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New job profile on SCILT's website

18 August 2017 (SCILT)

The job profiles on our website cover a range of professions where languages are being used.

Our latest addition comes from Emma Gallacher, whose language skills have taken her from Scotland to the Costa Blanca, where she now works as receptionist for an established Real Estate firm. She firmly believes learning the language has enabled her to settle and integrate into the Spanish way of life.

Teachers use our profiles in the classroom to enhance learning about the world of work and how language skills can play a part.

Read more...

Funding for Gaelic Centre

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.

Read more...

A-level results 2017: Decline in entries for arts and languages 'makes mockery of social mobility claims'

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".

Read more...

A-level results show first rise in top grades in six years

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.

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New hub for e-Sgoil virtual Gaelic school opened in North Uist

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.

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Number of top grades awarded in language A-levels increases amid decline in students taking French and German

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.

Read more...

'The Smart Choice: German' schools network

15 August 2017 (Goethe-Institut)

The Goethe-Institut is accepting applications to join the schools' network 'The Smart Choice: German'.

In 2016 the Goethe-Institut set up 19 Digital German Networks in the United Kingdom. It is now looking to build on this success and to identify further networks of secondary and/or primary schools that have the intention to start, facilitate and strengthen the teaching of German. 

At least three schools need to build a network. The lead partner can apply for the funding with the Goethe-Institut. It can be a secondary school supporting feeder schools or a cluster of primary schools reaching out to a secondary school teaching German. It can also be three primary schools in one area wanting to make a start with German or already having started with it.

Visit the Goethe-Institut website to find out more and to apply by 30 September 2017.

Read more...

Beyond the Panda programme for schools

15 August 2017 (RZSS)

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) Beyond the Panda programme has been further revised and contains some new materials, in particular the new P1-P3 panda boxes. 

The programme now has two main parts:

  1. China Mobile Library - loan of the panda boxes followed by an expert visit
  2. Outreach workshops - Education Officer led workshops

See the attached brochure for full details of the Beyond the Panda programme. 

There's also an opportunity for schools to book a Beyond the Panda special event at Edinburgh Zoo during 'The Giant Lanterns of China' installation between December 2017 and February 2018. The session will include whole class interactive activities and Mandarin language games. See more information and how to book on The Giant Lanterns of China brochure attached.

You can also visit the website for more information about the RZSS and its activities.

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Braehead Primary School Stirling - Getting to grips with languages!

15 August 2017 (SCILT/CISS/Braehead PS)

The children of Braehead Primary have been making languages come alive through a collaborative project with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) at Stirling Castle. This project saw P5 pupils working in groups on a number of different tasks. The end result was a virtual tour of Stirling Castle in Chinese, signage in Chinese, language training for castle tour guides and maps of the castle in Chinese. Learners' literacy skills benefited from the project, and their understanding about the world of work increased.

You can see the film in Chinese, set within the castle walls, on the school’s YouTube channel. The film will be entered for the British Film Festival awards in London in October.

The project had a positive impact on the wider school community.  The school has recently launched a Chinese character challenge. This is a whole-school competition where one character a week is introduced on their interactive wall in the dining hall – highly visible to all. At the end of term, pupils and teachers will take part in a quiz based on these characters with Chinese-themed prizes up for the taking! Pupils continue to produce language podcasts in Chinese and other languages. The podcasts can be accessed via the Braehead Primary Languages Café on the school’s website.

There are six classes at Braehead learning Chinese as L3 from P4 to P6. The P5s are the trailblazers and have been learning the language for nearly two years.

Read the full case study of the project for replicable ideas for your own school context to support partnership working and help your school deliver on Developing the Young Workforce.


photo of Braehead PS Stirling Castle project wall displayBraehead PS What I have learnt wall display

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French classes in Edinburgh

15 August 2017 (Institut français)

The Institut français d'Ecosse is enrolling for their autumn classes commencing September 2017.

Classes and workshops are offered for all ages (toddlers to adults), from complete beginners to fluent speakers.

Visit the website for more information and to enrol.

Read more...

