is not obvious in Scotland and the UK more generally, because of the ‘privileged monolingualism’ of English native speakers. The common perception that “everyone speaks English” makes foreign languages seem irrelevant and leads to lack of incentives to learn languages. Language skills in the UK are falling just as the need for them is growing. According to one estimate, lack of language skills costs the UK economy £48 billion a year.


Multilingualism: Empowering individuals, transforming societies

26 September 2016 (MEITS)

MEITS is a major interdisciplinary research project funded under the AHRC Open World Research Initiative. Linguistic competence in more than one language – being multilingual – sits at the heart of the study of modern languages and literatures, distinguishing it from cognate disciplines. Through six interlocking research strands we investigate how the insights gained from stepping outside a single language, culture and mode of thought are vital to individuals and societies.


National Museum of Languages to boost British multilingualism

26 September 2016 (The Herald)

Britain's first ever National Museum of Languages will soon be coming to high streets across Britain, as part of efforts to make the country multilingual.

The new pop-up museum will have a physical presence in regional centres as well as a major batch of online learning resources.

The project is part of the new MEITS (Multilingualism - Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies) project based at the University of Cambridge, and funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Regional centres will be based in shops in high streets in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Cambridge and Nottingham.

Further centres are being planned elsewhere.


European Day of Languages - ideas and blog

23 September 2016 (SCILT)

The European Day of Languages takes place on Monday 26th September and we're delighted that so many schools around the country are celebrating this year. If you need any last minute inspiration for your class there are lots of ideas and links on the SCILT EDL webpage.

Let us know how you celebrate we will feature you in our EDL 2016 blog. If you include some colourful photos your article could even appear in our next newsletter!


Why being bilingual works wonders for your brain

7 August 2016 (The Guardian)

In a cafe in south London, two construction workers are engaged in cheerful banter, tossing words back and forth. Their cutlery dances during more emphatic gesticulations and they occasionally break off into loud guffaws. They are discussing a woman, that much is clear, but the details are lost on me. It’s a shame, because their conversation sounds fun and interesting, especially to a nosy person like me. But I don’t speak their language.

Out of curiosity, I interrupt them to ask what language they are speaking. They both switch easily to English, explaining that they are South Africans and had been speaking Xhosa. In Johannesburg, where they are from, most people speak at least five languages, says one of them, Theo Morris. For example, Morris’s mother’s tongue is Sotho, his father’s is Zulu; he learned Xhosa and Ndebele from his friends and neighbours and English and Afrikaans at school. “I went to Germany before I came here, so I also speak German,” he adds.

Was it easy to learn so many languages? “Yes, it’s normal,” he laughs.

He’s right. Around the world, more than half of people – estimates vary from 60-75% – speak at least two languages. Many countries have more than one official national language – South Africa has 11. People are increasingly expected to speak, read and write at least one of a handful of “super” languages, such as English, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish or Arabic, as well. So to be monolingual, as many native English speakers are, is to be in the minority and perhaps to be missing out.


MOOC: Multilingual Learning for a Globalised World

3 June 2016 (Future Learn)

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

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

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

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


The unsteady future of the multilingual city

12 May 2016 (Citylab)

When you arrive by air in Dublin, you might think from all the Irish signs in the airport that you’ve landed in a bilingual city: not just a city in an officially bilingual country, but a city where you might hear some Irish.

In fact, Irish isn’t very visible nor audible there, despite its protected status. Nonetheless, Dublin is being transformed into a more linguistically diverse place by immigrants from Poland, Romania, China, and elsewhere. In 2010, a full 11 percent of Dubliners reported speaking languages other than Irish or English at home—but none of these appear on signs at the airport.

From observations such as these, what can be said about the vitality of any city’s multilingualism?


Young poets’ multilingual talents celebrated

22 March 2016 (SCILT)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cambridge to explore benefits of multilingualism with new AHRC research project

22 March 2016 (University of Cambridge)

The University of Cambridge is to launch a major new research project to study the benefits of multilingualism to individuals and society, and transform attitudes to languages in the UK, as part of the AHRC’s Open World Research Initiative.

