Languages in the press
23 January 2020 (BBC)
Children starting school in the Western Isles this summer will be taught in Gaelic, unless their parents opt-out.
Until now parents had to opt in to Gaelic-medium education (GME) on the islands, where lessons in English was the default.
But from August, all new P1 children will enrol in GME unless their parents request otherwise.
The move was prompted because more than half of parents were expected to choose Gaelic-medium education.
Western Isles council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, is the first of Scotland's 32 local authorities to make the move.
The islands has Scotland's largest Gaelic speaking community.
GME sees lessons delivered in Gaelic until P4 and then English is introduced, with the aim of giving children a bilingual education.
16 January 2020 (The Guardian)
The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme’s leaders are calling on the government to support character building in schools.
Teenagers who want to grow in confidence and resilience are being urged to try “character building” activities such as trying veganism, performing random acts of kindness, taking a digital detox, attending a music festival and going dancing.
The DofE scheme, best known among its millions of graduates for its intrepid, all-weather expeditions into the wilds of the British countryside, has drawn up the checklist of 25 experiences.
Other suggested activities on the list include: public speaking, learning a foreign language, doing work experience, spending time getting to know an older person, volunteering for a charity, campaigning for something you believe in, spending time in nature, engaging in politics, learning about climate change and becoming a mentor to someone younger.
While most teenagers will be able to tick off at least some of the activities on the list, leaders of the DofE scheme are calling on the government to do more to support character building in schools to help develop resilience in all young people.
14 January 2020 (Hello magazine)
Prince William is a man of many talents! The royal impressed onlookers at a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony on Tuesday by congratulating one of the guests using British Sign Language. William could be seen smiling at TV veteran Alex Duguid as he signed "Congratulations, Alex," with Alex replying, "Thank you." The thoughtful gesture no doubt meant a great deal to Alex, who was bestowed with an MBE for his services to deaf people and to British Sign Language education.
Watch the presentation video.
13 January 2020 (TES)
Applies to England
Ofsted's reintroduction of thematic subject reviews will be "state of the nation" looks into teaching in maths and languages, it has been revealed
The reviews will be using data gathered by inspectors from "deep dives" into these subjects during school inspections.
Daniel Muijs, Ofsted’s deputy director for research and evaluation said the thematic subject reviews would be the the inspectorate’s "biggest programme of new research".
"For this, we will be using data from inspection deep dives to look at the state of the nation in different subject areas across key stages," he said.
"The first subjects we will be researching will be mathematics and languages.
The plan for Ofsted to return to producing thematic subject reviews was first announced by chief inspector Amanda Spielman last year.
Ms Spielman told the Association of School and College Leaders conference, in Birmingham last year, that she hoped these reviews would start "thoughtful debate informed by evidence."
(Note - subscription required to access full article).
12 January 2020 (Wales Online)
Researchers say that the Welsh language will "thrive" and by 2300 two-thirds of the population could be Welsh speakers.
More than a third of the world's 7,000 languages are currently classified as endangered and more than half are expected to go extinct by 2100. There are a number of strategies in place in those countries to boost the language.
The researchers have developed a model which can predict changes in proficiency levels over time and, ultimately, whether a given endangered language is on a long-term trajectory towards extinction or recovery. The data, published by the Royal Society, compares Welsh and te reo Māori, the indigenous language of New Zealand, as a case study. That shows that while Māori is on a pathway towards extinction, Welsh will "thrive in the long term".
The model is based on Welsh in Wales, where researchers say "significant development in bilingual and Welsh-medium education and the presence of the language throughout the public and private sectors have positively contributed to an increase in the number of Welsh speakers."
12 January 2020 (The Press and Journal)
Britain’s biggest ferry and harbour operator is adding to its support for Gaelic speakers by offering a bi-lingual English and Gaelic customer care service.
CalMac created a new customer care centre in Stornoway last summer, bringing six new jobs to the town. It has now confirmed this will become a permanent fixture with staff at the venue enhancing the Gaelic face of the company.
In the past, assistance from a Gaelic speaker was only available to customers telephoning or visiting port offices in Gaelic-speaking areas, but now, anyone who would like to make an enquiry in Gaelic, can be transferred to a native speaker.
The Stornoway-based team will also be steadily transforming CalMac’s social media channels into a bi-lingual offering as well.
11 January 2020 (BBC)
There are differences in the way English and Italian speakers are affected by dementia-related language problems, a small study suggests.
While English speakers had trouble pronouncing words, Italian speakers came out with shorter, simpler sentences.
The findings could help ensure accurate diagnoses for people from different cultures, the researchers said. Diagnostic criteria are often based on English-speaking patients.
10 January 2020 (City AM)
The UK has always lagged behind its European neighbours in foreign language learning, and the vote this week to eradicate the Erasmus scheme will only slow that adoption further.
For many, Erasmus was an opportunity to live and learn a new culture and language, free from class and income boundaries. The programme gave the UK’s youth an international edge. But now that the government has denied university students this exchange scheme, following Wednesday’s Brexit votes, it runs a serious risk of making British students more insular, constricted, and less culturally open.
Concerns about this decision don’t just begin and end with the loss of cultural and social benefits for students — it will inevitably affect the UK’s future workforce and bottom line.
In the midst of the Brexit process, where we have already seen a reduction in net migration since the referendum, how will British industries fair without this source of diversity in learning and incoming talent?
This decision is arguably the worst one made for the British education system since 2004, when Tony Blair’s Labour government chose to scrap compulsory foreign language learning at the GCSE level, which led to a severe drop in the number of UK pupils taking subjects such as French and German. In fact, there has been a huge 63 per cent fall in GCSE entries for French and a 67 per cent for German since 2002.
The government is setting a dangerous precedent. It sends the message to young Brits that foreign language skills aren’t important, and that English is the language of the world.
It isn’t. In fact, only 20 per cent of the world’s population speaks English — this includes both native and second language speakers.
In 2013, the now-dissolved Department of Business, Innovation and Skills revealed that the UK’s language skills deficit could be costing the economy up to £48bn each year. So it is concerning that this Brexit-driven decision has gone ahead without a regard for its implications.
9 January 2020 (The Guardian)
Learning a new language should be compulsory for pupils up to the age of 16, according to a new report highlighting the UK’s recent abysmal record in encouraging young people to study languages other than English.
The report published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) cites an EU-wide survey showing that just 32% of young people in the UK say they are able to read or write in more than one language, compared with 79% of their peers in France and more than 90% in Germany.
The report calls for the overturning of the government’s 2004 decision to drop compulsory study of languages at key stage four – when pupils take GCSE exams in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – which has led to a steep decline in the numbers in England going on to study languages at colleges and universities.
It also recommends that the government should start subsidising the teaching of languages at universities, “in light of declining enrolments and growing vulnerability for lesser taught languages”, for strategic and cultural reasons.
8 January 2020 (TES)
Mandarin is the best language for pupils to learn in today’s world, while French lags far behind in importance, according to girls’ school headteachers cited in a poll published today.
The survey, conducted by the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), which represents independent all-girls schools across the UK, found that 38 per cent of heads feel Mandarin is the most important modern language for pupils to learn.
This is despite pupils' quicker progress in European languages, according to a language expert, who also argues that more job opportunities area available for French and German speakers.
Spanish was the second most popular option among the headteachers polled, with 31 per cent choosing it as the most important language, while 7.1 per cent chose Russian.
Just 2 per cent of those surveyed said French is the most important language for pupils to know.
A further 21 per cent selected “other”, with many commenting that any modern foreign language is useful for pupils.
[..] But Teresa Tinsley, who wrote the British Council’s 2019 Language Trends report, said schools needed to consider the practicalities of opting for Mandarin over languages spoken by geographical neighbours, such as French and German.
[..] Ms Tinsley said she supported the introduction of Mandarin to give pupils more variety in the languages they learnt, but said European languages tended to support pupils’ literacy in English, which could not be said of Asian languages.
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6 January 2020 (TES)
When it comes to GCSEs, a mixed bag of results is often expected by teachers and students alike.
It’s generally accepted that students have stronger and weaker areas; some are more Stem-oriented, while others perform better in English and the arts.
But are all GCSE subjects of the same difficulty?
And should we be concerned about this?
I propose that the difference in performance across subjects is partially down to disparities in the difficulty of the courses and exams.
I achieved 10 grade 9s last summer, but I did not find it easy.
These are the subjects that I – and others – found the most difficult.
3 January 2020 (TES)
How can you make inclusion a key part of your curriculum? One mainstream primary in London has taken the radical step of including British Sign Language – so that every child learns to use it. Headteacher Dani Lang and deaf instructor Tina Kemp explain how it’s benefited deaf and hearing pupils alike
It’s Tuesday morning and a Year 5 class are doing their daily maths lesson. A child looks confused and puts her hand up, but before the teacher can come over, the boy next to her puts his pencil down and signs “Can I help?”
The girl smiles back at him and signs that she can’t work out the answer and points to the question in her maths book. His quick, nimble fingers sign back to help her overcome her confusion about place value, and then they both pick up their pencils and continue with their work.
All this, without a single audible word uttered. This fluent interaction in British Sign Language (BSL) is common at Brimsdown Primary School in Enfield. We are a mainstream primary in North London with a hearing impairment resource base (HIRBiE). This is not an intervention tool, it’s a teaching tool. HIRBiE runs staff and family signing lessons during the day and after school, and teaches BSL to all children from Nursery to Year 6 in class time.
It works for us and we firmly believe it could – and should – work for you, too.
Admittedly, it has taken us some time to get to this point: HIRBiE has been operating for 13 years in the school but its full integration into the school day has been going on only for the past four years.
HIRBiE was set up because there were (and still are) a number of deaf children and staff at the school, and the leadership firmly believed that every child deserved the right to be treated equally and to receive the same quality of education. However, leaders also felt there was a need to bridge the gap between hearing and deaf people and so took the decision to make BSL a significant part of our school curriculum.
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2 January 2020 (BBC)
Can apps ever replace classroom language learning or even help revive minority or dying languages?
Apps offer languages - real or invented - not popular enough to be taught at evening classes or most universities. Esperanto, invented to create world peace, Avatar's Na'vi, Elvish and Star Trek's Klingon are all on the table.
2 January 2020 (The Guardian)
Almost double the number of people in Scotland who already speak Scottish Gaelic have signed up to learn the language on the popular free platform Duolingo in over a month, concluding a proliferation in courses, prizes and performance in Gaelic and Scots during 2019, as younger people in particular shrug off the “cultural cringe” associated with speaking indigenous languages.
The Duolingo course, which was launched just before St Andrew’s Day on 30 November and looks likely to be the company’s fastest-growing course ever, has garnered more than 127,000 sign-ups – 80% from Scotland itself, compared with just over 58,000 people who reported themselves as Gaelic speakers in the 2011 Scottish census.
And last month, the Open University Scotland launched a free online course – which has already attracted nearly 7,000 unique visitors from the UK, US, Canada and Australia – that teaches the Scots language in the context it is spoken, as well as highlighting its role in Scottish culture and society.
30 December 2019 (Daily Record)
West Lothian Council’s executive has agreed a draft Gaelic language plan for the authority. It will now be presented to the Bòrd na Gaidhlig.
The body was set up by the Scottish Government in 2005 to promote the use and understanding of the Gaelic language and Gaelic education.
West Lothian is one of only four councils - the others are Midlothian, East Lothian and Scottish Borders - who have not created a Gaelic plan. A six-week public consultation produced 127 responses. The bulk were in favour of developing language classes and cultural events.
30 December 2019 (Evening Telegraph)
A new interactive map created by the University of Glasgow has revealed how and where the Scots language is used across the country.
The webpage aims to record and revitalise the ancient Scots tongue, with the website showing which areas in Scotland share the same lingo, expressions and colloquialisms.
Scots Syntax Atlas boasts recordings of true Scots sharing commonly-used phrases and words. The map shows which phrases are used where, explains the history behind some sayings and even has interactive examples of locals speaking in their mother tongue.
20 December 2019 (TES)
Secondary head Chris Woolf explains why he ditched the modern language stalwarts in favour of giving all students the chance to learn Mandarin and Spanish.
It was very quiet. There was no one to talk to. There were no phones to ring. There was no one knocking on the door. Getting in early to make some progress before students and staff arrived for the day was pointless: they wouldn’t be here for another nine months. It was June 2015 and I had been appointed founding headteacher of Pinner High School.
Much of the next year was spent making and enacting plans. But foremost in my mind, on those quiet days when the school had not yet come into being, was the curriculum. What should it look like?
A lot of it would be traditional, of course: English, maths, science. However, there was an opportunity to make it a bit more exciting, too. This is how we came to ditch French and German, teaching Mandarin and Spanish to every child in the school instead.
Mandarin teaching has increased over the past 20 years but it is still offered by only a minority of state schools. Even then, it is usually in addition to the more traditional languages. We didn’t want it to be an add-on – we wanted it to be the main event.
Meanwhile, the number of students taking Spanish at GCSE has soared, while French has fallen markedly. But trying to counter the former and respond to the latter were not our only drivers.
Governors asked appropriately challenging questions. Why? What’s wrong with French and German? Through telling audiences about our language options as I toured local primaries to promote the school, I honed my response. When schools first started teaching modern foreign languages, we looked to our nearest neighbours in Europe for the most useful ones to learn: French and German.
But the world has changed. If we look to the future, we want jobseekers of the 2020s to be equipped for success, and that means a more dynamic approach. Teaching students in an English-speaking school Mandarin and Spanish means that they get to study the top three most widely spoken languages in the world. That must be a good thing.
Having settled on Mandarin and Spanish, I had to consider who would be eligible for these languages. This was an easy decision: everyone. We are a truly inclusive school and we believe that everyone can access the same curriculum, given the proper support.
Then I had to actually make it happen. I had expected recruiting Mandarin teachers to be difficult. However, when I advertised, there was a strong field to pick from and we now have brilliant colleagues.
(Note - subscription required to access full article).
18 December 2019 (The Conversation)
Launched to coincide with St Andrew’s Day this year on November 30, language app Duolingo’s Gaelic course attracted an impressive 103,000 active learners in its first two weeks – outstripping the number of actual Gaelic speakers in Scotland. The figure also represented more than 18 times the number of adults learning the language in 2018.
Gaelic was spoken in most of Scotland until the 11th century, but a gradual decline in the language means that today, most of the of the country’s Gaelic speakers in Scotland live in the Outer Hebrides (Na h-Eileanan Siar).
It is recognised as a national language of Scotland and initiatives such as the dedicated Gaelic language channel BBC Alba and the growth of Gaelic Medium Education have brought opportunities to those living across Scotland to hear and learn the language.
These initiatives were given a further boost when Gaelic joined a range of endangered languages (including Hawaiian, Navajo and Irish) to be added to the Duolingo platform after a successful social media campaign lobbied for its inclusion.
Of course, not all of the 103,000 people who signed up to Duolingo will be new to Gaelic – and not all will continue with it – but the potential to bring new speakers to the language is considerable. It also raises the question of how this can be used to support the long-term survival of the language, which is considered to be in trouble in Scotland.
18 December 2019 (Evening Standard)
Met police officers could wear world flag badges on their uniforms to show which foreign languages they speak.
Scotland Yard chiefs believe it could break down barriers in London where more than 300 languages are spoken.
Migrants and tourists who instantly recognise someone who can speak their mother tongue, via a badge on the officer’s stab vest, may be more likely to report crime or ask for help.
More than 1,000 officers already have at least one second language — mainly French, Punjabi, Urdu, Hindu, Spanish, Arabic, German, Turkish and Russian.
Among 120 other languages, dozens of officers say they are fluent in Jamaican Patois, Swahili, Welsh, Gaelic, Dutch, Mandarin, Romanian, Tamil, Kurdish Sorani or Wolof, a dialect of Senegal.
16 December 2019 (The Times)
Northeast Scotland is to get its own poet laureate to promote the region’s native tongue. Sheena Blackhall, a writer and linguist, has been named as the first Doric makar.
For decades it was forbidden in schools and derided as slang but now Doric, or northeast Scots, spoken from Montrose in Angus to Nairn in the Highlands, has official recognition alongside English and Gaelic.
8 December 2019 (The National)
Last week saw extraordinary explosion of interest in Gaelic learning on Duolingo – the world’s largest language learning platform. It has attracted about 65,000 learners in five days.
Ciaran Iòsaph MacAonghais – a primary teacher from Fort William and co-creator of the Scottish Gaelic Duolingo course told us: “Previously, there were around 5500 learning Gaelic in Scotland and we have already raised this number significantly and hopefully it will continue to rise in the coming weeks and months.
‘‘There is no single solution that will save the Gaelic language. Much more needs to be done to support native speakers in Gaelic speaking communities, but having a high profile starting point for learning is still a powerful thing. In a small language community like this, every speaker makes a real difference.”
6 December 2019 (Irish Times)
Some 3,000 students attended an event in Dublin’s Convention Centre aimed at highlighting the personal, social, professional and economic benefits of language learning.
While most Irish students study foreign languages in school, surveys show Irish adults lag behind other Europeans in language competence.
Karen Ruddock, director of Post Primary Languages Ireland, said the global dominance of English has given rise to the mistaken belief that “English is enough”.
This, she said, can result in complacency and a lack of motivation to learn other languages.
“Today’s event is about delivering a message that learning a foreign langauge will create more work opportunties, more chances to make friends and have great life experiences,” she said.
6 December 2019 (TESS)
From making imaginary pizzas to becoming interior designers for a doll’s house, learning through play isn’t just for the youngest pupils, argue two Glasgow teachers. They tell Emma Seith how they are using it to support children who speak English as an additional language – and to connect with colleagues around the world.
Have you heard the tale about play-based learning, a viral Facebook page and one of Scotland’s most diverse communities? It involves two young teachers in Glasgow, who have gained thousands of followers around the world for their imaginative use of play in the classroom.
The magic happens at Holy Cross Primary in the Govanhill area, which serves a truly multicultural community. Holy Cross has a significant Romanian and Slovakian pupil population, and there are a large number of children with Pakistani heritage, many of whom speak Urdu and Punjabi. Overall, 80 per cent of pupils speak English as an additional language – something that proved challenging for Rebecca Meighan and Claire Scally when they were both teaching P1.
So, what are they doing that has struck such a chord with teachers around the world?
Meighan and Scally quickly realised that before they could push on with reading and writing skills, they needed to first build up their pupils’ English vocabulary. But they didn’t want to simply show pictures – they wanted pupils to be able to “see and touch and feel these objects”. The solution was to enable them to acquire language in a more natural way: to let them play.
“When we got to teaching phonics, initial sounds and word blends, we were finding it really difficult because the children were coming either with little English or no English at all,” explains Scally. “You always start with the letter S – the ‘sss’ sound – but when we were trying to get them to think of words that start with the letter S, they were just looking at us blankly.”
Meighan and Scally decided to change tack. After brainstorming words with the sound they wanted children to learn that week, they set up play activities related to that sound. For instance, with the “V” sound, one activity was to make a volcano erupt (with lava produced by combining vinegar and baking soda). The children were also given the chance to role-play being a vet; one of the suggested activities was taking a pet dog for a vaccination.
The plan achieved the desired result: instead of looking blank when they were asked to give examples of words featuring the sound they were working on, the children were able to reel off a list. And, importantly, they remembered these words because they had been immersed in a world (albeit an imaginary one) where they were relevant.
“We knew that if we gave children the chance to interact with these objects – to do and not just see – they would remember them and gain some more language from that,” explains Meighan.
Meighan and Scally set up The Power of Play Facebook page to collaborate with teachers outside their school (bit.ly/PowerPlayGla). They quickly discovered that teachers across the UK – as well as from Finland, Norway, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – were on similar journeys and wanted to introduce more play into their classrooms.
At the time of writing, the page had attracted more than 17,000 followers and 16,000-plus likes. Some of Meighan and Scally’s posts, meanwhile, have attracted hundreds of comments.
Many Facebook commenters ask them where they get their resources from, including the miniature apples decorating their cardboard apple trees, brightly painted numbers with googly eyes and “bones” (dog biscuits) used for Halloween activities.
What they have created is a community of teachers helping each other. The ideas that go down well, they say, are the ones that are relatively easy to do, and which feature resources that can be adapted and used again.
(Note - subscription required to access full article)
5 December 2019 (Press and Journal)
The north-east of Scotland is home to an unmatched heritage of music, song, and story, history and folklore, and the creativity of the people who live and work here.
A significant part of this inheritance, and one which runs through all the others, is north-east Scots, often known as ‘Doric’ in the northern and western parts of our region, and by many other names as well – Mearns, Toonser, Aiberdeen, Fisher Doric, Buckie, oor tongue, spikkin, and more.
For well over a century, North-East children arriving in school would be taught, and at times coerced, to ‘talk’ as opposed to ‘spik’.
To ‘spik’ meant to use the language of family, hearth, and home, while English was thought to be the way to get ahead in the world.
This language of home and family is part of people’s character, world view, and wry sense of humour.
But it is less used in the more formal walks of life and we don’t hear enough north-east voices in the media, in civic life, and in our schools.
But the language of home, it turns out, is what’s needed for real progress, and real progress is not just about exams and university.
No, real progress is raising children who have confidence in themselves, their language, and in their communities.
[..] But Doric is not just for native speakers. In fact, some of the best pupils doing Scots/Doric at Banff Academy are from outwith Scotland and they’ve picked up the language in no time at all.
Language is a great way to build bridges across communities and with people from other parts of the world.
5 December 2019 (BBC)
A free online course has been developed that teaches the Scots language in the context it is spoken.
Developed by The Open University (OU) and Education Scotland, the course also highlights the role of the language in Scottish culture and society.
It takes about 40 hours to complete, and aims to boost understanding of Scots and its history.
The creators hope the course will be used in the classroom by teachers and other educators.
The Scots Language Centre defines Scots as the national name for Scottish dialects that are known collectively as the Scots language.
The new course will be split into two parts, with the first now available on the OU's OpenLearn Create platform.
The second part is expected to be online by the end of the month.
Sylvia Warnecke, OU senior lecturer in languages, said Scots was growing in popularity.
She said: "It feels right to show how as a language it has developed over time as a vital aspect of Scottish culture and history, and how it links to other European languages."
4 December 2019 (The Guardian)
Adrian Chiles says he's failed at French, German and Croatian and now he's learning Welsh.
No other subject,” says my language teacher, “is the cause of so much shame. You might struggle with other subjects, but you’ll probably never berate yourself like you do about your shortcomings in language learning.”
That’s a good point or, as they say in Welsh, mae e’n gwneud pwynt da.
I’m learning Welsh because I thought it was about time I did so, having spent so much time there on holiday all my life. It struck me that I wasn’t much different to the kind of expats in Spain I might sniff at for not knowing any Spanish beyond dos cervezas por favor.
I expect many Guardian readers made a resolution earlier this year to learn a new language or “brush up” their school French. And now, as they are preparing to make the same resolution, they will be feeling a little, yes, ashamed.
What is this self-flagellation all about? My Croatian teacher thinks it is a peculiarly British thing.
4 December 2019 (BBC Alba)
Listen to BBC Alba's interview (in Gaelic) with Dr Ingeborg Birnie, Education, on the bilingual and dementia project (1:19).
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.
2 December 2019 (Stornoway Gazette)
The semi-finals of the National Secondary Schools’ Gaelic Debate will take place on Wednesday this week.The first semi-final will see Inverness Royal Academy B up against Lionacleit School. The second debate will see Bishopbriggs High School take on Sir E Scott.The two winning teams will meet in the Final, at The Scottish Parliament on Thursday, December 5th, at 7pm, where they will debate, ‘In 20 years time, the real Gàidhlig communities will be situated in the big cities’.
Looking forward to the final, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Rt Hon Ken Macintosh MSP, said: “Gaelic matters. “It is part of who we are and part of Scotland’s rich cultural identity. The humour, insight and linguistic skill displayed by young people in this competition year after year, convincingly demonstrates that the language continues to flourish. “It gives me immense pleasure that the final will be held on the floor of Holyrood’s debating chamber, marking this, our joint twentieth anniversary.”
30 November 2019 (The Herald)
We live in challenging times but do not despair. The Scots language in all its colourful glory will come to the rescue. Fed up with the political chaos? Call it a boorach and you’ll feel much better. Sick of the TV debates? Have a shout at the bunch of blellums and all their mince.
And if you want more, try this extract from the new book 100 Favourite Scots Words. For over a decade, The Herald has published the Scottish Language Dictionaries’ Scots Word of the Week and the new book gathers some of the best. The words demonstrate the breadth and diversity of the Scots language. And who knows, they might just get you through the election.
28 November 2019 (The List)
Kick off the Year of the Rat in the Scottish capital, with ceilidh dancing, larger-than-life art installations, language tasters and more.
Known for their charming nature and spirited wit, those born under the sign of the Rat will have extra reason to celebrate their astrological year in 2020, as the capital prepares to usher in Chinese New Year with a dynamic cultural programme to be found throughout the city.
The larger-than-life lantern spectacular returns to light up Edinburgh Zoo as Giant Lanterns: Lost Worlds (until Sun 26 Jan) transports visitors back 570 million years into Earth's pre-history. Come face-to-face with dinosaurs, beasts of the Ice Age and forgotten megafauna in this spectacular display of over 600 beautifully crafted lanterns. The zoo will also be hosting a Chinese New Year Reception to start the year on the right foot, with the date yet to be determined. Another welcome return to this year's programme is the Edinburgh Official Chinese New Year Concert (Tue 21 Jan), which will take place beneath the hallowed dome of Usher Hall and showcase the talents of the Guizhou Song and Dance Troupe.
28 November 2019 (BBC)
More than 20,000 people have signed up to learn Scottish Gaelic on a free online learning app which launches the new course on St Andrew's Day.
The Duolingo course has been created on a "record-breaking timescale" with the help of bilingual volunteers.
Its official release on Saturday is eight months ahead of schedule and the course has already attracted more than 7,000 learners using its Beta version.
Duolingo has 91 courses in 30 languages and more than 300 million users.
It uses artificial intelligence and "gamification", where users compete against each other as they learn.
In the eight years since Duolingo was launched it has added dozens of languages including Navajo, Hawaiian, Welsh and Irish Gaelic.
27 November 2019 (The Guardian)
Balvin was a minor Colombian artist who became the fifth most streamed on the planet without using English, showing how embracing national pride can be a force for cultural good.
26 November 2019 (Stock Daily Dish)
The number of teenagers learning foreign languages in UK secondary schools has dropped by 45% since the turn of the millennium.
The reaction to the research was mixed. Why learn a foreign language when English is spoken by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, some people wondered.
Others questioned the need for a second language when translation technology is advancing so quickly.
But many speakers of foreign languages extolled the benefits. Four native English speakers tell how making the effort to learn a second language is important – and how it changed their life.
When Alex Chaffer moved to Germany four years ago, he could only say “hello” and “thank you” in German.
He had not learnt the language at school, but was starting off a career in sports journalism and had the opportunity to go to Germany.
When he first arrived, he discovered his accommodation had fallen through.
“I had been scammed,” he said. “I couldn‘t speak to anyone because I didn‘t have the language, I was lost.”
“The first year I was here I didn‘t learn a lot. I then had a German girlfriend that helped massively, having someone force me to do it and hearing it around all the time. She would speak in English and I would speak in German.”
The 23-year-old is now fluent and works on the website of Germany‘s top football league, Bundesliga.
26 November 2019 (Stock Daily Dish)
Foreign languages are being squeezed out of school timetables by “core” subjects like the Welsh Baccalaureate, a survey suggests.
Schools and colleges were asked for reasons why there had been a major decline in pupils taking subjects such as French and German.
There has been a 29% fall in language GCSE entries in Wales in five years – a steeper fall than the rest of the UK.
The Welsh Government said its new curriculum would improve the situation.
More than half of all secondary schools and colleges in Wales responded to the survey about language teaching.
It found more than a third of schools had dropped one or more languages at GCSE in the last five years.
Teachers also said the perception modern languages were “too hard” was also having an effect on their uptake.
25 November 2019 (Sunday Post)
She has become one of the most iconic children’s characters of all time. And now Peppa Pig has developed a Scots twang.
Peppa’s Bonnie Unicorn – translated into Scots by school librarian Thomas Clark – has just hit the shelves, and it’s expected to be a Christmas best seller.
Scottish Borders-based Thomas, 39, who works at Hawick High School, has already translated Jeff Kinney’s best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid. His version won the Scots Language Awards Scots Bairns’ Book of the Year accolade last month.
Realising there was little Scots literature for younger children, he decided to tweak Peppa’s dialect.
Thomas, a member of Oor Vyce, which lobbies the Scottish Government to promote Scots language, said: “There are lots of Scots book translations for teenagers, like Harry Potter and Roald Dahl, but I noticed there’s nothing for pre-school kids, which is really the generation we should be promoting Scots to.
“Peppa was the obvious choice as she’s one of the biggest icons for that age group. Mention Peppa to any four-year-old and they’ll fall over themselves with excitement.”
21 November 2019 (TES)
Despite the privilege of living in a multilingual country, the UK's monolingual English risk being left behind, writes Dr Heather Martin.
"If we can just get Brexit done", some seem to think, "we won’t have to worry about learning all those other languages!" English, that great linguistic success story, will be sufficient unto itself.
It’s a terrible delusion. All it would do is make the learning harder.
It’s not as though language is a take-it-or-leave-it option in real life. Nor should it be in schools.
There was a time when we didn’t have language at all. We didn’t have much of anything back then. It was touch and go whether we would win out over our Neanderthal rivals, who by all anthropological accounts were tougher than us and better at tool-making.
But for some reason we were the ones to develop syntactical language, which turned out to be the best tool of all. Why? Because we could coordinate and cooperate with others. We could discuss, theorise, speculate, and line up plans B and C in case plan A fell through.
Later, when writing came along, we could count our crops and keep records and amass evidence. We were ahead of the game because we could speak each other’s language. The choices we made – what we did with that ability to plot and plan and scheme – is another story.
Needless to say it wasn’t English. Like homo sapiens, modern English as we know it, dating from the late 17th century, is just a blip on the evolutionary calendar. A slightly larger and more luminous blip if you go back as far as Early Modern and Shakespeare.
Such ambiguous progress as we have made – hey, we put a man on the moon! – is largely down to our hard-wired language-learning ability, our readiness to meet each other half way, to transition from Latin to Celtic to Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman and beyond, to respond, reflect and adapt.
Which is the pragmatic philosophy behind the pop-up museum of languages that in late October, a ray of light in the wintry shadow of Brexit, popped up in a shopping centre in Cambridge – the first stop on an inaugural tour of Belfast, Edinburgh, Nottingham and London (March 2020).
The Cambridge University brains behind this innovative concept seek to address anyone from 4 to 84, but on the half-term day I was there the average age was around 8. Which seems about right for the ideal target audience. We can learn a new language at any time. It’s never too late to open our minds. But no doubt the sooner the better.
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20 November 2019 (Stride Magazine)
Gemma Burnside from the Scotland Malawi Partnership, explains why all schools should consider the benefits an international school partnership can bring to their learning communities.
With current events threatening to make the UK ever more insular and closed off from the rest of the world, it’s important to consider the vital role international school partnerships play in introducing young people to other cultures and ways of life. By expanding their view of how their peers around the world experience life and education, these kinds of partnerships are creating the global citizens and activists of the future.
Working with around 250 schools across Scotland as members of the Scotland Malawi Partnership, I have the chance to see the incredible variety of school partnerships between Scotland and Malawi. No two are the same in what they want to achieve or the experiences they share. What they do have in common is the friendships that are created between teachers, pupils and communities in these two countries.
20 November 2019 (BBC)
A word that is commonly used to describe the Scottish weather has been named the "most iconic" Scots word.
"Dreich" - meaning dull or gloomy - topped a poll to mark Book Week Scotland, led by the Scottish Book Trust.
It beat off contenders including "glaikit", "scunnered" and "shoogle".
The charity said the first recorded use of the word "dreich" was in 1420, when it originally meant "enduring" or "slow, tedious".
A total of 1,895 votes were cast in the annual poll.
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.
18 November 2019 (Irish Examiner)
For many people with dementia, memories of early childhood appear more vivid than their fragile sense of the present. But what happens when the present is experienced through a different language than the one spoken in childhood? And how might carers and care homes cope with the additional level of complexity in looking after bilingual people living with dementia?
This is not just relevant for people living with dementia and those who care for them. It can provide insights into the human mind that are equally important to brain researchers, social scientists and even artists.
This relationship between dementia and bilingualism was the focus of a workshop we held recently in Glasgow. Bringing together healthcare professionals, volunteers, community activists, dementia researchers, translation experts, writers and actors, the workshop was organised around a reading of a new play performed by the Gaelic language group, Theatre Tog-ì.
The play, Five to Midnight, centres on a native Gaelic speaker from the Outer Hebrides whose English begins to fade as her dementia develops. Her English-speaking husband increasingly finds himself cut off from his wife as she retreats into the past and to a language he does not understand. The couple’s pain and frustration at their inability to communicate is harrowing.
17 November 2019 (The National)
THERE a wheeshit renaissance in literacy gaun on in Scotland the noo. Whither hit’s the floorishin o online sel-publishin thro social media, or fae the wullfu push tae fling aff the dreid “Scottish cultural cringe” oor Scots langage is getting taen fae ben the hoose an pit oot in public ance mair. Ae hing aboot wir Scots langage is oor unique vocabulary o wirds, an fir Book Week Scotland (November 18-24) Scottish Book Trust’ll annoonce the result o their iconic Scots wird vote on Thursday 21 November, via their social media channels.
Scots is the langage maist relatit tae the English langage. Hit’s near eneuch tae English, as a maitter o fack, thit fae the echteent century there a strang unitit effort fir tae hae fowk “spikk proper”.
16 November 2019 (iNews)
As a nation, we are not known for our proficiency in foreign languages. The stereotype of the Brit abroad, repeating English slowly and loudly to the locals, has more than a grain of truth.
In England, language study has declined so much that the exam regulator, Ofqual, recently decided to lower grade boundaries in GCSE French and German to encourage teenagers to take them.
Can anything be done about our struggles? Or should we lighten up about it? A former Downing Street education expert has told i that seriously improving our language ability is not a high-enough priority to justify the vast expense involved.
In Britain, 34.6 per cent of people aged between 25 and 64 report that they know one or more foreign language, compared with an EU average of 64.8 per cent.
GCSE and A-level language entries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been declining since the turn of the century, although a rise in Spanish entries provides a shred of comfort.
In Scotland, language entries at National 4 and 5 level have dropped by about a fifth since 2014.
This has been accompanied by the quiet death of the foreign exchange, suffocated in part by exaggerated safety concerns. A survey by the British Council five years ago found that just four in 10 schools run trips involving a stay with a host family. Martha de Monclin, a British expat living in France, is often asked whether she knows British families who are happy to be involved in exchanges, but in seven years has found only one.
Where they do happen, pupils just go sightseeing and stay in hotels, she says. “With mobile phones, they are constantly connected to their friends and family at home. This makes it incredibly difficult to learn a language.”
11 November 2019 (The Irish Times)
Subjects such as physical education, maths and art are to be taught through Irish in about 20 primary, secondary and pre-schools under a new project aimed at boosting the teaching and learning of Irish.
The move has been partly prompted by concern over the quality of teaching and learning of Irish in schools.
8 November 2019 (TES)
More than 1.5 million people said they spoke Scots in the 2011 census, and now this language is enjoying a resurgence in the classroom. The learning benefits are immense, writes Kirsty Crommie.
There are thought to be more than 7,000 languages spoken across the world, with many more not yet known outside the small communities in which they are spoken. Around 330 are spoken in Europe and more than 2,000 in Asia. Over 850 languages are spoken within Papua New Guinea alone (Miaschi, 2017) and, within the thousands of languages spoken worldwide, there are countless dialects and regional variations, rich in vocabulary and sounds.