Concours de la francophonie 2017 - final report

15 August 2017 (Institut français)

The Concours de la francophonie was launched in 2016 by the Institut français d'Ecosse to showcase the vitality of the French language in Scottish schools and to encourage all learners from P1 to S6.

To enter the competition schools sent in a short film of a class activity in French.

See the attached document for full details of the 2017 competition, winners and photographs.

Scotland enjoys tourism boost thanks to interest in Gaelic

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.

Read more...

Magical Christmas Trips 2017

15 August 2017 (UK-German Connection)

Would you like to take part in a Magical Christmas Trip this year and build on or set up a partnership with a school in Germany?

These visits offer primary pupils the chance to get a taste of Germany at Christmas time, meet their German peers and get involved in some seasonal intercultural activity. Secondary pupils have the opportunity to brush up on their German and practice their skills as young leaders.

There are two options for getting involved:
  • apply to take part in a visit to Berlin run by UK-German Connection to set up a link to a school in Germany
  • apply for funding and organisational support to run your own Christmas visit to an existing partner school anywhere in Germany
To find out more, please visit the UK-German Connection's website and apply by 26 September 2017.

Read more...

French drama workshops

15 August 2017 (Theatre sans Accents)

Whether you want to perfect your French or your English, Theatre Sans Accents has the right workshop to suit your needs and your level!

No need to be fluent or an experienced actor, everyone is welcomed in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere!

Bookings are now being taken for Autumn term classes, with early bird discounts available.

Follow the appropriate link below to find out more about classes for adults and children:

For children:

For adults:

You can find out more about Theatre sans Accents and their other activities on the website.

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Autumn term French classes

14 August 2017 (Alliance Française)

French classes for adults and children will start at the Alliance Française in Glasgow on 11 September 2017.

Visit the website for full details and to find out about Open Days where you can visit, meet staff and have your language level assessed to establish the best course for you.

Read more...

German workshops in Glasgow

11 August 2017 (Goethe-Institut)

The Goethe-Institut in Glasgow is offering workshops in August and September focusing on speaking and practising communication in authentic everyday situations. There are sessions available for Levels A1.2-A2.2 and B1/B2.

Visit the website for more information and to book.

Read more...

Foreign languages set for less ‘harsh grading’

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.

Read more...

Gaelic school planned for Edinburgh as demand soars

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.

Read more...

Languages under pressure after fall in pupils taking German and French

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.

Read more...

Related Links

'Disappointing' decline in pupils sitting Gaelic qualifications (The Herald, 10 August 2017)

Top marks for pupil who attended three Glasgow schools

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.

Read more...

Bilingual babies can distinguish between languages before they are two, study reveals

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.

Read more...

Scottish MSPs warn of narrow curriculum as uptake of creative subjects declines

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%.

Read more...

No more music, Spanish or engineering: parents angry at cuts to GCSEs

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.

Read more...

Pupils who learn in second language ‘catch up on listening skills within a year'

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".

Read more...

British Sign Language will count as 'foreign language' for university applicants

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.

Read more...

Slump in foreign language students sparks fear for UK competitiveness

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, warned that if the UK is to remain globally competitive in the wake of Brexit it needs more young people to be learning languages.

Read more...

Glasgow's elderly combat dementia symptoms with fun foreign language classes

4 August 2017 (Glasgow Live)

A Glasgow based organisation is blazing a trail in the battle against dementia faced by Glasgow’s elderly population.

Lingo Flamingo, based in Govan, is the world’s first non-profit organisation that provides outreach foreign language classes tailored to older adults.

It is currently launching a drive for more students, enlisting the use of their pink flamingo mascot to help spread the word to places across Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

Their 10 week foreign language workshops are provided in German, Italian, Spanish and French and take place in care homes, sheltered accommodation and day centres across the city.

Read more...

Language immersion in Australian schools

4 August 2017 (ABC News)

Video report from ABC News on South Australia's Department for Education and Child Development's (DECD) language immersion programmes in schools.

The news story highlights that in just six months students at two schools have immersed themselves in the French and Chinese language.

See the video online on the DECD Facebook page, or read an earlier published news item 'Adelaide schools finding success with bilingual classes in French and Chinese' on the policy (ABC, 23 June 2017).

Read more...

Shy holiday Britons 'point at menus' to avoid foreign words

4 August 2017 (BBC)

Over half of Britons who holiday abroad say they have pointed at a restaurant menu to avoid having to pronounce non-English words, a survey suggests.

And almost half said they were embarrassed at not being able to speak the local language while away.

But 80% of more than 1,700 people questioned for the British Council felt it was important to learn some phrases.

"Trying out a few words is the perfect way to get started," said Vicky Gough, British Council schools advisor.

The Populus survey found 37% of British holidaymakers always tried to speak a few words in the local language but 29% said they were too scared to try.

It also found that 36% felt guilty at asking locals to speak English, while:
  • 56% resorted to pointing at menus
  • 45% relied on the assumption that all locals would speak English
  • 42% spoke English more slowly and loudly
  • 15% even tried speaking English in a foreign accent
A minority (15%) admitted to being so unwilling to try pronouncing words from other languages that they would only eat in British or fast food restaurants while overseas, rather than sampling local cuisine.

A similar number said they preferred staying in self-contained resorts to avoid local culture.

Read more...

Parents 'key' to securing future of Gaelic in Scotland

3 August 2017 (BBC)

The future of Gaelic in Scotland could be down to parents - even if they do not speak the language themselves, according to researchers.

The University of Strathclyde said increased use of a language at home was a "first step" in its use in wider society.

Researchers surveyed 236 parents and children on the Isle of Lewis and on Sardinia.

The study included speakers and non-speakers of Gaelic and Sardinian.

Three quarters of respondents felt speaking a minority language was equally important to speaking their national tongue.

Dr Fraser Lauchlan, of the University of Strathclyde's School of Psychological Sciences and Health, said: "Previous research from more than two decades ago found that there was almost a level of embarrassment about speaking such languages and they were discouraged for many years.

"It is only in recent times that there has been a re-emergence of the importance placed on these languages - possibly because of a better understanding of the benefits that being bilingual can bring, but also because of their promotion at national or regional level by governments, including the specific introduction of legislation."

He suggested parents could encourage their children to read and to watch TV programmes in a minority language, which may even lead to them learning it themselves.

Read more...

Related Links

Parents may hold the key to securing the future of Gaelic (The National, 3 August 2017)

Parents' encouragement could keep Gaelic alive (Press and Journal, 3 August 2017)

Future of Gaelic lies with non-speakers, study finds (The Herald, 4 August 2017)

These are the languages employers want most - and how much it could add to your salary

2 August 2017 (Birmingham Mail / The Mirror)

A new study has found the most lucrative foreign languages for British workers to learn.

Apparently, Japanese and the Chinese languages offer average salaries of more than £31,000 for those who can speak them.

Adzuna compiled the study to mark the anniversary of the Brexit vote.

And researchers uncovered the languages most in demand by UK employers, alongside how much they are willing to pay for them.

A growing interest in non-European languages was revealed, with Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Russian all featuring in the UK's top 10 most wanted languages, according to the Mirror.

Read more...

Which language should we teach in school?

2 August 2017 (MEITS blog)

Increasing motivation for language learning in UK schools and encouraging children to maintain their languages study past the point at which they have the chance to stop is an ongoing challenge. One important question here is: to what extent are success and motivation linked to the particular language pupils study?

The myth of the monolingual Brit, who refuses to speak foreign languages, has been supplemented in recent years by the narrative that we are not only unwilling, but also unable to speak foreign languages. For example, the 2012 European Survey on Language Competences, which sought to provide comparable data on standards of achievement in 15-year old learners across 16 participating countries, showed pupils in England languishing at the bottom of the table, where the learning of the first foreign language (French) was concerned.

The figures, however, tell a slightly different story when we consider the learning of the second foreign language. For example, Sweden, which had topped the charts for English proficiency, languished at the bottom when it came to the learning of the second foreign language (Spanish); learners in English secondary schools who were studying German as a second language did better.

Leaving aside the difficulty of providing robust data from such surveys, this study provides support for the idea that the language learned really does matter. Motivation for English learning is so strong in most parts of the world that for many learners it is now a life skill as much as a foreign language. Motivation for studying the second and third foreign languages, however, can be as difficult to achieve in other parts of the world as it is for the first in our own setting.

In Europe and the rest of the world English’s position as the foreign language of choice remains unassailable. For example, the 2017 Eurodice Report, which provides key data on teaching languages at school in Europe, reports that in 2014 virtually all EU students (97.3 %) studied English during the entire period of lower secondary education. After that came French (33.7 %), German (23.1 %) and Spanish (19.1 %), with other languages rarely studied.

The question of which language should we teach our learners in England remains a source of debate.

Read more...

Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme

1 August 2017 (Japan Foundation)

The Japan Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme exists to create links between schools and Japanese-speaking volunteers. JTS volunteers carry out school visits across the UK to introduce students at any level to the Japanese language, often as part of an International or Japan day. One of the main purposes of JTS is to give schools that do not teach Japanese the opportunity to find out what it is like to learn the language and to provide them with further information should they wish to start offering Japanese. More information about the programme can be found on the Japan Foundation website.

Japan Foundation London currently has a UK-wide network of over 300 volunteers, and are always looking for more! Guidance and training sessions are offered to all members to prepare them for delivering Japanese taster sessions at schools. The next Volunteer Training Day will take place in London on 12 September 2017. If you speak Japanese and are interested in becoming part of the volunteer network, find out more and book your place now!

Read more...

UK students ‘may be barred from Erasmus after Brexit’

1 August 2017 (THE)

Erasmus, the world's largest student exchange scheme, is celebrating its 30th birthday.

With more than three million participants since 1987, it is one of the best known and most successful policies of the European Union. 

Now including adult learners, vocational students and those on work placements, in addition to university students, it has created an “Erasmus generation”, having been responsible for more than a million babies born from couples who met as part of the scheme.

About 16,000 UK students now spend a semester or a year abroad as part of Erasmus every year. France, Spain and Germany remain the most popular destinations for these students, reflecting the traditional emphasis on students taking modern language or combination degrees. However, many universities across continental Europe now offer modules in English, which has helped to increase the number of UK students able to participate who do not have prior language skills. As students strive to add distinctiveness to their CVs, the number of UK participants has increased.

In addition, the UK is one of the most popular destinations for European students, with these study placements becoming part of Britain's cultural and educational ‘soft power’ by creating thousands of de-facto UK alumni across Europe.

However, while the House of Commons Education Committee believes that “continued membership of Erasmus+ would be the best outcome for the UK”, its future participation was not mentioned in the government’s recent White Paper.  The government has only committed itself to considering future participation.

The question therefore is “can the UK continue to be part of it post-Brexit?”

Since Erasmus is a programme of the European Union and established by EU law, the initial answer is no.

However, as with everything else, all depends on the exit agreement between the UK and EU before the UK leaves in March 2019. It may be that the UK continues to be a part of the scheme up to the end of the current programme (2014-2020) with future involvement subject to a separate agreement.

Read more...

From Brexit to Scandi-noir: The Importance of Modern Foreign Languages

31 July 2017 (AHRC)

Many of us will be familiar with the sight of groups of young language students in UK cities over the summer months. Their excitement at being abroad away from their parents often for the first time is obvious. In 2016, he International Association of Language Centres (IALC) reported that there were 2.28 million language students travelling abroad each year, with English language travel making up around 61% of this market.

Whilst these language-learners only represented 0.25% of second language learners across the entire globe, most travelled to English-speaking countries to learn English. If the motivation for learning English in our increasing globalised world is clear, the British often struggle to appreciate the reasons for learning another language.

“The headline news for Modern Languages recently has not been good, with decreasing numbers of entrants at A-level and a number of university departments under threat of closure or severe contraction", said Wendy Ayres-Bennett, Professor of French Philology and Linguistics from the University of Cambridge.

In response to this national concern and its global implications, the AHRC has committed £16m to research in modern foreign languages (MFL) in its Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) project. Its aim is to explore and understand the language learning landscape of the UK, and how it might be transformed.

As part of OWRI, the AHRC has invested in four major research programmes, one of which is Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS). Alongside her responsibilities at Cambridge, Prof Ayres-Bennett is Principal Investigator for the MEITS project.

“I think that in the current political climate of Brexit and of extensive migration, the need to learn modern foreign languages has arguably never been more important", says Prof Ayres-Bennett.

“I believe that there are huge benefits from being able to step outside a single language, culture and mode of thought", explains Prof Ayres-Bennett. "It enables you to see the world through other people’s eyes".

Prof Ayres-Bennett argues that the ability to speak another language is valuable to many different areas of society. "Whether we think of international relations, diplomacy, security and defence, or areas such as conflict-resolution and peace-building, or, crucially today, business, international trade, and social cohesion, all of these have languages at their heart."

Linguists are needed to provide vital translation and interpreting services. However, the need for direct communication between parties was well demonstrated by the experience of the British military in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prof Ayres-Bennett also thinks that through reading literature in the language in which it was written, we can begin to see the world through the linguistic categories and worldview of its speakers.

"The gradual opening up of new worlds and the move from incomprehension to being able to make sense of another language and culture can be truly magical ”, says Prof Ayres-Bennett.

Scandi noir dramas have become very popular and one of the biggest hits of the year has been the Spanish language song 'Despacito'. Many young people in Europe improve their English through listening to music and watching films in English so that they no longer need to depend on subtitles.“TV and the internet increasingly provide opportunities for people to view foreign language material and to learn about other cultures.”

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‘Worrying’ fall in pupils taking foreign languages

31 July 2017 (The Scotsman)

Scotland has seen a “worry-
ing” fall in the number of pupils studying languages, it has emerged.

There are now fears that the next generation will not be equipped to deal with the demands of the global 
economy.

There has been a dramatic fall in the number of 
youngsters sitting French and German, although more are learning Spanish.

Opposition parties called on the SNP to focus on the “day job” of running schools. But ministers insist there has been a rise in the number of pupils gaining languages qualification at Higher level.

There were more than 56,000 pupils taking modern languages at Standard Grade level a decade ago. By last year, under the new exam system, this had fallen to just over 23,000 – a 59 per cent decline.

Labour’s shadow education minister Daniel Johnson said: “Learning a foreign language is such a valuable skill for 
Scotland’s next generation.

“Whether for travel, employment or just breaking down barriers between people from different countries, a new 
language can open up the world to a young person.

“It is therefore incredibly worrying to see such a huge decline in the number of pupils sitting modern language courses. The SNP talks about connecting Scotland with the world, but that can only happen if people are equipped with the 
languages they need. In the 21st century, the workforce is becoming more global and economic growth here in Scotland depends on interaction with our European neighbours.

“We need to reduce as many barriers to economic growth as possible, and these figures show how important it is for SNP ministers to get back to the day job of improving 
standards in our schools.”

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National languages leadership programme welcomes its largest cohort yet

28 July 2017 (SCILT)

Fifty-one teachers from twenty-one local authorities across Scotland attended a week-long summer school at the University of Strathclyde School of Education at the beginning of July 2017. The summer school takes forward the recommendations from the Scottish Government’s flagship policy, “Language learning in Scotland: A 1+2 approach” by building capacity and leadership skills within the teaching profession.

The course in July marks the start of a twelve-month professional learning programme, “The 1+2 languages leadership programme”, delivered by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, in partnership with Education Scotland. The programme engages lead language educators in designing, promoting and supporting the provision of effective language learning experiences for young people and high quality professional learning for in- and pre-service teachers. Content is a balance of theory, research, policy and practice relevant to language learning and as such, it carries accreditation from the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS).

Opening the Summer School, Fhiona Mackay, Director of SCILT explained: “This programme will put each participant in an informed position to take forward important roles in facilitating effective professional learning and in championing the creation of a climate in Scotland where language skills make a significant contribution to a fairer, smarter and more successful nation.”

Lisa Adair, a participant and Principal Teacher of Modern Languages at Braeview Academy in Dundee said: “What a brilliant experience the last week has been. So very worthwhile in so many ways – thanks to everyone involved! I have taken away some great ideas, input, insights, and ammunition to help me continue with the campaign to embed the 1+2 policy and maintain the very important place of languages in our Scottish curriculum. I am grateful for this opportunity and for the chance to have met some great colleagues and practitioners.”

Participants came from all sectors, including primary, secondary, higher education and the private sector. They attended workshops delivered by Classics for All; Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools ; EAL Service, Glasgow City Council; Goethe-Institut; Institute Français; Languages for Education Europe; Lingo Flamingo and Stòrlann. Between them, the participants had knowledge and experience of learning and teaching Chinese, French, Gaelic, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin and Spanish.

The programme is in its fifth year. This year saw the largest number of participants to date. In the coming months there will be the opportunity for participants to go on to achieve professional recognition in leading learning in languages from GTCS.

Scottish Government's ambition is to expand and improve language learning by 2021, so that young people are equipped with the skills and competencies they need in an increasingly globalised world. From 2021 every child will be entitled to learn a first additional language from P1 and a second by P5. This entitlement continues until the end of S3. This ambition contributes significantly to the Scottish Attainment Challenge agenda.

Certificate of Continuing Education (CCed) in Spanish 2017-18

28 July 2017 (University of Strathclyde)

Applications are open for the University of Strathclyde's Certificate of Continuing Education in Spanish (evening classes).

The CCed course will be of interest to those who wish to learn Spanish, including primary and secondary school teachers and a range of professional people with an interest in the Spanish world and their language. The Certificate provides a General Teaching Council approved qualification, subject to a 13 week residency period in a Spanish speaking country.

See the attached flyer for more information, including how to enrol for the September 2017 intake.

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Transdisciplinary language experiences using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

27 July 2017 (Language Show London)

This blogpost from Judith McKerrecher outlines the session she will be facilitating on behalf of Scotland’s National Centre for Languages (SCILT) and The Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS) at the Languages Show in London in October 2017.

As well as looking at and discussing the connections to the sustainable development goals, our planet and language learning, the session will explore a variety of contexts for language learning.

Having recently created a new project based professional learning menu, we have carefully considered the SDGs and this is reflected in the choices on offer. For example, the opportunity to combine science experiments with languages, geography, storytelling and outdoor learning or history with language, heritage, culture and nature is a breath of fresh air to language learning. In this way, languages can be used creatively and purposefully in new contexts.

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Survey shows long-term impacts of language travel

27 July 2017 (The Pie)

When asked what helped them improve their language skill the most, 90% of respondents to global language provider Sprachcaffe’s Language Learning Sustainability Project said it was face-to-face interaction with other people.

Over half said they are more confident speaking the language thanks to the experience of learning abroad while 20% said it helped them travel more and 13% said it contributed to a change in their work life.

“Our product [study travel] is unique because it’s learning and travel. When it comes to language learning you can do it online quick and easy but if you want something more valuable you have language learning trips,” said Pauline Pitte, the study’s co-author.

Taken over six months in 2016, the survey attracted former students from all over the world who had been on a language course abroad within the last five to 10 years. The project aims to show the long-term impacts of language learning abroad, said Pitte.

“We don’t want to make this about online versus in-class learning, we just wanted to explore the package students get when they go on language exchanges. Is it efficient for everyone?”.

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Why schools need to speak the same language on EAL support

21 July 2017 (TESS)

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.

The definition of EAL used by the Department for Education is if a child is exposed to a language at home that is known or believed to be one other than English (1). This definition covers pupils who may have recently arrived in the country, as well as families that have been here for many generations.

Each EAL pupil will also vary in their level of proficiency in their mother tongue, as well as in English, across the four language skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Quite simply, teachers are not being prepared well enough to support EAL students’ range of needs. Many newly qualified teachers, in particular, cite low levels of preparedness for meeting the needs of this group (2).

Sure, there are success stories. The attainment of EAL pupils is often cited as a key narrative in attainment improvements in England. This is certainly worthy of praise, with schools and communities deserving recognition for their hard work in this area. However, attainment of EAL pupils is extremely variable across regions and cities outside of London and its surrounding areas.

In addition, recent research (3) has shown that attainment varies considerably by the language spoken by pupils, with Japanese speakers being the highest-performing and Czech speakers the lowest.

So what can schools do to effectively support their EAL pupils and ensure they attain high standards?

Read the full article in TESS online, 21 July 2017 (subscription required).

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Related Links

TES talks to...Madeleine Arnot (TES, 28 July 2017) - Migrant children are lumped together in the ‘English as additional language’ category, with no systemic understanding of their unique cultural and social needs. It’s about time we had a joined-up education strategy, the academic tells Simon Creasey.

Spanish Language and DELE Preparation Online Courses

7 July 2017 (University of Strathclyde)

These new online courses are aimed at prospective candidates for the DELE exams. They will cover the different proficiency levels described by the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages): A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.

Although the courses are aimed at familiarising learners with the format of the DELE exams, they also help to prepare you where a particular level of proficiency in Spanish is needed such as working or living abroad, support for other university courses and primary school language policies.

Related Files

A traffic-light system to drive pupils towards learning Chinese

7 July 2017 (TESS)

Forgive me if I get straight to the point, but I know time is sparse for teachers and this message is important. There are five key reasons that every child should learn Mandarin Chinese. And they are as follows:
  1. China is one of the world’s oldest and richest cultures, with more than 5,000 years of history and the world’s longest continuous writing system. Learning Mandarin Chinese will open the door to a wealth of literature, poetry and art and gives students a unique insight into a fascinating culture.
  2. China is also the most populous nation in the world and Mandarin Chinese is spoken by more than one billion people. In many countries, Mandarin Chinese is becoming the most popular foreign language and it is likely to become Asia’s future lingua franca. Speaking Mandarin will create opportunities for work and travel throughout Asia – and beyond.
  3. Almost a quarter of internet usage is conducted in Chinese, while China’s economy is the second largest in the world. Proficiency in Mandarin Chinese is hugely beneficial for a career in business or the diplomatic service, and it is now one of the priority languages for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
  4. Learning Mandarin Chinese is mentally stimulating and challenging; research has shown that while English speakers only use the left temporal lobe, speakers of Mandarin use both left and right. One advantage of this increased brain activity is that Mandarin speakers are more likely to have perfect pitch. In addition, learning to write characters can help with motor skills and visual recognition.
  5. The unique challenges of learning Chinese engage and motivate learners who might not be your “typical linguists”: mathematicians enjoy the logicality of the language; artistic children may enjoy “drawing” characters; musical children can distinguish and recall the tones more easily; children who struggle with dyslexia find relief in not having to learn another set of spelling and phonology rules.
That’s all very well, you might claim, but the school timetable is crowded and integrating a new subject area would take up that time we don’t have.

To counter this line of argument, I offer you a traffic light of options to ensure every child in your school can learn Mandarin.

Read the full article in TESS online, 7 July 2017 (subscription required).

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N5 Modern Languages: assignment-writing understanding standards materials

4 July 2017 (SQA)

Eight pieces of candidate evidence with commentaries for the new Assignment – writing component of the National 5 Modern Languages course for 2017-18 have been published on SQA’s Understanding Standards website. These contain examples in French, German and Spanish. Further examples in other languages will be published as soon as these are developed.

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Threlford Memorial Cup 2017 - Call for nominations now open

26 May 2017 (Chartered Institute of Linguists)

Do you know someone who's done something truly amazing for language learning?

Chartered Institute of Linguists is looking for nominations for the Threlford Memorial Cup 2017. The Cup is presented annually to a person, an organisation, or for a project that has inspired others with an original language initiative. The Cup will be presented by Royal Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent at our Awards Evening in London in November.

The deadline for nominations is Friday 28 July 2017.

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Disclaimer: These news stories do not claim to be comprehensive and the views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of SCILT.

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