Latest News

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

Scottish Parliament

SNP's Karen Adam makes history as first MSP to take oath in sign language

13 May 2021 (The Herald)

Karen Adam MSP has made history as the first parliamentarian to take the oath in British Sign Language (BSL).

The SNP politician won the Banffshire and Buchan Coast seat in the North East of Scotland in last week's Scottish Parliament election with 14,920 votes. 

She was previously a councillor in the Mid-Formartine ward of Aberdeenshire where she was elected in 2017 and is a passionate advocate for BSL.

[..] In all, the Scottish Parliament will hear 23 oaths and affirmations in different dialects and languages other than English.


Greenock pupils impress First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in a show at the Scottish Parliament

3 December 2019 (Greenock Telegraph)

It's a case of mind your languages for Greenock school pupils who impressed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as they put on a superb show at the Scottish Parliament.

Whinhill Primary were invited to bring their culture and diversity showcase to Holyrood and blew everyone away with a special performance.

The Greenock school uses performing arts to bring languages to life and the children were able to express themselves in Gaelic, German and Tamil.

Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan arranged for them to come to parliament and said they proved great ambassadors.


Scottish Parliament publishes new Gaelic promotion plan

19 September 2018 (Daily Mail)

A new five-year plan for promoting Gaelic has been unveiled by the Scottish Parliament.

The proposals set out how the language will be supported between 2018 and 2022 within Holyrood.

They include providing awareness training to all front-of-house staff, showing it as much respect as English as well as creating a space where the Gaelic business community can raise issues with representatives.


Related Links

Parliament publishes new 5-year Gaelic plan (Holyrood, 20 September 2018)

Castles light up in celebration of Gaelic and Scots (The Scotsman, 19 September 2018)

Scottish Parliament publishes new Gaelic promotion plan (Evening Express, 19 September 2018)

1+2 Modern Languages in Parliament

13 September 2018 (Scottish Parliament)

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


Word Wizard Final 2018: Motivating young people in their language learning

18 May 2018 (SCILT/CISS)

S1-S3 pupils from across Scotland took part in the national final of Word Wizard at the Scottish Parliament on 11 May 2018. Word Wizard is a multilingual spelling competition for pupils learning French, Gaelic, German, Mandarin and Spanish. Forty-eight learners from ten local authorities and independent schools competed in the final in front of an audience of teachers, supporters and guests.
Each year pupils and teachers report that the competition increases motivation, enhances language performance and improves attitudes to language learning. Word Wizard promotes literacy skills amongst pupils and helps schools develop partnership working with universities.

A teacher entering pupils into the final commented: “It provided our pupils with a huge sense of motivation and excitement for learning languages.” 

A pupil competing in the final said: “I liked learning new vocabulary and getting to show it off to everyone.”

Word Wizard is organised by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages based at University of Strathclyde, in partnership with the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland. 

Fhiona Mackay, Director of SCILT said of the competition: “It’s wonderful to see so many young people taking part in the Word Wizard competition representing a wide range of local authorities. Having an understanding of another language can really transform a person’s life and encourages the development of a whole range of important skills. Through such events, SCILT aims to offer teachers really motivating ways of enhancing the curriculum so that Scottish young people can reap the benefits of learning languages.”

Word Wizard supports the Scottish Government initiative, “Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 approach” by offering a diversity of languages as recommended by the report. The targets laid out in the Scottish Attainment Challenge are about achieving equity in educational outcomes, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. One of the key drivers is improved literacy. 

In March 2018, 190 pupils from 14 local authorities and independent schools competed in semi-finals in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh to battle it out for a place at the prestigious final. 

Word Wizard is supported by the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland (UCMLS) and the final was sponsored by Joan McAlpine MSP

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


BSL event at the Scottish Parliament

27 April 2018 (Scottish Government)

To help us prepare our British Sign Language Plan, we will be holding an event at the Scottish Parliament building to gather the views of BSL users. Please come along!

The event will be on the afternoon of Friday 18 May and the morning of Saturday 19 May.

Tours of the Scottish Parliament debating chamber and garden lobby will be available in BSL on both days.

Visit the website for more information and to book.