Language lets us share, discover and make connections. But it is also a representation of culture and identity, and it symbolises the incredibly diverse world in which we live – so, with 75 per cent of the world’s population not speaking English, it is imperative that we encourage the learning of languages throughout school.
And this must include the Scots language: by studying our minority languages, such as Scots, we are celebrating our diverse and fascinating linguistic heritage, as we should.
In primary schools across Scotland, at least one additional language is being taught. The Scottish government’s 1+2 model for languages has a target of ensuring that by 2021, every Scottish school will offer children one additional language from P1 and a second from P5; many schools are well on their way to meeting that goal.
It is a target that is not without its challenges: staff must receive relevant training if they are to effectively deliver the teaching of a language of which they may have little or no experience. But the benefits are such that these challenges must be overcome.
Curriculum for Excellence: Modern Languages Experiences and Outcomes clearly lays out the benefits. Not only are literacy skills enhanced, but pupils learning a new language will also:
- Gain a deeper understanding of their first language and appreciate the richness and interconnected nature of languages.
- Enhance their understanding of their own and other languages and gain insights into other cultures.
- Develop skills that they can use and enjoy in work and leisure throughout their lives.
The benefits apply just as much to children learning minority languages. In Scotland, there are three native languages: English, Scots and Gaelic. While English is the most common, more than 1.5 million people said they spoke Scots in the 2011 census, while over 57,000 said they spoke Gaelic.
A number of schools exist to provide teaching and learning through Gaelic, particularly in the areas where it is spoken most, but the teaching of Scots is generally left to schools and teachers with an interest in and enthusiasm for Scots, although some have opted to include Scots as part of their 1+2 approach.
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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.
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6 November 2019 (The Telegraph)
Your Year 9 French teacher was right: learning a language can open a lot of doors. Not only will your fluency allow you to travel to distant corners of the globe, but having a degree in a language can make you highly employable.
Mastering a language has always been impressive to employers: it shows tenacity and commitment, but can also come in handy if they work with overseas clients.
Now, language skills are more sought after than ever, given the potential impact of Brexit on British industry, according to the CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Report 2018. “The need for languages has been heightened by the UK’s departure from the European Union,” the report states.
The British Council has also stressed the need for young people to learn a foreign language in order for Britain to become a “truly global nation”. In their most recent Languages for the Future report in 2017, the British Council listed the following as the most important languages for the UK’s prosperity: Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese and Russian.
Even though multilingualism is needed for the UK’s prosperity, just 1 in 3 Britons can hold a conversation in a foreign language, according to the report from the British Council.
So, those who can speak another language are more needed than ever - as is clear from the 2018 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Report, which surveyed almost 500 British employers and calculated which languages are most desirable to them. The following are the results from that report and, thus, the best languages to study for graduate employment.
5 November 2019 (The Guardian)
French and German GCSEs are to be marked less severely from next year amid concerns that students are being put off studying modern foreign languages (MFL) because it is more difficult to get top grades in these than in other subjects.
The qualifications regulator Ofqual has ruled there should be an adjustment to grading standards in French and German GCSEs – entries for which have declined dramatically – but not in Spanish where numbers have been more buoyant.
The government also announced a review of the content of its recently reformed GCSEs in MFL after complaints from teachers that some of the questions are too difficult – particularly in listening and reading assessments – and may be discouraging students.
Ofqual said there were no plans to adjust GCSE grades retrospectively, but the regulator will now work with the examination boards in the run-up to next year’s exam season to bring the grading of French and German GCSEs in line with other subjects.
School leaders welcomed the move and called for a comparable adjustment in languages at A-level, where there has been a similar decline. The GCSE grading adjustments may need to be phased in over a longer period, and will affect grades 4 and above.
“We have conducted a thorough review of the evidence that GCSE French, German and Spanish are severely graded in comparison to other subjects,” an Ofqual statement said. “On the balance of the evidence we have gathered, we have judged that there is a sufficiently strong case to make an adjustment to grading standards in French and German, but not Spanish.”
The Ofqual announcement comes amid mounting concern about the dramatic decline in the study of modern foreign languages in schools in England over the past 15 years, with entries for language GCSEs down 48%. German has declined by 65%, while French is down by 62%.
3 November 2019 (Grampian Online)
Entries are being sought for an annual Scots language writing competition.
The Keith branch of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland are looking for entries for the Charles Murray Writing Competition, which encourages the passing down of the Scots language from generation to generation.
The competition was launched to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Murray, an Alford-born poet, and is now into its sixth year.
Work entered into the competition can be prose or poetry and can be written about anything – but has to be in Scots. The competition is open to anyone, of any age, but must be written by two or more people of different generations – for example mother and daughter or grandfather and grandson.
29 October 2019 (The Scotsman)
A new Gaelic 'immersion' course is being set up at Glasgow University to help create a new generation of Gaelic-speaking professionals in Scotland.
The one-year course at Glasgow University will offer an intensive language learning experience for students and adult learners.
Students will undertake eight-months of tuition at the university followed by a three-week residential school at Ceòlas Uibhist, the Gaelic education and cultural centre in South Uist.
The course has been set up with a grant of £455,000 from the Scottish Funding Council.
It comes as Glasgow City Council considers a £16m commitment to build a fourth Gaelic Medium Education (GME) school.
The new course will help meet demand for Gaelic-speaking teachers as pupil numbers rise.
28 October 2019 (Schools Week)
Applies to England.
Ministers are aiming to introduce a British sign language GCSE “as soon as possible” – and have pledged to consult on draft content next year.
Nick Gibb, the schools minister, has confirmed Department for Education officials are now “working with subject experts to develop draft subject content” for the GCSE.
The government relaxed its position on the creation of a BSL GCSE in 2018 following threats of a legal challenge by the family of a 12-year-old deaf pupil.
Last May, Gibb said the government was “open to considering” a BSL GCSE “for possible introduction in the longer term”, but insisted there were no plans to do so until after the next election, at that point scheduled for 2022, “to allow schools a period of stability”.
But in August last year, Gibb said the government could make “an exception” to its moratorium on new qualifications.
Now, with a general election expected in the coming months, Gibb has given the strongest signal yet that the new qualification could become a reality.
27 October 2019 (The Guardian)
A doctoral student in Peru has made history by becoming the first person to write and defend a thesis in Quechua – the language of the Incas, which is still spoken by millions of people in the Andes.
Roxana Quispe Collantes received top marks from Lima’s San Marcos university, the oldest in the Americas, for her study on Peruvian and Latin American literature, which focused on poetry written in Quechua.
Scholars say it is the first time in the university’s 468-year history that a student has written and defended a thesis (answering questions from examiners) entirely in the native language – even though it is the most widely spoken indigenous tongue in South America, used by about 8 million people, half of them in Peru.
27 October 2019 (The Herald)
More than £16 million will be required to build Glasgow's newest Gaelic primary school, a report has revealed.
Glasgow City Council is mulling over a plan to use the disused St James' Primary building as the site of the local authority's fourth school offering Gaelic Medium Education (GME).
The disused school in the Calton area of the city has been listed as being in poor condition by Scotland’s Buildings at Risk register.
The bill for refurbishing the crumbling school is expected to be around £16.5 million, and would see the creation of 12 state-of-the-art teaching spaces and two general-purpose areas for pupils.
25 October 2019 (The Daily Record)
Do you ken what the most iconic Scots word is? If not, dinnae get yourself in a fankle, you soon will.
A panel organised by the Scottish Book Trust have whittled our favourite Scots words to 30. And now the public have the chance to vote for them.
Tying in with A Year of Conversation and the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the public were invited to submit iconic Scots words through the charity’s social media channels and website. More than 200 words were nominated, from various dialects such as Doric, Shetlandic, Dundonian and Glaswegian.
24 October 2019 (BBC)
This short video explores how much of an impact the language you speak has on how you actually think.
22 October 2019 (ECNS)
Architects have begun construction on the Chinese outpost of a top-ranked Scottish school that will offer bilingual education to elementary and high school students.
Fettes Guangzhou is a collaborative venture between Chinese education company Bright Scholar and Edinburgh-based Fettes College, opened in 1870, which counts former United Kingdom prime minister Tony Blair among its alumni.
Set to open in September next year, Fettes Guangzhou will be the brand's first international campus.
The school will be dual-curricular, offering up to 2,000 students aspects of both the British and Chinese education systems. Fettes Guangzhou will teach boys and girls and take full boarders as well as day students.
"Fettes Guangzhou will be a true reflection of Fettes College internationally, fully adopt our ethos, provide an outstanding academic education, focus on sector-leading pastoral care and introduce a wealth of co-curricular activities to broaden the horizons of all of its students," said Bruce Dingwall, who is deputy chair of the Fettes Trust.
Situated on the northern outskirts of Edinburgh, Fettes College was named Scotland's top independent secondary school in 2018 by The Sunday Times School Guide, which uses results from General Certificate of Secondary Education, A-Level, and International Baccalaureate exams to determine its rankings.
Several high-profile individuals have attended Fettes, including 2015's Nobel Prize in Economics winner Angus Deaton, Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton, and sinologist Roderick Mac-Farquhar, who served as director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.
Bright Scholar is China's largest operator of international and bilingual schools, and the company has made a string of investments in British education in recent years.
20 October 2019 (The Scottish Sun)
Liam Henderson's Italian is coming on nicely — but brother Ewan reckons his success speaks for itself.
Celtic kid Ewan, 19, is following in Liam’s footsteps by coming through the ranks at Parkhead. Liam, 23, is playing for Hellas Verona in Serie A after helping them to promotion last season.
[...]“He’s taking Italian lessons and his language skills have improved a lot since he first went over.
“There aren’t many boys from Scotland who have gone over and done what he’s done. It shows it’s possible for Scottish players to try things like that."
19 October 2019 (The Times)
Cambridge academics are opening the country’s first museum of languages today but it will be located in a shopping centre, not one of its historic colleges.
World-renowned professors of linguistics are desperately trying to stem the decline in modern foreign languages at schools. The number of teenagers taking French GCSE has more than halved in the 15 years since taking a language ceased to be compulsory.
The museum has been set up in a shopping centre alongside high street stores like Clintons and Claire’s accessories, to encourage people – particularly children – to learn.
18 October 2019 (Life Spectator)
Most of my friends are moderate Remainers. There’s the odd fanatic, the sort who go on marches demanding a People’s Vote. What I can’t understand is why none of them can speak French, German, or indeed any European language.
They go on holiday to Europe, but only to those parts where they won’t have to speak the lingo because fortunately Johnny Foreigner has had the good sense to learn English.
Something else that confuses me is the belief, most pungently articulated by David Aaronovitch, that Brexit will be reversed in a few years because those stuck-in-the-past Gammons will shuffle off this mortal coil to be replaced in the electorate by a shiny new Briton: young, cosmopolitan and forward-looking, who believe the sun shines out of the Brussels’ class. In which case, why are fewer school children than ever bothering to learn a foreign language?
According to a report in the BBC this year, the learning of foreign languages is at its lowest level in UK secondary schools since the turn of the millennium. Since 2013 there has been a decline of between 30 to 50 per cent in the numbers taking GCSE language courses with German and French suffering most. That’s in England; in Northern Ireland the drop in pupils learning modern languages at GSCE is 40% while in Scotland there has been a 19% decline since 2014. And there was me thinking those two countries couldn’t get enough of all things European.
Furthermore, in March this year the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Modern Languages released a report stating that since 2000 more than fifty UK universities have cut language courses, or done away with departments entirely.
I blame the parents. In 2013 a report revealed that only a quarter of British adults were capable of holding even a basic conversation in a language other than English; of those, French was the most common, followed by German.
18 October 2019 (Varsity)
Olivia Halsall gives an account of her experiences learning Chinese Mandarin and French, whilst encouraging students to take the plunge into foreign language learning.
"But you’re British.” In a quaint hostel in Xiamen, a coastal city dubbed the “Mansion Gate” of China, I’ve been helping two new French arrivals translate their needs into Chinese Mandarin. The lack of English language between both parties has been making the process difficult, and it would be cruel not to step in and help. Caught in the act, a passing German soon discovers I’m British only to astutely declare that he’s never met a multilingual Brit.
Wanting to refute his seemingly absurd claim, instead I find myself reddening in shame. My parents and most of my British friends are monolingual. Their abridged reason is that where English is the world’s lingua franca, on the outset there seems no urgent need to learn an additional language. The age-old maxim confessed when a Brit is expressing remorse at their poor language skills is conventionally, “but I’m so bad at languages!” As a nation, we do not have the plethora of multilingual exposure and resources that many others take for granted. In 2019, this should no longer be an excuse.
Had I been brought up in Switzerland, I would have grown up surrounded by German, French, Italian, Romansh (and English). Had I been born Chinese, I would have spoken a provincial dialect at home and Chinese Mandarin at school. Like many countries around the world, had I not been born British, I’d have been pushed to learn English fluently before completing my secondary education. Brits shouldn’t look to these nations in awe; the linguistic vibrancy in other countries is simply a way of life, and multilingualism the norm.
The latest data from the European Commission (2016) shows the percentage of the population aged 25–64 reporting to know one or more foreign languages in the UK is 34.6%. This rises to 60.1% in France, 78.7% in Germany, and a staggering 96.6% in Sweden. The average across the European Union is 64.6%, which sets us apart not only linguistically, but culturally.
To make matters worse, a 2018 survey report by the British Council on language trends found that “just over a third (34%) of state secondary schools report that leaving the European Union is having a negative impact on language learning, either through student motivation and/or parental attitudes towards the subject”. In the aftermath of Brexit, there has never been a better time for the UK to plunge itself into foreign language learning.
18 October 2019 (The Guardian)
The number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland’s island communities has plummeted in less than a decade, according to a leading Highland researcher who believes the language is on the point of “societal collapse” across Scotland.
Although just over 58,000 people reported themselves as Gaelic speakers in the 2011 Scottish census, Prof Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, the director of the Language Sciences Institute at the University of the Highlands and Islands, will publish a study next year following extensive fieldwork in the Western Isles, Skye and Tiree that estimates that the vernacular group on the islands, where speakers are most heavily concentrated, does not exceed 11,000.
Ó Giollagáin believes that existing policies to promote Gaelic focus too heavily on encouraging new speakers, mainly in urban areas, or promoting it as a heritage language, and that without a significant shift to supporting existing speakers, Gaelic “will continue as the language of school and heritage but not as a living language”.
17 October 2019 (Consumer Affairs)
Researchers from the University of Delaware have found that reading to Spanish-speaking children in their native language can help them better understand the English language. Their study shows that these children are more likely to excel in reading and writing in English when exposed to their native tongue at an early age.
“This suggests that well-developed Spanish reading proficiency early on likely plays a greater role in English reading development than a student’s proficiency in speaking English,” said researcher Steven Amendum.
Amendum and his team evaluated students from the time they were in kindergarten until they were in the fourth grade. All participants were read to by their parents in Spanish and were reading on their own to try to master English.
Ultimately, the study revealed that early exposure to Spanish was crucial to children developing sharper English reading and speaking skills. This came as a surprise to the researchers because of how young the children were at the beginning of the study.
17 October 2019 (Sunday Post)
From Spanish to German, and even Klingon and Valyrian from Game of Thrones, the Duolingo app has over 300 million people across the world learning new languages.
Soon, Scottish Gaelic will join the courses available, and it’s hoped that it will pique interest in the language, which has just under 60,000 speakers in Scotland, according to the 2011 Census.
It was announced on Thursday at the Royal National Mod in Glasgow that the course would be launched on the platform in the coming weeks.
It follows huge demand for the language to be added to the free learning app, and the work of a dedicated team of volunteers working in their spare time to get it off the ground.
Contributor Martin Baillie, an architect from Skye, told The Sunday Post: “It’s a great way to make it accessible to people. In the Gaelic world, we’re always talking about small numbers and Duolingo is a great way to raise awareness not just in Scotland but internationally.
“I teach night classes in Gaelic on Skye, and you go along once a week but what do you do in between?
“Duolingo is a great and fun way to do a wee ten minutes revision every day and that makes a huge difference learning a language if you just run over the words.
“You don’t need to get lost in a book, and it helps get it into your long term memory.”
Currently there are more than four million people learning Irish on the app, with 1.2 million signed up for Welsh courses.
“If we could get a number like that learning Scottish Gaelic then it would really show that there’s an interest there,” Martin says.
“It would give a lot of strength to efforts to keep the language alive.”
15 October 2019 (The National)
Scotland's Gaelic development board has unveiled a new campaign inspired by a scheme in Wales aimed at spreading pride in the language.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig launched the “#cleachdi” hashtag at the Royal National Mod 2019 in Glasgow.
The body is urging Gaelic speakers and learners to include #cleachdi alongside #useit and #gaidhlig on social media, email signatures or by wearing the symbol on stickers, showing their pride in the language.
Shona MacLennan, Bòrd na Gàidhlig chief executive officer, said: “More and more people want to use and learn Gaelic and this initiative is a very positive and easy to use means to encourage more people to use more Gaelic in more situations.
“We will be joining all those who speak the language in displaying our pride at letting others know we are Gaelic speakers. We think #cleachdi is the perfect way to do this. So let’s #useit and put #gaidhlig firmly on the map.”
The new #cleachdi campaign is similar to the Welsh Language Commissioner’s “Iaith Gwaith”, or “Welsh at Work”, scheme, which is used in Wales to show that a service is available in Welsh.
14 October 2019 (The Herald)
THE SNP's conference has called for the creation of a new quango to boost the use of the Scots language.
Delegates voted to explore the idea of a Scots Language Board – or "Board fir the Scots Leid" – similar to Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which promotes Gaelic.
They called for Scots to be more widely taught, learned and promoted as part of Scottish public life, and noted the "years of linguistic prejudice" it has suffered.
9 October 2019 (The Courier)
Twice the Kirkcaldy-born winger has become the most expensive Scottish player in history with big money transfers, costing Red Bull Leipzig and West Brom a combined total of £28 million.
And, after his recent loan move to Alaves, Burke can also tell the grandchildren he has played in the top leagues in England, Scotland, Germany and Spain.
Still only 22, he certainly couldn’t be accused of being reluctant to take himself out of a comfort zone.
“I was keen for another adventure,” admitted Burke, who moved to Alaves on a season-long loan.
“I’m really enjoying it. We’ve started off well and I feel really comfortable there.
“The team is good and have made me feel welcome and I’m playing football which is the main thing. It doesn’t really faze me moving to another country. Because I’ve already done it it’s a lot easier.
“I want to enjoy it because you only live one life so why not live it to the extreme and do everything you can?
“The main focus was to go there get and get game time. That has happened and everything is going well which is good.”
He added: “We train at 11 in the morning and then of course there is a siesta and shops close at certain times, which is weird.
“It’s pretty normal other than the siesta part of thing where they all go to sleep for two hours and it’s a ghost town.
“I’ll go back and sleep after training and do what they’re doing so I can keep up.
“I’ve got to start having Spanish lessons three times a week. I’ve got a teacher already organised.
“Just now it’s only a short loan until the end of the season, but who knows what will happen after that, but it will be nice to learn the language.
“My team-mates are good. I go out for meals with them and stuff.
“I think a few of the players did some research into me before I went but the rest of them don’t really know anything about me. It is difficult to speak to some of them, because they don’t speak English. Sometimes you need somebody to translate. It’s like ‘tell him that’. So it is quite funny. I see their reaction about a minute later!
9 October 2019 (BBC)
When a family arrives in a new country, often the children are first to pick up the new language - and inevitably, they become the family translators. Researcher Dr Humera Iqbal describes what it's like to be a child responsible for dealing with doctors and landlords, bank staff or restaurant suppliers.
"Baba! Baba!" calls out the driving instructor. Thirteen-year-old Jiawei sits at the back of the car while her dad takes his driving lesson. Father and daughter exchange confused glances, then burst out laughing. The instructor, who has heard this Chinese word during one of Jiawei's father's previous lessons, looks puzzled.
"Doesn't 'baba' mean 'move forward' in Chinese?" he asks.
"No," says Jiawei. "It means 'father'!"
Jiawei was in the unusual position of acting as an interpreter for her dad as he learned to drive. She took notes and repeated in Chinese exactly what the instructor said in English - things like "Turn left at the roundabout," or "Slow down at the junction." She's proud that she helped her father pass his test.
"It was quite fun and I thought I was doing something to help my family," she says, looking back. "I was also learning how to drive myself without knowing it, doing something that other kids didn't get to do."
A year earlier, Jiawei's family had moved from China to the UK and while she had managed to pick up basic English at school, her father was struggling. Jiawei became a crucial link helping him find his way in a new country.
Thousands of migrant children in the UK translate for their families every day. My colleague Dr Sarah Crafter and I have come across child interpreters, some as young as seven, helping their parents communicate in shops, banks, and even police stations. It can be stressful for them, especially when adults are rude or aggressive.
9 October 2019 (Stornoway Gazette)
A new Gaelic language play about climate change is nearing the end of a successful six week national tour of Gaelic medium primary schools.
An Rabhadh (The Warning), performed by Artair Donald and Katie Hammond, highlights the concerns regarding climate change and points to the positive changes that can be made to reduce waste and our carbon footprint.
The tour, which started at the end of August, will visit 47 schools across Scotland, taking in the central belt, Perthshire, Aberdeen, Argyllshire, Skye and Lochalsh and the Western Isles.
The final leg will include visits to schools in the Highland Council area, East Kilbride and the Isle of Tiree.
Aimed at upper primary pupils, the play has been produced through Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s Gaelic language theatre-in-education project Meanbh-chuileag and was written and directed by Angus Macleod, Drama Officer with Fèisean nan Gàidheal. He explained: “The play features two environmentally-friendly aliens who are on a mission to rescue Earth in the year 2119.
“Unfortunately they find that reversing the effects of environmental damage is not possible but a time-travelling gizmo enables a journey back to 2019 to warn the planet’s occupants before it’s too late.”
8 October 2019 (Deadline News)
A University of Dundee lecturer has been honoured for using sign language and music to bring youngsters together in harmony.
Sharon Tonner-Saunders, a lecturer in the University’s School of Education and Social Work, has been named as a recipient of a British Council eTwinning National Award for using songs and Makaton to break down international language barriers.
Unlike British Sign Language, which is the language of the UK’s deaf community, Makaton was developed to assist hearing people with learning or communication difficulties. Signs are developed to look like a word and be as simple as possible to perform, making it particularly easy for children to learn.
Her project, Hands of the World, has brought together learners of all ages and student teachers in schools from more than 40 countries, with classes contributing video clips of themselves singing and signing along to popular songs.
7 October 2019 (The Times)
Glasgow’s first Gaelic poet laureate has urged Scotland not to treat the language like a “fragile vase that you can’t afford to drop” after a big decline in its use.
Niall O’Gallagher — who was appointed bard baile Ghlaschu, or Glasgow city bard, in July — said that Gaelic was under threat but thinking of it as a dialect that must be carefully preserved could make the situation worse. He also admitted that speaking it in public had become “awkward”.
The poet is urging learners to grapple and experiment with the language, and has called for more public spaces to embrace events in the language.
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7 October 2019 (Flux Magazine)
Cognita novum linguarum sunt interesting et fun. Didn’t catch that? Generally, this statement translates to “learning new languages is fun and interesting,” and it’s indeed true. In a world of development and innovations, learning a foreign language presents numerous benefits that people can find useful—not only for travelling to different places, but also for personal development and career advancement. Thus, a lot of people are interested in exploring foreign languages.
Among 6,909 distinct languages around the planet, one might encounter trouble in choosing which languages to learn. Languages and dialects from different parts of the world have their unique histories, and one of the oldest and most significant languages that are still evident today is Latin.
Lately, people suddenly want to learn Latin due to several reasons, and it’s time to know about them.
5 October 2019 (The Guardian)
Applies to England
New science and modern languages teachers in England will receive “staying on” bonuses of up to £9,000 from next year, as the government announced a fresh round of trainee bursaries and scholarships on the heels of pre-election pay rises and increased school funding.
The Department for Education (DfE) said that from 2020, new teachers with degrees in physics or chemistry, or in languages such as French or Spanish, would join those with maths degrees in being eligible for “early-career payments” if they worked in state schools in England for four years after completing their training.
4 October 2019 (The Herald)
Along with the growing interest in Gaelic culture, the Royal National Mòd is flourishing into a celebration that is more inclusive and accessible than ever.
This year the biggest Gaelic festival in the world returns to Glasgow for the first time since 1990 for Mòd Ghlaschu, nine days filled with music, arts, and sport.
The birth of the Mòd came in 1891, and ever since then it has been organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, which, for more than a century, has supported the teaching, learning, and use of the Gaelic language as well as the study and cultivation of Gaelic literature, history, music and art. The festival has held its royal charter since 1992, becoming Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail (The Royal National Mòd).
The main focus of the Mòd is competition, something that attracts the best in Gaelic sport and culture from Gaelic communities throughout the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada and the US.
Whether they are looking to compete or spectate, visitors can enjoy more than 200 competitive events in highland dancing, sport, literature, and drama, as well as Gaelic music and song. For example, this year sees the welcome return of the London Gaelic Choir after an absence from the Mòd.
3 October 2019 (Teachwire)
Writing is often the skill that is left alone by the teachers of MFL beginners: “They’ll get mixed up with English… we have to focus on speaking… it’s too hard.”
However, learners will start to write in the new language whether we want them to or not, on any scrap of paper they can find, while we’re teaching.
They like to note down words to help them with speaking activities, for example. Primary language learners enjoy writing – it’s seen as “proper work” – and being able to write successfully in another language gives them a great sense of achievement.
What is writing all about in language learning? We want learners to:
- Make intelligible marks on a piece of paper or other surface, and have the confidence to form those marks correctly
- Put the marks together in a way that forms words, sentences and texts, according to the rules and conventions of the languages they’re studying
- Give meaning to the words and use them to communicate
So, when children write in the foreign language, we want them to form the individual shapes and letters correctly, to be attentive to accuracy and spell correctly, and to understand structure and grammar and in order to create sentences that communicate.
2 October 2019 (TES)
Private schools heads have warned of a possible “brain drain” if Labour were to introduce its proposed 7 per cent cap on university admissions from the independent sector, with pupils opting to study abroad instead.
Chris Ramsey, co-chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) universities committee, said some subjects like modern foreign languages could be severely impacted by such a cap.
“If you take a subject like MFL, our latest survey told us that 2,500 of our independently educated upper-sixth-formers were applying for modern languages courses," he said, speaking at the HMC annual conference in London.
"That’s one-fifth of the modern languages undergraduates that there are in the country.
"So if you just take that one subject, if only 7 per cent came in, where are the modern linguists going to come from, or are we just going to shrink the numbers of language students in our country?
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1 October 2019 (TES)
Even when digital technology puts so much information at our fingertips, including the possibility of virtual travel, there is still no substitute for lived experience. This enables us to open up our perspective and appreciate fundamental similarities with peers elsewhere – important skills when collaborating with others in any context, especially in the workplace.
Studying overseas offers students fantastic preparation for the world of work. It pushes them to move outside their comfort zones and engage with a breadth of different people – students, teachers, host families – which is invaluable experience in preparing them for life beyond the classroom.
When working and living abroad, you are alert and receptive to all that is new around you, noticing and questioning so much more than when surrounded by all that is familiar. When away from home, our young people are learning to see the world from a completely different point of view, to have some of their values and preconceptions challenged and to see opportunities for themselves in the future that they simply would not have known about otherwise.
Studying overseas also brings a new dimension to learning – seeing something in context to help bring about a better understanding of the how and the why – of history, and literature, of geography, or of a language.
It encourages students to embrace and appreciate diversity, to spend time with people from different cultures and see how the world works elsewhere. It teaches them how to negotiate life overseas, giving them an understanding of cultural conventions and sensitivities that could trip them up otherwise.
Students from St George’s School for Girls who study abroad develop a strong sense of autonomy, essential when undertaking international travel and great preparation for the working world. I see students coming back from time away with much more confidence, having grown in maturity, having learned more about themselves and with a wonderful "yes I can" outlook on life.
[..] While international opportunities are great for our young people, it cannot be denied that the real value lies in exposing students to something that is new – a new environment or experience that leads them to ask questions – and this doesn’t have to be overseas. Our students have taken part in digital exchanges where experiences and learning are shared with peers in a different country online. They also benefit by observing how different countries manage and tackle problems such as climate change.
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29 September 2019 (TES)
The German language is the widest-spoken in the EU. It is the key to German culture. And, says Hayley Gray, it is at risk of dying out in schools.
Auf Wiedersehen, Deutsch! After 27 years of sharing my love of all things German with thousands of students aged 11-18, I spent this summer shredding materials, donating books and binning years of precious resources.
In June, I taught my last-ever German lesson. From this September, in addition to my senior leadership role, I will teach only French. It is with a deep sense of regret that I have had to accept that the subject I fell in love with aged 11 – the language of the country I have lived and worked in, travelled extensively around and developed in as a person – will never again appear on my timetable. Nor will it be formally taught at a school whose values and sense of moral purpose I feel equally passionate about.
As a former head of German, I remain as committed as ever to the importance of teaching languages in our schools. But, as a school leader and manager, I also understand the financial challenges facing schools. Once my own school lost its language-college funding a few years back, our language department could no longer afford the luxury of offering three languages to pupils.
The decision to drop German was driven by numbers, staffing expertise and tightening budgets, and the benefit of learning German was not able to be a consideration.
We fought a hard battle to retain German. We reduced our time allocation at key stage 5 to sustain smaller group sizes. We joined forces with the history department to introduce a popular Berlin trip. We delivered assemblies, organised cultural events and set up a key stage 3 German club, but to no avail.
Our school’s decision merely reflects a national trend. GCSE entries in German were down by 12.5 per cent since last year. Coupled with declining numbers at A level and fewer applicants at university level, this means we no longer have the pipeline of teachers entering the profession. We will soon lose our ability to teach certain languages, and German will disappear from our state schools in the same way Latin did.
Soon there will be a shortage of language skills in general among our young people. This will mean the loss of more than just our ability to converse. To quote Charlemagne: “To have another language is to possess a second soul.”
I believe we nurture those second souls in our teaching of languages. The decision to learn a foreign language is an act of self-care and personal discovery. It’s not just a route to better communication, but also an opportunity to get to know yourself better and to consider your values and your culture, the way you operate and think.
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29 September 2019 (The Scotsman)
Writers, broadcasters, singers, poets and schools have been honoured at the first ever Scots Language Oscars, in the latest addition to the nation’s traditional arts and culture calendar.
The event, which saw 11 awards presented at the Mitchell Theatre in Glasgow, was launched to coincide with the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages initiative.
The new Scots Language Awards celebrate the country’s original tongue, which dates back around 1,400 years and is thought to have been spoken by almost a third of the population.
The event, backed by arts agency Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government and the Scots Language Centre, has been instigated by Hands Up for Trad, who are also behind the BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year contest, which has been staged for the last 20 years, and the Scots Trad Music Awards, which were launched in 2003.
27 September 2019 (TES)
Could the recent slump in modern languages entries be down to students being put off by boring texts? Researchers Suzanne Graham and Linda Fisher put this idea to the test, and found that a broader range of literature and more creative teaching reaped rewards.
Describe your living room. Tell me about your local town. What is in your pencil case?
These requests are not the most inspiring starters for a conversation. They certainly would not inspire you to overcome the struggles of learning a new language in order to communicate your ideas and opinions: who wants to wax lyrical about the number of hairdressers and bakers in their home town?
And yet such functional questions are frequently used in language learning in the UK. We suspect that this is driving potential learners to boredom and leading them to ditch languages altogether. Are we right? Our research project, Linguistic Creativity in Language Learning, should tell us. It is exploring the impact of using poems (about such themes as love, death and migration) and different teaching approaches (“creative” versus “functional”) on 14-year-old language learners’ motivation and creativity levels.
Before beginning our classroom-based research, we wanted to understand why pupils weren’t choosing to continue with language study to GCSE level and beyond. We asked around 550 French and German learners (14-year-olds) whether they planned to continue studying languages in the future and what they thought of language learning. We also used a metaphor elicitation task to gain a greater understanding of how they viewed language learning, asking the pupils to finish the following sentence: “Learning a language is like …”
The results showed that, contrary to popular belief, most thought that it was important to learn a language, but this did not have an impact on whether they intended to continue with language study. What did impact on their decisions was instead whether they could imagine themselves using the languages in their future lives, and how confident they were in being able to express their thoughts and feelings in the language.
The metaphors revealed the learners’ lack of efficacy or self-belief in being able to achieve in language learning: “Learning a language is like trying to ice skate – I keep falling over and can’t get the hang of it”; “Learning a language is like trying to fly … I just can’t do it”.
We wanted to see whether we could alter this negative self-perception regarding language learning by using creative teaching methods and texts. Could putting the emphasis on feelings and emotions (through the exploration of creative texts), rather than just on grammar and vocabulary, have an impact on a language learners’ efficacy? And what would be the effects on other aspects of language learning, such as vocabulary development?
We devised an intervention where we compared text types (literary versus factual) and teaching methodologies (creative versus functional). Briefly, in the creative approach, learners engage with the text primarily on the level of personal, emotional and imaginative response. In the functional approach, the focus is on the text as a vehicle for teaching language, vocabulary and grammar, and for developing the skill of identifying key information in a text on a factual level.
The first step was to find poems suitable for use with Year 9 learners. We chose six for French and six for German, in consultation with the teachers involved in the project.
We then modified another 12 authentic texts so that they contained the same core vocabulary and grammar structures as the other chosen poems and were of a comparable difficulty level.
Next, we conducted baseline tests so that we could track the impact of the teaching materials and methodologies.
Then, in collaboration with language teachers, we developed around 50 PowerPoint presentations and lesson plans in French and German for the intervention phase. The themes we covered included some not often featured in language-teaching materials – for example, love, death and war. In the creative approach, we addressed them in some unusual ways.
[..] Based on findings from the research, teaching materials that combine both a creative and a functional approach will be uploaded and freely available on the Creative Multilingualism website.
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26 September 2019 (TES)
From sporting events to exchange programmes, there are many ways schools can spark an interest in modern languages.
This year’s GCSE results have provided a glimmer of hope that the long-term decline of students studying languages may be starting to change.
However, there is still more to be done. French entries have fallen by more than 40,000 and German by 25,000 since 2010.
So, how are we going to make language learning more appealing? How are we going to inspire our students to take up languages?
By taking languages out of the classroom, we can make them more real, relevant and fun. At our school, we have run Languages Weeks connected with sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympics.
This involves activities such as an Opening Ceremony with flags, anthems and the draw conducted in French. Each class adopts a language of a team competing – anything from Chinese, Portuguese or Russian to Danish or Swedish – and different subjects look at the geography, history, music, food, famous scientists and artists of the countries involved.
Teachers can learn at the same time as their students. Or pupils who speak other languages can act as the teacher to explain the rudiments of their native tongue to their classmates – and their teacher.
The key thing is to give it a whole-school focus and get everyone involved with the idea of learning new languages and understanding different cultures.
Another fun way to boost language engagement is to take an MFL class into your local area to make a promotional tourist film in French, German or Spanish.
22 September 2019 (The Times)
It could cause a stooshie or a hootenanny, depending on your viewpoint, but Scots, the dialect or language that has been spoken in Scotland for several centuries, may get its own agency to help it survive.
Nicola Sturgeon is under internal pressure from SNP activists in this UN year of indigenous languages to recognise Scots as an official language. It could mean it is treated like Gaelic, which was given its own statutory agency, Bord na Gaidhlig, after a catastrophic drop in native speaker numbers.
Some nationalists believe the move would help many more people to learn or promote the so-called “mither tongue”, with support for it to be more widely taught, learnt and promoted as part of public life in Scotland.
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21 September 2019 (The Press and Journal)
The announcement that the Doric Film Festival will return coincides with the news that last year’s inaugural event, and its creator Scots Radio, have been nominated for awards in the prestigious Scots Language Awards.
Also nominated is John Black, headteacher of Meethill Primary School in Peterhead which won the schools’ section of last year’s Festival competition.
And Sheena Blackhall, who wrote and read a special poem for the Doric Film Festival awards, will receive the Janet Paisley Lifetime Achievement Award at the Scots Language Awards.
The Doric Film Festival is the brainchild of Scots Radio director Frieda Morrison, who created the platform to celebrate the Doric language and its cultural identity.
21 September 2019 (The Times)
They come for castles, clan history and clootie dumpling only to be thwarted by the language barrier.
Crowds of Chinese tourists who travel thousands of miles to visit Scotland every year are being wooed by canny restaurateurs and retailers keen to help them spend their currency and now Roy Brett, owner and head chef at the Ondine seafood bar, is looking for Mandarin-speaking serving staff.
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20 September 2019 (The Scotsman)
An interactive map showing place names in Scots has been launched as part of a drive to raise awareness about the language.
The digital map allows people to view the original Scots names for cities, towns and villages such as Glesca/Glescae for Glasgow, Embra/Edinburrae for Edinburgh and Thirsa for Thurso.
Part of the site will allow users to submit more local names to be included on the map. The Scots Language Centre (SLC) will research the suggestions before deciding whether to add them.
16 September 2019 (BBC)
A Scots language poem has won the international Wigtown Poetry Prize for the first time.
Shiftin, by Mhairi Owens, saw off entries from the USA, China, Canada and Ecuador for the £1,500 award.
This year the prize was opened up to entries in Scots, English and Gaelic for the first time.
Ms Owens, from Anstruther, who tutors in creative writing at the University of St Andrews, said she was delighted to be told she had won the award.
"It's literally a slim wee poem, but uses some very beautiful and unique Scots words and phrases," she said.
"It's right that many of us who use Scots in our everyday communication should use it in our poetry."
16 September 2019 (TES)
A review of the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence is needed to ensure that pupils' aspirations are being met and that they have a wide enough range of opportunities in schools, MSPs have found.
This is one of the recommendations of a report published today by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee, following an inquiry into the number of subjects available to pupils and, in particular, concerns over subject choice at S4.
The committee heard that, following the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), there had been confusion and inadequate support from Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
[...] The committee also heard evidence that the changes to curriculum structure have had a negative impact on the number of pupils taking languages and Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, leading to concerns about the future of these subjects in Scotland’s schools.
Review of senior phase (Scottish Government, 16 September 2019)
Education review ordered amid subject choice concern (BBC, 16 September 2019)
14 September 2019 (Times Higher Education)
Humanities and social science academics in continental Europe risk losing their social relevance if they continue to switch to English as the language of publication, according to a bibliometrics expert who has monitored this transition in Norway.
Gunnar Sivertsen, head of bibliometric research at the Oslo-based Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, warned a conference on the future of the humanities that, if the current trend continues so that no research is published in Norwegian, “I think we will lose our societal relevance, even with translations”.
In Norway, the proportion of humanities papers published in Norwegian has slumped from around 65 per cent in 2005 to less than 40 per cent by 2014, according to research presented to delegates by Professor Sivertsen.
13 September 2019 (The Economist)
Unemployed Londoners hoping to work for Gucci, an Italian fashion retailer, may be surprised by the skills required. As well as knowledge of luxury products, including accessories and leather goods, and industry trends, candidates to be a “brand ambassador” at the outlet in Harrods need something extra. Because the posh department store’s customers include rich visitors from the Gulf, you must also speak Arabic.
Foreign languages remain a coveted skill in Britain, according to an analysis of data from Indeed, a recruitment website. Of the millions of jobs in Britain listed there, around one in 200 requires require foreign languages. German and French, the most desirable languages, feature in about 115 out of every 100,000 postings, over twice as often as Chinese, Italian or Spanish. Twenty-nine in 100,000 listings require Dutch; 20 call for Japanese, Polish or Russian. Despite the rise of translation software, people prefer to be served by fellow humans who can speak their mother tongue.
11 September 2019 (TES)
Snapchat is being used by the Department for Education to nudge pupils into choosing to study a modern foreign language at GCSE.
A DfE video posted on the social media platform shows pupils reaping the benefits of knowing a foreign language: including playing video games online against opponents around the world, texting people around the world and "playing football in Spain".
The DfE says the video was posted too late to be a factor in helping the revival in GCSE languages entries this year, for which it says it has still to do analysis.
But the Snapchat video is one of a number of measures being taken to pique pupils' interest. These include the opening of the country’s first modern foreign languages centre for excellence, a £4.8 million centre based within the University of York that coordinates the work of nine MFL hub schools across the country to promote pioneering teaching practices.
“In addition to this, we have launched a pilot project where undergraduates mentor secondary school pupils in MFL to drive up participation in the subjects, specifically targeting areas of high disadvantage to extend access to languages to all pupils,” a DfE spokesperson said.
10 September 2019 (The Edinburgh Reporter)
Scottish Book Trust has announced that applications are open for their What’s Your Story? programme. Now in its fifth year, the scheme has helped around 30 young Scots to develop writing, illustration and performance projects.
14 – 17 year olds living in Scotland are encouraged to apply for an all expenses paid opportunity to learn, grow and create as a writer or illustrator.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said : “Nurturing new young talent in the Scottish literary scene is so important and Scottish Book Trust is proud to launch the fifth year of What’s Your Story, focused on supporting young people. The programme offers a truly unique opportunity and we urge parents and teachers to encourage the teens in their lives with a passion for writing or illustration to apply.”
[..] The Gaelic Books Council funds a Gaelic-language place.
Applications close on 27 November 2019, and can be made online.
6 September 2019 (The Scotsman)
With some less than helpful spellings, there are some places in Scotland whose names get butchered on a daily basis.
Can you correctly identify the pronunciation of these Scottish places?
6 September 2019 (TES)
Applies to England
A recent AQA examiners’ report on GCSE German has highlighted middle-class biases in modern foreign language exams, teachers have said.
Ruth Wilkes, principal of Castle Newnham School in Bedford, posted a photograph of the AQA examiners’ report for a GCSE German oral exam, where it was reported that: “Some students struggled to state advantages and/or disadvantages of a skiing holiday.”
Ms Wilkes said the question would put students from poorer families who did not take foreign holidays at a disadvantage.
“Pupils who’ve experienced a ski holiday are much more likely to be able to infer the answer to that particular question than those who haven’t, whatever their proficiency in the language, making such a question particularly unfair,” she said.
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6 September 2019 (The Scotsman)
It’s aggressive without effort, with a few simple phrases able to send someone on their way. The Scots language was the country’s original tongue, dating back 1,400 years ago, and at one time Scots was the national language of Scotland, spoken by Scottish kings, and was used to write the official records of the country. Now the Scots language becomes a point of pride with some people, using words that - outside of some regions of Scotland - have never been heard. The opening of the Scottish Twitter exhibition in Edinburgh this August was a showcase of how funny an insult in Scots can be. With the ability to deliver a well timed insult viewed as almost an art form, by using some of these simple phrases, you’ll never be left tongue tied with a red face.
5 September 2019 (The National UAE)
A new study suggests that left-handed people are better at verbal tasks, such as learning new languages, because of how they grow in the womb.
The research, conducted by Oxford University and published this week, detailed how scientists had unlocked the genetics hardwired into human DNA that caused people to be left-handed.
Left-handed people’s brains communicate with each other in a more coordinated way, giving them an advantage when it came to being able to speak different languages.
“We discovered that, in left-handed participants, the language areas of the left and right sides of the brain communicate with each other in a more coordinated way,” said Dr Akira Wiberg, a Medical Research Council fellow at the University of Oxford, who carried out the research.
4 September 2019 (The Herald)
The discussion around the Gaelic language in Scotland has tended to veer towards the romantic, the ethereal, and occasionally the political. It can certainly fall under the banner of misinformation from kneejerk detractors.
What is rarely considered are the considerable cognitive and educative benefits of learning Gaelic or learning in the Gaelic medium.
Based in Inverness, Bòrd na Gàidhlig was established to promote the development of the language in Scotland. Its CEO is Shona McLennan, who explains that like many minority languages Gaelic has been in decline, but the mission of Bòrd na Gàidhlig is to promote Gaelic language, Gaelic education, and Gaelic culture with a view to reinvigorating the language.
“One of the most effective ways to do this is to provide education in the medium of the language,” says Shona. “Alongside education in the language, pupils also need opportunities to use it outside of the classroom. You need activity around the learning such as sports activities, arts and music.”
1 September 2019 (Forbes)
When Mina Chae first began making videos in 2008, she found less than five Korean language lessons on YouTube. Feeling a need to ”contribute some pixels to the online community,” she created YouTube lessons with the equipment she had on hand: a laptop, some green screen fabric, and an impressive talent for caricature. Playing multiple members of a fun fictional family, she shared common Korean words and their context in a series of KWOW episodes.
[...] “Many k-pop fans want to learn Korean to sing their favorite songs, which can be especially awesome for audience participation at live concerts,” said Chae. “K-drama lovers can watch their episodes in the native Korean language without reading subtitles, which are not always translated accurately. How can you? There are cultural words and feelings that just cannot be perfectly translated into another language. So learning the language is a way to better understand the culture and people."
30 August 2019 (Stornoway Gazette)
The Scottish Highland clans are one of the most immediately recognisable parts of Scotland’s history. Yet centuries of misrepresentation and romanticisation have created a range of persistent myths and stereotypes.
Now a new free online three-week course from the University of Glasgow, the ‘Scottish Highland Clans: Origins, Decline and Transformations’, on the FutureLearn platform, hopes to debunk some of these misconceptions to provide a critical overview of how the clans functioned in Scottish society.
[...] Dr Andrew Mackillop, a senior lecturer in Scottish History at the University’s College of Arts, who has led the creation of the clans’ course, said the course had drawn on world-class levels of expertise on all aspects of Scottish society, language, history, literature and culture.
“One of the most exciting aspects is the inclusion of Scottish Gaelic material in the form of songs and poems,” he added.
“Making these unique historical sources more accessible is a key objective. Learners will be able to engage with Gaelic but will also have full English translations – so there is no need to worry if you have no Gaelic!
29 August 2019 (News Medical)
Numerous studies have noted the brain benefits that come from being bilingual – among them increased executive-level cognitive function and a four- to five-year delay in the risk of developing dementia symptoms. A new University of California, Irvine study, however, has found that monolinguals living in a linguistically diverse environment may be reaping some rewards just by being in the vicinity of multiple languages.
"The phenomenon is known as ambient linguistic diversity, and we show – using EEG-measured brain activity – that it has the impact of increasing monolingual brain activity similar to what we see in bilinguals, even if the person doesn't speak or understand a second language." Co-author Judith Kroll, UCI Distinguished Professor of language science.
Kroll and graduate student Kinsey Bice, now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, began their research on monolingual brain activity related to language exposure at Pennsylvania State University in 2015. They continued their work after relocations to the University of California, Riverside in 2016 and to UCI in 2019. They examined how single-language speakers responded neurally and behaviorally when presented with a new foreign language, in this case Finnish.
"Finnish was used because it adheres to vowel harmony, a phonological constraint on how words are formed that prevents front vowels from co-occurring with back vowels," Bice said. "We tested whether or not monolinguals would be able to implicitly detect, extract and generalize these patterns to new words."
28 August 2019 (TES)
As educators, we are used to teaching our pupils in English. Sometimes we may use French or Spanish, consolidating our learning of these languages into our daily routine. But how often do we teach in or teach through Scots?
Every January, as we celebrate the life of Robert Burns, children across Scotland busily and eagerly learn a Scots poem ready to recite to their peers – but for many learners that is it.
Could we, and should we, be doing more?
In the 2011 census, over 1.5 million people self-identified as being able to speak Scots. With a language that is spoken that widely, shouldn’t we extend our teaching of Scots beyond a once-a-year celebration?
The Scots language is part of our culture and heritage and by teaching Scots – beyond dipping our toe in to celebrate Burns night – we are recognising and placing value on the diverse language and vocabulary that many pupils bring with them to school.
26 August 2019 (The Big Issue)
I am hugely impressed by people who can speak more than one language. If you’re up at three or more, I’m at your feet. I would have kept Roy Hodgson as England’s football manager for as long as he wanted purely because he once gave a post-match press conference moving easily from English to Italian to Swedish. He also has some Norwegian and Finnish.
There was a strange mixture of support and sniffiness when Boris Johnson spoke French last week during his meeting with Emmanuel Macron. On the one side, his supporters said, well he can’t be a non-European bigot because he speaks French. On the other, the argument was, well he still is. Neither stack up. And both miss the point.
23 August 2019 (TESS)
Earlier this month the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) published annual data on qualifications at all levels.
Tes Scotland has examined the figures to find the most popular subjects at Higher level in 2019, a list that includes all 27 subjects with at least 1,000 entries. Also included are four subjects which had more than 1,000 entries in 2016 – the first year that only the new version of the Higher was run – but which have now dipped below 1,000 entries.
In brackets are the number of Higher entries for each of the 31 subjects in 2016. This offers a better comparison that the figures for 2015, the first year in which the new version of Higher was offered, as for that year only the old Higher was also available.
Finally, below that, we also take a look at which subjects are losing popularity at Higher level, and which are on the rise, by calculating the percentage difference between entries in 2016 and 2019 for each of the 31 subjects.
The figures suggest that social subjects are being squeezed, with geography, in particular, seeing a fall in entries of almost 16 per cent between 2016 and 2019.
But there are even bigger falls in some subjects, including computing science (27.5 per cent) and French (25.4 per cent) and – the biggest fall proportionally – philosophy (34.8 per cent).
Few subjects have seen rises in entries, with Spanish among those to increase (17.5 per cent), although by far the biggest rise proportionally is in politics (55.3%).
For context, overall entries fell from 197,750 in 2016 to 185,914 in 2019, a drop of almost 6 per cent. In italics are all the subjects where the percentage drop in entries is Higher than the overall percentage drop in entries across all subjects.
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23 August 2019 (The Courier)
For the first time, the Dunfermline arts festival, which runs from September 3 to 8, is launching a new strand of Gaelic and Scots events.
The main event is on the ball for Gaelic and non-Gaelic speakers alike.
With regular appearances on BBC Scotland and BBC Alba the Gaelic voice of shinty and football, Hugh Dan MacLennan, is presenting an event in partnership with Dunfermline Athletic FC.
The two-hour interactive workshop at East End Park is for anyone who watched football on Gaelic TV channel, BBC Alba and wondered what on earth was going on.
The session will be delivered in English, and will give the participants the opportunity to learn key phrases used in commentating as well as some they can use at their next match.
22 August 2019 (The Notification)
Everyone speaks English, don’t they? Isn’t it the third most common mother tongue and most frequently-learnt second language in the world, and anyway isn’t it the de facto international language of business, tourism, music and academia? And how are a Swede and Slovak meant to communicate otherwise, without resorting to mime or the questionable suggestions of Google Translate?
Comparing broad Glaswegian, Aussie drawl and Canadian lilt shows us the incredible diversity and geographical spread of our language, arguably the most useful mother tongue on the planet. However, the Anglophone phenomenon comes with its own bear traps. 61% of British people can’t speak a single other language. We thus receive the dubious award for the most monolingual country in Europe.
There’s something very British about the way we consistently overestimate the importance of our own language (only 38% of EU citizens outside the UK and Ireland know enough English to have a conversation, and 6 of the world’s 7.5 billion people speak no English at all) and find excuses not to learn anyone else’s.
We have an unfortunate tendency to reduce language to its functional value of bare bones communication: if person A from country B learns our word for C, we’re good. We persistently neglect that language is also intrinsically tied up with culture, identity and personality.
“A different language is a different vision of life”, quipped the Italian film director Federico Fellini. Speaking only the language handed down to us by our parents means we miss a whole dimension of the human experience, and the pleasure of authentically discovering another layer of the cultural richness of our world.
22 August 2019 (The Conversation)
People often assume that children learn new languages easily and without effort, regardless of the situation they find themselves in. But is it really true that children soak up language like sponges?
Research has shown that children are highly successful learners if they have a lot of exposure to a new language over a long time, such as in the case of child immigrants who are surrounded by the new language all day, every day. In such a scenario, children become much more proficient in the new language over the long term than adults.
But if the amount of language children are exposed to is limited, as in classroom language learning, children are slow learners and overall less successful than teenagers or adults. How can we explain this apparent contrast?
Researchers have argued that children learn implicitly, that is, without conscious thought, reflection or effort. And implicit learning requires a large amount of language input over a long period of time.
As we get older, we develop the ability to learn explicitly – that is, analytically and with deliberate effort. Put differently, adults approach the learning task like scientists. This explains why more mature classroom learners have greater success: they can draw on more highly developed, efficient, explicit learning processes which also require more effort.
When it comes to learning a language, however, it is not a question of either implicit or explicit learning. They can coexist, so it is more often a question of how much of each approach is used.
In our new study, we asked whether younger children who are generally thought to learn implicitly had already developed some ability to learn explicitly as well. What’s more, we looked at whether the ability to analyse language can predict foreign language learning success in the classroom.
20 August 2019 (BBC)
Google says it has made it possible for a smartphone to interpret and "read aloud" sign language.
The tech firm has not made an app of its own but has published algorithms which it hopes developers will use to make their own apps.
Until now, this type of software has only worked on PCs.
Campaigners from the hearing-impaired community have welcomed the move, but say the tech might struggle to fully grasp some conversations.
19 August 2019 (TES)
Entering a classroom packed with students who have little knowledge of English is every teacher's nightmare. We know how challenging it can be to create an inclusive environment and aid those struggling with English, so we've gathered some useful resources to help you support your EAL/ESL students.
16 August 2019 (The Pie News)
More than half of Britons are missing out on finding love abroad after a British Council poll revealed that 54% would avoid striking up a holiday romance due to language barriers.
A mere one in five of Britons would consider finding a partner who did not speak English as their first language while holidaying abroad, it also showed.
Just 17% of UK adults have found love overseas with someone who did not speak English as their first language.
A total of 41% of men said they would consider or had had a holiday romance with someone whose first language was not English, while 29% of women said the same.
Men were also less likely to be put off by potential obstacles to starting or continuing such a relationship, such as distance, travel costs, time zones and cultural differences.
“The results show that speaking another language shifts from being seen as a barrier to romance to something interesting that people want to explore in a partner,” British Council spokesperson Vicky Gough said.
“Language differences might put off half of Brits from starting a holiday romance, but if you break that barrier, nearly two-thirds (63%) would want to learn their partner’s language.”
Romantics can find hope in this year’s UK A level results – after mathematics, languages were the three best performing subjects, with 40.4% of German candidates, 36.4% French and 34.9% Spanish achieving A or A*.
“For those of us heading off on holiday abroad, learning just a few phrases of the local language could see the beginning of a whole new relationship with a person and their culture,” Gough added.
15 August 2019 (TES)
Spanish has overtaken French as the most popular modern foreign language at A level for the first time, figures show.
A total of 8,625 candidates were entered for Spanish A level this year, compared with 8,355 entries in French. In Spanish, the number of entries increased by 4.5 per cent compared with last year, while in French, the number of entries fell by 4.1 per cent.
The change could partly be due to higher numbers of specialist Spanish teachers. Data from the Teaching Regulation Agency’s annual report and accounts published in August showed that 1,365 Spanish-born teachers received QTS in 2018-19 compared with 46 French teachers.
The news backs up provisional A-level entry data from Ofqual released in May, which showed that while Spanish rose from 7,705 to 7,995, French fell slightly, from 7,945 to 7,680.
It also echoes predictions in a report by the British Council in December 2018 that Spanish would overtake French as the UK’s most popular language at A level.
(Note - subscription required to access the full article).
ALL comments on A-level results 2019 (ALL, 15 August 2019)
A-level results 2019 (Alcantra, 15 August 2019)
14 August 2019 (Daily Record)
Two Galloway writers are among nine scrievers nationwide to be awarded funding to support their work in Scots.
Stuart A Paterson from Kirkbean and Susi Briggs from Gatehouse have both received Scots Language Publication grants.
The scheme, funded by the Scottish Government and administered by Scottish Book Trust, was created by the Scots Language Resource Network to support Scots publishers and to encourage Scots writers.
13 August 2019 (BBC)
The Scottish and Welsh governments have expressed fears over the future of the Erasmus student exchange programme in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Both administrations have jointly written to the UK education secretary to express their concerns.
The EU programme helps students study in other countries.
The UK government has guaranteed payments for successful applicants and said it is "exploring participation" in a successor scheme.
Erasmus is an EU-funded programme which enables students to either study part of their degree or undertake a work placement abroad.
About 53% of UK university students who learn abroad do so through the initiative.
Some countries which are not in the EU - including Iceland, Norway and Serbia - also take part.
The letter is signed by the Scottish higher education minister, Richard Lochhead, and the Welsh education minister, Kirsty Williams.
Both devolved administrations are opposed to a hard Brexit but if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, they would like participation in Erasmus to continue.
The letter argues that leaving the EU without a deal or an arrangement covering the scheme will result in universities, colleges, and schools being ineligible to submit applications to participate in the final year of the current Erasmus+ programme in 2020.
It says: "This will be a significant loss to both our education sectors.
"Between 2014 and 2018, Erasmus+ has enabled an estimate of over 10,000 students and staff in Wales to undertake mobility visits to benefit their learning and career development.
"In Scotland, proportionally more students take part in Erasmus+ than from any other country in the UK."
It calls for an urgent meeting of education ministers to discuss the steps being taken towards ensuring that a hard Brexit does not lead to a loss of provision and opportunities for universities, colleges and schools.
13 August 2019 (The Conversation)
Rude, crude and extremely funny, “Scottish Twitter” has garnered much attention in recent years for its uniquely Celtic wit – and for the specific ways it uses language.
Journalist Eve Livingston’s recent article for The Face examines the many social and cultural features of Scottish Twitter. But the fact it has provided a medium for written Scots language to evolve in a way that wasn’t possible before the advent of social media is equally fascinating.
Scots is officially recognised as one of the minority languages of Scotland. It has existed and thrived for centuries in writing as well as speech. From poets Robert Burns, Hugh MacDiarmid and Sheena Blackhall to novelist Irvine Welsh, the language has a rich literary tradition, and even has its own dictionary. More recently, it has moved into the digital world, finding itself unexpectedly and enthusiastically embraced on social media.
11 August 2019 (The Guardian)
There’s nothing quite so guffaw-making to an Anglo-Saxon sensibility in need of its funny bone being tickled than a French worthy having a fit of the vapours.
Last week didn’t disappoint. And all over the delightful word “love”. Apparently, French online advertisers prefer it to “l’amour”, which has got the culture minister, Franck Riester, in a right royal Gallic tizzy. “In this linguistic globalisation, our duty is to refuse any tendency to move towards a single [world] language [and] any weakening of the diversity, as of cultures, in France and elsewhere.”
9 August 2019 (The Guardian)
They were there for him. Jürgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool, has credited Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Joey and Chandler with teaching him English. Watching the long-running sitcom Friends helped him bridge the gaps in his language comprehension, he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast on Wednesday. “The easiest to follow for Germans in English is Friends. It’s easy conversation. You can understand pretty much each word, pretty early,” he said.
Friends is, in fact, a time-honoured English teacher. Both Luis Severino of the New York Yankees baseball team, who is from the Dominican Republic, and the Venezuelan Wilmer Flores, formerly of the rival Mets, have spoken about learning colloquial language from the show. (Flores, who has said he watches Friends almost daily, even changed his walk-up music to the theme tune by the Rembrandts.)
8 August 2019 (The Pie News)
Despite headlines reporting drops in language studies in schools across the UK, youngsters from secondary schools around the UK are continuing to travel overseas in busloads, educational tour operators have said. And Spain – and its language – is becoming increasingly popular.
However, concerns surrounding Brexit and safety have caused issues of their own, and the lower uptake of languages at GCSE level is reflected in language travel industry trends.
The British Council’s Language Trends 2019 report found that entries for GCSE languages had declined by 19% over the past five years. French and German GCSE candidate levels saw reductions of 30%, the report explained.
“Spanish language trips are getting very close to the demand for French language”
At A-level, between 2017 and 2018, German was down by 16%, French by 7%, and Spanish by 3%. However, provisional entry figures for 2019 show Spanish candidate numbers increasing by 10% and French increasing by 4%.
German instead is set to continue to fall by 2.5%.
Of the 776 primary schools and 845 secondary schools surveyed for this report, 8% said they had offered school trips abroad in the previous year.
In last year’s survey, that number was 12%, but more respondents were included in the 2019 report.
Michelle Evans, head of product & marketing at educational tour operator NST noted that a large proportion of its language trips were for students under GCSE age.
“Teachers are trying to engage the students in lower secondary years in languages, so that they can encourage them to take that subject at GCSE,” she told The PIE News.
6 August 2019 (TESS)
Higher computing entries fall by 21%. Setting aside computing, the sciences fared better in terms of changes in uptake than the social subjects.
French experienced a 10% dip in entries, whilst Spanish saw a 9% increase from last year.
31 July 2019 (The Guardian)
Just after the first world war, the UK produced its most comprehensive review of languages provision, the Leathes report. In the Brexit era we’re now faced yet again with different ideological, cultural and economic battles that have us examining our languages capacity, and discovering it falls well short of what is required.
After Brexit we will need a strong language base for trade, international relations and soft power. Yet instead of a growth in languages, we’re experiencing steep decline: the number of modern languages undergraduates fell by 54% between 2008–9 and 2017–18. With fewer students applying, at least 10 modern languages departments have closed in the last decade (the University of Hull is the most recent casualty), and many others have shrunk in size or reduced their range of languages. By one estimate, the number of German units has halved from more than 80 in 2002 to fewer than 40 today.
Second, if Brexit and the debate over the Irish backstop have taught us anything, it is that we need subject specialists with language skills – lawyers, economists, geographers, engineers, and business graduates with the language skills to understand, negotiate, and argue the details.
Third, we urgently need more language graduates with at least two languages to degree level to teach in schools and rebuild and sustain primary and secondary languages. At present we risk most state schools offering pupils only one language to GCSE and many offering none at all to A-level, in a way that would never be tolerated for the sciences.
To win back students, a new approach is needed.
5 November 2018 (TES)
An extra 641 teacher trainees in modern foreign languages are needed to start work in schools by 2020, according to government forecasts.
But this is among “challenging targets” for teacher recruitment which the government will yet again fail to meet, training providers have said.
Figures released by the Department for Education show that the number of MFL trainees for postgraduate initial teacher training needed for 2019-20 is 2,241 – compared to 1,600 this year – in order to provide sufficient numbers of newly qualified teachers for the autumn of 2020.
This represents a 40 per cent increase in postgraduate ITT places for MFL compared to 2018-19.
But James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said the government had already failed for the last five years to meet recruitment targets for secondary schools and said this was another target which was unlikely to be met.
5 November 2018 (International Business Times)
Queen Elizabeth II can speak at least one foreign language fluently after getting a private education by governess Marion Crawford.
Harriet Mallinson, a journalist for Express, revealed that Her Majesty can speak French fluently. French is regarded as the official language in 29 countries. But the Queen has used her knowledge in the language during her visits to France and Canada.
In 2014, the Queen went to Paris for a state visit and met with former President Francois Hollande. The two discussed the weather in French. During her fifth French State Visit at the Elysee Palace in Paris, the monarch also gave an address in both English and French. A year later, the Queen spoke with a schoolgirl from Dagenham in French.
But Mallinson noted that the most impressive instance was when the Queen went to Quebec in Canada and gave a speech in French for a straight 10 minutes. French language expert Camille Chevalier-Karfis commented on the Queen’s French-speaking videos.
“Her reading skills were excellent – both pronunciation and rhythm were very good, but you could feel she was quite tense,” she said.
In related news, the Queen isn’t the only royal that can speak French fluently. Prince Charles and the Queen’s three other children can all speak the language.
1 November 2018 (TES)
More than half of teachers worry that parents whose native language is not English are missing out on critical elements of their children’s education, a survey shows.
Nearly seven out of 10 teachers said they were concerned parents couldn’t help with homework, and 51 per cent worried whether they could identify if their children had learning difficulties.
More than half (56 per cent) of teachers surveyed said they feared parents with English as an additional language (EAL) could not fully engage with school life.
31 October 2018 (The Indepedent)
Jeremy Hunt will vow to recruit 1,000 more diplomatic staff and boost their language skills, as he fights warnings that Brexit will weaken Britain’s international clout.
In a major speech, the foreign secretary will promise “the biggest expansion of Britain’s diplomatic network for a generation”, opening new embassies in Africa and South East Asia.
There will also be a doubling of diplomats who speak the local language to 1,000, Mr Hunt will say – and an increase in the number of languages the Foreign Office teaches, from 50 to 70.
30 October 2018 (Glasgowist)
Glasgow’s Gaelic heritage is celebrated every year as part of the Celtic Connections festival. This year, there was also the Glaschu festival in August, with Gaelic poetry in Queens Park and a Ceilidh on Glasgow Green. Every year, the city is filled with the spirit of Scots Gaelic heritage, as tourists and Glaswegians unite for a celebration of Scottish tradition.
With song and dance at the heart of Gaelic culture, it is no wonder that it continues to fascinate the world. Recent books and television series have prompted a surge in interest in the Gaelic language, while Betfair hosts a slot game called Gaelic Luck. The University of Glasgow has been teaching Gaelic to undergrads for 50 years, and a recent literary festival and ad hoc lessons in Gaelic have responded to a surge in interest.
30 October 2018 (BBC)
BBC Culture polled 209 critics in 43 countries to find the best in world cinema.
We felt it was time to direct the spotlight away from Hollywood and celebrate the best cinema from around the world. We asked critics to vote for their favourite movies made primarily in a language other than English. The result is BBC Culture’s 100 greatest foreign-language films.
30 October 2018 (BBC)
Prince Harry has delighted a gathering of Auckland's local Pasifika community, hosted by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, by greeting them in six languages.
The royal opened his speech by saying greetings in Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Niuean, Cook Islands Maori and Maori.
26 October 2018 (BBC)
When it comes to learning a foreign language, we tend to think that children are the most adept. But that may not be the case – and there are added benefits to starting as an adult.
It’s a busy autumn morning at the Spanish Nursery, a bilingual nursery school in north London. Parents help their toddlers out of cycling helmets and jackets. Teachers greet the children with a cuddle and a chirpy “Buenos dias!”. In the playground, a little girl asks for her hair to be bunched up into a “coleta” (Spanish for ‘pigtail’), then rolls a ball and shouts “Catch!” in English.
“At this age, children don’t learn a language – they acquire it,” says the school’s director Carmen Rampersad. It seems to sum up the enviable effortlessness of the little polyglots around her. For many of the children, Spanish is a third or even fourth language. Mother tongues include Croatian, Hebrew, Korean and Dutch.
Compare this to the struggle of the average adult in a language class, and it would be easy to conclude that it’s best to start young.
But science offers a much more complex view of how our relationship with languages evolves over a lifetime – and there is much to encourage late beginners.
25 October 2018 (Press and Journal)
Gaelic could add more than £82 million per year to tourism, Visit Scotland revealed yesterday.
Cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, Fiona Hyslop officially launched The Gaelic Tourism Strategy for Scotland 2018-2023 at The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh alongside Lord Thurso, chairman of VisitScotland and Shona Niclllinnein, chief executive of Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
The five-year plan is aimed at boosting the use of Gaelic in the tourism industry and using the language as a “unique selling point” to market to visitors.
The strategy will focus on using the language in everyday use with tourists, and developing the major benefits to businesses that come from the culture and arts associated with Gaeldom.
It will see the introduction of Gaelic ambassadors in every area of Scotland, and “Gaelic spoken here” badges for businesses, in a bid to promote the language to visitors.
24 October 2018 (Daily Record)
The finalists have been announced for this year’s Daily Record and Bòrd na Gàidhlig Scottish Gaelic Awards.
The awards pay tribute to all aspects of Gaelic culture, education and language.
And the winners will be revealed on Wednesday, November 14, in Glasgow.
24 October 2018 (The Scotsman)
A new study suggests more pupils could learn Chinese and Urdu as part of a shake up in learning foreign languages.
The independent think tank, Reform Scotland, has published a report calling for a fresh approach to be taken towards the education of languages in Scottish schools.
The report indicates a practical model of learning should be introduced to help adapt to changing demand.
The number of Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) entries in “traditionally taught” languages has decreased over the last 20 years, with entries for higher grade French down by 18.2% and entries for German at the same level reduced by 58.4%.
In contrast, entries for higher Spanish exams increased by 219.8% increased over the same period, while Chinese entries have increased by 17.8% in the past two years.
Reform Scotland argue this highlights a changing global economy, with Asia seen as a growing economic market.
The report also calls for an end to distinctions between “community” and “modern” languages so that learning reflects the increasing number of communities in Scotland speaking languages such as Polish, Arabic and Urdu.
Reform Scotland Director Chris Deerin said: “If we want to see genuine growth in language skills in Scotland, rather than just paying lip service to the idea, we need to rethink our approach.
“There is a danger the languages currently on offer within the education system are not keeping up with Scottish or global society.
“We need to think much more freely - as many other countries do - about how best to equip ourselves to thrive in the modern global economy. Brexit, the shift of power from West to East, and Scotland’s pressing need to secure greater economic growth, all demand fresh ideas.”
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19 October 2018 (TES)
How much do your students know about linguistics? Probably not much, because linguistics (the scientific study of language) is conspicuously absent from the modern foreign language syllabus in schools. This is a shame, because linguistics has much to offer students.
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17 October 2018 (TES)
At Dane Royd Junior and Infant School, we’ve been employing modern language assistants (MLA) – mainly European and Chinese language assistants for over 15 years. We also lead training and support for schools within the local authority who employ language assistants.
Our MLAs have been key in boosting not only our teaching of modern foreign languages but also the teaching of global citizenship and British Values. We’ve seen our pupils’ understanding of their cultural heritage and place in the world grow by being able to compare and contrast their experiences and beliefs through their frequent interactions with an MLA.
In supporting other schools, I’ve seen the wealth of activities that MLAs can contribute which enable schools to deepen their language teaching, as well as dramatically improve language skills among pupils. Here are a few of the most effective activities to try in your school.
17 October 2018 (BBC)
Hannah Jenkins speaks English in the morning and German in the afternoon. It's not a routine she chose to adopt - but something her brain requires her to do. It all started with a cycling accident.
Her partner Andrew Wilde was halfway up a mountain in the US state of Montana when he received a baffling text from Hannah.
He understood only two words - "dog" and "hospital" - but knew instinctively something was wrong.
The text was in German, a language Hannah had grown up with, but Andrew didn't really understand. They only ever communicated in English.
17 October 2018 (The Linguist)
Does the portrayal of Germans by the UK press stop pupils wanting to study the language, asks Heike Krüsemann.
Working as a secondary school German teacher for over two decades, I became more and more aware of how difficult British students seemed to find learning languages. This was playing out against the background of declining language uptake nationally, which has affected German the most. Currently, fewer than half of all 16-year-olds take a language GCSE. The number studying German has fallen by more than a third since 2010, while German A-level entries have dropped by three-quarters since 1997 to just 3,000. Experts now hold that German as a school subject is “headed for extinction”.
What my students heard about German, Germans and Germany often did not square with what they experienced in lessons, or through travel and contact with German people. This made me wonder whether motivation to learn German, including uptake at school, was related to public discourses around German. This question became a research focus of my PhD. The ’school’ part of my study involved just over 500 learners, their German teachers and head teachers from four English secondary schools; the ‘public’ part consisted of a large number of articles about German, Germans and Germany from a range of UK national newspapers.
16 October 2018 (Press and Journal)
A youth committee is working with An Comunn Gàidhealach to shape the Mods of the future.
The group was set up this year giving a nod to The National Year of the Young Person – and so far has set its sights on modernising the way in which the historic organisation communicates with the public to secure its future.
The committee of three – Shannon MacLean, 21, Padruig Morrison, 22 and Katie MacInnes 18 – is supported by 25-year-old Alison Bruce who is also employed by An Comunn Gàidhealach.
Miss MacLean, from Mull, said: “Being on the committee has been very interesting. Our main goal is to get more young people to come to the mod and get them involved in local mods around the country.
“This is my third mod in Dunoon, and it is certainly the competitions that have helped me, as a non-native speaker, take the language seriously.
“My job is to make sure it survives for a long time yet.”
Top Gaelic learner blooms at the Mòd (The Scotsman, 17 October 2018)
15 October 2018 (The Times)
Pupils who speak English fluently as a second language do better than native speakers throughout their whole time at school, according to a study.
The researchers found that bilingual children performed better than their monolingual classmates — and the national average — at the ages of five, seven, eleven and in GCSEs. Teenagers speaking English as a foreign language pulled ahead of native speakers in GCSEs for the first time this summer.
14 October 2018 (Argyllshire Advertiser)
It’s Mòd time again, and the Gaelic party is well and truly up and running in Dunoon.
Storm Callum and well-publicised road closure problems at the Rest and be Thankful were never going to prevent Gaels from all over Scotland and beyond from enjoying themselves.
Friday saw the the Royal National Mòd (Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail) get into full swing with an energetic night of live music and celebrations, as Scotland’s biggest Gaelic cultural festival arrived in the Argyll town.
The Mòd is set to bring thousands of people to Dunoon as visitors and competitors until Saturday October 20.
13 October 2018 (BBC)
A 22-year-old singer from Skye has been named Gaelic Ambassador of the Year, as the Royal National Mod gets under way.
Eilidh Cormack, from Portree, said she was "absolutely delighted".
The Gaelic cultural festival began in Dunoon on Friday night, with a special celebration honouring Scotland's Year of Young People.
Over the next eight days there will be more than 200 competitions and events in Highland dancing, sport, literature, drama, Gaelic music and song.
11 October 2018 (The Telegraph)
The first thing I asked for on getting ashore in Spain was a glass of red wine. I had never been to the country before and could speak not a sentence of the language, so I pieced together the request from a dictionary.
The woman behind the bar was nonplussed, since each word I’d used and the whole sentence were erroneous. So she served the next customer while I stewed in confusion. Then she explained to me that she’d done this in order to attend to me without hurry. The funny thing was that I didn’t know any of the words she used to me, yet I understood.
(Note, subscription required to read full article).
10 October 2018 (BBC)
There has been a further drop in the number of students from Wales taking language courses at university, according to admissions service Ucas.
The numbers starting foreign language courses was down by a third on the same time last year, in latest figures.
Cardiff University has been working with schools to encourage more pupils to take up subjects such as French.
Helping them is former student Callum Davies, now a player liaison officer at Cardiff City FC. He learnt modern foreign languages at school and spent a year in the south of France as part of the Erasmus programme while doing his degree course at Cardiff University.
He works helping French-speaking players and their families settle in the city.
10 October 2018 (The Scotsman)
The city council will press ahead with proposals to open new primary and secondary Gaelic schools despite a “problematic” shortage of teachers who speak the language.
The authority hopes to open a new primary school in 2023 where pupils are taught through the medium of Gaelic - while a secondary school could follow by 2024. A host of short-term improvements will also be taken forward.
The council is facing a growing demand for Gaelic education but council officers admit that at the Bun-Sgoil Taobh na Pairce primary school, “as the school has grown, the recruitment of sufficient Gaelic-speaking teachers has proven to be problematic.”
Conservative education spokesman, Cllr Callum Laidlaw, said: “Clearly, there’s a demand for it in Edinburgh for primary expansion. There’s a problem with the citywide catchment area for the current primary school with transport, which is provided by the council. If we move forward with any expansion of primary GME, I would like to see that geographic problem tackled by building it in the south west of the city.
“As it stands, the plan demonstrates ambition rather than reality. There’s a significant recruitment challenge the council has to address first before it moves forward. We need to focus on delivering the six priority high schools in the Wave 4 funding before we commit to the GME secondary school.”
The primary school in Bonnington now has 20 Gaelic-speaking teachers. At James Gillespie’s High School, the city’s Gaelic Medium Education (GME) secondary school, a recruitment drive has helped fill vacancies – but fewer lessons than expected have been taught in Gaelic.
9 October 2018 (BBC)
They're the Beatles for the 21st Century, a global pop sensation that generates mania and devotion in equal measure, and they've sold out London's O2 Arena.
BTS, the South Korean seven-member boyband and pin-up stars of the K-pop genre, are performing in the UK for two nights only.
And their fans, who call themselves the Army, are over the Moon. We headed for the queues to find out what makes the perfect K-pop fan.
[..] Fans talk about how regularly listening to BTS, who mostly sing in Korean, has meant they are inadvertently learning Korean.
"You quite quickly become engrossed in Korean culture," says 24-year-old Najma Akther, from Scunthorpe.
K-pop - BTS (BBC, 11 October 2018)
8 October 2018 (The Herald)
When cult Gaelic rock group Runrig signed off at their final concerts at Stirling some weeks ago their popularity with fans of all ages was abundantly evident. Forty years earlier these young Gaelic speakers launched their band and captured the lasting interest of many in their language and the challenging history of their people.
The group instilled new confidence and self-esteem among young Gaels and in communities in other countries. Runrig’s appearance coincided with renewed interest in Gaelic language revival and their music complemented and supported education and other cultural initiatives that have grown since.
Gaelic music’s international success reflects natural talent and continuing cultural confidence from the Runrig phenomenon of the 1970s. All involved in the promotion and revitalisation of Gaelic are acutely aware that the future of the language and culture depend on the interest and enthusiasm young people take in it.
5 October 2018 (BBC)
A petition for British Sign Language (BSL) to be recognised as the first language of many deaf children in Wales has been submitted.
Deffo! Cymru, a forum for young deaf people in Wales, wants the Welsh Government to widen access to education and services in BSL.
The petition gathered 1,162 signatures and the National Assembly's petitions committee has recommended changes.
The committee's report will now be considered by the Welsh Government.
One of the report's recommendations is the development of a national charter for the delivery of services, including education, to deaf children, young people and their families.
4 October 2018 (Inverness Courier)
A survey has shown that there is significant public support for a new Gaelic cultural centre in Inverness.
The research, which was carried out by the Alba Heritage Trust with the aim of establishing the level of interest in a project celebrating Gaelic heritage, was met with “overwhelming” backing from members of the public.
Alba Heritage Trust director Alastair Forbes says the reaction has from businesses and individuals across the board has been significant.
“We are delighted to have had so many responses to the survey,” he said.
“The reaction from the public and private sectors and from members of the community for the establishment of a Gaelic cultural centre has been extremely positive which has given us great confidence in moving forward with the project.”
4 October 2018 (The Guardian)
Defenders of the French language are calling on their compatriots to stop using the English term “fake news”, recommending instead that they refer to “information fallacieuse”.
The Commission for the Enrichment of the French Language (CELF) also proffered a newly coined expression, “infox”, for those who find “information fallacieuse” a bit of a mouthful.
“The Anglo-Saxon expression ‘fake news’, which refers to a range of behaviours contributing to the misinformation of the public, has rapidly prospered in French,” the commission lamented. “This is an occasion to draw on the resources of the language to find French equivalents.”
The encroachment of English expressions is a regular topic of debate in France, where young people, in particular, often sprinkle their conversations with English turns of phrase.
3 October 2018 (Glasgow Live)
A new language hub which will help empower older adults living with dementia in Glasgow has opened on the south side of the city.
Lingo Flamingo, based on Deanston Drive in the Shawlands area, will be offering a selection of immersive foreign language courses for all ages.
And all profits from the classes will be used to fund dementia-friendly classes in care homes across Glasgow and beyond.
29 September 2018 (Daily Record)
Teen classic Diary of a Wimpy Kid is to get a braw makeover - being translated into Scots for the first time.
Jeff Kinney’s best-selling book series has been given a Caledonian re-vamp by Itchy Coo, the Scots language imprint for children at Black & White Publishing,
The first book in the series is “Diary o’ a Wimpy Wean”, re-worked by Scots writer Thomas Clark.
In the translation, twelve-year-old hero, Greg Hefley, tells the reader all about his life in modern Scots patter.
29 September 2018 (The Scotsman)
Scotland’s independent schools maintain a track record of academic excellence, and this has continued in 2018 with another set of outstanding exam results, which is only strengthened by individual and collective success in sports, art, music and other community endeavours.
With upwards of 30,000 pupils across Scotland, these schools, represented by The Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), strive to deliver the best level of service to their pupils and parents.
Independent schools aim to prepare their pupils for further and higher education, their chosen career and their place as global citizens. As an education sector that can design and implement a bespoke school curriculum, we are seeing modern languages continue as a popular and desired subject of choice within schools.
Nelson Mandela said: ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language that goes to his heart.” This is a powerful reminder that we can’t just rely on English when wanting to build relationships and trust with people from other countries.
From this year’s recent exam results, we can see that languages are topping the league tables with the highest pass rates within independent schools. A total of 68 per cent of pupils who studied foreign languages achieved a Higher grade A.
The data, collected from SCIS’s 74 member schools, showed that 72 per cent of students achieved a Higher grade A in Mandarin, while 72 per cent of those studying German, 69 per cent of those studying French and 63 per cent studying Spanish also achieved an A.
This demonstrates that independent schools in Scotland are supporting foreign languages as vital skills that children and young people will undoubtedly require in the future. Languages now, as a subject choice, are being held in the same regard as STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in independent school curriculums and elsewhere.
28 September 2018 (Atlas Obscura)
Over the past few decades, as efforts to save endangered languages have become governmental policy in the Netherlands (Frisian), Slovakia (Rusyn) and New Zealand (Maori), among many others, Scotland is in an unusual situation. A language known as Scottish Gaelic has become the figurehead for minority languages in Scotland. This is sensible; it is a very old and very distinctive language (it has three distinct rsounds!), and in 2011 the national census determined that fewer than 60,000 people speak it, making it a worthy target for preservation.
But there is another minority language in Scotland, one that is commonly dismissed. It’s called Scots, and it’s sometimes referred to as a joke, a weirdly spelled and -accented local variety of English.
25 September 2018 (Irish Times)
Learning a new language can seem like a mammoth challenge, but for those who are really intent on developing fluency, nothing beats full immersion by moving to the country where it is spoken day-to-day. Ahead of European Day of Languages on September 26th, readers living around the world share their experiences of the frustration and joy of learning a new tongue.
25 September 2018 (The Irish Times)
Learning a new language can seem like a mammoth challenge, but for those who are really intent on developing fluency, nothing beats full immersion by moving to the country where it is spoken day-to-day. Ahead of European Day of Languages on September 26th, readers living around the world share their experiences of the frustration and joy of learning a new tongue.
21 September 2018 (The Guardian)
For someone who occasionally seems unsure whether their wife is Japanese or Chinese, Jeremy Hunt seems to speak pretty good Japanese.
Unless bits of it were Chinese, obviously. Given the way things have gone lately for Theresa May’s government we probably shouldn’t rule anything out, but let’s just assume the Tokyo audience he addressed in their native tongue this week wasn’t just being polite and that he did actually deliver the whole speech in the correct language.
Whatever you think of Hunt’s politics generally, there was something endearing about the sight of a foreign secretary actually trying to speak some foreign, at a time when much of Britain seems belligerently convinced that if the world doesn’t understand us then we should just shout louder at them. Foreign languages have been in decline in British schools for years, especially at A-level; German in particular is so unpopular now, with a 45% drop in entries since 2010, that some schools will be seriously debating dropping it from the timetable. Languages have become seen as subjects in which it’s too hard to excel, partly because native speakers tend to scoop the A* awards and push the bar higher for everyone else, which makes them too much of a risk for kids intent on getting the grades for university.
Lately there has been some tinkering with grade boundaries to encourage uptake. But while mathematicians and scientists have gone to great lengths to popularise subjects once seen as geeky or intimidatingly difficult, there has been no concerted push behind French or Spanish.
And if we’re honest, Britain’s solid international reputation for being rubbish at languages isn’t just down to the kids. How many of us slogged through years of irregular verbs and asking the way to the station, only to be reduced in middle age to fumbled holiday conversations in shops and frantic pointing?
But watching Hunt reminded me of something I’ve been wondering for a while, which is whether the prospect of leaving Europe will finally make learning a language feel less like a slog and more like a thrillingly subversive act; one great defiant two fingers to everything Brexit Britain stands for.
Languages are lovely things to learn in their own right, of course, if you’re so minded; living, breathing entities that weave in and out of each other, exchanging sounds and words and ideas. But they’re also one of the purest forms of soft power. Speaking to someone in their own tongue is a disarming act, a gesture of empathy and respect. If you’re not actually very good at it then in some ways all the better; at least it’s obvious you’re making an effort, which is why typing furiously into Google Translate doesn’t quite have the same effect.
19 September 2018 (TES)
A teaching union has questioned official figures showing that GCSE entries in modern foreign languages have increased for the first time in five years.
A “glimmer of hope” was offered to linguists on results day last month when it was revealed that there had been a 0.4 per cent increase in entries this year.
But the Association of School and College Leaders says this was probably due to some schools switching from iGCSEs (which no longer count in school performance tables) to the new reformed GCSE qualifications.
The ASCL says the number of iGCSE entries in England fell significantly, and that the statistics change when iGCSE and GCSE entries are combined.
Overall, the number of German entries fell by 3.5 per cent since last year, for example, and did not rise by 2 per cent as exam board GCSE entry figures show.
Similarly, the increase in Spanish entries was just 1.7 per cent when you include the drop in iGCSE entries, says the ASCL, and not the 4.4 per cent publicised this summer.
Lastly, the number of French candidates fell by 5.9 per cent, rather than the 2.9 per cent shown in just GCSE figures.
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.
18 September 2018 (Edinburgh Reporter)
The 5th Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival takes place from 4-20 October 2018.
Festival Opens With First Ever Basque Film Screened At Edinburgh Filmhouse.
The 2018 Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival presents a total of 15 feature films and 7 short films in Spanish from 4-20 October in Edinburgh (Filmhouse), Stirling (MacRobert Arts Centre) and Glasgow (Film Theatre).
[..] Many of the films are suitable for all ages and in addition there will be a special screening of Nur And The Dragon Temple for schools at 10am on Wednesday 3rd October. There will also be workshops which will explore Spanish language, cinema and youth taking place in schools throughout Scotland.
18 September 2018 (BBC)
Gaelic musicians, including an 82-year-old Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame inductee, have provided the soundtrack to a new video game.
The Bard's Tale IV Barrows Deep is a follow up to the 1980s game Bard's Tale.
Its soundtrack features celebrated piper and Gaelic singer Rona Lightfoot, and Peigi Barker, 16, who was the voice of Young Merida in Disney film Brave.
Simple Minds bass player Ged Grimes composed and produced the music.
Dundee-born Grimes was responsible for bringing together the Gaelic musicians.
The soundtrack features more than 30 songs. Among those singing on the tracks is a 40-member Gaelic choir.
18 September 2018 (BBC)
Digital translation apps were put to the test by the One Show on Tuesday 18 September, but guest Michael Palin expressed the view that there was no substitute for trying to speak the language on your travels. The programme is available on iPlayer until 18 October 2018 (NB - registration required. View from 13:54).
17 September 2018 (The Herald)
In a world dominated by media the importance of broadcasting cannot be overemphasised in efforts to revive lesser used languages and so the 10th anniversary of the establishment of BBC Alba – launched on September 19, 2008 – is cause for celebration for all committed to the survival and advancement of the Gaelic language. That it was set up under the aegis of the BBC was a crucial achievement especially in the context of that year’s global financial crisis and the inevitable questions around the licence fee, charter renewal and the like. Therefore, to have our Scottish Gaelic channel on the first screen of the BBC iPlayer – located between the Parliament channel and S4C (the Welsh language channel) – remains a source of pleasure to language activists.
Indeed the creation of a dedicated Gaelic channel is now acknowledged as one of the key cultural developments of the new millennium in Scotland (cf National Theatre of Scotland, Dundee V & A) and crucially complements Gaelic-medium education; and arguably, in terms of impact, more significant than the Gaelic Language Act (2005).
17 September 2018 (Press and Journal)
A thousand young people took to the stage to sing an inspiration Gaelic song during a celebration of young musicians in Inverness on Saturday.
They brought the Blas Festival to a stunning close in front of a packed audience at the Northern meeting park.
Their performance came at the end of a day of outstanding music and song that featured some of the biggest names in Scottish traditional music.
Gathered together for the festival showcase Oran Mor – which means Great (or Big) Song – were young musicians from Feisean and various youth initiatives from across Scotland including the Highland Council Youth Music Groups, the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music and City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band.
12 September 2018 (Newsy)
Language allows us to share thoughts and feelings with somebody else. It's our cultural glue. Otherwise, we'd live in a world of babel. But there's much more to language, including elements that affect the structure and functioning of the brain.
While the first words spoken may have been 250,000 years ago, now more than half of the people around the world – estimates vary from 60 to 75 percent – speak at least two languages.
Eighty percent of primary and secondary students in 24 European countries are learning a foreign language, usually English. Across the United States the number is closer to 20 percent, but this varies by state. In New Jersey, 51 percent of students have a second language course included as part of the school day.
Learning those languages impacts our noggins. Brain scans show that people who speak more than one language have more gray matter in their anterior cingulate cortex, the area linked to everything from learning to social behavior to resolving conflicts.
12 September 2018 (SecEd)
This September, many secondary schools will have new arrivals from abroad who have English as an additional language. Continuing our series on EAL, Dr Ruth Wilson gives some practical advice for you and your schools in meeting the needs of this diverse group of learners
New arrivals with English as an additional language (EAL) are a very diverse group. Their language proficiency can range from “new to English” to “fluent”. The young person can arrive at any age and with widely different socio-economic and educational backgrounds. Some students may come from an advantaged context with a high standard of education; others may have had little or interrupted schooling or experienced traumatic events. A new arrival could for example be a refugee from a war-torn country or a child of a German banker working in the City of London.
Data show that, on average, pupils arriving late into the English school system do less well in external exams than their first language English peers, and that the older the pupils are when they arrive the less likely they are to achieve good results in year 11 (Hutchinson, 2018).
This article gives some practical advice for you and your schools in meeting the needs of EAL learners who are newly arrived from abroad.
12 September 2018 (Oban Times)
Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail (The Royal National Mòd) will return to Dunoon next month (Friday 12 October – Saturday 20 October) for the eighth time – with a very special focus on Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018.
The nine-day spectacular of Gaelic music, arts and sport will take place in Dunoon for the first time since 2012, with a host of initiatives aimed at encouraging more young people to get involved already under way.
Throughout the year, Dunoon schools have welcomed tutors from FèisSgoil to help them prepare for Mòd competitions, as part of An Comunn Gàidhealach’s Mòd Academy initiative, which aims to help youngsters learn and develop their musical and Gaelic skills.
Local drama workshops for Dunoon’s youngsters were hosted in recent months in a bid to inspire more children to get involved with Gaelic drama, with a group set to perform at this year’s festival; and organisers have been working closely with the Camanachd Association to arrange a junior shinty Mòd Cup match before the annual senior match.
This year also saw the establishment of the first ever Young Person’s Committee, supported by the Year of Young People 2018 Event Fund, which has allowed young Gaels the opportunity to get involved in the Mòd planning process, and to have their say on what they would like to see.
10 September 2018 (Newsweek)
A study has shed light on the brain mechanisms which allow bilingual people to switch effortlessly from one language to another.
Neurolinguistics researchers already believe parts of the brain in charge of decision-making, the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, light up when we toggle between languages. Now, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presents a potential new piece to the puzzle.
Esti Blanco-Elorrieta, graduate student at the NYU neurolinguistics lab, told Newsweek, “The process of switching languages entails [minimally] disengaging from the language that was being used until that point, and engaging in a new language. This study showed that it is turning off the previous language, and not ‘turning on’ a new language, that is effortful.”
And while those who swap between languages may make it seem easy, it is in fact “a remarkably complicated process that involves the successful coordination of two independent language systems,” he explained.
Article includes a video of polyglot, Alex Rawlings, providing 10 tips for learning a new language.
10 September 2018 (Irish Times)
Lithuanian and Korean will be taught from this week as part of a drive to diversify the number of languages on the curriculum in Irish schools.
Lithuanian will be a short course for junior cycle in schools in Dublin and Monaghan where there is the highest concentration of the country’s natives in Ireland.
According to the last census in 2016, 36,683 Lithuanians live in Ireland. However, the Lithuanian embassy estimates the real figure is twice that if the number of children of immigrants are taken into account.
The course is for a minimum of 100 hours over two years. Some 43 applicants were received from teachers of the language.
The introduction of Lithuanian into Irish school is part of the foreign languages strategy which identifies the need to support immigrant communities to maintain their own languages.
It was introduced last year as part of a 10-year strategy to prepare Ireland for Brexit through a series of steps such as potential bonus Central Applications Office (CAO) points for studying foreign languages.
The Korean language, the 17th most spoken language in the world, is being introduced as a module for transition year. Trade between South Korea and Ireland reached €1.8 billion in 2015.
The language will be introduced into four schools in Dublin.
French accounts for more than half of all language sits in the Leaving Certificate, followed by German (13 per cent), Spanish (11 per cent) and Italian (1 per cent).
Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the teaching and learning of foreign languages is a priority in the post-Brexit world.
9 September 2018 (The Herald)
No-one wants to hear the sound of a splorroch but a huam is another matter, at least if you had lived in Scotland 100 years ago or more.
Long forgotten words to describe the countryside have been uncovered and included in a new dictionary of words compiled during academic’s research in the Cairngorms.
Dictionary author Amanda Thomson said: “These words reveal so much about our history, natural history, and our changing ways of life - they are indicative of the depth, richness and variety of the Scots language and its unique relationship to nature and the Scottish landscapes of Lowlands, Highlands and islands.”
8 September 2018 (The Times)
For decades it faced ridicule and was forbidden in schools, but now one of the native tongues of northeast Scotland has effectively been recognised as an official language. Doric, a dialect spoken from Montrose in Angus to Nairn in the Highlands, will be acknowledged alongside English and Gaelic.
As part of its commitment to the “mither tongue” Aberdeen city council this week published its cultural strategy in the language of the author Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
The document, Culture Aiberdeen, states: “In the last couple o year there’s been a lowp in the nummer of boorachs formed bi artists an performers."
6 September 2018 (They Work For You)
Baroness Coussins, co-chair of the All-Party Group on Modern Languages, calls for language skills to be prioritised in careers advice in schools in today's Lords' debate.
In contributing to the debate she highlighted the specific need for careers education and advice to convey the enormous and increasing value of language skills to school leavers and graduates as they make their career choices. Stating this advice must also start early enough for school students to have the opportunity to choose one or more foreign languages among their GCSE options.
She went on to stress that it is often wrongly assumed that studying foreign languages is just for the brightest students, and that they can be beneficial for anyone, at whatever level. Foreign language skills are in use in practically every sector in the economy, with higher than average demand in the financial services, IT and telecommunications, passenger transport, fashion and design and hotel and catering industries. They are in use at all levels in the workforce, not just senior management. In fact, the greatest skills gaps are among administrative and clerical staff, and those working at elementary grades. All that is before we even mention the need for languages and linguists in diplomacy, defence and security.
6 September 2018 (BBC)
A new Gaelic language sketch show created by Still Game director Michael Hines has been announced as part of BBC Alba's autumn season.
Func will feature new acting and writing talent.
5 September 2018 (BBC)
In last night's episode of the BBC2 series 'Trust me, I'm a doctor', Michael Mosley found out how learning a new language can stave off dementia.
The programme is available online until 4 October 2018.
4 September 2018 (Holyrood)
A new Gaelic primary - the fifth school dedicated to the language in Scotland – has been officially opened in Skye.
Bun-Sgoil Ghàidhlig Phort Rìgh in Portree is the third Gaelic medium school in the Highland Council area.
It opened to its 133 primary and 47 nursery pupils in April this year, with Education Secretary John Swinney attending a special opening ceremony on Monday.
He said: “It is a pleasure to be involved in supporting Highland Council to realise their vision for the Gaelic language.
“We are seeing growing demand from parents for access to Gaelic medium education across the country which clearly demonstrates that the Scottish Government’s commitments to supporting the language are a having a positive result.
“I commend Highland Council for their actions and look forward to working with them on future projects.”
Gaelic medium education is available in 14 out of 32 Scottish local authorities to all children and young people.
4 September 2018 (BBC)
The suggestion by a pair of Belgian teachers to drop a rule of grammar drilled into every French speaker at an early age has led to some amusement and consternation in France.
The teachers say rules for past participles that follow the verb avoir (to have) should be simplified.
The change would save some 80 hours of teaching time, they argue.
It has been endorsed by the linguistic authorities of Belgium's French-speaking Wallonia region and Brussels.
Currently, the rule is that the past participle of a verb does not agree with the direct object of a sentence if it comes after it, but it does when the object comes before the participle.
So for instance, in the sentence j'ai mangé des frites (I ate chips), mangé remains the same. But in the sentence les frites que j'ai mangées (the chips that I have eaten), the participle agrees with the word chips, which is feminine and plural.
The two teachers, Arnaud Hoedt et Jérôme Piron, argue the rule is overly complicated and inconsistent, and that the participle should remain unchanged regardless of the position of the object in the sentence if used with the verb to have.
3 September 2018 (School Education Gateway)
In this article, Professor Jon Andoni Duñabeitia from the Universidad Nebrija in Madrid, Spain, talks about inclusive and scientifically validated approaches to language learning.
While my one-and-a-half-year-old son, who is growing up in a Basque-Spanish bilingual environment, shows a surprising ability to process things in either language, his mother still struggles with English when we go abroad, and his Spanish-speaking grandmother devotes considerable time and effort to learning Basque in a classroom environment. Obviously, the process of native language acquisition for toddlers, which naturally occurs at a very early age, is markedly different from the process of language acquisition for a multilingual older adult enrolled in a formal learning programme.
One could easily draw up an endless list of language learning scenarios between these two extremes – and cognitive scientists are working hard to uncover the role played by their respective factors.
2 September 2018 (The Guardian)
Thousands more Chinese students are taking up Latin American languages with an eye to improved employability.
When Zhang Fangming started learning Portuguese, it was with an eye to becoming a top Chinese diplomat in Brazil.
For Sun Jianglin, a Portuguese degree was about landing a job, but also a deeper knowledge of Brazilian music. “Bossa nova!” the 19-year-old undergraduate cooed. “I really like this kind-of-close-to-jazz music!”
The pair – who also go by the names Rodrigo and Antonia – are part of a new generation of Chinese students hoping a mastery of Latin America’s languages coupled with their country’s expanding role in the region will prove a recipe for success.
1 September 2018 (The Telegraph)
he number of undergraduates at UK universities going on years abroad is lagging behind other countries, a report has warned, amid concerns that British students are more focused on getting top grades than gaining life experience.
A report released by Universities UK (UUK), a body which represents 136 British universities, shows that just 6.6 per cent of British students go on ‘year abroad’ programmes during their degrees, compared to 28 per cent of German students, 16 per cent of students in the United States and 20 per cent of Australians.
Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, suggested that UK students may be too focussed on their grades and securing jobs to go on a year abroad while they are studying, and while students worry about their grades, employers in the UK may actually value the soft skills more.
“At a time of political and economic uncertainty in the UK, it is understandable that students are seeking stability by focusing on their studies and getting a foot on the career ladder as soon as possible,” Ms Stern said.
“However, sacrificing opportunities to study abroad means that UK students are actually missing opportunities to enhance their careers: we know that graduates who have studied abroad are 24 per cent less likely to be unemployed than those who haven’t,” she told The Sunday Telegraph.
30 August 2018 (Sky News)
Some Britons unhappy with the UK's decision to leave the European Union have opted for an unusual form of protest - learning a new language.
In the days leading up to Article 50 being triggered on March 29, 2017, a leading language-learning app reports that it saw a 24% increase in new user sign-ups in the UK.
The CEO of Duolingo, which has 300 million users, told Sky News that the company noticed a spike in sign-ups at the time and saw its users commenting online that they had been motivated by Brexit.
30 August 2018 (SecEd)
Another fall in the number of pupils taking French and German exams does not reflect an overall decline in the health of languages in Scottish classrooms, according to a leading linguist.
French National 5 entries fell by about 10 per cent on last year, while at Higher the level was 17.5 per cent below 2016. German Higher entries were down 20 per cent on two years ago.
Spanish and Mandarin have made modest rises overall.
However, Fhiona Mackay, director of SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, said it was misleading to focus on this criterion alone because primary schools were “normalising” languages from P1 in a way that is widening exposure hugely.
“The French figures were disappointing, no doubt about it. But to say languages are disappearing from our schools is very far off the mark and really unfair on our teachers.
“Of course I would like to see more youngsters choosing languages because I fundamentally believe that is a good thing. But it needs to be voluntary – so we need to evaluate the barriers and do more to remove them.”
30 August 2018 (TES)
A leading light in Gaelic-medium education is calling for the Scottish government to investigate the impact of the narrowing of the curriculum in senior secondary.
He says teenagers are being “lost to the language” and that the teacher supply pipeline is “in danger of drying up” as a result.
(Note - subscription required to read full article).
Call for the right to be taught in Gaelic (TES, 31 August 2018) Subscription required to read full article.
Where next for Gaelic as it gains ground in education? (TES, 31 August 2018) Subscription required to read full article.
28 August 2018 (The Pie News)
Young travellers are increasingly combining leisure and study in their holidays, a survey of the youth, student and educational travel market conducted by WYSE Travel Federation revealed.
[..] “More than 20% of the young travellers who responded to the New Horizons IV Survey in 2017 were mixing holiday with language learning. This is up from 14% in our 2012 survey.”
27 August 2018 (The Scotsman)
Their songs and stories speak of a different time.
Now an audio archive which documents the traditions of crofters, farm workers and fishermen - in English and Gaelic and some Scots - has opened up to the public for the first time.
More than 40 audio files are being published online by Glasgow University as it works to make traditional Gaelic speech more accessible to speakers and learners of the language.
28 August 2018 (Press and Journal)
Gaelic speakers, and those with an interest in the language, are being invited to showcase bespoke tours for visitors at sites including Dunstaffnage Castle near Oban, Arnol Blackhouse on the Isle of Lewis and Urquhart Castle, near Inverness, to promote the historic origins of the language and its place in Scotland’s rich history.
The Gaelic volunteer programme is part of the organisation’s five-year Gaelic Language Plan.
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Gaelic is a distinct and unique part of Scotland’s history and culture which attracts visitors from all over the world, contributing significantly to Scotland’s economy.
Historic sites to offer bespoke Gaelic tours (The Herald, 28 August 2018)
Talking up Gaelic at historic sites (Stornoway Gazette, 27 August 2018)
28 August 2018 (The Herald)
It was once a language which had been pushed to the margins, spoken only in isolated communities and far-flung outposts.
But now Gaelic is undergoing something of a renaissance in Scotland with a fresh interest apparent in the country's songs, signposts and schools.
(Note - subscription required to read full article).
23 August 2018 (Washington Post)
After practice and lunch Wednesday, most D.C. United players headed home for the day. Others had meetings or media obligations.
For three players and two assistant coaches, the next stop was a windowless, cinder-block room around the corner and down the hallway from the locker room.
Each carried a textbook and, upon entering, grabbed a work sheet from a table in front of a screen and whiteboard in the middle of the room and settled at makeshift desks.
“Hola, David,” instructor Katherin Rodriguez said to her first arrival, David Ousted.
The Danish goalkeeper responded in kind.
Class was in session.
23 August 2018 (BBC)
A fish and chip shop in North Yorkshire has translated its menu for Mandarin and Cantonese speakers to cope with an influx of Chinese tourists.
Scotts Fish and Chips near York has seen coachloads of visitors wanting to try the traditional dish.
The passion for the chippy has been put down to the fish and chips Chinese president Xi Jinping shared with then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015.
Manager Roxy Vasai said more than 100 Chinese tourists were visiting a week.
22 August 2018 (Irish Times)
(Applies to Ireland) Dozens of native speakers of foreign languages are to be hired to work in school classrooms to help boost the teaching of languages.
These “foreign language assistants” will be provided to schools to support the teaching and learning of languages such as Spanish, German, French and Italian.
Minister for Education Richard Bruton has announced a 25 per cent increase in the number of these assistants, bringing the total number available to schools from this September to 140.
He said the move would help ensure Ireland is well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead such as Brexit and the increasing importance globally of non-English speaking countries.
23 August 2018 (TES)
GCSE entries for modern foreign languages have increased for the first time in five years.
The small increase will give linguists hope that modern foreign languages (MFL) have turned the corner after four consecutive years of decline.
Today’s GCSE results show that total MFL entries across the UK rose from 298,066 in 2017 to 299,172 this year – a 0.4 per cent increase.
The increase is more impressive against the backdrop of a 2.7 per cent decline in the 16-year-old population – the age at which most pupils sit their GCSEs.
However, the overall increase in MFL entries masked varying fortunes for different subjects.
French, which continues to be the most popular language subject by a distance, saw its entries decline from 130,509 in 2017 to 126,750 this year – a 2.9 per cent fall.
German entries rose from 43,649 in 2017 to 44,535 this year – an increase of 2 per cent. This was in marked contrast to A-level German, for which entries plummeted by 16.5 per cent this year.
In Spanish, GCSE entries rose by 4.4 per cent from 91,040 in 2017 to 95,080 this year.
Chinese – which is now the third biggest language subject at A-level – saw its GCSE entries rise.
GCSE entries in Mandarin increased by 7.5 per cent from 4,104 in 2017 to 4,410 this year. The subject is now the fifth most popular GCSE language, after Italian.
While total MFL entries rose in 2018, they have a long way to go to regain the ground that has been lost in recent years.
20 August 2018 (The Conversation)
Pithy Scots brogue and throwaway insults punctuate Outlander, the phenomenally successful TV series that explores the final great Jacobite uprising of 1745 – the rebellion against King George II led by Bonnie Prince Charlie. Like 18th-century period dress or columns of troops, the Scots language is colourfully employed to lend authenticity to the drama.
The Scots spoken in Outlander may not be the language spoken today in Scotland, but rather a stage-Scots – essentially English dressed in tartan and cockade – yet it is still to be cheered. In fact, the presence of Scots in Outlander is a sign of how far an historically repressed language has come in just a few decades.
Full article written in Scots is also available.
18 August 2018 (The Guardian)
Learning European languages may no longer have much cachet among schoolchildren, but for millennials eyeing the job market, German appears to be more attractive than ever. Growing numbers of young adults aged between 18 and 30 in Britain are learning the language of Friedrich Schiller, Christa Wolf and Thomas Mann, according to the Goethe-Institut, with more than 3,000 people signing up for courses run by the cultural institution.
17 August 2018 (The Courier)
A French language summer school has ensured that two Fife primary school teachers are fired up to teach their eager pupils le français.
As pupils across Courier Country head back to school this week, one Fife primary school will be saying “Bienvenue” to the new academic year. Teachers Dawn Allan and Meg Allan (no relation) spent a week in France on a highly sought-after immersion language course, with the aim of enhancing their French lessons at Leuchars Primary School.
Dawn takes up the story: “Meg and I completed a 10-week French evening course at Bell Baxter High School in Cupar two years ago and that was when we first heard about the possibility of attending immersion courses in France or Spain, organised by Le Français en Ecosse,” she says.
17 August 2018 (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Listen to Antonella Sorace from Bilingualism Matters talking to Stephen Nolan about the multiple benefits of language learning on BBC Radio 5 Live. (Listen from 1:54). Broadcast is available until 15 September 2018.