At a time when more than half the world’s population speaks more than one language in their daily lives, and almost one in five UK primary school pupils have a first language other than English, what does it really mean to be multilingual, and what are the opportunities and challenges of multilingualism for individuals and society?

These questions are amongst those to be answered by a new research project at the University of Cambridge, thanks to an unprecedented £4million grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The project, called Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Society, aims to not only understand people’s experiences of speaking more than one language, but also to change attitudes towards multilingualism and multiculturalism throughout society and amongst key policy-makers.


The more languages we speak, the merrier we all are

7 March 2016 (The Telegraph)

Believe it or not, the world is multilingual. It is estimated that at least half of the world’s population, over 3 billion people, use more than one language in everyday life. According to the European Commission, 54 per cent of European citizens are bilingual. Even Britain, considered one of the most “monolingual” countries, is not doing too badly with 39 per cent.

Scientists have only recently started to study humans’ ability to acquire multiple languages. One of the most fascinating questions addressed in this research is how our brain deals with having two or more languages, and what are the implications for cognitive development.


How to…teach a trilingual primary curriculum

4 March 2016 (TES)

Blending English, Thai and Mandarin Chinese into a seamless experience.

(Read the full article on pages 44-45 of TES online - subscription required).


A theory on how soccer players communicate in the age of highly multilingual clubs

1 March 2016 (Fusion)

During this season’s Champions League group stage, a photo circulated online of Italian club AS Roma’s “Player Languages” sheet. The list denoted the languages in which each player was comfortable giving an interview. And though most players are conversational in more languages than the ones they are comfortable using in media settings, I was surprised by both the polyglotism of some players, and the lack of overlap in many cases.

Midfielder Miralem Pjanic, for example, was born in Bosnia, spent most of his childhood and teenage years in Luxembourg, and has played professionally in France and Italy. His listed languages were Bosnian, English, French, Italian, and German. He’s also fluent in Luxembourgish, though that could be arguably classified as a dialect of German. Salih Uçan, in contrast, only listed Turkish, a language none of his teammates listed.

This got me thinking. Big European clubs tend to hire players from all over the globe, and it is certainly a common occurrence that there is no lingua franca, no common language between everyone on the field, or on the bench. So how do they communicate? There must be some common way of understanding each other.


Multilingual Debate 2016

19 January 2016 (Heriot-Watt University)

Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event that showcases the interpreting skills of undergraduate students on our Languages (Interpreting and Translating) degree programme, as well as the developing professional skills of postgraduate students on our MSc Interpreting and Translating programmes. The event takes the form of a formal debate with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. The teams deliver their views in their various native languages (French, German, Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language (BSL)).

The audience is mainly made up of pupils coming from Scottish and English secondary schools, but also university undergraduate students considering entering the interpreting profession, as well as government and local authority representatives. The audiences participated in the debate by listening to the arguments, putting questions to the speakers in the languages represented and voting on the motion.

The Multilingual Debate 2016 takes place on Wednesday 23 March at Heriot-Watt University's Edinburgh campus.

To find out more about the debate topics and how to sign up to attend a session, see the video presentations in Arabic, BSL, Chinese, English, French and Spanish on the Heriot-Watt website.


White Hot Employer Demand For MBAs Who Speak Multiple Languages

17 January 2016 (Business Because)

Ask anyone working at a business school what makes it unique and you’ll get a spiel about global diversity. Yet companies are desperate for graduates who have honed multiple languages and cultural norms.

“Languages are always good for us,” says Julia McDonald, head of talent acquisition for EMEA at Infosys. English is the company’s common language, “but our clients often want people that can speak their local language,” Julia says.

Mark Davies, employer relations manager at London’s Imperial College Business School, says there is growing demand for multilingual European language speakers at companies including BP, GE, Johnson & Johnson, and GSK, which have operations in emerging markets.

André Alcalde, an executive at Lojas Renner, Brazil’s largest fast-fashion retailer, speaks English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

“In a business world that is more internationally-connected,” says the HULT MBA student, “it is mandatory when building an executive career to be able to deal with different cultures.”

Nearly two-thirds of businesses in the UK want to recruit staff with foreign language skills. A survey by the business lobby group the CBI and education company Pearson found European languages are the most sought after: French (50%); German (49%); and Spanish (44%).


Language teaching and learning in multilingual classrooms

19 November 2015 (European Commission)

Growing numbers of schoolchildren in the European Union have a mother tongue other than the main language of instruction used in school. Migrant children bring a multitude of languages and language skills to the classroom. This is a potential asset to the individual, schools and society at large. Linguistic diversity raises the issue of how schools can make best use of this potential.

The Commission has worked together with the EU countries to identify successful strategies for language learning in multilingual settings and to facilitate the sharing of good practices in the field. The results of this collaboration and of a comprehensive literature review on the topic, have resulted in a report entitled Language teaching and learning in multilingual classrooms.

You can access the report on the European Commission Multilingual Classrooms website.


How Learning 11 Languages Taught Me 11 Crucial Lessons

20 October 2015 (Babbel Magazine)

This article is a wake-up call for all those who dream of becoming multilingual: just do it! Luca Lampariello talks about where he finds the motivation for learning languages, and how he’s learned 11 so far.


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."


EDL 2015: Ideas to celebrate in your school

28 August 2015 (SCILT)

This year SCILT's European Day of Languages packs have been more popular than ever! We are now officially out of stock, having sent materials to over 70 schools and posting out more than twice as many packs as last year.

However, there are still lots of ways to celebrate EDL in your school and SCILT has put together great ideas to support you in your celebrations. We have grouped them into primary and secondary ideas and provided a suggested timeframe for each activity.

Visit our EDL 2015 webpage to download our suggestions and to find many more ideas and resources.


The man who speaks 32 languages - and counting

3 August 2015 (NewStatesman)

When Ioannis Ikonomou arrived in Brussels as an interpreter, the EU had 12 official languages. He learnt them all - then kept going.


Speak like Tarzan, don't be embarrassed and aim to make 200 mistakes a day: Irish polyglot reveals how ANYONE can learn a language in just three months

3 June 2015 (Daily Mail)

Britons and Americans do not have the world's best reputation for learning foreign languages.
But apparently we all have the ability to learn multiple lingos, at least according to Irish polyglot Benny Lewis.

The global traveller believes he can help people become fluent in just three months, and has written a book outlining how.


How to learn 30 languages

29 May 2015 (BBC)

Out on a sunny Berlin balcony, Tim Keeley and Daniel Krasa are firing words like bullets at each other. First German, then Hindi, Nepali, Polish, Croatian, Mandarin and Thai – they’ve barely spoken one language before the conversation seamlessly melds into another. Together, they pass through about 20 different languages or so in total.

Back inside, I find small groups exchanging tongue twisters. Others are gathering in threes, preparing for a rapid-fire game that involves interpreting two different languages simultaneously. It looks like the perfect recipe for a headache, but they are nonchalant. “It’s quite a common situation for us,” a woman called Alisa tells me.


Multilingual families: 'Even our dog uses three languages'

13 March 2015 (The Guardian)

No matter what your family’s heritage, parenting has a common lexicon: brush your teeth, look up from that screen or stop bashing your brother can be found in most family phrasebooks.

But what if the language you were born with differs from the one your kids use daily at school, or if you and your partner each have different native languages?

Today almost one in five children in UK primary schools now has a mother tongue other than English. According to Professor Antonella Sorace, director of the Bilingualism Matters centre at Edinburgh University, the demand for information and advice on how to navigate the challenges of bilingual parenting is now “enormous”.


Boxer Amir Khan throws his weight behind Mother Tongue multilingual poetry project

31 January 2015 (Manchester Evening News)

Bolton boxer Amir Khan has thrown his weight behind a multilingual poetry project.

The champion boxer filmed a special video for the launch of the Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The national competition, which launches on Monday February 2, aims to encourage children who don’t speak English at home to celebrate their mother tongue - while giving native-English speakers the chance to learn a second language.