Falkirk win at Euroquiz final

16 May 2017 (SEET)

Congratulations to the P6 team from Comely Park Primary School, who won the Scottish European Educational Trust’s National Euroquiz Final 2017, which took place in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament on 15th May 2017.

Team members Tamsin Gold, Edwin Walker, Robyn Dewar-Young and Jaymie Jones were crowned SEET’s Euroquiz Champions 2017 at the national final. The winners were closely followed by St Leonard’s Primary School team from South Lanarkshire, in a nail-biting final round. Sciennes Primary School from Edinburgh also did incredibly well, winning the prize for third place.

Euroquiz is run by the Scottish European Educational Trust, a non-political charity, which promotes education about language learning, Europe and the wider world amongst Scotland’s young people.

See the attached press release for full details about this year's competition and participating schools.

If your school might like to take part in future competitions, visit the SEET website for more information.


Related Files

Related Links

Third Place in Euroquiz 2017! (Sciennes Primary School, 15 May 2017) - post includes photos and links to the event on Parliament TV.

Watch Humza Yousaf take the Scottish Parliament oath in Urdu

12 May 2016 (BT)

Holyrood’s MSPs have been sworn in for the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament.

Several MSPs made their oaths in other languages as well as English, including Gaelic, Doric and Scots.

SNP MSP for Glasgow Pollok Humza Yousaf was the final member to be sworn in and he also took the oath in Urdu, reflecting his Pakistani heritage.


Matthew Fitt: Pairlament should mirror aw oor three languages

4 February 2016 (The National)

"Let our three-voiced country sing in a new world..."

Bauld hopefu words scrievit by the makar Iain Crichton Smith, in a poem that opened the Scottish Pairlament on July 1st 1999.

In the first verse he urged us aw tae sing in oor English, oor Gaelic and oor Scots and the last wis sung by the woman that cam tae symbolise the history and promise o that day.

When Sheena Wellington sae memorably hanselled the new Scotland wi Burns’ anthem o social justice A Man’s A Man, the language that partially endit roon aboot three hunner year o London rule wis Scots.

Fast forrit tae Holyrood 2016. Look for Scots in the Scottish Pairlament Buildin. If ye find ony, gie me a shout.


Euroquiz 2015 Final

11 May 2015 (SEET/Scottish Parliament)

Well done to all the teams who took part in this year’s Euroquiz final in the Scottish Parliament, but especially to the winners, Carmondean Primary School from West Lothian.

For more information about the competition, see the attached press release or visit the SEET website.


Related Files

Related Links

Primary school Euroquiz 2015 – winners (Education Scotland blog, 12 May 2015)

British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

8 May 2015 (Scottish Parliament)

Debates on the motions for the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1 and British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution took place on Tuesday 5 May and transcripts have now been published on the Scottish Parliament website.  These can be accessed via the links below:

British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill

27 April 2015 (Scottish Parliament)

The Education and Culture Committee published its Stage 1 Report on British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill on 27 April 2015. The Stage 1 debate will be held on Tuesday 5 May.

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Parliament on 29 October 2014 by Mark Griffin MSP. The Bill aims to promote the use of British Sign Language in Scotland.


Related Links

MSPs support bill to make public bodies back sign language (The National, 28 April 2015)

SB 15-19 Education (Scotland) Bill

23 April 2015 (Scottish Parliament)

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


Questions for the Cabinet – new Highers

20 January 2015 (Scottish Parliament)

On Tuesday 3 February we will hold an evidence session with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. The focus of the meeting will be the new Highers.

We welcome your questions for the Cabinet Secretary on the new Highers or other topical issue relating to the Curriculum for Excellence. We would also welcome written submissions in relation to the new Highers.

Send your questions or written submissions to by 27 January.


British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill

15 December 2014 (Scottish Parliament)

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill was introduced into the Parliament on 29 October 2014 by Mark Griffin MSP, and was subsequently referred to the Education and Culture Committee as lead committee. 

The Bill aims to promote the use of British Sign Language including by making provision for the preparation and publication of a British Sign Language National Plan for Scotland and by requiring certain authorities to prepare and publish their own British Sign Language Plans in connection with the exercise of their functions; and to provide for the manner in which such plans are to be prepared and for their review and updating. 