17 August 2018 (TESS)
French causes particular concern, but ‘more pupils than ever learning languages’ in Scotland
16 August 2018 (The Herald)
Fancy learning a spot of Doric? Furry boots? Aiberdeen Varsity.
It's better known for its schools of medicine, law or international relations. But now one of Scotland's ancient seats of learning has launched evening classes in a language many of its scholars have derided: north-east Scots.
Aberdeen University's Elphinstone Institute has devised 10-week workshops in Doric, to help both locals and newcomers to the region learn to speak - and more importantly - write in the mither leid.
16 August 2018 (ITV)
A headmaster has called for the reintroduction of compulsory language classes in schools to prevent what he called the “worrying insularity” of society getting worse.
Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College, said the “sorry decline” in the number of students studying languages is “damaging on so many levels” and that the Government needs a plan to reverse the problem.
His comments came as several of his students at the independent school in East Sussex achieved top marks in a range of languages at A-level, including Mandarin.
Experts have raised concerns because the number of students studying languages at state schools has dropped, and recent Press Association analysis of Ucas data revealed the number of applications for foreign language degrees plummeted in the last decade.
More students took A-level Chinese than German this year, according to data from the Joint Council for Qualifications released on Thursday, sparking fears that the European language is heading for extinction.
Mr Cairns said: “The sorry decline in numbers studying languages is damaging on so many levels but must be of particular concern to a Government that espouses a vision of Britain as open for business with the world.
“Compulsory language education needs to be reintroduced, with a national strategy emulating the success of those in the Netherlands or Scandinavia. Otherwise, the worrying insularity in our society will only deepen.
“Contrary to what seems to be happening nationally with pupils choosing not to study languages any more, we have seen a real interest in pursuing languages.
“Pupils can study French, German, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Russian and Mandarin here. Back in 2006, we introduced Mandarin for our pupils from the age of four and the culture of language learning and its benefits are instilled early.”
16 August 2018 (The Guardian)
The proportion of students in England gaining C grades or above in A-levels fell back this year, driven by a relatively weaker performance among girls, as schools and students continue to grapple with the introduction of new, more intensive exams.
[..] Modern languages continued their baleful downward trend, with nearly 8% fewer entries in French, German and Spanish. More A-level students took Chinese this year than German.
Some new perspectives on the 2018 A level results: STEM gap remains but decline in foreign languages exaggerated (HEPI, 18 August 2018)
A-levels: Humanities decline 'sign of EBacc failure' (TES, 17 August 2018)
A-level results: foreign languages suffer further slump (The Guardian, 16 August 2018)
British Council comments on A Level languages 2018 (British Council, 16 August 2018)
Decline in humanities A levels affecting university entries, warns British Academy (British Academy, 16 August 2018)
A-level language decline raises danger of monolingual society (Association of School and College Leaders, 16 August 2018)
A-level results day 2018: Chinese overtakes German for first time (The Telegraph, 16 August 2018)
Chinese overtakes German as third most popular foreign language (The Guardian, 16 August 2018)
A-level results: Language entries down as Chinese overtakes German (TES, 16 August 2018)
A-level results: Pupils 'not put off by language difficulty' (TES, 16 August 2018)
A and AS level trends in modern languages 2002-2018 (UCML, 16 August 2018)
The arts teach us how to express ourselves – and give us freedom to fail (The Guardian, 16 August 2018)
Teenagers turn backs on A-level French and German (The Times, 15 August 2018) Note - subscription required to read full article)
A-level French, German and music in danger of disappearing from classrooms, heads warn (iNews, 15 August 2018)
15 August 2018 (The National)
[..] Gaelic medium education succeeds in producing new generations of fluent Gaelic speakers because, as its name suggests, it makes use of the Gaelic language to teach other subjects. Kids don’t sit in classes where they are taught Gaelic in the same way that French or other foreign languages are taught in schools.
The difference in the fluency level that is achieved is stark. I was taught Gaelic the old-fashioned way, and am the proud possessor of a Gaelic Learner’s O Grade and a Gaelic Learner’s Higher. I was taught Gaelic in much the same way kids in modern Scottish schools are taught French or German, in a dedicated class, a couple of hours a week. The result is that although I can puzzle out a written text in the language and have a reasonably sized Gaelic vocabulary, I struggle to follow a Gaelic conversation and can’t express myself orally.
Posted in: French
, Cross-Curricular Working
, Language Learning
, Language Teaching
, Languages in the press
15 August 2018 (The Herald)
The number of applications for foreign language degrees has plummeted in the last decade, figures show.
Applications for both European and non-European language degree courses have fallen, according to an analysis of Ucas data carried out by the Press Association.
(Note - subscription required to read full article).
13 August 2018 (The Guardian)
No language in history has dominated the world quite like English does today. Is there any point in resisting?
Listen to the podcast or read the text version online.
13 August 2018 (4barsrest)
Carnoustie High School Band will head east this September to become the first youth brass band to tour China.
The remarkable opportunity came following a performance at the Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow in 2016 for the renowned Confucius Institute for Scotland.
Such was the success that it led to the school's head teacher Donald Currie being contacted to set the ball rolling on the ambitious initiative — and now, after almost two years of research and fundraising the band will fly out on 7th September for 15 unforgettable days of music and cultural learning.
Confucius Hubs are based in schools and seek to make links with local communities throughout Scotland — with Carnoustie serving the Angus area. It promotes the joint planning of cultural activities, sharing ideas and resources to stimulate the learning and teaching of Chinese language and culture.
The band will fly out from Glasgow, and after a short stop in Dubai will carry on to China where they will enjoy seven days in Tianjin and seven more in Beijing before their return.
While in Tianjin, the band members will be learning Mandarin, as well as performing three concerts. They will also visit Chinese families and schools, enabling the young musicians to experience Chinese culture first hand with a chance to learn Gongfu (Chinese martial arts), Tai Chi, and the ancient arts of calligraphy and mask painting.
Posted in: S1-S3
, Senior Phase
, Cross-Curricular Working
, Cultural Diversity
, Language Learning
, Promoting Languages
, Study Abroad
, Languages in the press
11 August 2018 (The Herald)
Sometimes it seems there’s a perception that Germany is somehow ... well, boring. Apparently news stories about Germany, even in the Herald, get far fewer views than average ones. But why should Germany be such a journalistic turn-off for readers?
[...] Wherever one stands on Brexit, leaving the EU means that Germany is going to become more important to the UK and to Scotland, not less. Yet fewer and fewer people are learning German. (Which is odd, since, contrary to the widespread myth, it’s a relatively easy language to learn.)
10 August 2018 (The Herald)
Scotland is experiencing a “mass movement” of parents who want their children to be educated in Gaelic, creating increasing demand for more specialist schools to be built.
Allan MacDonald, chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the public body responsible for Gaelic, said there had been a “significant” boost in the number of families interested in Gaelic education in towns and cities.
He said the language was experiencing a “shift in emphasis” away from its heartlands and towards the Central Belt as populations continue to plummet in Scotland’s most rural areas.
He added: “The numbers are growing in the cities and the bigger towns all the time. And that contrasts quite significantly with the economic situation – not just in the Western Isles, but in other areas of the Highlands as well.”
t comes as a series of commitments aimed at boosting the strength of Gaelic were unveiled at a milestone meeting of public bodies chaired by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
This includes plans to publish the first ever Gaelic tourism strategy this autumn to help bring visitors into contact with the language.
Officials also want to increase the number of school subjects which can be taught in Gaelic.
7 August 2018 (TES)
An expanding academy chain plans to teach Mandarin to thousands of pupils across its schools, to prepare them for life in post-Brexit Britain.
The Co-op Academies Trust will offer Mandarin Chinese to more than 10,000 students.
The trust, which runs schools in Greater Manchester, Leeds and Stoke-on-Trent, is working with the Swire Chinese Language Foundation, which supports the training of specialist Mandarin Chinese teachers.
(Subscription required to read full article)
7 August 2018 (Relocate Magazine)
Scottish exam results are in - and more than 2/3rds of independent school pupils sitting exams achieved a Higher grade A in foreign languages, including Mandarin.
Although the number of entries for Highers and the proportion of students who received a pass mark has fallen slightly, data from the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) reveals that 68% of pupils studying foreign languages have achieved a Higher grade A.
The data, collected from SCIS’s 74 member schools, shows that 72% of students achieved a Higher grade A in Mandarin, while 72% of those studying German, 69% of those studying French and 63% studying Spanish also achieved an A.
7 August 2018 (The Telegraph)
It was once considered a staple of any holiday packing list, on a par with sunscreen, a pack of cards and flip-flops.
But the phrasebook is now becoming a thing of a past, with its demise hastened by the rise of smartphone translation apps, according to research conducted by the British Council.
Google translate and other apps are increasingly popular among the younger generation, who have complained that inaccurate translations are leading to embarrassing faux pas.
Over 60 per cent of 16 to 34 year-olds said they have used their smartphones and apps to help understand the local language, with just 39 per cent opting for a phrasebook.
A poll of a poll of 2,000 adults, commissioned by the British Council, found that relying on technology brings its own perils, with more than one in five of this age group reporting that an inaccurate translation on their phone has led to misunderstandings while on holiday.
6 August 2018 (San Francisco Chronicle)
The United States may be the single most powerful nation in the world militarily, and remains a global economic giant, but we have seen repeatedly that our influence is limited. In part, we are constrained by our inadequate understanding of other nations and peoples, and by our inability to communicate effectively with them.
It is therefore disturbing, and evidence of a dangerous myopia, that we continue to neglect training and education in languages other than English.
In 1979, I was a member of the President’s Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies, which found that “Americans’ incompetence in foreign languages is nothing short of scandalous.” Last year, nearly 40 years later, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences released a similar report, “America’s Languages,” and its findings were eerily similar: “[T]he dominance of English, to the exclusion of other languages, has also had adverse and often unforeseen consequences at home and abroad — in business and diplomacy, in civic life, and in the exchange of ideas.”
Much has changed in the decades between these two reports, including the continuing spread of English globally. Today, English is an official language of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Criminal Court, and NATO, as well as the unofficial language of international business.
What has not changed, however, is that English alone — an education in English to the exclusion of other languages — remains insufficient to meeting our needs in a global world.
In times of great national security challenges, such as those we face today, as well as in times of great opportunity, such as the opening of new international markets, we find ourselves scrambling for people who can speak, write, and think in languages other than English. In those moments, we search high and low for people who can communicate in Mandarin, Japanese, Russian, Pashto — and especially for people who understand the idioms and nuances that characterize true communication in any culture.
Because it is difficult to find such people immediately, we are at a disadvantage. Language acquisition is a marathon, not a sprint. By the time we educate and train the experts we need to help us address a particular language gap, we are often too late. The crisis has shifted. Others have captured the new market.
As a matter of public policy, this is a terribly inefficient way to operate.
3 August 2018 (Good Morning Britain)
The government has announced plans to improve teaching to boost the number of students opting to take foreign languages at GCSE level. Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, believes that learning an extra language is good for young people for traveling and opens more opportunities within the workplace.
See the video interview broadcast on Good Morning Britain.
2 August 2018 (Medical News Bulletin)
Canadian researchers determined whether learning a second language or learning to play a musical instrument can improve brain function.
When it comes to remembering items on a list or phone numbers, previous research has shown that musicians and individuals who are bilingual have a better working memory. To investigate why this is the case, a team of Canadian researchers conducted functional brain imaging scans on 41 young adults (ages 19-35) to see how various regions of the brain were activated during the completion of spatial and non-spatial memory tasks.
The results of this study, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, indicated that participants who were bilingual, and in particular, those who played a musical instrument, were better able to locate and identify sounds. In addition, these two experiences seemed to shape which neural networks were used to complete working memory tasks.
2 August 2018 (ITV)
A GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL) could be introduced in this parliament after the government backed down on a decision to delay it.
Deaf schoolboy Daniel Jillings, 12, is campaigning for the new exam in time for his GCSEs, and his family launched a legal challenge to get one instated as quickly as possible.
The Department for Education had previously said no new GCSEs would be introduced in this parliament, but following submissions from the family’s lawyers it said it may consider making an “exception”.
Daniel’s family’s lawyers argue the lack of a GCSE in BSL may be “discriminatory and unlawful”.
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said on Wednesday: “We will consider any proposals put forward for a GCSE in British Sign Language.
“As we have made clear previously, any new GCSE would need to meet the rigorous standards set by both the Department and Ofqual.
“If these expectations are met and a British Sign Language GCSE is ready to be introduced, we will then consider whether to make an exception to our general rule that there should be no new GCSEs in this parliament.”
1 August 2018 (BBC)
Teaching his native Arabic to students online has been a game changer for Syrian refugee Sami as he makes a fresh start in the UK.
The Aleppo University engineering graduate says that working for an online language learning platform in London has helped him find his feet and motivation as he begins life anew.
The tutors at the start-up firm Chatterbox are all refugees and their work helps them to integrate and adapt to their new surroundings.
"I think language is building bridges between people, because the language is not only in the language itself, the speaking or the words, it's also the culture," said the 35-year-old refugee, who arrived in the UK about two years ago.
The school is the brainchild of Mursal Hedayat, who came up with the idea during a trip to refugee camps in Calais in the summer of 2016.
1 August 2018 (BBC)
The feeling of walking barefoot across a beach in summer and the sun-warmed sand chafing my toes takes me the length of this sentence to describe. My great-great-grandfather, Angus Morrison, would have used one word: driùchcainn.
That’s because, born and bred on the fringes of Western Europe, on Lewis, in the archipelago of the Outer Hebrides, his mother tongue was Scottish Gaelic.
It’s the ancient Celtic language heard by TV audiences tuning into the Highlands time-travelling saga Outlander.
In real life, working together crofting, fishing, weaving or cutting peat for fires, my ancestors spoke in Gaelic. It was spoken at home, sung at parties, used at church. But education in Angus’s day was strictly in English. As late as the 1970s, children were sometimes punished for speaking Gaelic at school.
Raised alongside Atlantic surf and storms, he became a sailor. Then, in the mid-nineteenth century, moved to Glasgow, and settled there working as a ship’s rigger. Among the principles he instilled in the family was the importance of education. But he did not pass on his cradle tongue.
My family story illustrates what linguistics experts call intergenerational breakdown. In 2018, along with about half of the world’s estimated 6,000 languages, Scottish Gaelic is considered at risk of dying out.
31 July 2018 (The Telegraph)
Middle class parents are using “harder” GCSEs like Mandarin to signal that their children are high achieving, the Education Secretary has said.
Damian Hinds said it is not just an “attainment gap” that separates rich and poor students, but also a gulf in expectations and knowledge about the system.
“For middle class parents there is an awareness that there are harder and easier subjects,” he said. “As parents we encourage their children to do the harder ones - whether that's Maths, History or these days Mandarin - because we know they can be a signalling device to universities and employers.
30 July 2018 (The Times)
Head teachers may have to cut language courses in schools as a staffing shortage worsens.
With weeks to go until lectures begin, some modern language courses for teachers at leading universities are half empty. There is already a widespread recruitment crisis in the profession.
At the University of the West of Scotland only 11 of 20 places for one-year postgraduate teacher training courses in modern languages in secondary schools had been filled by mid-July.
11 July 2018 (BBC)
Korean is rapidly growing in popularity, in a language-learning boom driven by the popularity of the country's pop stars.
A desire to learn the lyrics of K-Pop hits like Gangnam Style has boosted the Korean language's popularity explode in countries like the US, Canada, Thailand and Malaysia.
A report by the Modern Language Association shows that Korean uptake in US universities rose by almost 14% between 2013 and 2016, while overall language enrolment was in decline.
The latest statistics show 14,000 students are learning Korean in the US, compared to only 163 two decades earlier.
The language learning website Duolingo launched a Korean course last year because of rising demand. It quickly attracted more than 200,000 pupils.
7 July 2018 (Daily Record)
Scots phrases may make perfect sense to us, but they can leave some folk scratching their heads.
Babbel, the language learning app, looked at some everyday Scottish patter and how they can confuse different nationalities.
6 July 2018 (TES)
A 12-year-old deaf boy is at the heart of a planned legal battle to challenge the government’s "discriminatory" decision to delay the introduction of a GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL).
Daniel Jillings, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, uses BSL as his first language and is concerned that there will be no qualification in place related to signing when he takes his exams in a few years’ time.
5 July 2018 (The Conversation)
Diagnosed with autism and delayed language development, five-year-old Jose lives with his bilingual English-Spanish family in the UK. In addition to all the important decisions that a family with an autistic child has to take, Jose’s parents must also consider what languages to teach him and how. They would like Jose to learn English so he can make friends and do well at school. But they also value Spanish – the native language of Jose’s mother.
The family’s tricky situation was described in a study from 2013, and illustrates a problem that affects many families around the world. But is it possible to raise a child with autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders to be bilingual? And, if so, does it help or hinder the autistic experience? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
2 July 2018 (BBC)
Language is an essential part of playing football. Coaches give instructions to players and teammates talk to each other on the pitch.
How, one may wonder, does Belgium's multilingual team communicate?
Sources say the players speak neither Dutch nor French but English in the changing room, to avoid the perception of favouring one language over another.
They also speak English on the pitch, much to the surprise of many in the UK press during their game with England on Thursday night.
A majority of Belgians are Dutch-speakers who live in the Flemish north. Most of the rest speak French, and there is a small German-speaking community.
This divide can be seen in the mother tongues of the Belgian national team's star players.
Manchester City's playmaker Kevin De Bruyne is a Dutch-speaker from Ghent in the Flemish region, while Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard is a French-speaker from the Walloon region.
30 June 2018 (Press and Journal)
Aberdeen primary pupils may be greeting friends with ‘salve’ rather than ‘fit like’ next term after headteachers were offered the chance to boost Latin in their schools.
The Classical Association of Scotland said a similar campaign in Glasgow had led to 10 schools starting to teach the Roman language.
Now they have written to city council chiefs offering financial assistance to help with training that will enable Latin lessons to take place in city schools.
Learning other languages has proven benefits and the association believes Latin can help with understanding other European tongues.
28 June 2018 (Study International)
To many people, studying abroad sounds like a dream. Spending a few months or years in a far-off country to gain a qualification while at the same time, learning a foreign language or soaking up the culture is an aspiration many, young and old, wish they could fulfill.
Apparently, this select group of people does not include the Brits.
While hundreds of thousands continue to travel the world to enrol at a British university, the same can’t be said for the outward mobility trends seen among British students.
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.
28 June 2018 (The Herald)
Glasgow University has heard its first graduation speech in Gaelic in its 567-year history.
The ancient seat awarded a former moderator of the Church of Scotland with an honorary degree partly because of his commitment to the Celtic tongue.
And the Very Rev Dr Angus Morrison accepted with an oration partly in Gaelic.
28 June 2018 (The Guardian)
English children are increasingly unwilling to learn the language of Molière and MC Solaar, according to the British Council, which reports that within a few years Spanish will overtake it as the most-studied foreign language. At A-level, takeup has already fallen to 8,300, from 21,300 in 1997, while Spanish has climbed to 7,600.
Laziness seems to have a lot to do with it. As Vicky Gough, a schools adviser at the British Council, put it, “There is a perception of Spanish being easier to pick up than other languages, which may account in part for its popularity.” Which, one might say, confirms another perception: that the kids of today want everything handed to them on a plate, from chauffeur service to and from school, to first-class university degrees.
27 June 2018 (Euronews)
Less than half of English pupils choose to learn a modern foreign language at school, a new report has found.
The proportion of English students sitting foreign language exams at the end of their compulsory education — at age 16 — stood at 47% in 2017, the British Council revealed in its Language Trends survey released on Wednesday.
In 2002, that figure stood at 76%.
27 June 2018 (The Guardian)
Spanish is expected to overtake French as the main foreign language studied in classrooms in England in the next few years, and experts say German could face extinction from school timetables.
A report by the British Council says that although the study of languages continues to decline, Spanish is bucking the trend, with entries up in both GCSEs and A-levels.
27 June 2018 (BBC)
Children from poorer backgrounds in England are increasingly likely to miss out on learning a foreign language, suggests a report.
Some teachers blame new tougher GCSEs for putting lower ability pupils off language learning.
There is also a perception that languages are less important since the vote to leave the European Union, says the British Council study.
The government says its reforms are boosting modern languages in schools.
The Language Trends Survey has published an annual report since 2002 when more than three-quarters of pupils (76%) took a modern language GCSE.
By 2011, only 40% of pupils took a language at GCSE.
The subject has recovered in recent years - in 2016 almost half of 16-year-olds took a language GCSE - but this figure fell to 47% last year.
There has been a similar long-term decline at A-level.
26 June 2018 (BBC)
Swimming lessons have been offered in Gaelic for the first time in Scotland.
More than 30 young Gaelic speakers have signed up for the classes at the High Life Highland-run Lochaber Leisure Centre in Fort William.
Eilidh Mcarthur, a student teacher working at the pool, suggested the idea after she found out that 11 of the site's staff were Gaelic speakers.
24 June 2018 (BBC)
Learning a new language can be tricky, but how many words do you need to know before you can actually get by in a foreign tongue?
That was the question posed to BBC Radio 4's More or Less programme by one frustrated listener. Despite learning German for three years, and practising nearly every day, they still couldn't seem to retain more than 500 words.
"I was hoping," they wrote, "you could give me a shortcut, by working out how many words we actually use on a regular basis."
To work out how many words you need to know to be able to speak a second language we decided to look into how many words we know in our first language, in our case English.
20 June 2018 (Shetland News)
TEN pupils at Mid Yell Junior High School received prizes on Monday (18 June) as part of a celebration of the teaching and use of French in Scottish schools.
The S2 students, winners of this year's Concours de la francophonie competition, received their prizes during a special award ceremony at the school in the presence of education attaché of the French Embassy in the UK Thomas Chaurin and Shetland Gas Plant facilities management co-ordinator Jenny Wink, who was also representing sponsor Total E&P UK.
The VIP visit came after the Yell bairns were unable to attend the official award ceremony in Edinburgh in March.
With the majority of children now learning French from P1 in Scotland, la francophonie is said to be thriving.
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.
15 June 2018 (We love Stornoway)
Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP has praised Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s e-Sgoil project in a review document of its first year which has been circulated to all schools in Scotland.
Mr Swinney said “e-Sgoil makes use of our national education intranet, GLOW and it is effectively using this to bring teachers and learners together no matter their location. I would like to congratulate those involved at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for their vision, energy and commitment in bringing this project forward in such a short period of time.
“In concluding I would like to commend this report to you and hope you are encouraged by the success set out in the following pages.”
e-Sgoil is offering National 5 and Higher Gaelic (Learners) provision on-line to Local Authorities.
e-Sgoil e have identified the following periods for the delivery of National 5 and Higher Gaelic (Learners):
- Mon - 08.50 to 09.40 and 09.40 to 10.30
- Wed - 13.35 to 14.45
- Thurs - 13.55 to 14.45 and 11.45 to 15.35
- Fri - 12.25 to 13.15
Any learners wishing to access these courses can do so using Glow, Office 365 and Vscene.
e-Sgoil also has capacity to deliver weekly Gaelic Learner classes for any schools requiring support with the 1+2 agenda.
If your school or authority is interested in exploring these options contact email@example.com or phone 01851 822850.
15 June 2018 (THE)
The Chinese government has announced plans to establish 100 “cultural heritage” centres at universities throughout the country that will run academic programmes and conduct scientific research in a bid to promote traditional Chinese culture.
The ministry of education said that it will “build about 100 excellent Chinese traditional cultural heritage sites” in universities and colleges nationwide by 2020, including 50 this year, and support institutions to “focus on ethnic folk music, ethnic folk arts” and folk dances, dramas and operas.
13 June 2018 (Eurekalert)
Dyslexic children learning both a language that is pronounced as written -like Spanish- and a second language in which the same letter can have several sounds -such as English- are less affected by this alteration when reading or writing in the latter language. The authors of the Basque research centre BCBL warn that this is less a cure than a reduction of some of the symptoms.
Dyslexia or dsxyliea? Anyone without reading disorders could read the first word without any problem. But if read by someone who suffers from this alteration, he or she will see something similar to the second word.
Dyslexia is a deficit of reading ability that hinders learning and affects between 3 and 10% of the population. Its transmission is partly genetic, and its diagnosis is made in children of between 8 and 9, although the symptoms appear before.
So far, the only way to combat this disorder has been through early treatments adapted to the patient's age and symptoms.
Now, however, research developed by the University of Bangor (Wales) and the Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL) of San Sebastian has shown that some combinations of bilingualism, transmitted from very early ages, contribute to reducing its symptoms.
The main goal here was to verify if bilingualism acquired by children who learn to read in English and Welsh at the same time could benefit those suffering from dyslexia assessed in the English language. "And the answer is yes," as bluntly stated by Marie Lallier, a BCBL scientist and one of the authors of the study, published in Scientific Studies of Reading.
11 June 2018 (Glasgow Live)
A Glasgow social enterprise is tackling dementia through language learning.
Govan-based Lingo Flamingo teaches second languages to over 600 elderly people in care homes throughout the country, predominantly in Glasgow.
The social enterprise, founded by Robbie Norval, is the world's first not-for-profit organisation to provide bespoke language classes to older adults.
Lingo Flamingo's work is based on research from the University of Edinburgh which shows language learning in older age can have a significant positive impact in terms of curbing the effects of dementia.
9 June 2018 (The National)
The United Nations has paid Scotland’s Gaelic tongue a huge compliment by adding some of the earliest manuscripts in the language to the Unesco Memory of the World Register.
The National Library of Scotland (NLS) announced yesterday that its renowned collection of early Gaelic manuscripts will go on the register – which aims to preserve the world’s most important documents.
The Gaelic collection will join the likes of the Domesday Book, Magna Carta, the Churchill archives and Scotland’s own Declaration of Arbroath on the register.
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?
7 June 2018 (TES)
Hundreds of primary school teachers will have the chance to learn and teach new languages within seven months, under a scheme being expanded after a successful trial.
The distance-learning programme - the first of its kind in the UK – sees primary teachers study either French, Spanish, German or Mandarin and develop the skills to teach the language in the primary classroom at the same time.
After a pilot involving 54 teachers from 49 Scottish schools across nine local authorities in 2017-18, next year the scheme will be available throughout Scotland. Welsh and Northern Irish schools are also expected to sign up.
Teachers taking part will spend about five hours a week from October to June - around 150 hours in total - but they will start teaching the languages to pupils before completing the course.
The scheme, run by The Open University and SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, will be launched in Edinburgh today.
Posted in: Primary
, Language Teaching
, Teacher Education
, Languages in the press
7 June 2018 (Language Magazine)
For the last 30 years, the world economy has been more global and multicultural than ever before. In any given country, foreign-based companies operate every day, while overseas branches of the same companies are often present in various countries. The job market is consequently more global, multilingual, and multicultural in nature, and the workforce of the future will need to be more linguistically and culturally heterogeneous.
In that context, bilingual and bicultural individuals, even with limited knowledge of one or more languages and their attendant cultures, have a clear advantage, since more and more jobs will require experience in international and cross-cultural areas.
On the other hand, we also know that half of the world’s population speaks two or more languages and there are many places where bilingualism or multilingualism is the norm, for example in regions of Africa.2
So, will half the world then benefit from the new job opportunities created by a more global job market? Not exactly.
Being bilingual, bicultural, and biliterate are not equivalent skills, and being bilingual is not the only condition to be hired for any job. It does not replace a solid further education, but it is becoming obvious that linguistic and cultural fluency enhances one’s “human capital” (the measure of the economic value of a person’s skill set). More and more, at equal technical skills, a bilingual individual will be chosen over a monolingual person.
7 June 2018 (The Conversation)
In addition to securing the UK’s departure from the EU, the June 2016 Brexit referendum exposed deep-seated prejudice against speakers of languages other than English. Politicians and pundits, including former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, fuelled xenophobic rhetoric by claiming that “in many parts of England you don’t hear English spoken any more”. Meanwhile the media has reported that people are being harassed or attacked on public transport, in shops or on the streets of British towns for “not speaking English”.
Though the EU itself has no plans to use English any less in meetings and documents, Britain cannot rely on this fact to justify its own monolingualism. Speaking other languages and working with other cultures is a global fact and, post-Brexit, Britain will need to work with countries all over the world more than ever.
The troubling presence of linguaphobia is just one legacy of the referendum campaign, but like so many other forms of prejudice, it is nothing new. Linguaphobia is a concept that first developed in the 1950s to identify a form of monolingualism that shows itself in a hostility towards learning other languages. For leading modern linguistics expert Charles Forsdick, post-referendum, this has translated itself into “an ideological phenomenon that judges national belonging in terms of the exclusive use of the English language”.
Yet as Forsdick and others assert, this “ideological monolingualism” is a deeply flawed perception of the history of languages in the UK. It distorts the past and present of multilingualism in the UK, and ill equips the population to face the brave new world of trade and cultural diplomacy it will need to master.
6 June 2018 (SecEd)
In a new series focused on supporting pupils with English as an additional language, Nic Kidston and Katherine Solomon discuss how schools can learn more about who their EAL learners are and how they can be empowered and supported to fulfil their potential
This article, the first in a series of articles on supporting EAL learners that will appear in the coming year, examines the recent research report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI), with the Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy – entitled Educational Outcomes of Children with English as an Additional Language.
The series will provide insights into, and best practice on, how to support individual learners through a whole school approach.
6 June 2018 (The Conversation)
A drop in the number of secondary school students learning languages in UK schools is fuelling concerns about the country’s global competitiveness, particularly after Brexit. Discussions among both politicians and the media centre on the worry that the UK is being held back globally by its poor language skills. The UK economy loses roughly £50bn a year due to a lack of language skills in the workforce.
British Council and British Academy reports all critique modern foreign language (MFL) teaching in the UK. They also express concern about the lack of learning in state schools compared to independent schools and the widening gap between disadvantaged children and an internationally mobile elite. It is well acknowledged that there is a need to move beyond relying on English as a lingua franca.
In line with this, Chinese, an emerging key world business language – and widely predicted to be key to UK business post-Brexit – has become a foreign language option for some UK students in recent decades. Teaching is beginning to thrive across schools and universities as a principle modern foreign language.
Unsurprisingly, private schools – recognising the language as a new source of cultural capital – were the first to offer the new subject. But some newly established schools, especially particularly poor and disrupted schools in the state sector, have also shown interest in featuring Chinese in the school curriculum. They have been able to do so due to the Confucius Institute programme and the related Confucius Classroom programme initiated by the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) in 2004.
The Confucius Classroom program partners with UK secondary schools or school districts to provide teachers and instructional materials. The costs of such programmes are shared between Hanban and the host institutions (the UK colleges, universities, schools or school districts). By adopting Chinese as one of the taught languages in the curriculum, disadvantaged British schools hoped to indicate to parents that they provided something special and ambitious.
5 June 2018 (BBC Radio 3)
Professor Nicola McLelland and Vicky Gough of the British Councl to examine why, in UK schools and universities, the number of students learning a second language is collapsing - whilst the number of languages spoken in Britain is rising and translated fiction is becoming more available and popular. (Listen to the BBC Radio 3 broadcast from 33:30).
5 June 2018 (Radio Edutalk)
Listen to Gillian Campbell-Thow talk about ‘Language Learning in Scottish Education’ broadcast on Radio Edutalk on 5 June 2018.
5 June 2018 (The Conversation)
Language learning apps are very popular in app stores worldwide – and are said to be revolutionising language learning. These apps offer opportunities to practise grammar and can be a very rewarding way to learn vocabulary. But there has been discussion about just how effective such apps can be – particularly when it comes to other skills such as writing and speaking.
Among the most popular language learning apps are Duolingo and busuu. Research has mainly found positive results on the use of both Duolingo and busuu. But most of this research concentrates on studies with learners who are also signed up to language courses – learners are using the apps for extra practice – so the results don’t provide a good snapshot of language learning through apps.
My recently published research study of 4,095 busuu users aimed to find out more about who uses these apps, how they use them, and what they think of app-based learning. Ultimately, I wanted to find out if users can actually learn a language with an app.
31 May 2018 (THE)
The European Union’s next student exchange programme is set to be opened to any country in the world, paving the way for UK universities and students to take part in Erasmus+ post-Brexit.
In its proposal for the Erasmus+ programme for the period 2021-27, published on 30 May, the European Commission said that countries outside the EU and the European Economic Area would be able to participate fully as long as they do not have a “decisional power” on the programme and agree to a “fair balance” of contributions and benefits.
30 May 2018 (TES)
Literacy and numeracy assessments to be offered to Scottish Gaelic schools from August after government investment.
30 May 2018 (Guardian)
Find out more about studying modern languages from around the world and their literatures, as well as linguistics.
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?
29 May 2018 (Financial Times)
I have lived in four countries: South Africa, where I grew up, the US, where I was a teenage exchange student, Greece, where I learnt how to be a journalist, and the UK or, more specifically, London, where I have now spent the majority of my life.
Each of those places changed me, but did they make me more self-aware? Did they give me a better understanding of my values and how they interacted with the culture surrounding me? And does that make me a better, more insightful employee than colleagues who stayed in the same place?
28 May 2018 (The Guardian)
Britain faces further isolation after Brexit if it doesn’t adjust its citizens’ attitude towards learning foreign languages, a panel of experts has warned, with Britons becoming increasingly “linguaphobic” in the wake of the EU referendum.
Speaking at the Hay literary festival on Friday, a panel including Cardiff University professor Claire Gorrara and linguist Teresa Tinsley, said that Britons had too long relied on a false belief that English was the world’s lingua franca. Only 6% of the global population are native English speakers, with 75% of the world unable to speak English at all. But three-quarters of UK residents can only speak English.
“That English is somehow the norm is a complete misapprehension of the facts, but this notion that everyone is speaking English is persistent and believed by many in the UK,” said Gorrara, warning that economic opportunities and bridge-building with the rest of the world was at risk after Brexit if Britons did not become less “linguaphobic” and learn more languages.
27 May 2018 (BBC )
Category six referee Jason Taylor will become the Scottish Football Association’s first representative at the Deaf Champions League finals, which takes place in Milan from 28 May – 2 June.
Having started refereeing in 2005, Jason hopes to inspire other deaf people to "realise there are no barriers to stop you from doing what you want to do".
From Dunfermline, he says his refereeing idol is Hugh Dallas.
23 May 2018 (Scotsman)
Railway stations can tell you a lot about a country, from its economic development to its population centres. But their names also provide an insight into how language and its meaning evolves over time, from describing little more than fields to vanished religious centres.
24 May 2018 (The Local)
The age-old French war over what to call France's famous chocolate-filled pastry treat - known to most as a "pain au chocolat" - has reached French parliament, where a group of MPs are fighting to have the the rival term "chocolatine" officially recognised.
23 May 2018 (BBC News)
English is spoken by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, but do the development of translation technology and "hybrid" languages threaten its status?
21 May 2018 (Guardian)
With the 2018 Man Booker International prize winner to be announced on 22 May, nominated translators share their favourite sayings that don’t easily translate to English. Can you decipher the correct meanings?
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.
17 May 2018 (The Independent)
If you’ve taken the time to learn music or to speak another language, you’ve also trained your brain into being more efficient, according to a new study.
Researchers at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute found that musicians and people who are bilingual utilised fewer brain resources when completing a working memory task.
According to the study, published in the journal, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, people with either a musical or bilingual background activated different brain networks and showed less brain activity while completing a task than people who only spoke one language or didn’t have formal music training.
Of the findings, Dr Claude Alain, one of the paper’s authors who works as a senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and a professor at the University of Toronto's Institute of Medical Science, said: “These findings show that musicians and bilinguals require less effort to perform the same task, which could also protect them against cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
"Our results also demonstrated that a person's experiences, whether it's learning how to play a musical instrument or another language, can shape how the brain functions and which networks are used."
16 May 2018 (The Scotsman)
Parents and pupils at Edinburgh’s only Gaelic high school have demanded action to address a teacher shortage and to stand up for children facing discrimination. The calls came as the city council yesterday agreed its Gaelic Language Plan for 2018-22.