Amir said: “Speaking another language, some people might feel shy about it but they shouldn’t – they should have confidence and be able to talk about what other languages they speak."

*SCILT have been piloting Mother Tongue, Other Tongue in Scotland in session 2014-15 with Glasgow schools. Find out more on our Mother Tongue, Other Tongue page.  


Related Links

Amir's video along with more information and images from the competition can be found on the MTOT pages of Manchester Metropolitan University's website.

How will we speak in 100 years?

20 January 2015 (Mail Online)

Sci-fi visions of the future may focus on soaring skylines and flying cars, but the world in 100 years may not only look different, but sound different too.

While there are more than 6,000 languages spoken globally at present, less than 600 are likely to endure in 2115, and they could be simplified versions of what we recognise today, one linguist has claimed.

He told MailOnline that the advent of technologically-advanced translating tools will not be enough to save the diversity of Earth’s languages either.


Related Links

What the World Will Speak in 2115 (The Wall Street Journal, 2 January 2015)

Foreign languages in higher demand at city estate agents

27 November 2014 (City AM)

A London estate agent is having to place foreign languages near the top of its skills requirements as the capital continues to attract talent from the struggling Eurozone.

Estate agent Greene & Co said today that one quarter of its residential clients now came from overseas. To meet demand, they need staff to speak a host of different languages – 13 per cent of the firm’s staff are fluent in a foreign language.

In Kentish Town, Greene & Co have boosted the number of agents fluent in French as buyers from across the channel flock to the area because of two French schools.


Why I decided to learn languages (14 and counting)

20 November 2014 (British Council Voices)

Alex Rawlings, who won a competition to find Britiain’s most multi-lingual student in 2011, explains why learning foreign languages is so rewarding, and how his school helped set him on this path.


The school with 42 languages in the playground

5 May 2014 (BBC News)

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

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


Can Learning a New Language Boost Your Creativity?

20 March 2014 (Huffington Post)

I became fascinated with the question of what relationship exists, if any, between foreign language ability and creativity after reading Earnest Hemmingway's The Sun Also Rises this past summer. The novel takes its readers on a trilingual adventure from the cafés of Paris to the bullfighting rings of Pamplona. Hemmingway himself spoke both French and Spanish, in addition to his native English, and though his exact ability in each is a matter for debate, it is clear from clips like this one that he was at least fully bilingual.


Multilingual Families Project

18 March 2014 (Linguanet)

Multilingual Families is an international project for multilingual families, immigrant families as well as parents, teachers, children and stakeholders involved in bringing up children multilingually. It is a European Union funded education project that will support and inform immigrant or multilingual parents how and why to raise their children multilingually in an informal setting. The project will also produce resources.

Multilingual Families is currently looking for interested parties to join the project reference group to help evaluate the resources. Follow the project reference group link to join.

Visit the website for more information on Multilingual Families.


How schools are breaking down the language barrier for EAL students

5 March 2014 (The Guardian)

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


Related Links

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

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

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

28 January 2014 (ECML)

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


Joining the global conversation

15 November 2013 (TES)

Multilingual education is not just good for job prospects - it can also make young people better learners across the curriculum. But those who miss out may be left at a great disadvantage, even if they are native English speakers. William Stewart reports.


Speak three languages? Then you must be a Londoner

24 October 2013 (London Evening Standard)

In a country often slated for its monolingualism, London is emerging as a hub not only of suave bilinguals, switching between French and English in South Ken cafés, but a new polyglot breed: the capital’s trilinguals.


English should be Brussels' official language, Flemish minister says

23 October 2013 (EurActiv)

If Brussels aspires to be an international city, it should make English its official language, the Flemish minister for education Pascal Smet has told EurActiv. “For the next twenty years, English will dominate as a global language. It is the language of the political world, of the diplomatic world, the tourism sector,” Smet told EurActiv on the margins of the launch of a project to boost multilingual education in the Belgian and EU capital.

