Latest News

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


Foreign Language Learning in Primary Schools Inquiry

23 September 2013 (Scottish Government)

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

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

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

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


Related Links

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

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

21 June 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

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

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


Related Links

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

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

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

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

Teaching one plus two languages for under 12s is examined

10 May 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

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


Languages plan 'presents challenge'

18 April 2013 (icScotland)

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

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

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


Related Links

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

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

Foreign language teaching to be subject of debate at Holyrood

29 March 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

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

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

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


Je ne sais quoi

11 March 2013 (Holyrood)

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


Related Links

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

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

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

Funding for language policy a 'drop in the ocean'

7 March 2013 (BBC Democracy Live)

Teaching unions told the European and External Affairs Committee that £4m to fund the Scottish government's 1+2 language policy would be a "drop in the ocean".

The policy describes a framework for language learning in Scotland based on the mother tongue + 2 additional languages model recommended by the European Union and adopted in many countries in Europe and beyond.

The money earmarked by the Scottish government is £120k for the pilot projects, and £4m for after the pilots in 2013-14.


Related Links

Access related papers from the European and External Affairs Committee inquiry into foreign language learning in the primary school from the Scottish Parliament website.

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

Languages in schools cost a ‘drop in the ocean’ (The Scotsman, 8 March 2013)

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

21 February 2013 (Scottish Parliament)

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

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

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


Let's talk language policies

8 February 2013 (TESS)

Several readers wrote letters in response to last week's TESS article "Languages expert hits out at 'unclear' report".

I was extremely disappointed to see the negative slant of your report on one of the sessions of the inquiry into the Scottish government's 1+2 languages proposal at the Scottish Parliament's European and External Affairs Committee ("Languages expert hits out at 'unclear' report", 1 February), writes Judith McClure of SCEN.  Read on to access the full letter.

Other responses on this topic can be accessed from the related items section below.


Related Links

Letter from Kirsten Herbst-Gray, Langholm Academy, Dumfries and Galloway:
Australian and German research has shown that a too early exposure to a second language will not necessarily benefit children unless they have a naturally bilingual family background. Recommended entry age for the acquisition of a second language is 8 years of age for other children.

Languages expert hits out at 'unclear' report - opinion from liltiff

Languages expert hits out at 'unclear' report (TESS, 1 February 2013)

Add more money to make 1+2 policy work, MSPs told

18 January 2013 (TESS)

The Scottish government's ambition for children to start studying two foreign languages in primary is being hampered by lack of funding, MSPs heard last week.

The government has set aside £4 million for language teaching in schools, pending agreement of the 2013-14 budget.

The money is to be targeted at implementation of recommendations by the government's languages working group that all pupils start learning a second language in P1 and pick up a third one no later than P5.

But two or three times that amount would be needed if the initiative was to be "well planned" and "thought through", according to the working group's funding estimates, said Tim Simons, head of the Scottish government's curriculum unit.


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

10 January 2013 (STV News)

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

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


Primary adds success by teaching 1+5

14 December 2012 (TESS)

The prospect of teaching 1+2 languages from P1 is a daunting one for many in the primary sector.

But today, the Scottish Parliament's European and External Relations Committee will launch an inquiry into the teaching of languages in primary - at a school where 1+5 is the norm.

At Dalmarnock Primary, in the east end of Glasgow, pupils have access to French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Greek, in addition to their home language of English.


Inquiry into language teaching

14 December 2012 (BBC News)

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


Related Links

Scottish Parliament launches inquiry into foreign language learning (Language Rich blog, 17 December 2012)
University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages