Latest News

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

Latest News

1 December 2023 (SCILT)

Are you looking for ways to bring the festive season to your languages classroom?

SCILT have compiled a range of online resources for use with your learners, from interactive advent calendars and games, to festive facts, songs and downloadable worksheets. Find out how Christmas is celebrated in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and many other places around the world!


30 November 2023 (eSgoil)

eSgoil's Subject Choices online workshops will run from 4 - 8 December. This is a week of live input to help students navigate the process of subject choices. Each day has a different focus, and Languages are the focus on Wednesday 6 December.

Visit the eSgoil website for full programme details and to register for the workshops.


28 November 2023 (BBC)

Teachers are using artificial intelligence (AI) to save time by "automating tasks", says a government report first seen by the BBC.

Adapting the reading age of texts, making handouts, and writing emails to parents were cited as popular uses, with a "small number" saying they used it for grading and feedback.

Teachers said it gave them more time to do "more impactful" work.

Ben Merritt, head of modern foreign languages at a Sheffield school, used artificial intelligence to help with preparing content for a lesson.


27 November 2023 (Seachdain na Gàidhlig)

The third World Gaelic Week will take place from the 19-25 February 2024. This is a ‘save the date’ and an invitation to think of ways in which to celebrate the language.

This year, Bòrd na Gàidhlig have once again enabled the Small Grants Fund to assist individuals and organisations in funding projects and events which will take place during Seachdain na Gàidhlig. The theme for 2024 is ‘Your Language. Your Opportunity’ and Seachdain na Gàidhlig is looking for projects / events that have this theme embedded at their core. Awards of up to £500 are available and we encourage you to consider applying if you feel you could benefit from some funding support for whatever you have planned. The guidelines can be found here and the application form here. Please note that the deadline is midnight on Sunday the 26th of November.

Seachdain na Gàidhlig is very much looking forward to Seachdain na Gàidhlig 2024 and hope you will be with us as we celebrate all things Gaelic! Please do get in touch if you will be organising an event or a project.

27 November 2023 (British Council)

Applications to be an English Language Assistant in 2024/25 are now open! 

Established in 1905, the British Council’s English Language Assistants (ELA) programme is a major UK mobility initiative that offers paid teaching placements abroad, providing the perfect opportunity to travel, teach and gain invaluable experiences along the way.  Every year we send around 2,000 English Language Assistants from the UK to support the teaching of English in 13 destinations around the world.

Living and working overseas is also a great way to enhance language learning and hone language skills. 

Visit the British Council website for full details and to register to join the free information webinar on 18 December.

Deadline for applications is 1 February 2024. 


27 November 2023 (Education Scotland)

In March 2022 the Scottish Government announced that the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) would be replaced with a new qualifications body. It also announced its intention to establish a new independent inspectorate whilst also needing to understand how best to align education inspection with the wider inspection system.

Find out more about Education Reform and Provisions on the Scottish Government website.

Two Education Bill Consultation Engagement Event will be held before the end of the year. Register through the links below:

Monday 4 December 16.30-17.45

Tuesday 12 December 16.30-17.45

27 November 2023 (University of Edinburgh)

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

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

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


27 November 2023 (The Herald)

The French, German, Spanish and Italian consulates in Scotland have written to the University of Aberdeen urging the institution not to proceed with proposed cuts to modern language degree courses.

A joint letter was sent ahead of the expected publication of plans this week which will outline the future of language courses at the university.

It is the second time in weeks that figures from European Union countries have intervened in the situation regarding the take up of languages in Scottish education.

Last week The Herald on Sunday revealed that the German Ambassador to the UK Miguel Berger raised his fears with the First Minister at the dramatic drop in pupils learning French and German in schools during a face to face meeting at Bute House at the end of October.

Responding to the article, the Scottish Government underlined its commitment to modern language teaching in schools. 

According to a BBC report today it is understood the withdrawal of honours degrees courses at the University of Aberdeen is an option being considered with the university saying it had seen falling demand for language degrees.


Related Articles

Aberdeen’s language degrees at risk (The PIE News, 27 November 2023)

University of Aberdeen modern languages 'unsustainable in current form' (BBC, 30 November 2023)

The Nine (BBC, 30 November 2023) - hear SCILT Director, Fhiona Mackay's response to the language degree closures at University of  Aberdeen, listen from 23:53 (note - only available until 10pm 1/12/23)

Scottish university considers scrapping all language degrees (STV, 1 December 2023)

25 November 2023 (The Courier)

It is the language that Courier columnist and Scots language expert Alistair Heather once described as the “partially submerged language of a partially submerged nation”.

Scots, known as the “mither tongue” is spoken by over 1.5 million people in Scotland, principally in the lowlands and northern isles.

It’s been the language used by government, kings and courts in Scotland, as well as by poets and playwrights like Rabbie Burns and Rona Munro.

Yet in the latter half of the 20th century, Scots began to be seen as vulgar, or common, and has been denigrated as ‘slang’ or ‘ned speak’.


Related Articles

Scots language grants available to Dundee, Tayside and Fife creatives (The Courier, 24 November 2023)

21 November 2023 (The Conversation)

Every day, millions of people start the day by posting a greeting on social media. None of them expect to be arrested for their friendly morning ritual.

But that’s exactly what happened to a Palestinian construction worker in 2017, when the caption “يصبحهم” (“good morning”) on his Facebook selfie was auto-translated as “attack them.”

A human Arabic speaker would have immediately recognized “يصبحهم” as an informal way to say “good morning”. Not so AI. Machines are notoriously bad at dealing with variation, a key characteristic of all human languages.

With recent advances in automated translation, the belief is taking hold that humans, particularly English speakers, no longer need to learn other languages. Why bother with the effort when Google Translate and a host of other apps can do it for us?

In fact, some Anglophone universities are making precisely this argument to dismantle their language programs.

Unfortunately, language technologies are nowhere near being able to replace human language skills and will not be able to do so in the foreseeable future because machine language learning and human language learning differ in fundamental ways.


21 November 2023 (EurekAlert / University of Florida)

People who speak two languages may be better at shifting their attention from one thing to another compared to those who speak one, according to a study published this month in the journal Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

The study examined differences between bilingual and monolingual individuals when it comes to attentional control and ignoring information that isn’t important at the time, said its authors Grace deMeurisse, a University of Florida Ph.D. candidate studying linguistics, and Edith Kaan, a UF professor in the department of linguistics.  

“Our results showed that bilinguals seem to be more efficient at ignoring information that's irrelevant, rather than suppressing — or inhibiting information,” deMeurisse said. “One explanation for this is that bilinguals are constantly switching between two languages and need to shift their attention away from the language not in use.” 


21 November 2023 (UK-German Connection)

UK teachers interested in visiting a German school in the spring or summer term of 2023-24 can now apply to take part in the UK-German Connection's Professional Enrichment Programme.

Successful applicants will receive a grant to help cover expenses for their in-person visit to a German school on the basis of a brief costing plan.

Visit the UK-German Connection website for more information about the programme and to apply by Friday 15 December 2023. You can also register for an online Q&A webinar taking place on Monday, 27 November, 4.30-5pm.


20 November 2023 (SecEd)

In an increasingly globalised and diverse world, the role of languages in supporting open communication, effective collaboration, and solving some of the world’s greatest shared challenges seems irrefutable.

Indeed, countless organisations have testified to the central role of international languages to the prosperity of the UK as a whole – economically, socially, and culturally (British Academy et al, 2020) – and yet, uptake of international languages at key curriculum stages continues to decline across the UK (Gorrara et al, 2020; Henderson & Carruthers, 2022).

With the belief that languages are more important now than they were 20 years ago, why are languages so overlooked by learners? And how can we, as practitioners, support a renewed and revitalised understanding of the critical role of languages?


20 November 2023 (University Council for Languages)

In the context of threats to Modern Languages degrees at the University of Aberdeen, an online postcard campaign has been launched.

The University of Aberdeen is facing a sudden major financial deficit, in the context of which it has announced that it intends to make ‘drastic changes’ to LLMVC (School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture), with a particular focus on Modern Languages. It has been indicated so far that the University will be committed to languages learning but is not necessarily aspiring to maintaining languages degrees (in French, Gaelic, German and Spanish).

Please support the Postcard Campaign to showcase to Senior Management at the University of Aberdeen all the reasons why an ancient university with an international outlook should keep language degrees.

Visit the University Council for Languages website to see how you can take part and disseminate.


20 November 2023 (SQA)

Every year SQA recruits approximately 11,000 teachers and lecturers as markers for the National Qualifications exam diet. Recruitment for the 2024 exams is currently underway, with opportunities available across all subjects and levels including languages.

SQA markers play a key role in supporting the exam diet, ensuring the consistent application of national standards. They gain valuable insight into SQA processes, procedures and national standards for a subject and level. It provides the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge, as well as allowing you to gather evidence for continuing professional development.

You can apply to be a marker if you are currently teaching the subject(s) you wish to mark and have been doing so for a minimum of two years. Full training will be provided.

To find out more about the marker role or apply, please visit the SQA website.


20 November 2023 (BBC)

The word game Scrabble has been made available in Gaelic for the first time.

The new edition features 18 characters, rather than 26, because the Gaelic alphabet does not use the letters J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y or Z.

The grave accent, a mark indicating that a letter should be pronounced a particular way, also appear on the vowels À, È, Ì, Ò and Ù.

Stornoway-based cultural centre and community café, An Taigh Cèilidh, worked with Tinderbox Games in London to license the Gaelic version of the game.


Related Articles

Gaelic Scrabble launched to help keep declining language alive in Scotland (The Guardian, 19 November 2023)

20 November 2023 (University of Glasgow)

Taster sessions in Japanese for senior phase students offered by the MFL unit, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Glasgow.

We are looking for schools which would be interested in our taster sessions in Japanese; we can deliver them on their own premises on Fridays in January and February 2024 (exact dates TBC). Our tutors will deliver one-hour sessions focusing on some basic aspects of the language and on cultural elements such as, for instance, traditional food, manga and anime. Some information about options in terms of learning Japanese at the University of Glasgow will also be provided. Please contact:

19 November 2023 (The Herald)

A senior European diplomat has urged the First Minister to help reverse the trend in the falling number of pupils in Scotland studying German and other languages.

The German Ambassador to the UK Miguel Berger raised his concerns with Humza Yousaf about the matter when he met him at Bute House in Edinburgh.

(Note - subscription required to access full article)


Related Articles

BBC Scotland Lunchtime Live (BBC, 20 November 2023) - hear SCILT Director, Fhiona Mackay's response on language learning and teaching in Scotland. (Listen from 1:20:54. Available until 17 December 2023).

12 September 2023 (SCILT)

We are delighted to be back again this year working together with e-Sgoil and DYW Live to deliver the Languages and Your Career webinar. In this session we will explore how languages can contribute to success in a wide range of jobs and career paths. This webinar aims to introduce secondary learners to the importance of languages and their associated skills in the workplace, break down stereotypes of careers that use languages, identify appropriate career pathways, and hear examples of people who use languages in their daily work. It will be an interactive session with input from people who use languages in their work.

The workshop will repeated each month on different days and times from September until January. The dates on offer are:

Tuesday 26th September: 2.00 – 3.00pm
Wednesday 25th October: 9.30 – 10.30am
Thursday 23rd November: 11.00am – 12.00pm
Monday 18th December: 9.30 – 10.30am
Tuesday 30th January: 2.00 – 3.00pm

All sessions will take place in Glow Teams.

This year, additional materials will be made available to teachers who attend the workshop with their classes to support further promotion of employability with individual languages. Watch this space!

For more information and registration details, visit the e-Sgoil website.


Related Articles

DYWLive workshops for primary learners - Make languages work for you

31 August 2023 (SCILT)

Are you a Secondary PGDE student, NQT or ECT of Languages? Would you like the chance to network informally with others in the same boat across the country to share ideas and strategies, and even to chat in other languages from time to time? Then come along to our new monthly drop-in sessions! These will take place online on the last Thursday of each month, starting in September.

Dates are as follows:

  • Thursday 28 September 4.30 – 5.30pm
  • Thursday 26 October 4.30 – 5.30pm
  • Thursday 30 November 4.30 – 5.30pm
  • Thursday 25 January 4.30 – 5.30pm
  • Thursday 29 February 4.30 – 5.30pm
  • Thursday 28 March 4.30 – 5.30pm
  • Thursday 25 April 4.30 – 5.30pm
  • Thursday 30 May 4.30 – 5.30pm

These sessions will take place on Corporate Teams. Visit our Eventbrite page to book; see you there!


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