The Flemish minister of education spoke at the launch of the so-called Marnix Plan for a multilingual Brussels, a bottom-up project to promote language learning in the Belgian capital, giving priority to French, Dutch and English.


I caught the language bug late but remain happily infected

18 October 2013 (The Telegraph)

This former soldier once hated learning languages – but ended up working as a translator in Brazil.


Celebrating Multilingualism

24 September 2013 (Language Rich Europe)

This Thursday September 26 we will have the opportunity to celebrate the importance of language learning during The European Day of Languages.  But what is it all about? Multilingualism is an essential tool that allows people to achieve their full potential in both their professional and private lives. Learning a new language is also an experience of sharing other people´s culture and points of view. EUNIC and its members recognize the value of multilingualism and act concretely on local level throughout the year. On occasion of The European Day of Languages, a range of events are organized by EUNIC clusters around the world.


Natural born linguists: what drives multi-language speakers?

5 September 2013 (The Guardian)

Get out there and chat to native speakers if you want to learn a language, a group of multilingual speakers tell Martin Williams.


Key Findings: Languages in audiovisual media and press

2 September 2013 (Language Rich Europe blog)

Language Rich Europe research provides a rich source of cross-national insights into multilingualism and that goes beyond the education sector. You can browse all of the national/ regional profiles but in this post we focus on Languages in audiovisual media and press.


What does research show about the benefits of language learning?

1 September 2013 (Observatoire européen du plurilinguisme)

In this age of accountability in education, policymakers and administrators, as well as parents, are increasingly demanding to know what research studies show regarding the benefits of language learning. This document, published by the American Council on the teaching of Foreign Languages, will identify some of the major correlation studies that highlight how language learners benefit from their experiences.


Key Findings: Languages in further and higher education

19 August 2013 (Language Rich Europe blog)

Language Rich Europe research provides a rich source of cross-national insights into multilingualism across the education sectors. You can browse all of the national/ regional profiles or simply focus on further and higher education by reading on.


Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism

19 June 2013 (The Telegraph)

Learning a foreign language is more than just a boost to your CV or handy for travelling. It will make you smarter, more decisive and even better at English, says Anne Merritt.


Languages in Europe: We can't afford to rely just on a lingua franca

29 April 2013 (British Council)

Our Language Rich Europe research shows, among other things, that there’s a tendency that English is beoming the most widely chosen language at schools in Europe. That’s not much of a surprise as English has established itself as the lingua franca across Europe, with 51% of EU citizens speaking it as their first or second language. In comparison, German comes second with a total of 27% of EU citizens speaking it. English is also the language predominantly used on the web and for business.

According to an estimate by META (Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance), 2000 languages worldwide will not survive in the globalised digitised world in a business and academic context. What does that mean for Europe? I have recently attended the Closing Conference of Language Rich Europe - so here are some thoughts...


English and Linguistic Imperialism – Time to move on?

22 April 2013 (Language Rich Europe blog)

'Linguistic imperialism: still alive and kicking?’ was the topic of a British Council Signature Event at the recent IATEFL Conference and Exhibition in Liverpool. Robert Phillipson, the author of the 1992 book Linguistic Imperialism, stated in his opening comments that ‘English opens doors for some but closes it for many.’ The concern that local languages are often neglected in preference for English was one shared by many attending the session, although Sarah Ogbay (University of Asmara, Eritrea) counteracted that ‘what we usually see is that people want to learn English because it opens the door’ to opportunities rather than it being forced upon them.


US teen speaks 23 languages – video

9 April 2013 (The Guardian)

Timothy Doner, a 16-year-old from New York, shows off his ability to speak 23 different languages. He has taught himself a range of languages including Hebrew, Arabic, Swahili and Chinese. Doner is now what linguists call a hyperpolyglot.


Call for Multilingualism Good Practice case studies

9 April 2013 (Language Rich Europe blog)

Language Rich Europe invites you to submit your European good practice case study for sharing via the official project website.  The LRE team will then review and publish your case study on the project website if it fulfils basic criteria.