The Committee is curretnly seeking evidence on the Bill. The deadline for responses is 2 February 2015. 

More information on the Bill together with BSL video and audio version of the call for evidence are available on the Scottish Parliament website.

There is also a BSL Bill Group on Facebook.


Foreign language teaching (support)

3 December 2014 (Scottish Parliament)

In the Meeting of the Parliament 3 December 2014 Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Con) asked the Scottish Government how it supports the teaching of foreign languages in schools. Read the text of the discussion on the Scottish Parliament website.


Scottish Parliament debate on Food and Drink recognises the importance of language learning skills in global market place

20 November 2014 (Scottish Parliament)

Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab):
We also need to ensure that future generations gain the relevant skills to be successful in the global marketplace. Although business programmes remain popular, Scotland is still pretty behind on language skills. Our approach to languages in education is still centred on the traditional languages. We must ask how we can reflect the modern workplace and the business world. If we are talking about Scottish products moving into bigger export markets, we need that flexibility in languages. At recent food and drink events, I have seen a growth in translation services provided by companies that are setting up to help others with that expansion.


Foreign language learning in primary schools – Scottish Parliament enquiry

19 June 2014 (Scottish Parliament)

The European and External Relations Committee will meet on 26 June 2014 and receive a report from Scottish Government on the learning of foreign languages in primary schools.

To read the report, open this PDF Meeting Agenda and scroll down to Annexe C (p16).


Word Wizard Final 2014 webpage

13 June 2014 (SCILT)

Following the announcement of the Word Wizard winners last week we now have a web page celebrating the final. We will be publishing photos from this fantastic event soon! 

Details of the 2015 competition will be announced later this year so stay tuned.


Word Wizard finals

6 June 2014 (SCILT)

Last Friday, 30th May, saw the final of our new Word Wizard competition take place in the prestigious venue of the Scottish Parliament. 60 pupils from schools across Scotland took part in the semi-finals in the morning, and over 100 pupils, teachers and guests enjoyed the final in the Members’ Restaurant. The day opened with an inspiring speech from Maureen Watt MSP and ended with a vote of thanks from Annette Zimmermann of the University of St Andrews, who supported us in running the competition. We were delighted to have Graham Blythe from the European Commission and Ms. Lv Yanxia from the Chinese Consulate present the shields and cups to the winners. The pupils demonstrated excellent skills in spelling, vocabulary and character recognition, and displayed great confidence in doing so in front of an audience.

The winners in each category were:

French Beginner:

  • 1st Elspeth Nicol – Ross High School
  • 2nd Amelie Davidson – St Joseph’s Academy
  • 3rd Robert Brewer – The Glasgow Academy

French Intermediate:

  • 1st Owen Wilson – Greenwood Academy
  • 2nd Steffi Graham-McGill – James Hamilton Academy
  • 3rd Emma Rattray – Dollar Academy

Gaelic Beginner:

  • 1st Anna Gallagher – St Ninian’s High School (East Renfrewshire)

German Beginner:

  • 1st Fraser Anderson – Stewart’s Melville College
  • 2nd Charlotte Caskie – Lomond School
  • 3rd Florence Macgregor – The Mary Erskine School

German Intermediate:

  • 1st Eilish Murphy – St Margaret’s School for Girls
  • 2nd Freja Arnlund – The Mary Erskine School
  • 3rd Fiona Todman – Queen Anne High School

Mandarin Beginner:

  • 1st Francesca Tassieri – Hillhead High School
  • 2nd Charlotte Johns – Dollar Academy
  • 3rd William Cox – Perth High School

Mandarin Intermediate:

  • 1st Ines Bertaso – St Ninian’s High School (East Renfrewshire)
  • 2nd Ivan Myachykov – Hillhead High School
  • 3rd Jack Mitchell-Luker – Williamwood High School

Spanish Beginner:

  • 1st Paul Gillon – John Ogilvie High School
  • 2nd Georgie Cassidy – Dollar Academy
  • 3rd Erin McIntyre – The Glasgow Academy

Spanish Intermediate:

  • 1st Rosie Hutcheon – The Glasgow Academy
  • 2nd Caitlin Barrie – John Ogilvie High School
  • 3rd Ella McPherson – St Margaret’s School for Girls

We would like to congratulate all pupils who reached the finals and every pupil who took part in the competition in their schools over the past year.

