Scottish Social Attitudes Survey: Attitudes towards language learning in schools in Scotland
- Most people in Scotland (89%) think that learning a language other than English in school from the age of five is important. This was regardless of people’s age, educational qualifications, or socio-economic status.
- The most common languages that people in Scotland think are appropriate for children in their area to learn are Western European languages.
Scottish Government's commitment and ambition for language learning and teaching in Scotland's schools
Dr Allan's video message for the Language Leaders Summit at Westminster (October 2014). He outlines the Scottish Government's commitment and ambition for language learning and teaching in Scotland's schools.
You can also read the transcript of Dr Allan's speech.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Modern Languages meets six times a year to discuss a wide range of issues relating to languages and their place in the policy discussions of the day. It also acts to gather evidence and write to ministers and other key figures, when the need arises, to draw attention to key issues.
Excellence Groups were established to consider what makes for excellence in subjects, and in skills development, across learning. The Groups met a number of times in autumn 2010. This is the final report from the Modern Languages Excellence Group.
Key messages on languages:
- Senior Management in Local Authorities and schools need to be made aware of the benefits and the myths of language learning so that they can create the right kind of ethos and structures.
- Decision–makers in Local Authorities and in schools have a responsibility to ensure that MLPS is given the secure place it deserves in the primary school.
- Schools have to ensure that Modern Languages remain part of the broad general education. Most learners will need a solid base and appropriate gradient of progression from P6 (at the latest) to the end of S3.
- Modern Languages lend themselves naturally to cross-curricular activities and have a unique contribution to make to both International Education and to Literacy.
- External Partnerships both at home and abroad greatly enhance the relevance and enjoyment of Modern Languages.
- The target languages should be used in lessons and throughout the school as much as possible.
- Teachers should take an eclectic approach to methodology, vary classroom activities and teaching materials, and use ICT in a meaningful way.
Key data on teaching languages at school in EuropeKey messages:
- Children are starting to learn foreign languages at an increasingly early age in Europe, with most pupils beginning when they are 6-9 years old.
- The amount of teaching time students receive has not significantly increased. Indeed, teaching time dedicated to foreign languages is rather low compared to other subjects.
- An increasing number of pupils now learn two languages for at least one year during compulsory education.
- English is by far the most taught foreign language in nearly all European countries, with French, Spanish, German and Russian following far behind.
At its meeting on 20 October, the Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee (EERC) agreed to undertake an inquiry into the Scottish Government proposal to increase foreign language learning in primary schools. This proposal puts forward plans to introduce the teaching of at least one second language from the first year of primary school onwards. The inquiry was concluded with an event at the Scottish Parliament on 10th May 2013.
First European survey on language competences
- Almost nine out of ten EU citizens believe that the ability to speak foreign languages is very useful and 98% say that mastering languages will be good for the future of their children.
- However, tests carried out among teenage pupils in 14 European countries show that only 42% are competent in their first foreign language and just 25% in their second. A significant number, 14% in the case of the first foreign language and 20% in the second, do not achieve even the level of 'basic user'.
- More than half of Europeans (53%) use languages at work and 45% think they got a better job in their own country thanks to their foreign language skills.
- Almost three quarters (72%) agree that at least two foreign languages should be taught from a very early age and 77% believe it should be a political priority.
- The number of Europeans who say they can communicate in a foreign language has fallen slightly, from 56% to 54%.
- The number of Europeans who regularly use foreign languages on the internet, through social media for example, has increased by 10 percentage points, from 26% to 36%.
- In accordance with the EU population, the most widely spoken mother tongue is German (16%), followed by Italian and English (13% each), French (12%), then Spanish and Polish (8% each).
- Just over half of Europeans (54%) are able to hold a conversation in at least one additional language, a quarter (25%) are able to speak at least two additional languages and one in ten (10%) are conversant in at least three.
- Countries where respondents are least likely to be able to speak any foreign language are Hungary (65%), Italy (62%), the UK and Portugal (61% in each), and Ireland (60%).
- The five most widely spoken foreign languages remain English (38%), French (12%), German (11%), Spanish (7%) and Russian (5%).
- 88% of Europeans think that knowing languages other than their mother tongue is very useful.
- Two thirds of Europeans (67%) consider English as one of the two most useful languages for themselves followed by German (17%), French (16%), Spanish (14%) and Chinese (6%).
- 98% of Europeans consider mastering other foreign languages as useful for the future of their children.
- More than seven in ten (72%) Europeans agree that people in the EU should be able to speak more than one language in addition to their mother tongue.
Conclusions of the European Council Meeting, Barcelona
In what became known as the 'Barcelona agreement' the Council called for further action' to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age' and ‘establishment of a linguistic competence indicator in 2003'.