It was revealed the authority only has one Gaelic teacher in employment for Gaelic medium education (GME) at James Gillespie’s High School where pupils are taught primarily through the medium of Gaelic. Speaking at a meeting of the council’s corporate policy and strategy committee, which unanimously agreed the plan, parent Marion Thompson raised worries about protection for GME pupils.
15 May 2018 (BBC)
Deaf poets fight it out in the UK's first ever poetry slam for users of sign language. Watch the video.
8 May 2018 (BBC)
A public consultation on recommended Gaelic names for the most common shellfish in Scotland's seas has been launched.
Scottish Natural Heritage has published a list of 85 marine mollusc names, Gaelic terms for parts of the animals and for different seashell shapes.
The meanings of many of the names have also been explained in English.
The recommendations have been produced by a team from Scottish Natural Heritage and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
Gaelic-speaking environmental educator Roddy Maclean has been leading the project.
He interviewed 14 older Gaelic speakers, mostly from the Western Isles, to obtain guidance on the names they use for marine mollusc species.
Mr Maclean said: "There was a general agreement on the names for the most common species.
"But there were some species where people had different terms, or none at all. This challenged us to make a choice and also provide names for species with no recorded Gaelic form."
Some of the suggested names and terms include:
Mollusc - Moileasg
Seashell - Slige mhara
Filter feeder - Sìoltachair
Shellfish harvested by moonlight - Maorach-èalaidh
7 May 2018 (Evening Express)
An Aberdeen primary school has announced its new hub for promoting the teaching of Mandarin.
Danestone School launched its Confucius Classroom, which will be a central location for all Aberdeen-based primary schools teaching the language to pupils.
It aims to boost skills in children in line with Scotland’s 1+2 languages policy, which allows every child the opportunity to learn two languages in addition to their mother tongue by 2020.
The hub concept promotes joint planning of cultural activities, sharing ideas and resources to stimulate the learning and teaching of Chinese language and culture. The launch event included children singing in Mandarin, and a mixture of Scottish music and dance.
6 May 2018 (Daily Record)
The number of Scottish pupils passing foreign language exams has halved over 10 years.
The total at all levels has plunged from 60,176 in 2007 to just 28,503 in 2017.
The fall has been most severe in basic qualifications, raising concerns the figures could get worse in coming years as youngsters lack foundation skills.
Opposition politicians and business leaders have voiced fears that Scotland’s ability to compete as a global economy could be at risk.
6 May 2018 (The Guardian)
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, never ceases to surprise his audience, especially when he speaks in English. While some of his compatriots were shocked that he should address the US Congress in its native tongue, it pleased a large number of French people who appreciated how he engaged directly in version originale.
A few days later, however, when President Macron thanked the Australian prime minister’s wife, Lucy Turnbull, for being “delicious” – conjuring up images of cannibalism and Hannibal Lecter – some commentators suddenly thought of Macron as creepy. It was hours before somebody thought to tell the Australians that the word “délicieuse” actually means delightful.
Speaking a foreign language is a minefield for anyone who ventures there but also a source of constant wonder, joy and fun. The rewards are manifold and it is even thought to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The smartest leaders either know many languages or understand the power of words enough to play with them to their advantage. Perhaps Macron used the word “delicious” on purpose; perhaps, even, the secret behind the strangely warm rapport between Macron, Trump and their wives is built on such deliciously faux amis?
The fact is that multilinguists rule the world. That Angela Merkel is trilingual (she speaks German, Russian and English) should be no surprise. If David Cameron had not been a monoglot, maybe Britain would not have found itself in a Brexit nightmare. Just a thought.
1 May 2018 (BBC)
There is a critical cut-off age for learning a language fluently, according to research.
If you want to have native-like knowledge of English grammar, for example, you should ideally start before age 10, say the researchers.
People remain highly skilled learners until 17 or 18, when ability tails off.
The findings, in the journal Cognition, come from an online grammar test taken by nearly 670,000 people of different ages and nationalities.
The grammar quiz was posted on Facebook to get enough people to take part.
Questions tested if participants could determine whether a sentence written in English, such as: "Yesterday John wanted to won the race," was grammatically correct.
Users were asked their age and how long they had been learning English, and in what setting - had they moved to an English-speaking country, for example?
About 246,000 of the people who took the test had grown up speaking only English, while the rest were bi- or multilingual.
The most common native languages (excluding English) were Finnish, Turkish, German, Russian and Hungarian.
Most of the people who completed the quiz were in their 20s and 30s. The youngest age was about 10 and the oldest late 70s.
When the researchers analysed the data using a computer model, the best explanation for the findings was that grammar-learning was strongest in childhood, persists into teenage years and then drops at adulthood.
Scientists pinpoint best age to learn a second language (Newsweek, 1 May 2018) Article includes a video clip where polyglot, Alex Rawlings, shares his top 10 tips for language learning
Scientists reveal cut-off age for learning a new language (The Independent, 1 May 2018)
Scientists define critical period for learning language—children remain adept learners until the age of 17 or 18 (Medical Xpress, 1 May 2018)
You can learn a new language by 18, but only if you start before 10 can you pass as native: study (Daily Sabah, 1 May 2018)
‘Critical period’ for learning new language, says study (Euronews, 1 May 2018)
Scientists identify the best ages to learn a new language (Earth, 1 May 2018)
Why It's So Hard to Learn Another Language After Childhood (Time, 2 May 2018)
Is there a ‘cut-off age’ for learning languages? (Bilingualism Matters, 2 May 2018)
Want to learn a foreign language fluently? Start before 10, study finds (AliveForFootball, 2 May 2018)
Becoming fluent in another language as an adult might be impossible – but I’m still going to try (The Guardian, 2 May 2018)
Too late to lingo: Kids must start learning foreign languages by TEN to be able to speak like a native (The Sun, 2 May 2018)
You're never too old to become fluent in a foreign language (iNews, 10 May 2018)
1 May 2018 (Shetland News)
The Chinese ambassador to the UK was in Yell on Tuesday (1 May) to launch Shetland's second Confucius Classroom Hub.
Mid Yell Junior High School is now part of the Confucius programme, which aims to teach Scottish youngsters about Chinese culture and Mandarin language, after Sandwick Junior High School joined in 2016.
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and his wife Hu Pinghua visited Yell alongside minister-counselor for education Wang Yongli and representatives of the Confucius Institute for Scotland's Schools.
They met councillors and staff from Shetland Islands Council, as well as Mid Yell pupils who entertained the guests with traditional Shetland music and songs - as well as Chinese songs and dance.
Good Evening Shetland (BBC Shetland, 1 May 2018) Listen to the news item about the new Confucius Hub from 00:48 onwards.
Confucius Classroom Hub launched at Mid Yell JHS (Shetland Islands Council, 1 May 2018)
1 May 2018 (BBC)
A twitter hashtag #IsMiseGàidhlig took the Scottish internet by storm last week as members of the Gaelic community, fluent speakers and learners alike gave their positive experiences of Scotland’s oldest native language in response to negative stories in the press.
Thug an taga-hais #IsMiseGàidhlig os làimh Twitter na h-Alba an t-seachdain seo nuair a bha buill de choimhearsnachd na Gàidhlig, fileantaich agus luchd-ionnsachaidh le chèile, a’ sgaoileadh sgeulachdan togarrach mun a’ chànan mar fhreagairt air droch sgeulachdan anns na meadhanan.
28 April 2018 (The Scotsman)
E-Sgoil is now being expanded to teach a range of subjects to pupils all over Scotland after initially being created in response to teacher recruitment problems in the Western Isles.
And Angus MacLennan, head teacher of e-Sgoil, said there were now plans to recruit a teacher to offer Arabic lessons.
The move is in response to an anticipated demand from pupils.
[..] E-Sgoil is also hoping to recruit online tutors to teach Mandarin in response to a demand from pupils in the Western Isles.
27 April 2018 (The Herald)
A series of international deals has secured programmes worth £5.2 million for Scotland's Gaelic language channel.
Gaelic media service MG Alba said it had agreed the additional content for BBC Alba through deals led by its supplier companies.
(subscription required to read full article)
26 April 2018 (Nation Cymru)
Wales should do much more to raise awareness of the Welsh language and its own culture in order to differentiate the country from the rest of the UK.
That is one of the recommendations of a new report from British Council Wales published today.
The report says Wales should better use the appeal of its ‘soft power’, its culture, education and sport sectors, to gain more recognition and influence on the world stage.
“We feel there is much that could be done with the language outside of Wales, effectively using it as a way to both raise interest in Wales and differentiate it from the rest of the UK,” the report says.
“As such, we recommend Wales make greater efforts to share the language with international audiences, incorporating it in tourism promotion campaigns.”
26 April 2018 (The Times)
The number of pupils taking Higher French and German has fallen as interest in Italian and Chinese rises.
The number of pupils studying any Higher modern languages fell 6.2 per cent between 2016 and last year. Pupils studying Higher French fell by 14 per cent to 3,918 and German was down 13 per cent from 1,020 to 89. The number of students taking Higher Spanish hit 2,809, up 8 per cent on 2016; Italian rose 21 per cent to 264; Chinese languages grew in popularity by 16 per cent to 129; and Urdu rose by 13 per cent to 104. Those learning Gaelic at Higher level fell by 18 per cent, to 69.
(Subscription required to read full article).
Posted in: Senior Phase
, Language Learning
, National Qualifications
, Languages in the press
24 April 2018 (BBC)
Funding of £2.5m has been put in place for the next phase of the development of the first comprehensive Gaelic dictionary.
Faclair na Gàidhlig aims to document the history, development and use of every single word in the language.
It would be far more detailed than any dictionary available in bookshops.
The production is being made possible through a collaboration between several universities and the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture.
The latest funding announced by the Scottish government will be managed by the Scottish Funding Council.
The new dictionary is a long-term project and would be the equivalent of the multi-volume resources available for English and Scots.
It could take 30 years to produce and is likely to have around 100,000 entries.
The universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig are involved in the project, which has the support of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the national public body with responsibility for Gaelic.
24 April 2018 (The Scotsman)
John Swinney has announced that a third Gaelic school is to open in Glasgow as part of the Scottish Government’s drive to increase the number of speakers of the language.
The new school will provide Gaelic medium education (GME) and is expected to open in the Cartvale area of the city.
Nearly 900 pupils are enrolled in Glasgow’s two existing GME schools at Glendale and Berkeley Street – both of which are now at capacity. The plans for the new school were announced during a Holyrood debate on the National Gaelic Language Plan 2018-23.
23 April 2018 (Business Insider)
Perhaps you've toyed with the idea of learning a second or third language. But as an adult, is learning a new language too monumental of a task to undertake?
Let's look at what we know about language development. Early childhood — infancy until age 5 — is a particularly sensitive period when children's brains are primed to learn language.
According to Thomas Bak, Ph.D., a neuroscientist from the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, children first learn sounds, and then acquire the basic rules of grammar. Then comes vocabulary, which continues to accumulate throughout life. (Microbiome, microagression, net neutrality, safe space, and Seussian are just a few of the 1000 new words that Merriam-Webster added in 2017.)
From birth through puberty , children learn language rapidly and efficiently due to their natural brain plasticity and cognitive flexibility. After puberty, however, language acquisition becomes progressively more difficult, and our ability to learn new languages steadily declines.
There's some individual variability in the age of this decline, Bak says, due to natural ability. But a slight decline does occur in all people at some point, whether it be in their 20s or 30s.
Nienke Meulman, who has published research on age and grammar acquisition effects on the brain, says the adage,"'The later, the harder' is definitely true, but there is no clear cut-off age." Even for late learners it is possible to become proficient in a second language, Meulman says.
20 April 2018 (Irvine Times)
Two Irvine brothers have hosted a dinner with Nicola Sturgeon in China after winning a year-long scholarship in the Far East.
Twins Owen and Robin Wilson wined and dined the First Minster last week during her current visit to China.
The brothers, who are 18, flew out to Beijing last year after both winning a place on the coveted Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS) Scholarship Programme which, in partnership with Strathclyde University, sees 23 students picked to live in China and attend Tianjin Foreign Studies University for a full academic year.
18 April 2018 (THE)
Spain is the number one destination for international students planning to study abroad, according to a survey conducted by GoEuro.
More than 5,700 students from 10 countries were surveyed by the travel platform, of which 18 per cent picked Spain as their top choice. The UK came in at a close second (16 per cent).
As well as Spain being the overall top choice, it was also selected by British students as their top choice, with more than a fifth (21 per cent) choosing the Mediterranean country. France (16 per cent), Germany (12 per cent), the Netherlands (10 per cent) and Italy (9 per cent) also proved to be popular choices for students from the UK.
16 April 2018 (Glasgow Live)
A city centre hotel is extending a warm welcome to guests from all over the world - and in 10 different languages too.
Apex City of Glasgow’s concierge and reception staff are learning key phrases from 10 of the most commonly spoken languages among the hotel’s guests.
The move is part of a #WarmerWelcome project rolled out across Apex hotels, the Bath Street branch included.
Staff will be learning a how to speak in German, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, Swedish, Norwegian, Japanese and Danish.
16 April 2018 (Press and Journal)
Pupils from Portree will today attend different primary schools for the first time as a new Gaelic School opens its doors.
The school becomes the fifth dedicated Gaelic specific school across Scotland – and the third in the Highland region – to offer pupils the opportunity to be educated in the form of Gaelic medium education.
The construction phase of the £8.7million project began in September 2016 and concluded this month as parents and friends of the school will gather at the end of this week to celebrate the schools opening with a family ceilidh.
14 April 2018 (The Independent)
Netflix’s increasing use of foreign languages is building a global community where English isn’t king.
And it’s about time, as we need every tool we have to fight rising xenophobia.
Narcos may have kicked off this trend, but it goes way beyond just reading the subtitles. An audience of 104 million Netflix subscribers are devouring content in Spanish, German and Arabic.
Nielsen released viewer numbers on two original Netflix programmes that debuted the same week: the sci-fi movie Cloverfield Paradox drew in 5 million viewers in the first week, and Altered Carbon, a television series based on an English book, brought in 2.5 million viewers.
In both instances, leads spoke a language other than English throughout its run time. Chinese actor Zhang Ziyi plays an engineer in Cloverfield, and all her lines are recited in Chinese. Mexican actor Martha Higareda’s dialogue in Altered Carbon is primarily English, delivered with a hint of accent. However, she frequently reverts to her native Spanish in the series, as do the actors who play her family members. Co-star Waleed Zuaiter, who plays her partner, also speaks Arabic in key scenes.
The streaming service is producing popular programming depicting foreign and first-generation English-speaking actors, each communicating in their native tongue. The English speakers simply respond without skipping a beat. The implication is that they understand one another and choose the language they’re most comfortable responding in.
13 April 2018 (The Times)
The future of the Scots language is being put under threat by the unstoppable march of American English, Alexander McCall Smith has claimed.
The best-selling author fears that the enthusiastic adoption of US phrases means traditional words such as sleekit scunnered and shoogly are in danger of being lost forever.
McCall Smith’s works have been translated into more than 40 languages but he is concerned that Scots, and other tongues and dialects, are being undermined by the establishment of US English as a global lingua franca.
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13 April 2018 (Stornoway Gazette)
Western Isles Alasdair Allan is calling for Scottish Gaelic to be added to Duolingo, the world’s most popular online language learning service.
Duolingo’s 200 million worldwide users can choose to learn minority languages Welsh and Irish as well as fictional languages from Star Trek and Game of Thrones for free on the app, however there are no Scottish languages currently on offer.
7 April 2018 (The Herald)
Followers of social media and Scottish print media would be forgiven for thinking that there is widespread hostility toward Gaelic in Scotland. Yet, this does not appear to be the case. In 2012, for example, the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey indicated that 76 per cent of respondents felt that Gaelic was either very or fairly important to Scottish heritage, and only four per cent felt it was not at all important.
5 April 2018 (Dumbarton Reporter)
Budding linguists at St Mary’s Primary School in Alexandria celebrated their language skills with a French learning day.
Pupils were put into mixed groups of P1-3 and P4-7 and spent the day taking part in various activities including games, STEM tasks and letting their creative sides loose with some art.
The children also welcomed their parents into school for an afternoon to involve them in the fun and to show off their newly-acquired language skills.
3 April 2018 (The Conversation)
If you go by the ads for some language learning apps, you can “have a conversation in a new language in three weeks”.
But the experience of most Australians when trying to learn a new language is more likely to resemble that of our prime minister who, a few years ago, wrote:
Learning any language at school is…difficult because there simply aren’t enough hours in the school calendar for most students to achieve any real facility – as many Australians have discovered when they tried out their schoolboy or schoolgirl French on their first visit to Paris!
The time it takes to learn a language depends on what you mean by “learning a language”. If your definition is being able to order a “café au lait” or ask for directions to “les toilettes, s’il vous plait” on your next trip to Paris, three weeks is perfectly realistic.
But if you need to study using another language, perform your job with it and negotiate all your relationships through that language – the answer changes dramatically. You’ll be looking at six years and more, where more may well mean never.
Language proficiency is therefore best thought of as the ability to do things with words. The things a tourist needs to do with words are vastly different from the things a migrant needs to do.
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.
2 April 2018 (Falkirk Herald)
The multilingual talents of budding poets from Graeme High and Moray Primary were celebrated in the 2018 Mother Tongue Other Tongue awards.
Graeme High pupil Danai Nikitea was crowned the winner of the Mother Tongue category during a prestigious ceremony at University of Strathclyde on March 17.
While Kole Murray from Moray Primary and Harely Ewen and Simi Singh, both from Graeme High, were Highly Commended in the Other Tongue category.
These students used their language skills to create and share poetry for the ceremony.
Posted in: Primary
, Senior Phase
, Celebrating Languages
, Language Learning
, Language Skills
, Linguistic Diversity
, Mother Tongue
, Promoting Languages
, Strathclyde University
, Languages in the press
29 March 2018 (Daily Record)
Following an editorial campaign running in the Daily Record, the finalists for this year's Scottish Education Awards have been announced.
Finalists will attend the prestigious awards ceremony at Glasgow's Doubletree by Hilton Glasgow Central on June 6th, where each of the fifteen winners will be announced.
Details of all the finalists can be found in the Daily Record news article online.
Congratulations and good luck to the schools shortlisted in the language-related categories!
29 March 2018 (The Herald)
A drive has been launched to revive a classical education in state schools across Scotland.
Leading classics organisations have joined forces to promote the study of Latin and the history and culture of Ancient Rome and Greece.
Once a fundamental pillar of education, Latin has declined dramatically since the 1970s and now very few state schools offer it.
In 2013, just 218 candidates sat Latin at Higher compared to 243 the previous year. Only 48 pupils took Latin as an Advanced Higher.
In order to lead a revival the UK charity Classics for All, which provides grant funding to schools, opened a Scottish hub in September last year.
Alex Imrie, an academic from Edinburgh University and the charity’s Scotland representative, said the hub was seeking to introduce a Latin module aimed at primary school pupils.
It also wants to revise and update existing qualifications in Classical Studies for secondary school pupils and to work with university departments to reintroduce the subject as a specialism within postgraduate teaching qualifications.
He said: “We’re approaching councils across Scotland to try and get them on board to try and reintroduce classics into the curriculum.
“We are enjoying a lot of enthusiasm with the people we are speaking to, but it is early days and we need to get more momentum and spread the word even further.
“There are academic benefits with improvements to English and other areas of the curriculum and it is long overdue that we break the myth that classics is only for the elite or only for those who go to independent schools.”
29 March 2018 (The Scotsman)
An MSP is seeking to raise the profile of Gaelic by delivering an entire speech in the language at Holyrood.
Kate Forbes will become just the second female MSP, and the first in the current Scottish Parliament chamber, to deliver a whole contribution in Gaelic during a plenary debate.
Ms Forbes, who chairs Holyrood’s cross-party group on the language, will speak as MSPs consider a motion on Scotland’s support for the (Unesco) convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.
28 March 2018 (BBC)
A new body to promote Doric and the North-East Scots language is being launched in Aberdeen.
The North-East Scots Language Board aims to promote the language with the goal of making it more visible in everyday life, including Doric signage.
The body will be made up of representatives from Aberdeen's two universities and north east councils.
As well as the Doric, the board aims to promote other local dialects from the north east of Scotland.
A Scots language course is also being launched at the University of Aberdeen.
27 March 2018 (Irish Times)
Ireland is speaking more languages than ever before with Polish, French, Romanian, Lithuanian and Spanish all echoing through our family homes.
For years, there was a belief that bilingual children lagged behind academically and intellectually.
More recent studies, however, comprehensively show this is untrue: switching between two or more languages gives the brain a dexterousness and improves our attention, planning, memory and problem-solving skills.
Evidence shows bilingual children score better across a range of cognitive tests than their monolingual classmates.
In an Irish context, speakers of a second language have an advantage in a jobs market that places significant value on both their linguistic and cognitive skills. And bilingual children who sit minority language subjects in the Leaving Cert consistently get top grades.
In spite of the clear benefits, many newcomer parents have concerns about bilingualism.
Dr Francesca La Morgia is assistant professor in clinical speech and language studies at Trinity College Dublin and the founder and director of an organisation called Mother Tongues, which supports parents in passing on their native language.
22 March 2018 (TES)
In a school serving one of the most deprived areas of Edinburgh, Mandarin is the only language on offer.
Learning Mandarin has tended to be an opportunity only available to a minority of Scottish pupils, often in private schools.
But in a school serving one of the most deprived areas of Edinburgh, Mandarin is currently the only language on offer.
In October, when Castlebrae Community High's only modern languages teacher left for maternity leave, it struggled to replace her – but then the school received some external investment to teach Mandarin.
This enables it to share a teacher with several other schools in the city. The subject is taught in the first and second year. Next year, some pupils hope to continue it in their third year, with the aim of achieving a national qualification in the language.
In October, 12 pupils will head to Beijing to experience Chinese language and culture for themselves.
BBC (21 March 2018)
Hillary Yip is a 13-year-old student from Hong Kong. She’s also an ambitious app developer and CEO.
Designed by a kid, for kids, her smartphone app, Minor Mynas, connects children from around the world for a specific purpose: to learn each other’s mother tongue.
Yip epitomises the globalised, digitally connected teen of today’s youngest generation, which has grown up through the unique conditions the 21st Century – technology that connects people all over the world, an increasingly culturally diverse global population, and the rise of personalised educational apps and games.
Could these factors combine to create the most multilingual generation yet?
The youngest generation is growing up in a time in history that provides a lot of opportunity.
Cultural diversity is increasing globally, especially due to increasing levels of international migration, says professor Steven Vertovec, managing director of the Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany. He points to the latest UN World Migration Report, which found that 258 million people live in a country other than their country of birth — an increase of 49% since 2000. “Hence more people, from more diverse backgrounds, are coming into contact with each other in cities around the world,” he says. “This is set to continue, again globally.”
This increased migration, especially in cities, brings people with a wide variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds into close contact. Could a more multicultural world lead to a more multilingual generation?
20 March 2018 (Blasting News)
It is one of the universal truths: being bilingual or polyglot can only be considered as something positive.
We have the ability to travel constantly to another country, to interact with people with whom otherwise we could not communicate, to really understand another culture and to immerse ourselves in it. We live in an increasingly globalized world and when we are aware of the positive side of knowing a new #Language, we realize the doors of a different culture are open and it can teach us a different way of viewing the world.
20 March 2018 (The Independent)
Are you struggling to pick up a second language? Well, you’re not alone because as part of a vote organised for European Day of Languages, Britain was previously revealed to be the most monolingual country in the continent.
But with so few hours in the day, how are we ever meant to find the time to learn another lingo?
Well the answer, it seems, could be to do it while you sleep. According to research by the Universities of Zurich and Fribourg listening to recordings of new words while you sleep could actually help you learn them.
20 March 2018 (The Telegraph)
Emmanuel Macron launched an international drive to promote French as a “world language” on Tuesday, urging Francophone countries to resist the temptation to turn to English.
“France today should be proud of being one country among others that learns, speaks and writes in French,” he told the Académie Française, an august body of luminaries that has struggled for decades to turn back the relentless tide of English expressions flooding into French. “French should become the language that creates tomorrow’s world.”
However, French commentators were quick to point out that the 40-year-old president, a fluent English-speaker, is himself fond of using English expressions.
“France is back” and “start-up nation” have become catch-phrases associated with him.
Listen to Ludovica Serratrice from the University of Reading on BBC Radio Berkshire (from 1 hr 47 mins) talking about President Macron's bid to boost the French language. (Recording available until 20 April 2018).
20 March 2018 (The National)
A new push is to begin to strengthen the status of Scots as two language bodies form a new advocacy partnership.
The Scots Leid Board and the North-East Scots Language Board (NESLB) will launch their initiative at Aberdeen University on March 28, promising to be an “apolitical” voice for the promotion and protection of the medium.
It also aims to encourage its use in broadcasting and increase the provision of Scots-language education to the same level as Gaelic for youngsters aged three to 18.
19 March 2018 (Huffington Post)
Sunday 18th March marked the 15th anniversary since British Sign Language (BSL) was given official recognition as a language under the last Labour government. This date, which fell within British Sign Language Week, was an occasion to celebrate with great pride, as it gave deaf people the basic recognition they deserve.
I was truly honoured to become the first ever Member of Parliament to ask a question in the House of Commons using BSL, during the week of last year’s anniversary. I have a level two qualification in BSL having learnt it many years ago so that I could communicate with a work colleague, and as Ambassador for the Brent and Harrow United Deaf Club this is an issue which is very close to my heart.
It is estimated that there are about nine million people in the UK who are Deaf or hard of hearing. This includes an estimated 151,000 BSL users, 87,000 of whom are deaf. BSL is a beautiful, unique language and deaf and hard of hearing people deserve the right to communicate and live their lives using their preferred language.
Despite the importance of celebrating this anniversary, we must recognise there is still some way to go until BSL is equal under the law. I am firmly of the belief that the only way to give the deaf community the equality and recognition they deserve is to bring a BSL Act before Parliament.
20 March 2018 (Press and Journal)
The £7 million Cnoc Soilleir Project is a joint venture between Lews Castle College UHI and Ceolas Gaelic, the arts and heritage organisation in Daliburgh, South Uist.
It will receive investment from the Scottish Government’s Gaelic Capital Plan and is expected to create 40 jobs.
The area is recognised as a key community for the revitalisation of the Gaelic language in Scotland and Cnoc Soilleir has a significant role in leading this development.
18 March 2018 (SCEN)
After the work of the Mapping Chinese Working Group, driven by SCEN and the Confucius Institute for Scotland, SCEN has created a Digital Map of schools, colleges and universities in Scotland involved in the teaching and learning of Chinese and about China. The principal aim is to encourage more sharing and collaboration.
16 March 2018 (TESS)
Fewer subjects studied at some Scottish schools means some pupils are losing out, says study. New analysis of schools’ curricular offerings has found that, as pupils enter the crucial senior years of secondary, the range of courses they can take is shrinking.
12 March 2018 (The Independent)
We've read the arguments for learning French, but let's be honest: Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, or any other language with growing global importance would be a better choice.
Spanish may be the best choice of all for a second language, which is why its popularity in schools is soaring worldwide.
In honour of Hispanic Heritage Month, here are some reasons why you should estudiar.
13 March 2018 (The Guardian)
As rising immigration increasingly puts Scandinavia’s reputation for tolerance to the test, Sweden’s largest national minority fears its language rights are threatened and children will grow up with little or no knowledge of their mother tongue.
Finnish-speaking Swedes, known as Sweden Finns (sverigefinnar), make up more than 7% of the country’s 10 million-strong population and are entitled to Finnish lessons in school since Sweden reversed an earlier postwar approach of forced assimilation.
But complaints that minority language policies are not being respected are mounting. Reports for the Swedish government in the past 12 months point to failures with respect to Sweden Finns in particular, but paint “a dark picture” of the situation for national minority languages in Sweden as a whole.
8 March 2018 (El País)
Facebook is celebrating its 10th year in Spanish, buoyed by having broken the barrier of two billion active monthly users. The language was the first choice for translation of the site, and after English continues to be the most popular on the social network, being used by 290 million people. Around 80 million people use Facebook in European Spanish, which is officially called Castilian by the site.
6 March 2018 (Scotsman)
Doric is to be promoted and protected on a new scale in Scotland with a body now set up in Aberdeen to secure the same status for North-East Scots as English and Gaelic. The North-East Scots Language Board is being led by academics, key figures and institutions in the region to normalise the use of the language in civic life, media, business and education.
6 March 2018 (BBC News)
British Sign Language should be turned into a GCSE that is taught in schools, MPs were told.
The appeal came as a petition calling for British Sign Language to be made part of the national curriculum attracted more than 32,500 signatures.
It also follows the success of Oscar winning film The Silent Child, starring profoundly deaf Maisie Sly, aged six.
5 March 2018 (BBC)
A film starring a six-year-old deaf British girl and made by two former Hollyoaks stars has won an Oscar.
The Silent Child, which tells the story of a girl who struggles to communicate, was named best live action short film.
It stars Maisie Sly, aged six, from Swindon, and Rachel Shenton, who played Mitzeee Minniver in the Channel 4 soap.
Shenton also wrote it and used sign language in her acceptance speech. It was directed by Chris Overton - AKA Hollyoaks cage fighter Liam McAllister.
"I made a promise to our six-year-old lead actress that I would sign this speech," Shenton said while accepting the statuette at Sunday's ceremony in Hollywood.
1 March 2018 (Guardian)
In 2017, working with the Society of Authors and with support from the British Council, I established the TA first translation prize, using my €25,000 (£22,000) winnings from another award, the International Dublin literary award. Its aim was to highlight the work of translators new to the profession, and of the editors who work with them.
27 February 2018 (Guardian)
One of Britain’s greatest strengths is set to diminish as China asserts itself on the world stage.
26 February 2018 (Guardian)
Unlike most languages, when Icelandic needs a new word it rarely imports one. Instead, enthusiasts coin a new term rooted in the tongue’s ancient Norse past: a neologism that looks, sounds and behaves like Icelandic. [...]
But as old, pure and inventive as it may be, as much as it is key to Icelanders’ sense of national and cultural identity, Icelandic is spoken today by barely 340,000 people - and Siri and Alexa are not among them.
In an age of Facebook, YouTube and Netflix, smartphones, voice recognition and digital personal assistants, the language of the Icelandic sagas – written on calfskin between AD1200 and 1300 – is sinking in an ocean of English.
22 February 2018 (The Conversation)
Big-ticket sporting events are an opportunity for countries to showcase their cultures. TV broadcasts show stories about the cultural, historical and social aspects of the host country – which, for this year’s Winter Olympics, is South Korea.
We hear other languages at global sporting events, too. Almost 80 million people speak Korean; it’s the world’s 13th-most-widely spoken language.
21 February 2018 (Speak to the future)
Today, across the world, we are celebrating our languages and cultures. International Mother Language Day is an annual observance which was introduced by UNESCO in 1999.
In a world that is constantly in flux, our languages and cultures matter more and more, giving us a sense of identity and confidence. The more we share our languages and cultures, the more we develop a sense of community and a wider and deeper understanding of one another. With each new language and culture that we encounter, we broaden our world view, become culturally curious and keener to learn new ways of thinking. We could say that by sharing our languages and cultures, we become more aware of what it is to be human.
20 February 2018 (Irish Times)
Applies to Ireland
Some secondary schools are considering dropping languages such as French, Spanish and German due to a “crisis” in the supply of teachers, according to school managers.
The Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools will tell an Oireachtas committee that “the integrity of student tuition time is being seriously undermined” due to staff shortages across key subjects.
19 February 2018 (Guardian)
Alain Mabanckou, the acclaimed Congolese writer, has rejected Emmanuel Macron’s project to boost French speaking worldwide, calling instead for a complete overhaul of the club of French-speaking countries known as la Francophonie, which he said had become an instrument of French imperialism propping up African dictators.
17 February 2018 (The Guardian)
Guardian supporter Emilio Battaglia explains how an opinion piece by Tobias Jones clarified his view of bilingualism’s power to build bridges:
As someone who has dedicated so much of his life to the study and exploration of languages, Tobias Jones’s article 'The joys and benefits of bilingualism' immediately caught my eye. The Guardian is not a paper I know well but it is quite popular in Toronto, and becoming increasingly so. And this piece, written with a huge amount of research and an openness of spirit, seems to sum up so much of what the publication stands for. It made me gain a better understanding of how bilingualism can effect positive change, but it also sparked my appreciation of the Guardian’s journalism more widely.
16 February 2018 (The Falkirk Herald)
To some its a dead language of the past while others see it as a vital part of Scotland’s heritage. Whatever your feelings, no one can deny the Scottish Government is keeping it firmly front and centre in the national consciousness, making it a legal requirement for all local authorities in the country to create a plan outlining how they will support and increase Gaelic language culture in their area.
At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s executive committee on Tuesday members gave their backing to the local authority’s draft Gaelic Language Plan.
Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “It’s very important our young people learn about our local history and our local heritage. Gaelic is not just a North of Scotland or Western Isles language – it was used in the Central Lowlands as well. There is an increase in interest in the Gaelic and it’s not just about language. It’s the whole culture as well and it’s something we should encourage where we can.”
15 February 2018 (Herald)
The Giant Lanterns of China at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is set to host Scotland’s biggest celebration of Chinese New Year, which begins on Friday, February 16 to welcome the Year of the Dog featuring traditional performers and street food native to China.
15 February 2018 (Guardian)
The Foreign Service Institute of the US state department says it takes a native English speaker roughly 2,200 hours to become proficient in Mandarin. To learn Spanish – or French, or any number of other nontonal languages that use the Roman alphabet – the FSI estimates it takes roughly 600 hours. I may be wrong about this, and am happy to be proved so, but my hunch is that my children will never be proficient in Mandarin, in spite of the New York public school system’s vague belief to the contrary.
13 February 2018 (BBC Radio Sotland)
BBC Radio Scotland recorded a radio programme called Our Story: Chinese New Year in Perth. This tells the story of the Chinese Community in Perth. As part of the programme the BBC visited Kinross High School to record pupils being taught Mandarin, preparing a Chinese dance performance and discussing their summer Bridge camp experience.
12 February 2018 (Independent)
As anyone who’s ever learned a foreign language will know, thinking in anything other than your mother tongue requires a lot of effort.
But according to a new study, doing so actually drains the brain of some of its ability to conjure up mental imagery.
10 February 2018 (The Herald)
THE media company which provides services in Gaelic across Scotland has awarded £500,000 from the Gaelic Capital Fund.
MG ALBA said it would use the investment to redevelop the Seaforth Road Studio in Stornoway to provide improved facilities for programming, which will be used to increase training in creative digital media, learning, arts and cultural heritage.
Funding will enable MG ALBA, which operates BBC Alba in partnership with the BBC, to develop a training programme for young people with an interest in working in the media.
Students to learn more foreign languages under post-Brexit plan
7 February 2018 (Irish Times)
Applies to Ireland
More students will be encouraged to learn foreign languages and study abroad under a plan to build closer links with Europe following Brexit.
The Government’s action plan for education acknowledges that Ireland needs to prepare for a changed dynamic in the EU following the UK’s departure and the rising importance of non-English speaking countries globally.
7 February 2018 (SecEd)
Language education is under pressure at a time when language learning could not be more important for the next generation.
How young is too young to start learning another language?
2 February 2018 (Financial Times)
For the past few months, my three-year-old daughter has spent an hour every week learning a foreign language. She taps along the corridor to a small room in a local school, where she and a handful of three- and four-year-olds spend the next hour dancing to “La Vaca Lola”, a song about a Spanish cow, creating finger puppets to voice what they like and don’t like (me gusta, no me gusta) and shouting out which animals are big (grande) or small (pequeño).
31 January 2018 (El País)
An article written by the paper’s chief travel writer has raised the ire of Spaniards online, but left English Edition editor Simon Hunter somewhat conflicted.
31 January 2018 (BBC)
Workshops offering older adults lessons in foreign languages to help delay the effects of dementia are being studied by researchers.
Social enterprise Lingo Flamingo was set up in Govan in Glasgow in 2015.
Dr Thomas Bak, from the University of Edinburgh, said the research he was involved in was seeking "measurable effects" from the language classes.
Dr Bak has previously studied the benefits of intensive Gaelic lessons at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig college on Skye.
31 January 2018 (The Herald)
We are the nation which has more words for rain than the Eskimos have for snow.
From a yillen to a lashin, from a murr to a haar, Scots know how to describe every possible way to get drookit.
Now, at long last, the Met Office has decided to tell us just how wet we will be in wur ain leid.
Britain’s forecaster has formally announced that it will use what it rather controversially calls “regional slang” in its broadcasts.
It says even people using standard English across the UK have a huge variety of terms for the weather they are experiencing. Crucially, the experts at the Met Office think these words could be more accurate than scientific terms they prefer as they perform in front of their isobars.
31 January 2018 (BBC)
Applies to Wales
A new project has been launched which aims to teach sign language to young children through the medium of Welsh.
The scheme, run by Mudiad Meithrin and funded by Bangor University, is the first to teach British Sign Language (BSL) through Welsh rather than English.
It will introduce one word per week in Welsh and BSL which will be shown to as many as 12,500 children under four.
28 January 2018 (BBC Radio Sotland)
Should we offer language classes on the NHS? Could bilingualism be more beneficial than medication when it comes to a strong, healthy brain and is monolingualism making us ill?
In this Brainwaves, Pennie Latin meets the man behind those bold ideas, Dr Thomas Bak.
Available until 2 March 2018
26 January 2018 (Times)
We take it for granted that public figures from the rest of Europe can speak flawless English, as Emmanuel Macron did in his interview on the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday. We expect the presidents and prime ministers of France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Sweden or Norway to be able to conduct their politics and diplomacy with us in English.
And yet we are impressed when a British political leader reciprocates.
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23 January 2018 (Stornoway Gazette)
A comprehensive survey on the use of Gaelic within the Church of Scotland is being launched.
The Kirk’s Gaelic Group is laying the groundwork for a new plan that will look at how the language is currently being used in ministry. The audit will help determine how Gaelic-led ministry could be supported in future.
It will include a questionnaire for ministers, including student ministers, probationers and ordained local ministers, that is designed to build a complete picture of Gaelic ministry within the church today.
22 January 2018 (Metro)
Britain is facing huge problems after the Brexit vote because not enough children are learning other languages, the British Council has warned.
The council claims the lack of language skills is holding back international trade performance by nearly £50 billion each year and worries there could be a gulf once the UK leaves the EU.
Schools advisor Vicky Gough said: ‘At a time when the UK is preparing to leave the European Union, I think it’s worrying that we’re facing a language deficit. And I think without tackling that, we stand to lose out both economically, but also culturally. So I think it’s really important that we have a push for the value of languages.’
21 January 2018 (The Guardian)
More than half the world’s population is now bilingual. Now thought to encourage flexibility of mind and empathy, bilingualism is also transforming societies.
16 January 2018 (Glasgow Live)
Pensioners in Glasgow are being given language lessons in a bid to prevent the early onset of dementia.
Over 60s at Bield’s Coxton Gardens development in Glasgow, have been boosting their memory skills thanks to the weekly Spanish classes put on by one of the care assistants.
Mariana Popa, care assistant at Coxton Gardens, said: “I was looking into some activities that we could organise for our tenants here in Glasgow as part of my personal development framework, and was keen to break away from the stereotypical notion that all older people want to play games such as bingo and dominoes."
Bield residents say ‘¡Adios a Dementia!’ (Scottish Housing News, 16 January 2018)
16 January 2018 (The Courier)
I was motivated to write in to your letters page following a number of negative comments featured recently relating to the Gaelic language. While I can appreciate individuals’ concerns, I have to say that my own experience within the past year has been very different.
Since travelling around Scotland and taking an interest in local history and culture, I have become aware of the opportunities to learn more about Scots Gaelic. There are many myths that are perpetuated around the money spent on promoting and supporting Gaelic without thinking of the social, cultural and economic benefits to all.
12 January 2018 (TESS)
Undeterred by a low uptake, campaigners vow to keep pushing the language in Scotland
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12 January 2018 (TESS)
Brexit will cause a “major disaster” for schools and colleges if it removes access to the biggest student exchange programme in the world, politicians have heard.
The potential loss of the long-running Erasmus+ scheme would not only deny thousands of young people potentially life-changing opportunities in other countries, but could also harm teachers’ professional development, according to experts.
11 January 2018 (The Courier)
The loss of a European student exchange programme would be a “major disaster” for language teaching in Scottish schools, says a Dundee lecturer.
The Erasmus+ scheme allows young Scots to study for part of their degree elsewhere in the Europe, but its future is uncertain after Brexit.
Marion Spöring, a languages lecturer at Dundee University said the programme is vital in training Scotland’s teachers and improving education standards.
8 January 2018 (Parliament Live)
Watch Baroness Coussins speech in Lords debate on need for MFL skills in the UK Government's Industrial Strategy.
8 January 2018 (BBC News)
Iran has banned teaching the English language in primary schools, calling the subject a "cultural invasion".
The education ministry "envisages strengthening Persian language skills and Iranian Islamic culture of pupils at the primary school stage", its secretary told state media.
Secret Teacher: subjects like art are being sidelined – but they matter
6 January 2018 (Guardian)
In trying to improve outcomes in a limited range of subjects, we may struggle to realise the potential of those whose strengths lie elsewhere.
2 January 2018 (The Independent)
Which language should you encourage your child to learn to benefit them a decade down the line?
Historically, the answer has often been Spanish, given the number of countries around the world that speak it and the close proximity of the country to the UK. But recent research disagrees, preferring French, German and Mandarin.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research and Opinion, in partnership with Heathrow Airport, surveyed 2,001 parents with children under the age of 18, alongside an additional survey of more than 500 business leaders across the UK.
29 December 2017 (BBC)
Learning a language will be a new year's resolution for about one in five Britons in 2018, a survey suggests.
About one in three said they intend to learn at least some key phrases. Spanish was the most popular language among 2,109 UK adults questioned by Populus for the British Council.
"If we are to remain globally competitive post-Brexit, we need more people who can speak languages," said British Council schools advisor, Vicky Gough.
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.
14 December 2017 (Scotsman)
It was meant to sum up that feeling of being all cosy, warm and settled indoors as the cold and the dark lurk outside. But the Gaelic word picked by VisitScotland to promote its’s own version of Danish hygge - a way of life characterised by candlelight, warm glows and logs on the fire - appears to have ruined the moment for some.
11 December 2017 (TES)
Despite one in five pupils now speaking English as an additional language, Sameena Choudry says schools are still not doing enough to support EAL pupils. She sets out seven steps to put that right.
Across the globe, being bilingual is the norm. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population can speak at least two languages. Yet in the UK, primarily as a result of the dominance of English in the world, a child that converses in more than one tongue is still viewed as being “different”, particularly within education.
This is despite the number of bilingual pupils in our schools increasing. Over 1 in 5 (1.25 million) of our pupils are recorded as having English as an additional language (EAL), according to 2016 government figures.
Have schools adapted to this? Not enough, in my view. For example, EAL pupils tend to be seen as a homogenous group, a remnant of that view of bilingualism as being a deviation from the norm, not the standard. But they are nothing of the sort.
11 December 2017 (Financial Times)
If managers in decent-sized UK companies need someone who speaks German, Finnish or Polish, all they need to do is send a group email or wander through the office and ask. More than four decades of EU membership have made British employers lazy about languages: freedom of movement has brought hundreds of thousands of European workers to the UK, and their languages have come with them. What will happen if fewer of them arrive, and more go home, as is already happening?
8 December 2017 (The National)
TEXTS in a fankle because your phone disnae ken whit yer oan aboot?
Dinnae fash, the world’s first Scots-speaking predictive text keyboard is here — and The National helped developers build it.
Techies at Microsoft subsidiary SwiftKey used material from this newspaper to teach their programme how to recognise, autocorrect and autopredict in Scotland’s ither national language.
The system uses artificial intelligence (AI) to adapt to the user’s writing style and is capable of running between both Scots and English at once.
8 December 2017 (The Herald)
Plans to move a Gaelic school in Edinburgh will pave the way for the city's first high school dedicated to the language, if demand grows.
Edinburgh City Council is consulting on plans to move its existing Gaelic medium education (GME) provision from James Gillespie's High School in Marchmont to Drummond Community High School in Bellevue. The informal consultation is to begin in the new year after reports that projections for James Gillespie's suggest it will have issues accommodating pupil intake in the future.
The council said transfer of GME provision to Drummond Community High School means it could become a dedicated Gaelic secondary in several years' time.
8 December 2017 (Language Magazine)
The language-learning app, Duolingo has decided to add NPR style podcasts to their arsenal of tools to get people speaking.
The company, which is typically known for gamifying language in their app, has launched Duolingo Spanish Podcast, aimed at English speakers who are seeking to learn Spanish. The first podcast is available here https://podcast.duolingo.com/ and is about reporter Rodrigo Soberanes meeting his childhood soccer hero. Soberanes is a seasoned journalist, and his and host Martina Castro’s banter is not only easy to understand for intermediate Spanish speakers, but is also interesting and engaging.
8 December 2017 (The Scotsman)
The prevalence of Scottish Gaelic speakers has waned dramatically in the last 100 years. The language was once widely spoken across much of the Highlands and western regions of Scotland but now only around 1 in 100 Scots can speak it.
This video from UK Languages Mapping charts the decline in the language from 1891-2011 using census date.
7 December 2017 (The Scotsman)
At present, the Gaelic language is both blossoming and vulnerable. The number of young and new Gaelic speakers is increasing, although this upturn is overshadowed by the declining number of elderly speakers.
In its commitment to grow the number of fluent speakers, the Scottish Government continues to support Gaelic in education and the media. In 2017, Gaelic is doing fairly well as a language of education, media and entertainment: it is heard in news broadcasts, spoken in classrooms across the country, and enjoyed by children in the form of cartoons like Peppa and Charlie is Lola.
Against this backdrop the Scottish Bible Society has unveiled a new translation of the New Testament in modern Scottish Gaelic.
7 December 2017 (GlasgowLive)
A public consultation has been launched on Glasgow City Council's draft Gaelic language plan for the next few years.
Views are being sought for the 2018 - 2022 proposals, designed to ensure a sustainable future for the language in Scotland's biggest city and recognise its contribution to the history of the local area.
Glasgow City Council currently operates three Gaelic nurseries, two primary schools and one secondary school.
There are more than 1,000 young people aged from three to 18 years in Gaelic Medium Education in the city and, in response to demand, the council is currently in discussions about the creation of another school.
4 December 2017 (The Irish Times)
An ambitious Government strategy aims to dramatically increase the number of students taking two foreign languages in the State exams despite an acute shortage of qualified teachers for these subjects.
The 10-year foreign language strategy seeks to prepare Ireland for Brexit through a series of steps such as potential bonus Central Applications Office (CAO) points for studying foreign languages, boosting the availability of languages in schools and the introduction of Chinese to the curriculum.
2 December 2017 (The National)
A new Christmas song is highlighting the importance of Gaelic in North Lanarkshire.
’S e Nollaig a th’ ann! (It’s Christmas!) was recorded by Làn Chomais, a rock band made up of pupils from Greenfaulds High School in Cumbernauld, with the backing of almost 1000 young voices from the area.
Gaelic teacher Kevin Rodgers mentored the young musicians and helped them make their first recording, and was supported by North Lanarkshire Council and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
Rodgers said: “At Greenfaulds High School, we have been searching for a way to make the North Lanarkshire community more aware of the fact that Gaelic is alive and well in our area.”
2 December 2017 (Guardian)
Are we turning into a French-speaking planet? That was the surprising possibility raised by president Emmanuel Macron on a recent visit to Burkina Faso. “French will be the first language of Africa,” he said, plausibly, before adding, “perhaps the world.” Ah, oui? C’est vrai?
1 December 2017 (TES)
Picturebooks enable language learning using a familiar, non-intimidating format that is accessible across all reading levels.
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30 October 2017 (Scotsman)
To celebrate St Andrew’s Day, the British High Commission in Ottawa asked students to translate some Scots words. The hilarious video shows the students havering as they struggle with the lingo.
28 November 2017 (The Conversation)
Language learning will be vital for the future of the UK economy in a post Brexit world. This is in part why employers are desperately looking for graduates with language skills – and, more importantly, intercultural awareness and empathy.
According to a CBI Pearson Education Survey 58% of employers are dissatisfied with school leavers’ language skills. The survey also found that 55% of employers would like to see improvements in students’ intercultural awareness.
Similarly, the British Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Survey of International Trade states that a large majority of non-exporters cite language and cultural factors as barriers to success.
29 November 2017 (Evening Times)
A group of city factory workers have been learning sign language to allow them to communicate with their deaf colleagues.
Window factory staff at RSBi, the manufacturing arm of City Building, are being taught British Sign Language as part of a new national scheme to boost opportunities for deaf people.
The Scottish Government scheme, the first of its kind, aims to make Scotland the most inclusive place for BSL users to work, live and visit.
Royal Strathclyde Blind Industry got involved by enlisting the help of non-hearing BSL approved employee Mark McGowan to teach classes at its window factory in Queenslie.
The lessons have been running since October and the firm says they have increased day-to-day communication among workmates creating a more happy and confident team.
29 November 2017 (The Telegraph)
The number of British students studying abroad has plummeted, a British Council report has found.
A reluctance to leave family and friends and a lack of foreign language skills have dampened the desire of UK students to venture overseas, according to a survey of more than 1,000 undergraduates.
Just 18 per cent were interested in some form of overseas study, down from 34 per cent in 2015.
The report by education organisation the British Council said living costs abroad and tuition fees were the biggest turn-off for more than half of those who said they did not want to study abroad. This was followed by difficulty leaving loved ones, being happy in their life in the UK and a lack of confidence in foreign languages.
28 November 2017 (The Scotsman)
On November 30, the Scottish Parliament will be hosting a number of Gaelic pop-up facilities to help you brush up on your conversational Gaelic.
A pop-up stall in the main hall will be erected charged to give you a crash course in the native Scottish language in five minutes. Challenge accepted. Then there’s a free one-hour tour of the Parliament for Gaelic speakers and learners, followed by a beginner’s level Gaelic speaking class in the Parliament’s Chat Room.
[...]We’ve picked ten everyday, run-of-the-mill phrases to test your mettle as a warm-up to Thursday’s activities at the Parliament.
27 November 2017 (The Guardian)
As a hopeless optimist, I am finding it difficult to adjust to the growing possibility of a no-deal Brexit. For universities – as for many other sectors of the economy and society – there is a huge amount at stake. While the rhetoric on both sides in relation to higher education and research has been very positive, the frequently expressed mutual desire to maintain co-operation will be more difficult to achieve in the absence of an agreement on our future relationship with the EU.
Based on the public comments of ministers, including the prime minister, and of our European counterparts, a deal would almost certainly secure the UK’s continued participation in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus + until the end of the current programmes. It could also pave the way for the UK to participate in future programmes under association agreements. Without a deal, however, we could find ourselves reliving the experience of our Swiss colleagues, who were shut out of these programmes overnight in 2014.
For students planning to study abroad, this continued uncertainty is a growing problem. This autumn, students starting at UK universities for whom a third year abroad is a compulsory element of their programmes arrived on campus not knowing how that year abroad would be organised. Universities could not tell them with any certainty whether the UK will still be eligible to participate in the Erasmus + scheme – and the same was true for our European counterparts whose students might be planning to come to the UK.
24 November 2017 (The Telegraph)
Languages graduates are now the least employable in Britain, new figures show.
Data released by the Office for National Statistics shows that recent graduates who have studied languages have an employment rate of 84 per cent, the lowest of any degree subject, and their average annual salary has fallen by more than £5,000 in four years.
The figure has fallen from 87 per cent in 2013, the last time the data, was released, and puts the discipline below arts, humanities and social sciences in terms of employment rates.
Entries to university for modern languages have declined sharply in recent years, as fewer students take the subjects at GCSE and A-Level.
24 November 2017 (Financial Times)
On trips to the Netherlands, I always ponder how long it would take me, a competent Afrikaans speaker, to learn Dutch. Not long, I think, but it would probably be fruitless. English is widely and fluently spoken in the Netherlands; I imagine my initial halting Dutch would be met with amusement.
So I was surprised to see that a recent British Council report of the top 10 languages young Britons should learn put Dutch in seventh place. The top-10 table was based on a study of the UK’s export and tourism markets, emerging high-growth economies, diplomatic and security priorities and job and educational opportunities.
'Sexist' inclusive writing row riles France
23 November 2017 (BBC News)
The French, as is well known, are obsessed by one thing - language. The latest topic to consume a nation of lexicologists is "inclusive writing".
This is the attempt to erase all trace of sexism in a language where gender is a central feature - French nouns are either masculine or feminine, dictating all adjectives and some verbal forms (a point that is sometimes made painfully clear to foreigners who happen to get those wrong).
22 November 2017 (THE)
Research suggests that students learn better in their native tongue, and English fails to prepare international students for a job after graduation.
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.
17 November 2017 (BBC news)
Why study languages? According to research undertaken by Institute for Fiscal Studies, when ranking subjects according to how much graduates earn five years after graduation, languages come out in the top ten — ahead of both business and law.
17 November 2017 (TESS)
Building partnerships with schools overseas may seem like a less attractive prospect after the UK exits the European Union, but the benefits to pupils make these continental forays worth fighting for.
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17 November 2017 (TESS)
The number of modern-language assistants (MLAs) in Scotland has almost halved in a year, amid fears that Brexit has deterred European students from working in the UK.
Subscription required to access this article.
Guardian (14 November 2017)
The potential risk to UK universities from post-Brexit academic flight has been laid bare in a report that reveals there are regions where up to half of academic staff in some departments are EU nationals.
The British Academy report warns that economics and modern language departments will be particularly badly hit if European academics leave the UK, with more than a third of staff in each discipline currently from EU member states.
14 November 2017 (The Scotsman)
A university is to discuss whether speaking one of Scotland’s mother tongues could offer an advantage to businesses.
International business expert Seonaidh MacDonald will talk about his experiences of using Gaelic in a global business context at a lunchtime seminar offered by the University of the Highlands and Islands.
13 November 2017 (The Scotsman)
A group of actors from the UK’s only degree course for deaf performers are taking their show on the road for the first time this week, with the hope that it will challenge public perceptions.
The production, which blends British Sign Language (BSL) with spoken English, will be performed by students from the Glasgow-based Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The group of ten actors are all studying Performance in British Sign Language and English, a three-year degree course which is the only one of its kind in the UK.
13 November 2017 (Daily Record)
The Scottish Gaelic Awards bring together the very best in learning, achievement and development and celebrate the great work being done by Gaels in every corner of Scotland.
From inner cities to the Western Isles, traditional language and culture is being developed and promoted by amazing people from every walk of life.
10 November 2017 (The Guardian)
Kate Pemberton, 24, spent a semester of her undergraduate anthropology and international relations degree at the University of Copenhagen. She loved it – so when it came to choosing a master’s, the city was her first choice.
[...] Pemberton feels the experience of studying abroad has given her valuable skills. “I’ve been learning Danish, which isn’t the most useful language, but I think any language is a bonus on your CV,” she says. “Plus, employers want what moving abroad and living in a different country gives you – you become more adaptable and can survive in stressful situations. It makes you more resilient and you open yourself up to more opportunities.”
10 November 2017 (The Scotsman)
The first book in the Harry Potter series has been translated into Scots. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane marks the 20th anniversary of the first publication of the boy wizard’s adventures.
The first book in the series introduces Harry as he discovers that he is a wizard and leaves his family to go to Hogwarts and study magic.
Matthew Fitt, who translated the novel, said: “I wanted tae dae this for a lang time but kent I wanted tae get it richt. I’m that honoured tae be the Scots translator o this warld-famous Harry Potter buik and chuffed tae ma bitts that Scots speakers, baith young and no sae young, can noo read the novel again, this time in oor gallus braw Mither Tongue.”
10 November 2017 (TES)
The recent Scottish Association for Language Teaching conference proved the sector has the staff to enable it to flourish
The language I work and live in, day to day, is not my first language. It is a language I learned in school. I first started learning English aged 10 – in the first year attending my local secondary school in rural Germany – and I fell in love with it immediately.
It is therefore no surprise that the learning of modern languages in school – or any foreign language, for that matter – is something close to my heart. Learning English – and later Latin and French – opened up a new world to me and gave me opportunities I never would have had otherwise. It also shaped how I see and engage with the world.
So it was my pleasure to attend and speak at the annual conference of the Scottish Association for Language Teaching (SALT) last weekend in Glasgow, which this year was titled “Still here”.
9 November 2017 (The Herald)
Glasgow-based Pursuit Marketing has announced its creation of 75 jobs, citing a “surge” in demand for its services from the technology sector, writes Ian McConnell.
The telemarketing and digital marketing services business, which was founded six years ago, said about 30 of the new positions were English-speaking roles.
Pursuit Marketing, which currently employs more than 80 people, added that it was also seeking “bilingual and native speakers fluent in French, Spanish, Italian and key Nordic languages”.
8 November 2017 (BBC)
A mentoring project which has doubled the uptake of modern languages at GCSE in some areas has won a UK-wide award.
The modern foreign language (MFL) scheme trains students from Welsh universities to talk to pupils about the benefits of studying languages.
Cardiff University, which led the work, was awarded the Threlford Cup by the Chartered Institute of Linguists.
8 November 2017 (The Guardian)
Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein may have made a good case for studying languages when he said: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” But be warned: if you quote him in your personal statement, you may test the admission tutor’s patience.
Students often start by quoting someone famous, says Mike Nicholson, director of admissions at the University of Bath, who thinks it’s a “waste of space” and “just demonstrates that you can copy and paste”. Hilary Potter, a teaching fellow at the University of Leeds, adds that quotes “don’t tell us anything about the student”.
Whether you’re interested in French, Spanish, Arabic or Japanese, your first step will be to impress admissions tutors and convince them you deserve a place on their course. A strong, cliche-free personal statement is a must, but what else should you include? And what mistakes should you avoid?
8 November 2017 (The Guardian)
Trevor Stevens notes that your editorial (4 November) lamenting Britain’s lack of competence in foreign languages “was devoid of solutions to this problem” (Letters, 7 November).
In the 1990s, however, one section of the Guardian contained a weekly feature article in a European language which, as a linguist and secondary school teacher, I regularly used as a stimulus for spoken and comprehension work with examination classes.
Another simple technique to promote engagement with foreign languages is for news media to be encouraged to broadcast more subtitled interviews, so that listeners can hear the original Catalan, Chinese, German etc. Vorsprung durch Brexit vielleicht?
8 November 2017 (The Telegraph)
French grammar is sexist, according to hundreds of French teachers who insist they will no longer mark alternatives to male-dominated rules as wrong.
The call from 314 French teachers placed them on collision course with the Académie Française, the hallowed guardians of the French language, which has warned that moves to make French more gender-neutral is placing it in "mortal peril".
3 November 2017 (The Guardian)
The language (or languages) spoken in a society help to define its identity. That is as true of Britain as of every other nation. Most countries, like Britain, have one or sometimes more official languages. To become British, for instance, a person must prove knowledge of English. Equivalent provisions exist in almost all other countries.
Language rules can be positive or negative in effect. In linguistically polarised Belgium, the rival tongues are a permanent source of tension. In others, they are a source of vibrancy; Catalonia’s renewed sense of itself, for example, is grounded in the distinctness of its language and by a history of discrimination against it. Elsewhere, the issues are more tangled. Sinn Féin’s current demands for Irish language parity in Northern Ireland are holding up the restoration of devolved government there. They do not reflect widespread Irish speaking (only 6% of Northern Irish people speak Irish) so much as a determination not to be defined, through the language spoken by unionists, as British.
Modern Britain has a decent tradition of nurturing minority languages. But Britons have long been getting more parochial about speaking foreign ones. Three-quarters of UK residents can’t hold a conversation in any language other than English. This linguistic monoculture would be even more hegemonic if it were not for bilingual migrants. It reflects many things, but the decline in language teaching is one of the most important. GCSE entries in most foreign languages tend to fall each year. A long decline in the numbers with language qualifications has translated into a loss of those able to teach them.
3 November 2017 (The Scotsman)
To those from outside Dundee, the bakery order “twa pehs, a plehn bridie an’ an inyin in an’ a” (Two pies, a plain bridie and an onion one as well) might be mistaken for a foreign language. Now, international research shows that the human brain treats the distinctive Dundonian brogue - and regional dialects in Britain and abroad - in exactly the same way as a second language.
The study at Abertay University in Dundee, and by researchers in Germany, suggests that while people from the city who converse in dialect may not be regarded generally as bilingual, cognitively there is little difference.
3 November 2017 (Edinburgh Reporter)
Liberton High School students visited Mexican restaurant El Toro Loco to learn about Mexican culture.
Mexican restaurant El Toro Loco, located in Edinburgh’s Greater Grassmarket, hosted an exclusive, tailor-made Day of the Dead event for Modern Language pupils of Liberton High School on Thursday 2nd November.
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.
1 November 2017 (BBC)
The first new police vehicle carrying the logo in both English and Gaelic has hit the road in Dumfries and Galloway. Police Scotland introduced the new branding earlier this year.
The change is being made as part of the force's commitment to its five-year Gaelic Language Plan.
It said it was keen to ensure that Gaelic-speaking communities across the country were "well served and ably represented" by the national police service.
27 October 2017 (The Guardian)
There’s no right way to learn a new language; some people prefer poring over books, while others go for apps or traditional lessons with a tutor. Immersing yourself is a surefire way to accelerate the process, though, and a year abroad is an opportunity to do just that. Which is not to say that it’ll be easy. The road to fluency is long and likely to be littered with confusing – and often embarrassing – moments. Here’s a quick guide to help you get there.
24 October 2017 (BBC)
The Scottish government is expected to announce plans to integrate the use of British Sign Language (BSL) into every element of daily and public life.
It will reveal its national plan for people with hearing loss later.
Measures expected to be in the plan include moves to remove barriers which prevent deaf people becoming teachers.
It is also likely to address "fair and equal access" to employment opportunities, including apprenticeships and internships.
Minister Mark McDonald is to visit the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, which offers the UK's only degree course for deaf performers.
He will then outline the details of the national plan to the Scottish Parliament.
23 October 2017 (Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig)
A second language can be learned more easily when it is taught through music, was the message given out at the Royal National Mod in Lochaber earlier this month.
Jackie Mullen, a consultant trainer for the Go! Gaelic programme being run by Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann, has seen first hand how effective music is as a learning tool. The Go! Gaelic programme includes a comprehensive programme of online resources that are used in primary schools across the country to teach some Gaelic to children who are in English Medium Education.
Visit the website or see the attached press release for more information.
22 October 2017 (The Herald)
“Dad, I’m going to tell it to you straight,” I said at the dinner table, aged 17 and ready to jump into the big wide world. My parents put down their cutlery in preparation for whatever was to come. “I’m not going to do Celtic Studies,” I blurted out, and I remember their faces still, choking on their sprouts in their efforts to hide their amusement.
Celtic Studies was my father’s all-consuming passion, and 16 years after his early retirement from Edinburgh University, it still is. We have no family connections to the Highlands and Islands – growing up in a house in Glasgow full of French, English and Italian (and a smattering of Arabic), my father took an interest in the Gaelic he heard about him in the trams and streets and classrooms of the city.
19 October 2017 (The Independent)
Isn’t it amazing how despite not having studied German since you got a B in your GCSE many moons ago, when you’ve had a few drinks and you bump into a few Germans on a night out, you're suddenly fluent?
Well according to a new study, this isn’t just all in your head - bilingual people actually are better at speaking foreign languages after a drink or two.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool, Maastricht University and King’s College London studied 50 native German speakers who were studying at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands and had recently learned to read, write and speak the local language, Dutch.
Participants were then given either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink and asked to have a conversation in Dutch for a few minutes.
How much alcohol they were given depended on body weight, but it was equivalent to just under a pint (460ml) of five per cent beer, for a 70kg male.
Their conversations were recorded and their foreign language skills rated by native Dutch speakers, who didn’t know which participants had consumed alcohol.
The researchers found that those who were slightly intoxicated had better pronunciation than their sober colleagues.
17 October 2017 (THE)
Language is often cited as one of the main obstacles to universities’ internationalisation efforts, blamed for everything from the low number of UK students studying abroad to Japan’s lagging behind on numbers of foreign academics and internationally co-authored publications.
So could new technology allow students and academics to transcend language barriers – and therefore transform international higher education?
Earlier this month Google launched Pixel Buds – a new set of wireless earbud headphones that deliver real-time translation between 40 different languages using Google Translate on a Pixel smartphone.
Bragi’s Dash Pro earbuds deliver the same feature using the iTranslate app on an iPhone.
Colin Mitchell, learning technologist at Leeds Beckett University, said that the technology has the potential to benefit scholars and students.
17 October 2017 (Press and Journal)
Stories about one of the most popular Scottish characters of all time have now been translated into Gaelic.
The Oor Wullie – or Uilleam Againne – book is being launched today at the Royal National Mod in Fort William.
The book, described as a “huge piece of work” was a labour of love for Dr Domnhnall Uilleam Stiubhart of the University of the Highlands and Islands who is based at the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mor Ostaig, on Skye and colleague, Mairi Kidd.
The young rascal, who has immortalised catchphrases such as Jings, Crivvens and Help ma Boab, and is always getting into mischief, set his translators quite a challenge – especially with the speech bubbles that come out of his mouth.
Dr Stiubhart said: “Every speech bubble had to be changed and made as simple as possible so that a child could read them. We felt that all the young Gaelic speakers were missing out by not having stories such as these in their language.
“My two sons, Alasdair who is 10 and Seumas, seven, just love Oor Wullie, so we thought it would be great to do a book on him that youngsters can start reading by themselves. Lots of adults love the Oor Wullie adventures too, so it can really be for everyone.”
16 October 2017 (The Herald)
A Gaelic tsar would ensure Scotland’s mother tongue flourishes in the classroom in the wake of a controversial failed bid to create a new Gaelic primary school, an academic has claimed.
Professor Rob Dunbar, chair of Celtic languages at Edinburgh University, said the current mechanism to force councils and other bodies to promote the language was too weak.
It comes after a bid by parents for Gaelic primary school education was rejected by East Renfrewshire Council despite new laws designed to encourage the spread of the language.
12 October 2017 (The Herald)
The long-term future of the Gaelic language in the Outer Hebrides is under threat, according to a leading academic.
The warning came after new figures showed a decline in pupils studying Gaelic in parts of the Western Isles.
Once regarded as the traditional stronghold of the language, numbers sitting Gaelic exams in the third and fourth year of secondary school have fallen from 78 to just 24 in the past decade.
The decline mirrors a drop across Scotland with a nine per cent fall in entries for all Gaelic exams in 2017 including National 5 and Higher.
Professor Rob Dunbar, chair of Celtic languages at Edinburgh University, said he was concerned for the future of the language.
12 October 2017 (The Telegraph)
Ours is a trading nation, connected to countries in every continent by shared history, shared values and, on occasion, shared language.
We are a country that thrives in making its way in the world. Once we leave the European Union we will, once again, be free to forge mutually beneficial relationships with peoples all over the globe.
Drawing on the genius of the great economists of our Union’s history, this Kingdom will once again be at the forefront of global free trade. Once again, it will fall to Britain and her close allies to make the Smith, Mill and Ricardo’s moral and economic case for markets, free trade and comparative advantage.
Key to our success in this endeavour is the preparedness of the next generation to compete and sell their wares in a global economy. In an ever more technical world, it is important that pupils leave school with the knowledge that will best prepare them for the demands of life in 21st century Britain.
11 October 2017 (TES)
It is unnecessary to shorten key stage 3 to make more time for GCSEs, Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of Ofsted, has said.
An investigation by the schools watchdog has found that schools are often shortening KS3, which means “some pupils never study history, geography or a language after the age of 12 or 13”.
The intensity of exam preparation is getting in the way of pupils receiving the subject knowledge they need, the watchdog has said.
9 October 2017 (The Herald)
A university has downgraded the teaching of Italian sparking wider fears for the study of the country’s language and culture in Scotland.
Strathclyde University, in Glasgow, will no longer offer students the opportunity to study joint honours degrees in Italian.
Instead, the language will be taught at a more basic level in only the first and second years of a four year degree course.
The move brings to an end a long tradition at Strathclyde where students could combine subjects as diverse as architecture, engineering, law and politics with Italian to degree level.
9 October 2017 (The Herald)
Behold Alba, the peculiar country. One of Scotland’s peculiarities is the way that people get their drathais in a twist about language.
And when we say language we mean Gaelic. Only last week, announcements that Gaelic would appear on road signs in Edinburgh and efforts made to revive the language in Tayside gave rise to frothing of the mouth and gnashing of the teeth therein from the usual suspects.
Odd thing: a desire to kill a language. Fair enough, it has declined on its own, as it were, submerged in a larger culture that for a while outlawed it. But it isn’t dead yet, and the urge to kick it when it is down is a strange aspect of the Scottish character, one with which we are familiar in its wider context of national self-loathing.
7 October 2017 (The Independent)
A new gender-neutral version of the French language has caused anger among purists.
A member of the prestigious Académie Française has hit back at the adaption, which looks to reduce the masculine domination of grammatical gender.
The French Academy is France’s 400-year-old voice of authority on language and its sole British member, Sir Michael Edwards, has deemed the gender neutral words “gibberish”.
As reported by The Times, the French government department responsible for equal rights said the masculine ending was a form of sexual tyranny.
7 October 2017 (BBC)
A scheme to encourage more pupils in Wales to take modern languages at GCSE has reported "significant" success.
More than a third of Welsh schools now have less than 10% of Year 10 pupils studying a foreign language.
But the Welsh Government-funded modern foreign languages (MFL) mentoring project said it had seen uptake double in some schools.
The scheme trains students from Welsh universities to talk to pupils about the benefits of studying languages.
7 October 2017 (Financial Times)
As a girl growing up in an English-speaking household in Singapore, Prema Gurunathan grudgingly studied Mandarin. Now a mother in west London, she is taking no chances with her own son.
When he turned one Ms Gurunathan insisted their household in Hammersmith speak Mandarin for half of each week. She recruited an au pair from east Asia (she prefers not to say exactly where, for fear of tipping off the competition). And last month, she and her husband enrolled the three-and-a-half year-old at Kensington Wade in London, Britain’s first primary school to offer full Mandarin immersion for its pupils.
“It’s intellectual, it’s cultural and it’s ‘future-proofing’, if you will,” said Ms Gurunathan, a self-confessed “tiger mom” and policy wonk, explaining her school choice. “And it’s fun.”
7 October 2017 (The Herald)
A bid by parents for Gaelic primary school education has been rejected despite new laws which were supposed to encourage the spread of the language.
A group of 49 families from East Renfrewshire contacted the council asking them to explore the possibility of a Gaelic primary unit or school in the area.
However, East Renfrewshire Council sent letters to all those involved warning families children would no longer be able to attend their local catchment area school if a Gaelic facility was set up.
“Instead, your child would attend another establishment in a location yet to be decided,” the letter said.
The council also highlighted the importance of parents learning Gaelic stating: “It is considered that it is crucial prospective parents ... who are not already Gaelic speakers are committed to learning Gaelic.”
5 October 2017 (The Independent)
Google has built a pair of headphones that can translate foreign languages in real time.
The Pixel Buds are like a real-world equivalent of the Babel fish, the famous fictional creature from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
They both translate and enable you to speak in foreign languages, and worked incredibly impressively in a demo at Google’s launch event this week, enabling an English speaker to hold a smooth conversation with a Swedish speaker.
4 October 2017 (TES)
'Instead of focusing on narrowing the curriculum with the Ebacc, the government needs to focus increasing MFL knowledge in schools – it will be crucial in a post-Brexit Britain'.
A press release landed in my inbox earlier this week warning of a looming languages deficit in the UK, post-Brexit.
According to its figures, 61 per cent of Brits speak no other language than English – a proportion, it's speculated that will rise as EU nationals and British linguists leave the country for jobs abroad, taking their skills with them. At the same time, English will decline as a global language – it's already been replaced by Chinese, Hindi and Spanish, which all have more native speakers.
Languages float my boat. I was a first-generation child born in the UK, of immigrant parents, who started school with no English. This was in the days before teaching assistants, EAL and other interventions. I don’t actually recall how, or when, I learned English but it didn’t take long. "Just get on with it" was the approach. I think they called it immersion.
The press release turned out to be promoting a language-learning app but setting that to one side, it raised some important questions.
Are we bad at languages in this country because of the quality of teaching and teacher shortages? Or is it because we’re ambivalent about others and their culture?
As we hurtle towards March 2019, it is one of many issues ministers need to address. As we face the reality of leaving the EU, languages are just one aspect of the deficits in our education system. And, so far, there has been little evidence of any joined-up thinking between government rhetoric and domestic practicalities.
2 October 2017 (The Scotsman)
Edinburgh Council have released their Gaelic language plan to support and promote the language and culture ahead of consultation. The plan aims to promote a city that develops and supports more fluent and confident Gaelic speakers as well as promoting thriving Gaelic communities and cultures.
The ‘Draft Gaelic Language Plan’ was published by the City of Edinburgh Council today and is open for consultation until December 15. It is part of the Council’s commitment to work in partnership with Gaelic communities, organisations who deliver Gaelic services, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Scottish Government to support the language and culture.
Gaelic learning to be expanded in Edinburgh
(The Herald, 2 October 2017)
2 October 2017 (Education Week)
Bilingual people may be better equipped to learn new languages than those who only speak one language, according to a study published in the academic journal Bilingualism: Language and Cognition.
The research points to a distinct language-learning benefit for people who grow up bilingual or learn another language at an early age.
A team of researchers paired 13 bilingual college students who grew up in the United States with Mandarin-speaking parents, and learned both English and Mandarin at an early age, against a group of 16 monolingual college students, who spoke only English.
The researchers studied Mandarin-English bilinguals because both of these languages differ structurally from the new language being learned.
2 October 2017 (THE)
Students who go abroad as part of their degree for a short period of time develop better teamwork skills than those who go overseas for a year, while other areas of development are unaffected by the duration of international study, according to a survey of alumni [...] A longer period of studying abroad had a “significantly positive effect” on the development of 11 of the 15 skills surveyed, including language skills, self-awareness, intercultural skills and confidence.
1 October 2017 (The Guardian)
It won’t be long now before BBC Scotland is assailed by the sentinels of right thinking over the content of Thursday’s morning radio news show. What on earth was the national broadcaster thinking of? To mark National Poetry Day the station asked its new poet-in-residence, Stuart A Paterson, to read a poem he had written for the occasion.
It is called Here’s the Weather, an appropriate topic at this time of the year, as the seasons prepare to turn one last time and Scotland looks at its best in copper and gold.
Paterson’s poem is written mainly in the Scots tongue and so we were treated to a joyous cascade of words and images half-remembered from a childhood untroubled by the conventions of the classroom. “Forfochen” and “scunnert” were in there, as well as “girn” and “haiver”. And I was delighted to see one of my favourites, “molocate”, which, roughly translated, can mean to interact with someone or something with a degree of physical belligerence. I was also hoping to see the word “chib” in there, one of my other favourites; perhaps the next time.
Here's the Weather by Stuart A Paterson (BBC Scotland, 28 September 2017)
1 October 2017 (Cable Magazine)
As the study of Russian in Scotland passes a notable milestone, Jenny Carr of the Scottish-Russia Forum casts an eye across the educational landscape and asks whether we should be doing more to enhance our knowledge of the Russian language and culture.
The University of Glasgow celebrates the centenary of Russian studies at the university this year. Celebrations began in September with a conference and other events at the university, and will continue throughout the semester.
29 September 2017 (Holyrood Magazine)
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s virtual Gaelic school has been praised in an independent evaluation for helping to cover teacher shortages and supporting professional development.
A report of the e-Sgoil’s virtual school’s first year commended the council’s leadership team for its desire to help other local authorities and said the “energy and commitment” of those involved in the project had been “most impressive”.
The independent report by former Highland Council director of education Bruce Robertson and Martin Finnigan of consultants Caledonian Economics was presented to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Education, Sport and Children’s Services earlier this week.
It also praised the use of e-Sgoil for professional development in education and suggested the e-Sgoil approach could be rolled out across Scotland.
28 September 2017 (Guardian)
Marking the UK’s National Poetry Day, an international call for readers to submit poems that could be lost to future generations has gone out.
28 September 2017 (Washington Post)
Twitter's decision this week to test 280-character tweets is a nod to a fundamental linguistic truth: Some written languages are more concise than others.
The social media company's engineers noticed that people writing tweets in English were far more likely to hit the 140-character limit than people writing in, say, Japanese. “This is because in languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French,” the company wrote in announcing the change.
26 September 2017 (Times)
The STEM revolution sweeping schools has boosted the popularity of science subjects at university. However, what if scientifically gifted teens are not ready to give up history, English and the arts?
Universities are increasingly offering broader-based degrees based on US-style liberal arts courses. These hybrid STEAM (STEM plus arts) degrees enable students to combine a wide range of humanities, social sciences and natural sciences courses, according to what they are interested in. They also provide the opportunity to learn a language and study abroad for a year.
Subscription required to access full article
An t-Alltan conference
22 September 2017 (Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig)
Teachers involved in Gaelic Medium Education from all over the country will be gathering in Aviemore next week for the annual An t-Alltan conference.
Organised by Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Naiseanta na Gaidhlig, based in Stornoway, this will be the ninth year of An t-Alltan and the number of attendees has been growing every year.
It is taking place in the Macdonald Aviemore Conference Centre, on September 27 and 28.
Around 200 teachers from the early years sector through to high school are expected to attend and the keynote speech will be delivered by Joan Mackay, assistant director at Education Scotland, on the theme of ‘developing the young workforce’ and ‘what kind of leaders we need to be’.
There will be nearly 30 workshops held across the two days and 18 exhibitors.
See the full press release attached for more information.
20 September 2017 (Glasgow Live)
Glasgow is officially home to a world leader in the teaching of Chinese language and culture.
The Confucius Institute for Scotland's Schools (CISS) has been appointed a Model Confucius Institute by the global headquarters, Hanban.
The centre, based at the University of Strathclyde, is one of only 40 facilities out of 500 across the globe to be given the status.
Bosses have also announced the institute, which is open to people from all over the country, is set for a move to a new HQ at the university's Ramshorn Theatre.
The Grade A-Listed building is being given a £2 million refurbishment - which includes a substantial investment by Hanban - to develop it as a publicly-accessible hub for learning and cultural exchange.
The new premises will have the capacity to host performances, conferences and exhibitions.
A plaque marking the new status of the institute was unveiled at a conference attended by Scottish Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s Ambassador to the UK, was also a keynote speaker at the event, held to mark the fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Institute.
Strathclyde Principal Professor Sir Jim McDonald said: “As a leading international university, we are extremely proud of our academic links around the globe and our diverse student and staff community.
“This prestigious accolade for our Confucius Institute reflects the important role it plays in improving understanding of Chinese language and culture across Scotland, and we congratulate everyone involved on their fantastic achievement.
“I’m particularly pleased that the Institute’s move to its new headquarters on campus will enable even more schools, businesses and community groups to benefit from increased educational and economic opportunities, with a further 10 Confucius Classroom Hubs being announced today.”
Posted in: Primary
, Senior Phase
, Celebrating Languages
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, Language Learning
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, Strathclyde University
, Languages in the press
20 September 2017 (The Herald)
A council plans to spend £160,000 teaching its staff to speak Gaelic.
Perth and Kinross aims to reverse the decline which has left just 1,287 locals speaking the language.
The local authority has revealed proposals for a £160,000 Gaelic Language Plan to be rolled out over the next five years.
19 September 2017 (Fife Today)
Police Scotland has today (Tuesday, September 19) introduced its dual language logo featuring both English and Gaelic.
The branding, which carries both Police Scotland and Poileas Alba, will be introduced on the service’s website and intranet.
It will also be carried on signage, stationery and vehicles, and will be introduced on these items as they are replaced on reaching the end of their serviceable life.
The changes are being made as part of the force’s commitment to implementing its Gaelic Language Plan, which sets out the service’s pledge to creating a sustainable future for the language in Scotland by integrating it within Police Scotland’s services and corporate identity.
18 September 2017 (The Independent)
People who speak more than one language fluently will process maths differently when they switch between languages, a new study has found.
Intuition enables the brain to recognise numbers up to four. However, when calculating mathematical problems, we depend on language.
This fact led researchers at the University of Luxembourg to explore just how the arithmetic skills are affected when bilingual people use different languages.
The study’s authors recruited students for whom Luxembourgish was their mother tongue and had carried on studying in Belgium and were therefore fluent in both German and French.
In two distinct tasks, participants were asked to solve a mixture of simple and complex maths problems in both languages.
While they were able to solve the simple tasks with equal proficiency, they took longer to calculate the complex task in French and made more errors than they did when doing the identical task in German.
16 September 2017 (The Courier)
For most young university freshers, leaving the nest for the first time is a daunting experience. But two former Carnoustie High pupils have taken a bigger leap than most by flying half way around the world as part of a prestigious scholarship programme.
[...] The pair are two of only 22 young people from across Scotland to be awarded a full scholarship to study Mandarin at Tianjin Foreign Studies University for the 2017/18 academic session.
They both studied the language at the school’s Confucius Classroom Hub - one of only 34 in Scotland - and were active members of the Mandarin Club.
The pair successfully interviewed for the programme after initially attending a 17-day language immersion course in Tianjin last year, organised by the university’s Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS).
15 September 2017 (TESS)
A project that allows lessons to be beamed into Scottish classrooms has been described as “one of the best things” happening in Scottish education by a former education director who has conducted an independent review of the scheme.
The e-Sgoil – or e-school – based in the Western Isles became a reality at the beginning of 2016-17 to help tackle the teacher shortage, particularly in Gaelic, and to give secondary pupils in remote and rural schools a wider range of subjects.
Access the full article in TESS online, 15 September 2017 (subscription may be required).
11 September 2017 (TES)
Applies to England
MFL entries at A level are still falling, but there is hope on the horizon if schools seize the initiative, says this assistant headteacher.
It seems to have become a scheduled event in the modern languages’ calendar to lament the ever-depressing fate of uptake of the subject at A level. Reformed specifications have made the gap between GCSE and A level even wider, fuelling the notion that A-level languages are for native speakers only.
Yet more depressing: A-level MFL provision has almost disappeared in the North East, accounting for only 3% of all entries. University language departments are on the brink of closure and revised visa requirements for EU nationals could result in further exacerbation of an already difficult recruitment market. The death knell of routine A-level MFL provision in all schools is deafening.
And yet – whisper it softly – the stars of a more illustrious future for modern languages may be coming into alignment. The reformed specifications are a vast improvement on their predecessors, with film, literature, history and politics at their core, making for exciting and engaging courses.
9 September 2017 (BBC)
Gaelic short film competition FilmG is this year celebrating the running of its 10th contest. To help mark the anniversary, organisers held an exhibition of the competition's colourful posters at Tramway, an arts space in Glasgow.
The posters were created by Steven McKenzie, senior designer at Cànan Graphics Studio on Skye. The posters are designed to reflect each year's theme. Previously these have included "strì" meaning endeavour/conflict and "cliù" meaning prestige, fame or reputation. The theme chosen for the 10th FilmG is "fìrinn" meaning truth.
7 September 2017 (The Independent)
As Britain’s pupils return to school for the start of the new academic year, Google marks the occasion with a new Doodle paying tribute to British Sign Language (BSL).
BSL is a vital tool that has enabled generations of young deaf and speech-impaired students in the UK to communicate with their teachers and classmates, ensuring their disability does not have a negative impact on their opportunities in the classroom.
But how was BSL first conceived and how has it developed?
5 September 2017 (The Guardian)
Spanish and tango? German and skiing? Or even Japanese and manga? Learn a language in the native country and add some extracurricular fun with these holiday courses that offer a skill or some culture, too.
4 September 2017 (The Conversation)
Young children have a lot to fit into each school day. So making the best use of the little time allocated to learning a foreign language is paramount. In England, state primary schools have been required to offer children aged seven to 11 a foreign language since 2014. This seems to chime with the common assumption, supported by research, that the earlier we start learning a foreign language, the better we will eventually be able to speak it.
Yet the situation is quite different when learners have just a few hours’ exposure each week. In these circumstances – unlike full immersion in a second language – younger is not necessarily better. Large-scale classroom-based research in Spain has shown that after the same number of lessons, students who began learning after age 18 achieved greater success in English than students who started at age eight, 11 or 14.
A likely reason for the different effects of starting age in different learning environments is the type of learning mechanism in operation. Primarily, young children learn implicitly – without effort or awareness. By contrast, adolescents and adults can learn explicitly, with the intention to learn and with conscious effort. Implicit learning only works well if there is ample exposure to language input, while explicit learning can work even with little language input. So having just a few hours a week of language lessons at a young age doesn’t meant a child will learn that language successfully.
2 September 2017 (The Herald)
The teaching of the Scots language is having a positive impact on the attainment of pupils in English qualifications, according to a new report.
Research shows teachers believe the language can particularly help disengaged pupils and those who are not high academic achievers.
The findings comes in a report from curriculum body Education Scotland which explores the use of Scots in primary and secondary schools.
Scots Language in Curriculum for Excellence (30 August 2017, Education Scotland)
2 September 2017 (The Press and Journal)
Chan eil aon chànan gu leòr.
How many readers can understand this sentiment or indeed recognise the Gaelic phrase which aptly translates as one language is never enough?
Sadly, or depending in the light in which one views Gaelic, it would seem one language in Scotland is indeed enough with just 1.1% of the population speaking Gaelic.
It is no secret that Gaelic has been in decline for many years despite road signs in the Highlands and islands and even in the north-east including the Gaelic place name.
Classed as an indigenous language, it is believed Gaelic was brought to Scotland around the fourth or fifth century by settlers from Ireland, reaching its peak in 1018.
Some historians pinpoint its decline to the reign of King Malcom Canmore, although his brother re-introduced the language when he inherited the throne.
History aside, how relevant is Gaelic to modern Scotland today on both a social and economic level?
1 September 2017 (Scottish Sun)
Outlander stars are doing their bit to save an award-winning museum in the Scottish Highlands.
The Gairloch Herittage Museum – dubbed “one of the best in Scotland” by the National Trust – will lose its home next year.
And telly hunk Sam Heughan is getting behind a crowdfunding campaign to raise the final £60,000 needed for its proposed new location.
Fans of the hit time travel show now have the chance to get their hands on some coveted Outlander goodies.
Some of the prizes up for grabs include a limited number of Gaelic dictionaries signed by Sam and the Outlander cast.
Fans can also win Gaelic lessons with Adhamh O’Broin, who is the Gaelic consultant on the show.
Adhamh said: “Not many people are aware but Gairloch and Wester Ross have played an integral part to the creation of the TV series, Outlander.
“We use the Wester Ross Gaelic dialect throughout the series and I often called upon Gairloch man, the late Roddy Mackenzie, for advice when we were on set.
“Roddy, who was also heavily involved in the Gairloch Heritage Museum, helped us by providing accurate translations and local sayings to ensure we were portraying the language as authentically as possible.”
30 August 2017 (The Courier)
Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to the UK, expressed his disappointment to Nicola Sturgeon over the Scottish Qualifications Authority dropping the language from the curriculum.
In a letter, which has been published under freedom of information laws, Mr Yakovenko called on Ms Sturgeon to intervene.
The correspondence also revealed the FM has declined invitations to official Russian functions in Edinburgh and London on four occasions since June 2016.
Mr Yakovenko, who was previously deputy minister of foreign affairs, said: “The cancellation of the exams seriously affected the resources available for cultural and business links, for people-to-people contacts and the personal development of individuals.”
He added: “I believe there may be ways for the Scottish Government to have the above decisions revisited, and I would hugely appreciate your attention to the matter.”
However, he did highlight Dundee Russian School for its valuable work in teaching children and adults the language, which is the fifth most prevalent in the world.
The First Minster left it to her deputy John Swinney to reply, which he did about two months after the original letter was sent in December 2016.
Mr Swinney, who is also Education Secretary, said: “The decision to remove courses was made entirely on practical grounds, reflecting difficulties in maintaining standards in subjects experiencing consistently low uptake.”
He added: “I would assure you that SQA’s decision bore no reflection on the relative merit or value of Russian language or literature – which are considerable.”
Mr Swinney said Scots could learn the language through modern languages for work purposes units and the Language for Life and Work Award.
30 August 2017 (The Scotsman)
A group of primary school children from the east end of Glasgow have become internet sensations after their Gaelic musical version of ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ went viral on YouTube. Views of the film, which features youngsters from Caledonia Primary enacting the story in their school grounds in Baillieston, have climbed to nearly 2.2 million.
The film, made with the help of the Grounds for Learning charity, is just under five minutes long and shows the pupils from P1 and 2 ‘hunting’ for a bear. Dressed in oilskins and wellies, they go splashing through the mud and creeping through concrete tunnels, while they sing the words to Tha Sinn a’ Dol a Shireadh Mathan, a Gaelic version of the kids classic story by Michael Rosen.
28 August 2017 (TES)
Supporting EAL students is personal to this assistant headteacher. Here she gives her six tips to ensure these students – and their families – get the right assistance.
28 August 2017 (TES)
Supporting EAL students is personal to this assistant headteacher. Here she gives her six tips to ensure these students – and their families – get the right assistance.
28 August 2017 (BBC)
The Reverend Nick Baines shares his 'Thought for the Day' on BBC Radio 4 about the importance of children learning languages. The broadcast is available on iPlayer until 27 September. (Please note registration is required to access).
25 August 2017 (The Guardian)
Education policy is like defence policy. It is always fighting the last war but one. Predictable woe has greeted the plummeting number of pupils studying modern languages, which have fallen by roughly 10% in a year and German by one-third since 2010. Only Chinese and Arabic look reasonably healthy – I wonder if this might be because rising numbers of Chinese and Arabic-speakers are studying?
25 August 2017 (TES)
How do you encourage lower-ability students to stick with learning a new language? By offering them the chance to take the subject at GCSE … a whole two years early. The results speak for themselves, says Eva Vicente.
Learning languages didn’t come easy to Jack when he first joined secondary school. Ordinarily, he would have dropped the subject when he was choosing which GCSEs to study at key stage 4. So imagine his delight that he’d already notched up a Spanish GCSE by the end of Year 9, two years before his more proficient friends would have the opportunity to do the same.
His impressive achievement was made possible by the unconventional system we have implemented at Rushcliffe School, which allows struggling pupils the chance to study for their Spanish GCSE in Years 8 and 9. Asking teenagers to sit what is supposed to be one of the hardest GCSE subjects two years early may seem a little crazy – even more so when you consider the pupils in question are the ones who are struggling the most with the subject – but there is method in our madness.
Britain is at the back of the queue in terms of language skills. Why? Because children here don’t study languages as early, as often or for as long as those in other countries. Despite endless changes in policy, the UK simply does not invest in language learning.
But at Rushcliffe we don’t buy into the idea that learning a language is only for a handful of very academic students who are able to leap over the education system’s barriers – delayed exposure to learning languages and limited timetable allocation. We decided to turn things around and commit to ensuring that as many students as possible get a language qualification, without it impacting on their GCSE choices at key stage 4. So how does it work?
24 August 2017 (Prospect Magazine)
Ever since 2004, when the Labour government gave schools the freedom to make languages optional, education ministers have awaited GCSE and A level entry figures with the trepidation of candidates who know they have messed up their French oral. Numbers for foreign languages GCSEs have dropped by a whopping 44 per cent and numbers for French and German A levels have declined by more than a third over the past 13 years.
This year’s crop of A level exam figures have been greeted with relief by government and exam boards alike. “Steady” and “stable” have been the preferred adjectives. But GCSE numbers published on Thursday show another huge decline which appears to wipe out earlier increases linked to some of Michael Gove’s reforms.
The headline statistics here are troubling indeed. Numbers for French are down 10 per cent on last year, and for German 13 per cent, making this year’s figures the lowest yet. But even this does not do justice to the true extent of the crisis in language learning, which runs through all parts of the education system. To appreciate the full scale of the problem, you have to dig deeper into the numbers. As we approach Brexit and the readjustment of the UK’s relationship with the rest of the world, we would do well to take this seriously.
24 August 2017 (The Telegraph)
The number of students taking modern foreign languages has plummeted because British children are have become reliant on English translations and tools like “Google Translate,” academics have warned.
Figures published on Thursday by the Joint Qualifications Council (JCQ) show that the number of entries for modern foreign languages has fallen by more than 7 per cent per cent overall, with the number of French exams falling by a tenth and German by 13.2 per cent.
Similar declines were recorded in last week's A-level results, whilst the number of British students taking languages has almost halved over the last two decades.
21 August 2017 (The Conversation)
More than 300 different languages are now spoken in British schools. And in England, over 20% of primary school children use English as an additional language.
This equates to over 900,000 children for whom English is not their first language. These children might have been born in another country, their parents might speak another language to them at home, or they might just know a few words of another language because their grandparents immigrated to England a long time ago. But just like any other pupil, they attend schools across the country, speak (or learn to speak) in English and participate in the national curriculum. Yet the fact these children also bring with them a rich understanding of another language and culture can often go unnoticed.
Bilingualism is something we usually celebrate in adults yet not always in the classroom, where English is usually prioritised. This is despite the fact that many communities in Britain, speak more than one language.
In the 2011 British Census, for example, 4.2m people reported having a main language other than English. And just over half of all Europeans claim to speak at least one other language in addition to their mother tongue.
Research shows that some children never have the opportunity to use their home language at school. And in some cases, their teachers might not even know they speak another language.
In the absence of school or community support, these children can sometimes end up losing their home languages. This is something that may be particularly true in highly monolingual areas which experience less immigration.
The problem then is that these areas – where English is the only language spoken – become even more monolingual. All while other areas of the country grow and celebrate their linguistic diversity.
17 August 2017 (Scottish Government)
A Gaelic music, culture and heritage centre planned in South Uist has been awarded £1 million funding.
The £7 million Cnoc Soilleir project will receive the investment from the Scottish Government’s Gaelic Capital Plan and is expected to create around 40 jobs.
Cnoc Soilleir will support the growth of Ceòlas Uibhist community-led activity around Gaelic language learning, music and dance, as well as the Lews Castle College UHI music programmes. Additional creative industry courses will be provided to enable further growth in student numbers.
Established in 1996, Ceòlas Uibhist has grown from a week-long music and dance school to become one of Scotland’s leading Gaelic culture, heritage and arts organisations.
17 August 2017 (TES)
Heads' union warns of the consequences of a drop in entries for creative subjects and languages, as the number of students sitting music plummets by 9.4 per cent.
A decline in A-level entries for music, drama, French and German is "making a mockery of the government's claim to be promoting social mobility", a heads' union has said.
The Association of School and College Leaders said that schools are having to cut courses in these subjects because the relatively small number of candidates signing up to them means they are no longer financially viable.
The number of A-level entries in England dropped by 1.2 per cent in French compared with last year, 4.2 per cent in German, 4 per cent in drama and by 9.4 per cent in music, according to figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications.
The ASCL said schools cutting back on these subjects was a reflection of "severe budget pressures" on post-16 education, which has experienced a real-terms cut since 2010.
Given the 42 per cent drop in AS-level entries after they were "decoupled" from A levels, ASCL said it was concerned about a narrowing of the curriculum, which was "reducing student choice".
17 August 2017 (The Guardian)
The proportion of top marks awarded at A-level has risen overall for the first time in six years and boys did better than girls at gaining A and A* grades.
The published national results of 2017’s exams show that in the bulk of subjects the proportion of A and A* grades awarded went up to 26.3%, a rise of half a percentage point compared with 2016.
[..] As expected, there were sizeable increases in the top grades awarded to students taking modern foreign languages, with A and A*s rising by 2.5% in Spanish and 1.8% in German and 1.7% in French – after years of complaints that the exams were graded too harshly.
The improved performance came after the exam regulator in England, Ofqual, adjusted the proportion of top grades awarded to candidates, following research showing that native speakers taking the subjects had skewed the results.
17 August 2017 (Holyrood)
A new satellite hub for the online distance learning Gaelic school e-Sgoil has been opened in the former Carinish School building in North Uist by Education Secretary John Swinney.
The virtual Gaelic school was launched just over a year ago by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Gaelic language board, to provide connectivity between schools in the Western Isles and beyond, and to offer improved subject access and learning opportunities for Gaelic-medium secondaries and teachers across the country.
17 August 2017 (The Telegraph)
Changes to A-level language subjects to prevent non-native speakers from being penalised has led to a surge in top grades, figures published today suggest.
The proportion of A grades awarded in French, German and Spanish entries increased this year, after the exams regulator Ofqual asked exam boards to lower the grade boundaries.
Publication of the new guidance has seen the number of A grades awarded in French rise to 39 per cent, up from 37.3 per cent, whilst top grades in German has risen by 1.8 per cent.
The changes, outlined in a letter circulated among headteachers by Ofqual earlier this summer, said: "We have recently published research on the effect of native speakers in A-level French, German and Spanish.
"The evidence is not conclusive, but it does suggest that the proportion of native speakers taking these qualifications may have increased in recent years, as the overall entry has declined.
"Informed by this research, we believe there is a case for making a small upward adjustment to the predictions used to set grade A, and we will implement this for the summer 2017 A-levels."
The changes, outlined in a letter circulated among headteachers by Ofqual earlier this summer, said: "We have recently published research on the effect of native speakers in A-level French, German and Spanish.
"The evidence is not conclusive, but it does suggest that the proportion of native speakers taking these qualifications may have increased in recent years, as the overall entry has declined.
"Informed by this research, we believe there is a case for making a small upward adjustment to the predictions used to set grade A, and we will implement this for the summer 2017 A-levels."
However, the increase in top grades has been overshadowed by continuing drop-off in students taking up in traditionally popular modern languages, with the exception of Spanish, which saw entries increase by 1.7 per cent.
International languages are also gaining in popularity, including Arabic, Chinese and Italian.
A-Level and AS results published by JCQ
(UCML, 17 August 2017) Overall, results show that entries for both Spanish and Other languages continue to grow (with an increase of 1.7 and 2% on last year's figures respectively). Article links to comprehensive data for all languages.
16 August 2017 (New York Times)
Learning a second language as an adult is difficult. But the process may be eased if you exercise while learning.
A new study reports that working out during a language class amplifies people’s ability to memorize, retain and understand new vocabulary. The findings provide more evidence that to engage our minds, we should move our bodies.
In recent years, a wealth of studies in both animals and people have shown that we learn differently if we also exercise. Lab rodents given access to running wheels create and maintain memories better than animals that are sedentary, for instance. And students consistently perform better on academic tests if they participate in some kind of physical activity during the school day.
Many scientists suspect that exercise alters the biology of the brain in ways that make it more malleable and receptive to new information, a process that scientists refer to as plasticity.
But many questions have remained unanswered about movement and learning, including whether exercise is most beneficial before, during or after instruction and how much and what types of exercise might be best.
So for the new study, which was published recently in PLOS One, researchers in China and Italy decided to home in on language learning and the adult brain.
15 August 2017 (The Scotsman)
Proposals have been put forward to investigate Gaelic links with historic properties as use of the language has seen a surge in visitor interest.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has launched a consultation for its Draft Gaelic Language Plan 2018-2023.
Under its proposals are a number of strategies aimed at increasing its use and discovering links with the properties in its care.
Alex Paterson, chief executive of HES, said: “We have developed an ambitious plan, which will help to illustrate the place of Gaelic within Scottish culture, while increasing resources for Gaelic speakers and learners.
“We want this consultation to reach as many people as possible so we can ensure that the final plan is robust and representative. We very much look forward to reviewing the feedback.”
The use of Gaelic in the hit TV series Outlander has sparked increased interest amongst visitors to Scotland and historic sites linked to the show are continuing to see significant rises in tourist numbers.
11 August 2017 (TES)
Move set to encourage take-up of subjects and create more language teachers.
The number of top grades awarded in modern foreign language A levels is likely to increase this summer, after a change brought in by Ofqual to help non-native speakers.
Exam boards have been asked to increase the proportion of students expected to achieve a grade A and above by one percentage point for French, German and Spanish A levels.
The exam regulator decided to intervene after carrying out research that showed native speakers were far more likely to achieve A* or A grades than non-native speakers.
If the ability of this year’s cohort is consistent with previous years, the uplift will be applied to the three A-level subjects.
However, relatively few candidates look set to benefit: a Tes analysis of last year’s A-level results suggests that an adjustment last summer would have resulted in around 200 extra A and A* grades being awarded.
The move from Ofqual has been widely welcomed across the sector, but headteacher organisations argue that it should not be the last word in solving what they see as a long-standing problem.
11 August 2017 (The Times)
A dedicated Gaelic school could open in Edinburgh to cope with rising pupil numbers and soaring demand.
Edinburgh city council expects there to be more pupils than places at James Gillespie’s High School, where Gaelic education is currently provided, as soon as 2021.
The number of new pupils starting this month at Taobh na Pàirce primary, Edinburgh’s only Gaelic primary school, has also been far higher than anticipated.
9 August 2017 (The Herald)
THE number of pupils choosing key modern languages has fallen sharply.
Figures from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) show the number of entries for Higher French dropped from 4,581 in 2016 to 3,918 this year.
The figures for German have also fallen, with entries declining from 1,019 to 890 year-on-year.
However, the increasing popularity of Spanish has continued, with entries rising from 2,600 last year to 2,809.
Entries at the lower National 5 level for French and German have also fallen.
9 August 2017 (Evening Times)
One student has defied the odds to become one of Glasgow’s top achievers while attending not one but three city schools.
Valentina Kanife moved to Glasgow from her home country of Italy in September 2015. When the 16-year-old joined the S4 class in St Margaret Mary’s in Castlemilk, she could not speak any English. Soon after starting the school, it became apparent that Valentina had a skill for languages and began working towards gaining her National 4’s.
Staff at St Margaret Mary’s staff organised for Valentina to attend Holyrood Secondary for Higher Italian and Kings Park Secondary for Higher ESOL, while being taught Higher Spanish and National 5 maths at her own school. With the help of a bus pass, the teenager travelled between the three schools, sometimes on the same day. After a year of handwork, Valentia managed to gain all three Highers and a National 5 Maths qualifications, all within two years of being in Glasgow.
9 August 2017 (The Independent)
Ever dreamed of raising a bilingual baby?
It might be easier than you think, as a new study reveals that babies can differentiate between words from different languages at just 20 months old.
The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined infants’ propensity to monitor and control language through a series of experiments.
24 French-English children were shown pairs of photographs of familiar objects and listened to sentences in both a single language (“Find the dog!”) and a mixture of two languages (“Find the chien!”).
In a second test, they heard language switches that crossed sentences, named code switches, which are regularly spoken by children in bilingual households i.e. “That one looks fun! Le Chien!”
Through eye-tracking measures, the researchers were able to determine the infants’ cognitive efforts, in other words, how hard their brains were working to understand what was in the photographs being shown to them.
When they heard the language switches, their pupils dilated, proving immediate comprehension.
8 August 2017 (The Guardian)
The number of Scottish school pupils and students taking modern languages, social sciences and arts has fallen, prompting warnings from opposition parties over the dangers of a narrowing curriculum.
Official data showed the number of exam passes at Higher, a near equivalent to English A-levels, across Scotland’s schools and colleges held steady at 77%, falling very slightly by 0.2%.
But Labour and the Conservatives expressed concern that the Scottish curriculum was narrowing after the Scottish Qualifications Authority figures showed the numbers sitting modern languages at Higher fell by 6% overall, with history down by nearly 4% and geography by 2.6%.
8 August 2017 (The Guardian)
(Applies to England)
Come through the main doors at Gateacre school in Liverpool, into an atrium with furniture in bright colours; on your right there’s a drama studio. On the door someone has put up a notice: “More than 9,994 students studying at Russell Group universities since 2012 have an A-level in drama and theatre.”
Gateacre still offers A-levels and GCSEs in drama and other creative subjects, despite having had to make some tough decisions about the curriculum. But across England, secondary pupils are finding themselves with fewer and fewer subject options, and teachers in the arts are feeling the pressure.
The government’s Ebacc accountability measure, which judges secondary schools according to the proportion of pupils gaining good GCSE grades in English, maths, sciences, a language and geography or history, has taken the brunt of the blame. Researchers from the University of Sussex who interviewed 650 state school teachers found two-thirds felt the Ebacc was responsible for fewer students taking GCSE music in their schools, for instance.
7 August 2017 (Language Magazine)
While the 2016 UK European Union (EU) Membership Referendum launched the current public conversation on the status of English in the EU, it has been—just as much, if not more—a conversation on the future of French within the EU.
In order to understand the significance of this conversation about language, and languages, it is necessary to begin with the significance of multilingualism as a core value of the EU, which has implemented and supported plurilingualism, often referred to as “mother tongue plus two,” as a pragmatic educational objective.
In alignment with this core value of multilingualism, Europe accounts for more than half (53.9%) of the global language-services sector, which is valued at USD 38.2 billion per year, and the French Hewlett-Packard’s Application and Content Localization group (HPPACG) is the third-largest language-services provider in the world.
From the original four official languages of the European Community, the number has grown to 24, with English, French, and German (in alphabetical order) the informal de facto working/procedural languages, and the French government has long been an active advocate for the use of French.
But as the UK prepares to leave the EU, leaving no member nation with English registered as its official language, the role of English within the EU has been questioned, with suggestions made that French and German should be the sole working/procedural languages.
7 August 2017 (TES)
Seven- and eight-year-olds from immigrant families make faster progress than their native-speaking peers, research shows.
Primary pupils who learn in a language other than the one they speak at home start out with poorer listening and reading skills, but “catch up” with native-speaking peers within one school year, researchers have found.
In a paper in the British Educational Research Journal, researchers from Ghent University in Belgium also looked at how pupils' listening and reading comprehension was affected by the proportion of their classmates who spoke a different language at home.
They found that classes with a greater proportion of non-native-speaking students achieved lower than average results at the start of the year, but by the end of the year this link had "disappeared".
7 August 2017 (TES)
A leading university has announced plans to recognise British Sign Language (BSL) qualifications in its entry requirements.
University College London (UCL) said that in future, BSL will be considered as meeting the institution's modern foreign language (MFL) requirement.
The university is the only UK institution that requires all of its UK undergraduates to hold at least a C grade at GCSE in another language or to sign up for courses as part of their degree.
It has now announced that it will recognise sign language as part of the requirement, saying it hopes the decision will increase awareness and access to the language.
5 August 2017 (The Herald)
FRESH concerns have been raised that not enough youngsters are learning foreign languages, as figures show a slump in applications to study the subject at university.
The numbers of applications for degree courses linked to European languages have fallen by almost a quarter in the past five years, while the numbers for other language courses have dropped by almost a fifth, according to an analysis by the Press Association. At the same time, there has been a decline in the numbers studying languages traditionally offered by schools, such as French and German, to GCSE and A-level.
The analysis indicates Spanish has grown in popularity in recent times along with other courses, such as Arabic and Chinese.
The British Council, which specialises in international cultural relations,