We hope to see lots of you entering the competition next year!

Motion congratulates SCILT and CISS on Word Wizard competition 2014

5 June 2014 (Scottish Parliament)

Maureen Watt, MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, has lodged a parliamentary motion congratulating SCILT and CISS on the Word Wizard competition 2014. The motion states:

"That the Parliament congratulates Scotland‘s National Centre for Languages and the Confucius Institute for Scotland‘s Schools on the Word Wizard Competition 2014, which was held in the Parliament on 30 May 2014; recognises the S1-S3 pupils, including those from Bucksburn Academy and Hazlehead Academy in Aberdeen, who impressed the judges with their French, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Gaelic skills; notes that, in partnership with the University of St Andrews, and with the support of the Goethe-Institut, the contest encourages pupils nationally to improve their vocabulary, and highlights what it sees as the importance of language and learning."

Motions are used by MSPs to initiate debate or propose a course of action, or simply to generate support, and many other MSPs have signed up in support of this motion. It's very encouraging to have SCILT/CISS work acknowledged in this way.


Scottish Government: Foreign language engagement strategy

21 February 2014 (Scottish Government)

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

See the Official Report for details.


Gaelic debaters take centre stage

27 November 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

Moilidh MacGregor and Sarah McDonald of Glasgow Gaelic School won the BT Scotland National Schools Gaelic Debate that took place at the Scottish Parliament last night. They debated with Lionacleit School from Benbecula whether the Referendum will be the most important event in the coming year for Scotland's young people.


Related Links

Gaelic debaters take centre stage (Scottish Parliament, 27 November 2013)

Pupils to compete in Gaelic schools debate at Holyrood (The Herald, 25 November 2013)

Language learning in action: first National Modern Languages Spelling Bee

6 June 2013 (SCILT)

School pupils from the Highlands to the Borders tested their linguistic skills in the final of Scotland's first National Modern Languages Spelling Bee, at the Scottish Parliament on Friday 31 May.

In the spirit of “1+2”, pupils demonstrated their knowledge of vocabulary and spelling in French, German or Spanish before an audience of parents, teachers, fellow pupils and invited guests.

Congratulations to all the pupils who took part in the competition and especially to those who competed so admirably in Friday's final.

The winners in each category were:

1st Manon Robinson – Glen Urquhart High School
2nd Jessica Fowler – The Nicolson Institute
3rd Ellis Wright – Boclair Academy
4th Veronica Haughey – The Glasgow Academy

1st Amy Spence – Carluke High School
2nd Zainab Munir – The Glasgow Academy
3rd Jack Anderson – Carluke High School
4th Rosie Hutcheon – The Glasgow Academy

1st Jodie Howlett – Bo’ness Academy
2nd Ben Gallacher – Paisley Grammar School
3rd Ben Hewitt – Paisley Grammar School
4th Yanna Zubido – Paisley Grammar School

We are in the process of developing a page on our website to showcase the final, including photos and video footage of proceedings, so please keep checking back!

Feedback from the inaugural event has been positive and encouraging and we will use this to build on our experience to make the Spelling Bee Competition even better next year.  We will be sending out details of the competition for 2014 at the start of the new term in August so please do sign up! 

If you'd like further information about this year's competition please visit our website.


Related Files

Related Links

Language learning in action: first National Modern Languages Spelling Bee (University of Strathclyde Press Release, 30 May 2013)

First National Scottish Spelling Bee Competition (Charleston Academy, 2 June 2013)

Manon Robinson - First in National Scottish Spelling Bee Competition (Glenurquhart High School, 3 June 2013)

First National Scottish Spelling Bee Competition

2 June 2013 (Charleston Academy)

Claire Macleod (1L1) represented Charleston Academy at the National Spelling Bee competition held at the Scottish Parliament on Friday. She achieved the highest score of all the first years taking part. She was very dedicated and practised every lunch time the week leading up to the event. Danielle Ross (1K1) came second and was invited as official supporter. Her enthusiasm was very much appreciated by all.