We believe that a positive attitude towards multilingualism is important for a prosperous and stable Europe. The ability to communicate in other languages is essential if Europeans are to develop a broader international outlook and enhance their employment prospects. Good language policies and practices can create a positive framework within which successful language learning can take place. Sharing good practice case studies via this tool can also help us reach this goal.

Visit the website for more information and to fill in the submission form.


The multilingual dividend

13 March 2013 (Financial Times)

A few years ago, when Antonella Sorace visited the European Central Bank in Frankfurt to talk about her research into bilingualism, she was astonished to find the bank’s multinational staff worrying about what should have been one of their families’ principal assets. “They had all kinds of doubts about the benefits of multilingualism for their children; they worried that their children weren’t learning to read or write properly – in any language,” she says. “I found it very instructive.”


Research says dire foreign language skills are contributing to UK market failure

14 February 2013 (British Academy)

The UK's continuing market failure in language learning is highlighted today in a comprehensive British Academy review, Languages: the State of the Nation. Drawing on new research – including a survey of UK employers and labour market intelligence to identify the language skills demanded by employers – it concludes that while there is a plentiful supply of multilingual skills within UK society, more needs to be done to tap this supply, and to ensure our education system is equipped to support the UK's aspirations for growth and global influence.


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.


Language Rich Europe in the Netherlands – Multilingualism in Business and Education

11 November 2012 (Language Rich Europe blog)

As part of the Language Rich Europe project, we are holding workshops across Europe to discuss the findings and plan the next steps. In this blog post, Lorcan Murray, an intern at British Council Netherlands, writes about the workshop held in Utrecht in November.


Language Rich Europe – Is everyone talking about multilingualism? And if so what are we learning and doing?

27 November 2012 (Language Rich Europe blog)

Next week 3-4 December, the Language Rich Europe partners and stakeholders conference will be taking place in London at the British Academy.

It will bring together some 150 high level professionals from 24 different countries and regions in Europe as well as the Project’s consortium of over 30 partner institutions. A lot of those participating have already been contributing heavily to the initial research stage and been running workshops in their own countries as part of the development and consultation process and are now actively building a network of 1200 policy makers and practitioners engaged in multilingualism across Europe.


Related Links

Language Rich Europe hits the headlines! (Language Rich Europe blog, 28 November 2012)

Bring Your Voice to Our Upcoming LRE International Conference (Language Rich Europe blog, 28 November 2012)
The room may be full for our upcoming high-level debate, but we want you to take part! We will not only be live tweeting the highlights of the event from the British Academy in London, we are opening up the debate floor to your questions and views via twitter during the Multilingualism and Society session.

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)

GCU and OU partnership provides free language lessons for staff

20 November 2012 (Open University)

In a unique partnership arrangement with the Open University (OU), Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) have provided their postgraduate students and their staff with the opportunity to study an OU language module in French, German, Spanish or Chinese. 82 GCU students and staff began beginners’ language modules in October, and more will sign up for higher level language modules starting in February. The face-to-face element of the OU tuition programme is being delivered on GCU’s Glasgow campus at times that fit with GCU’s timetable.

Glasgow Caledonian University places importance on the fact that language competence enhances employability and international mobility and values the Open University’s proven track record in language teaching.


The Coaches: part four

20 November 2012 (Twitter - UEFA on YouTube) speaks to the likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Gérard Houllier, Arsène Wenger and Roy Hodgson about how they handle multilingual squads.


Teaching in multicultural classrooms: tips, challenges and opportunities

7 November 2012 (The Guardian Teacher Network)

What does a range of nationalities in class bring to the teaching and learning experience? A collection of teachers give us a glimpse into their multicultural classrooms.


The Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual

31 October 2012 (The Dana Foundation)

Today, more of the world’s population is bilingual or multilingual than monolingual. In addition to facilitating cross-cultural communication, this trend also positively affects cognitive abilities. Researchers have shown that the bilingual brain can have better attention and task-switching capacities than the monolingual brain, thanks to its developed ability to inhibit one language while using another.


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