Latest News

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


Ferry passengers to be treated to special performances

20 February 2020 (The Press and Journal)

Passengers on CalMac ferries will be treated to a performance which celebrates the waters surrounding the Western Isles and the people who travel on them.

With the help of local communities and world class artists, Ferry Tales will bring a musical tale, told using English, Gaelic, and sign language, to three of Scotland’s major ferry routes.

Travellers from Oban to Craignure, Ullapool to Stornoway and Wemyss Bay to Rothesay will all have the chance to enjoy the show. Ferry Tales will feature songs by Scottish folk singer Josie Duncan, who is originally from Lewis and known for songs in Gaelic, Scots and English.



18 June 2018 (British Council)

British Council is excited to announce the launch of GlobeScotters! We've partnered with @YoungScot to inspire Scotland's young people to embrace the international opportunities available to them at home and abroad!

Over the next six months the GlobeScotters website will be updated with all things international - from funding opportunities, to fun videos on international foods and some big Young Scot Rewards prizes!

Whether you are studying abroad next term, or want to learn about different cultures in your community, we have you covered!


Crisis as Scots businesses struggle to hire Mandarin speakers amid Chinese tourist boom

17 June 2018 (Daily Record)

Shop owners in Scotland’s busiest tourist traps are struggling to hire Mandarin speakers to cope with a spike in Chinese customers.

Retail outlets, hotels and restaurants are advertising in shop windows as well as online to try to attract staff with specialised language skills.

Balmoral Cashmere in Edinburgh have put out a call for applicants in a street-front display. Last week saw the first direct flight from China to Scotland. 

Official figures show 41,000 Chinese visitors are coming to the country every year.

Highlands hotelier Willie Cameron said: “The Chinese are also buying into hotels and investing so there is business tourism too. “I struggled to get a Mandarin-speaking receptionist. There aren’t very many Mandarin speakers in Drumnadrochit but the websites for all my hotels are translated into Mandarin.” 

Visits from Chinese tourists are worth an estimated £36 million to the Scottish economy, with the average spend per day exceeding £70. Chinese visitors spend about £900 per visit across 12 nights. 

Dr Nathan Woolley, director of the Confucius Institute at Glasgow University, said there is an increasing interest from students and business workers to study Mandarin to augment their skills.


Brits are terrible tourists who don’t learn languages, don’t talk to strangers, and don’t respect other cultures

13 May 2017 (Metro)

Brits haven’t got the best reputation as tourists. We’re loud, we drink, we’re awful at languages, and we have a history of starting fights at football matches. But now we have some proof, as a recent survey found that almost half of British tourists choose not to respect a country’s culture when they visit.


Airbrushing Gaelic from Scotland's story

4 July 2015 (The Herald)

Visitors are denied a real understanding of Scotland because the tourism industry obscures the true story of Gaelic Scotland and allows historical nonsense to be promoted, important new research has found.

The author challenges VistScotland to take steps to prevent "just any Tom Dick and Harry setting themselves up to take money from unsuspecting tourists" by talking rubbish to them about the Highlands and Islands, when they know little.


Related Links

Has Scotland betrayed its Gaelic heritage? (The Herald, 4 July 2015)

Top Scottish sights and landmarks given Chinese names

16 February 2015 (BBC)

Scottish attractions have been given Chinese names in a tourism drive which is helping promote "Strong-man skirt parties" and "Baa baa pudding".

VisitScotland said the translations for Highland Games and haggis were among suggestions put forward in a Great Names public vote across China.

Glen Coe, Splendid and beautiful valley, was the top Scottish contender in a list of 101 British landmarks.

Overall, 13,000 new names were suggested during the 10-week campaign.


Related Links

Chinese give Mandarin names to Scottish landmarks (The Scotsman, 15 February 2015)

7 Outstanding Language-Learning Apps and Websites

7 January 2014 (The Huffington Post)

Speaking the local language - or at least knowing some basic phrases - is one of the best ways for travellers to tap into foreign cultures. In countries where English isn't widely spoken, it's essential to learn some key words and phrases, but even in places with an abundance of English speakers, you'll find that locals tend to respond better when spoken to in their native tongue.

[...]The next time you're planning an international trip, consider practising the local language with these 7 indispensable language-learning apps and websites.


Aberdeen looks to lure world's biggest spending tourists

5 January 2015 (The Herald)

The Granite City is hoping to cash in on the world's biggest spending tourists - by launching a Chinese version of its tourism website.

VisitAberdeen hopes the move will boost its share of the £128 billion China spends every year on overseas leisure and business - an average of 50 per cent more than Americans.


Related Links

Would you fly 5000 miles to see Aberdeen? (The Telegraph, 8 January 2015)

Movie bid to entice Spanish

19 June 2014 (The Herald)

Tourism chiefs are trying to entice Spaniards to Scotland with the help of a specially adapted version of the movie Sunshine On Leith.

The film, which features The Proclaimers, has been dubbed into Spanish and retitled Amanece en Edinburgo (Sunrise in Edinburgh).


Learning languages is critical for Scottish tourism

20 September 2013 (The Scotsman)

Translations of guide books are scarce, says Sue Gruellich.

Ici on parle francais.

Hier spricht man Deutsch.

Sadly that is not found to be the case as one travels round Britain today. You may think that everyone visiting these shores speaks English. We seem to make this arrogant assumption all too often. But it is not the case. Where the tourism industry is concerned, we see a growing market from Russia, China and Brazil, but the traditional markets from France and Germany are still very strong.


British holidaymakers admit to struggling with languages and culture

14 August 2013 (British Council)

Despite millions of people from the UK heading overseas for sun, sea and sand this summer, a lack of language and cultural skills is landing many in hot water, according to a poll by the British Council.

78% of British people say they cannot speak a foreign language to a high standard. 40% say this has caused them embarrassment while on holiday, 22% say they have paid over the odds as a result of not being able to speak the local language, and 18% admit to having no idea what they ate after ordering something from a menu they could not understand.

The research, carried out by Populus among 2000 British adults, was commissioned by the British Council as part of its work to build relationships for the UK around the world through language, culture and education - and advocate the learning of modern foreign languages in the UK.


Related Links

Language skills: Brits 'embarrassed' abroad (BBC News, 14 August 2013)

Please 'Elp Me, I Am Briteesh... (Huffington Post, 14 August 2013)

Are British people really bad at languages? (BBC News, 14 August 2013) Article includes a link to a report on BBC Radio 5 live's Breakfast show, available until 20 August 2013.

Willkommen in Schottland

14 June 2013 (Caledonian Mercury)

Germany is one of Scotland’s largest international markets. Figures from VisitScotland suggest that German tourists are second only to Americans when it comes to the number of days they spend here and indeed the money they spend as well.

Around 250,000 Germans visited Scotland in 2011 for instance. They spent £138m and 2.3m nights in Scottish hotels and guest houses. The number may have been slightly down on 2010 but those who did come here spent slightly more on average.

With that level of interest, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a new German-language magazine about Scotland has just been launched.


British holidaymakers are the worst at speaking foreign languages, research shows

22 October 2012 (Direct Travel Insurance)

Brits are the worst travellers, according to the report. Although some Britons revel in using a phrase book while on vacation, new research has suggested that we are, in fact, the worst holidaymakers when it comes to making ourselves understood.


Related Links

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