Latest News

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

Latest News

2 July 2020 (BBC)

Gaelic-speaking island communities could vanish within 10 years unless language policies are changed dramatically, according to a new study.

Researchers said daily use of Gaelic was too low in its remaining native island areas to sustain it as a community language in the future.

They have called for a shift away from institutional policies to more community-based efforts.

The study surveyed Gaelic communities in the Western Isles, Skye and Tiree.

The Scottish government said Gaelic was a vital part of Scotland's cultural identity and it was interested in the proposals set out in the new study.


29 June 2020 (Press and Journal)

From the age of 10 Finlay Macleod was fascinated with languages – how they are formed, how they are spoken and what they represent.

Today dozens of tongues across the world continue to be spoken due to the work the linguist has done to help keep them alive.

For weeks at a time the Western Isles native, who runs the Moray Language Centre from his home in Portessie near Buckie, travels to the US and Canada to work with indigenous groups to teach techniques about sustaining one of the most sacred parts of their culture.

Some have blossomed again from being spoken by as few as 10 people in remote locations, while others have grown from hundreds to communities of thousands that have spanned entire regions.

The projects the 65-year-old runs with the worldwide Indigenous Language Institute are on top of the work he does to grow Gaelic in Scotland through nursery classes and immersive experiences – a move he says is in opposition to the UK school curriculum for leaning new tongues remaining rooted in centuries-old traditions.


25 June 2020 (SCILT/Education Scotland/eSgoil)

New support announced today (Thursday 25 June) will increase the availability of online learning across different subjects and support digital inclusion across Scotland.

Education Scotland will expand its close working with e-Sgoil, who will train a number of additional teachers from local authorities to provide online lessons which learners in the senior phase across Scotland can access via Glow. These online lessons will help to support and augment the work of classroom teachers across the country in their local arrangements for schools reopening on 11 August and also for reinforcing learning.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney outlined the partnership offer to develop a strong national e-learning provision in his update to Parliament on Tuesday 23 June. Under the plans, developed in partnership by e-Sgoil, Education Scotland, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland and Scottish Government, all local authorities and schools in Scotland will be able to access live lessons on a range of subjects, and will take shared ownership for delivering these.

A rich and varied range of lessons will be taught live by these experienced and qualified educators, all with national safeguarding checks, and will be recorded to ensure that pupils have further opportunities to learn. This will increase the availability of learning opportunities for pupils, with a focus initially on lessons to help those following national qualification courses in the senior phase. Partners are working to ensure that a wide range of certificated courses in both English and Gaelic medium education will be available to learners in the senior phase from 11 August 2020.

Since the school closures Education Scotland, the national improvement agency for education, has been working closely with local authorities, teachers and parents to support the education system in a number of ways. This includes creating a well-received online resource bank of learning activities aimed at a variety of ages, introducing new newsletters for parents and educators, and delivering a range of very popular webinars and support sessions for practitioners to support young people to continue with their learning and make progress.

E-Sgoil was established in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in 2016 to provide a wider and more equitable choice of subjects for pupils, to support the expansion of Gaelic medium education and develop a network of staff who are able to deliver online learning in all subject areas throughout Scotland. During the current term and school closures, e-Sgoil extended its offer to schools across Scotland and many learners benefited. This new offer will build further on that development, involving more local authorities, schools and teachers.

Gayle Gorman, HM Chief Inspector and Chief Executive of Education Scotland, said:

“Education Scotland will play an integral role in the national plan published by the First Minister to reopen Scotland’s schools, and we have been working closely with our partners to consider the best ways to help support continuity in young people’s learning in Term 4 and the new session ahead.

“The development we have announced with our partners today offers a coordinated online approach to supporting all local authorities and schools with opportunities to learn at home and, as the Deputy First Minister stated in his update to Parliament, will deliver a strong national e-learning provision. This will ensure that a range of high quality online lessons is available on a national basis to support in-home learning in the senior phase and to complement schools’ and teachers’ own local arrangements for young people.

“Learners will be able to access this e-learning via Glow, our online learning environment, which continues to support learning outside of the classroom by enabling learners and teachers to access tools and features at any time, on any device with an internet connection.”

Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education and Children’s Services, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “eSgoil, over recent weeks, has expanded its provision and is currently supporting approximately 3,500 students. The opportunity to work with all Scottish Local Authorities, Education Scotland, Scottish Government and partners to provide a national on-line school will enable eSgoil to deliver, across a wide range of subjects, a more comprehensive curriculum and accreditation offer at both Primary and Secondary School level. eSgoil will continue to support and complement Local Authorities to provide a more flexible and personalised curriculum offer for learners. I am confident that this approach to learning will become a permanent feature of Scottish Education.”

Carrie Lindsay, Executive Director for Education & Children’s Services, Fife Council and President of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) said: “ADES is delighted to be able to lead on a National offer of e-learning to support our learners across Scotland as schools reopen from August. Working in partnership with Education Scotland and Scottish Government will allow access to resources to scale up the existing esgoil and SCHOLAR offer for the benefit of our children and young people.

“It's good to see the pioneering work that started in our island communities be able to support our work across Scotland, Esgoil has worked well in the more remote and Northerly parts of Scotland, it now has the opportunity to support far beyond any geographical parameters.”

Education Secretary John Swinney said:

“While the clear ambition and intention is to see all pupils return to school full-time in August, blended learning is a contingency that we may still need to enact. The new national e-learning provision from eSgoil and Education Scotland will enable pupils in the senior phase to access a broad range of high quality lessons devised by qualified teachers trained in online learning.

“These new online lessons – as well as the 70,000 laptops we are giving to children and young people who need them the most – will help to support and augment the work being done by classroom teachers across the country.”

Dr Bill Beveridge, Director of SCHOLAR, said: “Using an approach refined through their years’ of experience in supporting remote learners, e-Sgoil have demonstrated just how effectively, with access to high-quality online course materials, a thriving online learning community can be created. The techniques they have developed allow young people to take full advantage of the benefits that digital learning technology can bring whilst also placing a high premium on the importance of developing and maintaining supportive teacher-learner relationships.”

[SCHOLAR is the not-for-profit partnership between the Association of Directors of Education for Scotland and Heriot-Watt University that provides online learning resources to support blended and independent learning for over 150,000 learners attending schools and colleges throughout Scotland.]

Fhiona Mackay, Director of SCILT, Scotland’s National centre for Languages, said: “Working with e-Sgoil over the period of school closure has given SCILT the unique opportunity to support the learning of thousands of youngsters across the country from P1-S6. We’ve been able to provide them with high quality real time teaching that has either supported the work provided by their schools or encouraged them to use the time to learn a new, lesser-taught language that wouldn’t otherwise have been offered to them. It has been a very positive and rewarding experience, giving SCILT staff a new set of skills that we can share with the profession and a much deeper understanding of how effective online teaching can be.”

Daniel Barrie, Education and Learning Manager at Keep Scotland Beautiful, commented: “Lockdown has led us to completely transform our environmental education programmes and we have been delighted to work with E-Sgoil and other partner organisations to deliver online, real time, interactive teaching courses directly to young people and teachers across the country. We have been thrilled with the positive response and uptake for the courses we offered during term four. We look forward to building on this and supporting the return to school.

“As we ease out of lockdown, environmental education has never been more important and we are keen to enable young people to understand the importance of climate change and the ways in which they can contribute towards a green recovery.”


Notes to Editors

National e-Learning provision

Partners are working together to offer learners in the senior phase a wide range of certificated courses in both English and Gaelic medium from August 2020. This builds on the success of national pilots already made available by e-Sgoil during the Term 4 lockdown to schools across Scotland. The range of courses offered nationally will be refined and updated as e-Sgoil works with local authorities to train a number of additional teachers.

Subjects from August 2020 - English medium


Business Management

Business Skills (Foundation Apprenticeship)

Children & Young People (Foundation Apprenticeship)

Computing Science


Food & Drink Technologies (Foundation Apprenticeship)




Health & Social Care (Foundation Apprenticeship)


Home Economics

IT (Software) (Foundation Apprenticeship)







Subjects from August 2020 – Gaelic Medium

Children & Young People (Foundation Apprenticeship)

Creative & Digital Media (Foundation Apprenticeship)

24 June 2020 (The Herald)

It seemed to be on a one-way road to extinction but now signs of a revival are emerging.

The number of people looking to take online lessons in Gaelic has surged to a record high since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, new data shows.

MG ALBA, the Gaelic media service, said that over 114,000 unique users accessed the LearnGaelic website between March 23 and June 2.


24 June 2020 (BBC)

Eurostar staff furloughed during the lockdown are helping London schools with online French lessons.

Rail staff not currently working, including train drivers, have volunteered to help pupils learning at home online.

Only a limited number of Eurostar's services to France and Belgium are running - and about 30 staff have been helping with French lessons.


17 June 2020 (British Council)

Inspired by Refugee Week’s 20 Simple Acts campaign, we’ve created a homework challenge to help your pupils find out more about the lives of migrants and refugees, show support, and celebrate the contributions they make to societies around the world. The pack offers the chance to explore other cultures and languages.


17 June 2020 (The Guardian)

A unique platform lets teachers from Venezuela to Syria to Burundi earn a living teaching their language online.

Louisa Waugh and Ghaith Alhallak have met for language lessons in seven countries. “We counted it up the other day,” says Waugh, recalling the list of places from which she has video-called Alhallak: Britain, Mali, Senegal and Greece. Alhallak has answered from Lebanon, France and Italy, where he is now studying for a master’s degree in political science at the University of Padua.

“You just need a connection,” he says.

The 770 students and 64 teachers at NaTakallam - “we speak” in Arabic – conduct their lessons entirely online, allowing refugees to speak to students who might not otherwise have contact with displaced people. The service also circumvents restrictions on work for refugees and asylum seekers in their new countries of residence, which means they can earn money.

“I really see it as solving two problems,” says one of NaTakallam’s founders, Aline Sara. “Refugees need access to an income, but with no work permit they’re often stuck in limbo. Yet they have innate talents within them in the form of their language, their story and culture, while so many people want flexible language practice,” she says. “There’s an idea that people always want to train and help refugees, but really they can help us.”


17 June 2020 (University of Dundee)

Registration for the 2020-22 cohort of the Graduate Diplomas in French, German and Spanish by Distance Learning of the University of Dundee is now open until 11 September 2020.

These 2 years online Graduate Diplomas by Distance Learning for part-time study are accredited by the General Teaching Council for Scotland. They are ideally suited for Secondary MFL teachers seeking an additional qualification in French, German or Spanish.

'A must for any modern languages teacher.' (Diploma student)

They aim to provide the challenge of an undergraduate curriculum in the relevant practical language. They carry a rating of 120 SCOTCAT points (SCQF Levels 9-10). The qualification outcome is bench-marked at C1 in the Council of Europe Reference Framework for Languages. Applicants will normally have a pass in Higher the relevant language (or equivalent, such as the Dundee Intensive/Revision languages courses by distance-learning).

At the University of Dundee, we have a long-established tradition of language teaching, both with students at the University and via distance learning. We use a combination of online tools to give students a range of experiences in the language. Experienced staff are responsible for the course design, delivery and student support.

'I myself am a language teacher. I have been teaching English in Japan for the last 9 years, so it is with a teacher’s perspective in mind that I tell you that the preparation, delivery and assessment of this diploma was excellent.' (French Diploma student)

'The materials were totally relevant as I need the course for teaching and the topics match that very well. I really enjoyed doing the course and would think about doing it for French (down the road)!' (German Diploma student)

'The course is very interesting with its amazing variety of tasks from different domains in different forms and it has opened my eyes to a brand new world so rich with talented people, their literature and arts. Thank you so much for working so hard in making the whole experience so fulfilling and enriching.' (Spanish Diploma student)

For more information visit the Dundee University website or to discuss any aspects of the course or your application, please contact Claire Nicoll 


12 June 2020 (iNews)

With travel limited and schools closed, our ability to speak to the world is under threat.

When learning a new language, you begin with the words you would normally need every day: words for meeting people, going to cafés and restaurants, asking for the way to the station. Now – in a world where a summer holiday, let alone living abroad, feels like a fading possibility – that rule seems ironic.

While terms like self-isolation and social distancing have become basic vocabulary in English, those classic foreign phrases have evoked a strange sort of wanderlust, tainted by a festering frustration.

With millions of pupils now staying at home until September at the earliest – language degrees and lessons could be among the most disrupted – and foreign travel affected for the foreseeable future, it is vital our ability to talk to the world does not turn into another casualty of coronavirus.


9 June 2020 (Institut français)

The French and African online film festival, « IFcinéma à la carte » is free and open to all.

From Friday 12 June to Monday 13 July 2020, 11 short films and 10 feature films from France and Africa are available online, free of charge and without registration.

The films are subtitled in various languages (English and Spanish at least as well as, in some cases, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, etc.) and accessible worldwide.

Visit the website for more information about the programme.


4 June 2020 (German Embassy)

The deadline for nominations for this year's German Teacher Award has been extended to 30 September 2020.

So if you know of an outstanding German language teacher at your primary or secondary school – make sure that their dedication and excellence get the recognition they deserve!

Please note, pupils and teachers themselves cannot submit a nomination. This must come from the headteacher.

Visit the German Embassy website for more information and to make your nomination.


21 April 2020 (Open University/SCILT)

Registration for the next cohort of the ‘Teachers Learning to Teach Languages’ programme is open until 4 September 2020.

This innovative, distance learning professional learning programme is offered by the Open University in partnership with SCILT. The new cohort begins in September and lasts 9 months. TELT is open to all primary teachers, and secondary teachers with a secondment in primary, across Scotland. Typically, Scottish local authorities sponser their teachers, however a small number of previous participants have financed themselves. Find more information about funding on the 'How to register for TELT' webpage.

The aim of the programme is to increase and improve language provision in primary schools. Teachers simultaneously learn a new language and the skills to teach that language in the classroom. The languages strand is offered in four languages – French, German, Mandarin and Spanish – and at two levels – beginners and post-beginners. The pedagogy strand covers a diverse range of pedagogical approaches i.e. embedding an additional language, exploring target language cultures, play and games, interdisciplinary contexts.

What’s the course really like though? Listen to what Mel and Gwen, two previous participants have to say.

Visit the Open University website for more information about the programme and how to register for the TELT cohort of 2020-21.


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