Thirty seven S1 pupils from twenty schools in thirteen authorities were invited to compete in the final. They were asked to learn two hundred words in French, German or Spanish. They had to be able to translate the words from English and spell them using the alphabet of the target language. They had to spell as many words as possible in one minute.


Language Learning in Action: First ever National Modern Languages Spelling Bee in Scotland #scottishbee

31 May 2013 (Engage for Education)

On Friday, 31st May, S1 pupils from the Highlands to the Borders will take part in the grand finale of the first ever National Modern Languages Spelling Bee to take place in Scotland. In the spirit of “1+2”, finalists will battle it out in French, German or Spanish to an audience of proud teachers, parents, fellow pupils and invited guests. The event will take place in the Scottish Parliament, thanks to the kind sponsorship of Maureen Watt, SNP MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine.


Highland winners in Euroquiz final: Cradlehall primary school wins at the Scottish Parliament

15 May 2013 (SEET)

Congratulations to the P6 team from Cradlehall Primary School in Inverness who won the Scottish European Educational Trust’s national Euroquiz final, which took place in the Scottish Parliament on 13 May 2013.

The quiz is run by the Scottish European Educational Trust (SEET) with almost 1300 pupils from 315 schools competing in the heats held across 29 of the 32 local authorities throughout the school year.

For the first time this year, the event has attracted Scottish Government funding to support the inclusion of a language component in the Euroquiz. In the language round participants had to demonstrate their understanding of simple questions and phrases spoken in French, German, Spanish and Italian.

Full details of the Euroquiz final and all the participating schools can be found on the attached flyer.  Or you can visit the SEET website for more information about the competition.


Related Files

First French-born MSP sworn in

15 May 2013 (BBC Democracy Live)

Scotland's first French-born MSP Christian Allard has been sworn in at Holyrood, on 15 May 2013.  Mr Allard, originally from Dijon, replaces SNP backbencher Mark McDonald who resigned from his North East regional seat to contest the Aberdeen Donside constituency by-election in June. Mr Allard made his non-religious affirmation at a short ceremony at the Scottish Parliament before business got underway in the debating chamber.  The 49-year-old, who has experience in the fishing industry, made the affirmation twice, once in English and once in French.

 The use of more than one language has become more common at Holyrood. After the 2011 election, Italian, Urdu and Gaelic were heard alongside Scots and the Doric dialect.


“Use your Gaelic”, visitors to Parliament encouraged

15 May 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

The Scottish Parliament has a push on the use of its Gaelic services, encouraging visitors, MSPs and staff to take advantage of the many opportunities to use and learn about the language.


Teaching one plus two languages for under 12s is examined

10 May 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

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


Languages plan 'presents challenge'

18 April 2013 (icScotland)

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

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

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


Related Links

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

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

Foreign language teaching to be subject of debate at Holyrood

29 March 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

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

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

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


Inquiry on learning foreign languages in primary schools - call for views - last chance!

21 February 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

At its meeting on 20 September 2012 the European and External Relations Committee agreed to conduct an inquiry into the Scottish Government’s recent proposal to increase foreign language learning in primary schools.

The Scottish Government proposes to enable all young people to learn two languages, in addition to their mother tongue, whilst at primary school. A Scottish Government Working Group recommended that children should learn a second language from Primary 1 and that learning of a third language should start no later than Primary 5. The Government wants this to happen within the next decade and is running pilot schemes in a series of Scottish primary schools.

The deadline for submitting views on the proposal is 22 February 2013. For more information and details of how to do this, visit the Scottish Parliament website.


£750,000 help Scots study in mainland Europe

9 January 2013 (The Herald)

Scottish students studying in mainland Europe will be eligible for a full package of financial support for the first time under a £750,000 pilot scheme.
Under the initiative, the Scottish Government will offer 250 students bursary payments of up to £1750 and a student loan of up to £5500.

Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, said officials would assess the demand for funding to ensure all Scottish students studying in the EU in future years would benefit. He said: "I want to ensure our young people have the opportunity to reap the cultural and career benefits of living and studying abroad.”


Related Links

Support for Scottish students in Europe (Scottish Parliament, 9 January 2013)
University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages