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SQA update - National 5 Modern Languages

SQA (23 June 2017)

The following documents will be available for all National 5 Modern Languages courses by the afternoon of Friday 23 June:
  • Coursework assessment task - assignment (writing)
  • Coursework assessment task - performance (talking)
  • Course support notes
The course support notes will be added to the National 5 course specification as an appendix. The course specification will then be updated to version 2.0 and the date will change to June 2017, but there is no further change to the content of this document.

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European Youth Event (EYE) 2018

23 June 2017 (European Parliament)

The third European Youth Event (EYE) will be taking place 1-2 June 2018 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. It provides a unique opportunity for young Europeans, aged between 16 and 30, to make their voices heard and to come up with innovative ideas for the future of Europe.

EYE2018 includes a wide range of activities in English, French and German run under the motto "The plan is to fan this spark into a flame." (Hamilton, My Shot). The activities centre around five main themes:
  • Young and old: Keeping up with the digital revolution
  • Rich and poor: Calling for a fair share
  • Apart and together: Working out for a stronger Europe
  • Safe and dangerous: Staying alive in turbulent times
  • Local and global: Protecting our planet
Visit the EYE2018 website for more information. Groups of at least 10 young people who want to take part need to register on the website between October and December 2017.

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Coming soon: SCILT Associates

23 June 2017 (SCILT)

New for session 2017/18, SCILT is compiling a database of partners and stakeholders, including teachers from all sectors, who wish to become associate members of the SCILT team.

Throughout the year, we may contact our associates if we are planning either a project or piece of work where we require additional capacity, expertise or advice.

If you think you might like to work more closely with the team and help us enlarge the 'SCILT family', then please keep your eye on the bulletin at the start of the new session when we will be able to give further information and sign up details.

New approach to SCILT/CISS promotional events

23 June 2017 (SCILT/CISS)

SCILT and CISS are currently reviewing their strategy for promotional events. In order to ensure all schools have the opportunity to benefit from our involvement, we are now requesting that you complete an online application form. You will be asked to outline how a promotional event might support your uptake in the senior phase and what other measures you are putting in place to address the Attainment Agenda, National Improvement Framework and Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce.

Please contact us at SCILT (scilt@strath.ac.uk) in the first instance. An application form will be sent to you once finalised.

Connecting Classrooms programme

22 June 2017 (British Council)

If you're thinking about collaborating with an overseas partner school next term, Connecting Classrooms could be the programme for you.

The global education programme is brought to you by the British Council in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID).

It offers a free learning journey which helps you to improve your classroom practice and develop your ideas with like-minded teachers internationally.

By developing and networking with thousands of teachers across the world, the British Council aims to help young people develop the knowledge, skills and values to live and work in a globalised economy.

Listen to participating teachers share their experiences, and learn more about how you can get involved, on the Connecting Classrooms website.

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Bilingual story book readings

22 June 2017 (The Language Hub)

From August 2017 until April 2018, the Language Hub in Glasgow will be running bilingual story book readings at Hillhead and Partick Library. Whilst aimed at pre-school aged children, everyone is welcome. These sessions are free to attend and have been funded by the participatory budgeting project ‘Over to you Glasgow North’ delivered by WSREC (West of Scotland Regional Equality Council).

Visit the website for more information about these events.

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Chinese intensive courses

22 June 2017 (Heriot-Watt University)

The Scottish Confucius Institute for Business and Communication at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is holding two Chinese summer courses in July.

Follow the appropriate link below to find out more about the course and to book your place:
  • Intensive beginners 1 (10-14 July 2017) - for complete beginners with little or no knowledge of Chinese
  • Intensive beginners 2 (17-22 July 2017) - for those who have either completed Intensive beginners 1 or have equivalent knowledge of the Chinese language

Understanding the amazing complexity of sign language

21 June 2017 (The Conversation)

Most people are familiar with sign language, the system that deaf people use to communicate. What fewer may know is that there are many different sign languages around the world, just as there are many different spoken languages.

So how does the grammar of sign language work?

Unlike in spoken languages, in which grammar is expressed through sound-based signifiers for tense, aspect, mood and syntax (the way we organise individual words), sign languages use hand movements, sign order as well as body and facial cues to create grammar. This is called non-manual activity.

To find out whether these cues are comprehensible to signers and non-signers of a country, my team of deaf and hearing linguists and translators conducted two studies. The results, which will be published in July, demonstrate the incredible complexity of sign language.

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History teachers' professional development tour to Berlin

21 June 2017 (German Embassy)

The German Embassy is inviting applications for their next Professional Development Tour for British Teachers of History to Berlin, Germany, 15 – 21 October 2017.

The purpose of the trip is to give participants a wide-ranging impression of present-day Germany as a background for teaching German history in UK schools. The trip will include highlights of contemporary Berlin, talks with history teachers and teachers’ associations, visits to the German Historical Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Federal Foreign Office, the Reichstag and more.

The tour will be conducted in English. All costs relating to the trip will be covered by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Please see the attached flyer and booking form for more information. Apply by 8 September 2017.

MFL teacher challenge looms

21 June 2017 (Sec Ed)

The recruitment of more suitably qualified languages teachers is “likely to become more critical” because of the need to increase up-take at GCSE.

The annual Languages Trends report warns that schools are finding it “challenging” to recruit language teachers who are able to offer two languages to GCSE and A level standard.

The report states: “This difficulty most affects lower-attaining schools and those working in more disadvantaged circumstances.” Language GCSEs form part of the EBacc and Progress 8 accountability measures and as such schools are incentivised to increase uptake.

However, recruitment has proved challenging for some schools, including for language positions.

Recent research by the NFER has shown that schools are seeing particularly high leaving rates for teachers of maths, science and languages. The recruitment target for trainee language teachers was also missed this year, according to Department for Education figures published in November.

Meanwhile, figures released by Ofqual this week (see story above) show that entries for GCSE languages this year are down on 2016. This includes:

French (Down from 135,200 to 121,800).
German (Down from 48,000 to 42,050).
Spanish (Down from 88,150 to 85,500).
Other MFL (Down from 33,900 to 33,000).

However, the Languages Trends report, which is published by the British Council, says that 38 per cent of state schools plan to increase language GCSE entries year-on-year.

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Host a Teacher from Germany

21 June 2017 (UK-German Connection)

Provide your school with authentic German cultural input by hosting a teacher from Germany for two or three weeks, at no cost to you.

Schools do not need to be teaching German to apply and visits can take place at any time between September 2017 and July 2018. Deadlines 10 July(*) and 21 September 2017 (**).

(*) If you’d like to host in the autumn term 2017
(**) if you’d like to host in spring / summer 2018

Visit the UK-German Connection website for more information and to apply.

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Gaelic e-bulletin - June 2017

21 June 2017 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland's latest Gaelic e-bulletin has just been issued and can be accessed online.

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New earpiece translates foreign languages as you have a conversation

20 June 2017 (The Independent)

A new device that delivers foreign language translations directly to your ear almost instantly has just gone on sale.

The Translate One2One has been hailed as a real-world equivalent of the Babel fish, the famous fictional creature from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

It’s powered by IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, and takes between three and five seconds to complete a translation and play it to you.

It currently works across English, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, German and Chinese.

However, both people in a conversation need to be wearing one.

Lingmo International, the company behind it, claims the Translate One2One is clever enough to avoid common translation stumbling blocks.

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Face to face workshops

19 June 2017 (British Council)

This summer, why not apply to go on a short workshop in another European country?

Applications are now open for teachers from Early Years to Upper Secondary to attend a 2-3 day professional development workshop in France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Slovakia, Tunisia or Spain. These events are designed to facilitate new eTwinning projects through partner-finding and project planning activities. Teachers who register on eTwinning from 19 June until 19 August will also receive free wall maps, passport and homework challenge resources in the post, (designed to help kick-start a simple international project). Workshop themes and subject areas are varied, spanning e-safety to computational thinking, MFL, history and culture.

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French summer classes in Glasgow

19 June 2017 (Alliance Française)

There are still places available on the Summer Classes being run by the Alliance Française de Glasgow between June and September 2017. Classes are available for all levels.

Semi-Intensive Courses: enrol in a 4-week French programme suitable for complete beginners, or reinforce your language skills with revisions.

Intensive Courses: brush-up on your French with revisions over the course of 3 days.

Visit the website for more information and to enrol.

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New film inspired by soldiers who used Gaelic to escape Nazis

19 June 2017 (BBC)

The true story of a trio of Gaelic-speaking soldiers who used their native tongue to "bamboozle" the Germans has inspired a new feature film.

Pte William Kemp, Cpl Sandy MacDonald, and L/Cpl James Wilson escaped their captors after convincing them they were from the Soviet Union.

Now film producers have used the tale as a premise for new World War Two drama In the Darkest Hour.

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Related Links

Story of Gaelic speaking soldiers who escaped Nazis will be film (The Scotsman, 18 June 2017)

SLR Issue 32 online

16 June 2017 (SCILT)

A must read! Two teachers write about their efforts of raising the status of languages in their school, with quite different outcomes. We also hear about an exciting new UK-wide initiative for languages, a mindset-changing dual-language immersion programme in the USA and a group of Edinburgh University students tell us about the impact of working with refugees in Germany. Do check out the other sections of the SLR as well – Selected publications – eg summaries of recent research on L2 impact, Selected articles (from other journals) e.g. those from the new ‘Languages, Society and Policy’ journal, and Selected events e.g. Scotland-EU Relations as Brexit Talks Unfold with Fiona Hyslop MSP.

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Language learning gap widens between North and South of England

16 June 2017 (British Council)

The language learning gap between the North and South of England is widening, according to a new report from the British Council.

Analysis of examination statistics in the Language Trends Survey 2017 – now in its fifteenth year – highlights that in summer 2016, 65 per cent of pupils in Inner London took a language GCSE compared to just 43 per cent in the North East. More than that, participation rates over the last three years indicate that London is the only part of the country where the percentage of pupils taking languages to GCSE is currently increasing.

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Why just speaking English isn’t going to cut it anymore

15 June 2017 (The Conversation)

Britain is facing an uncertain future and an uneasy relationship with Europe after Brexit and the latest general election. Among other things, a key determiner of the success of Brexit will be the UK’s ability to conduct negotiations without language barriers. But the country’s woeful inability to learn languages, and the decline in foreign language learning among school and university students across Britain, does not bode well.

Of course, Welsh, Gaelic, Irish and Cornish are already spoken in some parts of the UK. And while it’s great to see many of these minority languages experiencing something of a revival over recent years, when it comes to life after Brexit it’s languages from further afield that will likely be most useful to Brits.

Many people in the UK may well ask “why we need languages” when “everyone in Europe speaks English anyway”. Indeed, all Brexit negotiations will be conducted in English. But given that the UK’s lack of foreign language skill is estimated to cost the nation up to £48 billion a year, this isn’t something that can just be ignored. Especially considering this figure is unlikely to decrease in post-Brexit Britain.

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Braehead Primary School Stirling - Getting to grips with languages!

15 June 2017 (SCILT/CISS/Braehead PS)

The children of Braehead Primary have been making languages come alive through a collaborative project with Historic Environment Scotland. This project involved all 55 Primary 5 pupils working in groups on a number of different tasks. The end result was a virtual tour of Stirling castle in Mandarin.

There are now six classes at Braehead learning Mandarin, from P4 to P6. The P5s are the trailblazers, however, as they have been learning the language for nearly two years. They have also produced a film in Mandarin within the castle walls, which you can see on the school’s BPS Live Learning YouTube channel. The film will be entered for the British Film Festival awards in London in October.

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!

The Interactive Wall is also used for English and French.

Pupils also continue to produce language podcasts in Mandarin and other languages. The podcasts can be accessed via the Braehead Languages Café on the school’s website.

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

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Modern Language Assistants (MLA) Projects 2016-17

15 June 2017 (SCILT / British Council)

Every year language assistants try to make languages really come alive for young people in Scotland's schools, e.g. by initiating a language exchange, participating in language competitions, or by organising immersion days. 

In this blog you can browse through the work of last year's assistants. You can search the slides either by language or by school year group. Enjoy, and we hope you will be inspired to follow in their footsteps!

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EVALUATE Project

15 June 2017 (EVALUATE Project)

EVALUATE is a European Policy Experiment project funded by Erasmus+ Key Action 3.

This experimentation will evaluate the impact of telecollaborative learning on student-teachers involved in Initial Teacher Education in the participating European countries and regions. Telecollaboration, also commonly known as Virtual Exchange, involves engaging trainee teachers involved in Initial Teacher Education in task-based interaction and collaborative exchange with fellow trainees in other locations through online communication technologies.

The guiding research question for the study is: “Will participation in telecollaborative exchange contribute to the development of competences which future teachers need to teach, collaborate and innovate effectively in a digitalised and cosmopolitan world?”

A teacher-training event is due to be held in Italy 5-7 July 2017.

Visit the website for more information about the project and how to get involved.

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Island teachers ready to Go! Gaelic after pilot training programme

14 June 2017 (Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig)

Seven primary teachers from the Outer Hebrides are about to complete a pilot training course that will enable them to train colleagues in how to teach Gaelic to children in their class.

The programme has been specially constructed by training experts working for Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig as part of the company’s strategic approach to boost the teaching of Gaelic in English Medium Education. The training demonstrates how to make best use of the Go! Gaelic programme of resources, created by a team of language experts, designers and IT professionals at Stòrlann.

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More school pupils to benefit from Bangor University language mentors

13 June 2017 (Daily Post)

More school students across North Wales will be able to take part in a successful Modern Languages Mentoring programme thanks to a further Welsh Government investment of £140,000 for the third year of the project.

Launched in 2015, the Modern Foreign Languages Student Mentoring project places undergraduates from Bangor, Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Swansea universities into local schools to mentor pupils and encourage them to consider modern foreign languages when choosing their GCSE options.

The mentoring project is part of the Welsh Government’s Global Futures plan, which aims to improve and promote the take-up of modern foreign languages in schools in Wales.

Over the last two years the mentoring scheme has had a significant impact on partner schools, who have reported an increase in pupils choosing languages at GCSE as well as improved motivation to continue learning languages and to consider university.

The Welsh Government is now extending the project to include a new digital platform to increase its reach to schools and pupils who have not been able to engage with the project due to geographical location.

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German Teacher Award Ceremony 2017

13 June 2017 (German Embassy)

On Monday, 12 June, Ambassador Peter Ammon welcomed John le Carré to his Residence for the annual ‘Sommerfest der deutschen Sprache’, where they presented the 14th German Teacher Awards to outstanding teachers of German in the UK.

The annual German Teacher Award and the ‘Sommerfest’ pay tribute to the work of German teachers across the UK and give guests the opportunity to network. Over 220 teachers and representatives from the education and language teaching sectors, business and media from all over the UK joined this year’s celebrations and followed the announcement of the 2017 winners.

Addressing the teachers in his welcome speech, Ambassador Ammon said that "never before has your mission to teach languages as a gateway to another culture encouraging friendship, trust and understanding across borders been more important than today." He was delighted to welcome renowned writer John le Carré as the keynote speaker for the event, who once more proved himself a staunch supporter of language learning as the key to understanding other cultures.

Morag E J Allan of Wellington School in Ayr was one of the teachers awarded a "Special Mention" at the ceremony.

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1+2 FAQS for practitioners: revised and refreshed

13 June 2017 (SCILT)

Following a wide-ranging consultation with the profession earlier this academic session, our 1+2 FAQs for practitioners have been updated and uploaded to the SCILT website.

Sincere thanks go to all the primary and secondary teachers who took the time to participate in our survey.

If you have any further questions about the 1+2 Approach, please contact scilt@strath.ac.uk.

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Language alters our experience of time

13 June 2017 (The Conversation)

It turns out, Hollywood got it half right. In the film Arrival, Amy Adams plays linguist Louise Banks who is trying to decipher an alien language. She discovers the way the aliens talk about time gives them the power to see into the future – so as Banks learns their language, she also begins to see through time. As one character in the movie says: “Learning a foreign language rewires your brain.”

My new study – which I worked on with linguist Emanuel Bylund – shows that bilinguals do indeed think about time differently, depending on the language context in which they are estimating the duration of events. But unlike Hollywood, bilinguals sadly can’t see into the future. However, this study does show that learning a new way to talk about time really does rewire the brain. Our findings are the first psycho-physical evidence of cognitive flexibility in bilinguals.

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Top tips for kids learning a foreign language in Glasgow

13 June 2017 (Glasgow Live)

It's no secret that Glaswegians, and Brits, are guilty of being reluctant to speak foreign languages.

However Glasgow City Council, along with many other local authorities, are under increasing pressure to make foreign language learning one of their top priorities in education - particularly at primary level.

And it appears they have good reason to do so.

Studies show that children who study a language from as young as three years old possess better critical thinking skills and score higher in maths and problem solving.

It can also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimers in later years.

Of course, leaning a language takes time and dedication.

But according to Rose McGinty, principal teacher at Glasgow's first Spanish immersion camp for children, Oso Spanish, there are plenty of ways to make language learning effective and great fun.

'A German Classic' - essay prize for senior phase students

12 June 2017 (Oxford University)

The University of Oxford is delighted to announce the launch of a new essay prize competition: ‘A German Classic’. It is aimed at students with a GCSE or equivalent in German and currently in Sixth-form (equivalent to Years 12 and 13 or S5 and S6 in Scotland).

The classic celebrated this year is Goethe’s Faust, Part I. The task is to write an essay in English (between 2000 and 3000 words) so students who are not yet able to write fluently in German can focus on the challenges of engaging with the language, ideas and conflicts of the work itself.

Visit the university's website to find out more about the competition, prizes and how to submit entries by 13 September 2017.

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South American Spanish Day @ The Zoo

11 June 2017 (Preston Street Primary)

Thursday the 8th June was an important date for P6 and not because Theresa May decided to have her snap election that day. P6 at Preston Street Primary managed to secure themselves an opportunity to attend a South American Spanish Day event at Edinburgh Zoo.

To start the day off P6 had a short introduction via a video from Dr. Arnaud Desbiez who manages the RZSS South American projects. This was followed by Sandie Robb explaining a new initiative ‘Science in the Language Class’ which links to RZSS conservation projects to language learning. This led into a fun quiz which covered facts about some South American animals and included Spanish questions on numbers, colours and parts of the body. Afterwards, a gentleman by the name of Xabier San Isidro told us his story of how his love for languages shaped his life.

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UK-German Connection news - Summer 2017

9 June 2017 (UK-German Connection)

UK-German Connection offers a number of opportunities for UK schools to partner with a school in Germany. The following options are currently available. Follow the appropriate link for more information:

Visit the UK-German Connection website to find out more about all their activities.

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Why Learning A New Language Is Always A Good Career Move

8 June 2017 (Huffington Post)

In a global economy, simply telling your potential employer that you have what it takes to get the job done doesn’t cut it anymore. Hiring managers at top firms weigh in many factors – some of which might be out of your control. In trying to land that dream job, you may find yourself outmaneuvered by a well-connected candidate or, in many cases, simply pitted against more accomplished peers.

In spite of tough competition, there’s a way for you to stand out: master a foreign language.

In a recent report by the New American Economy, the number of U.S. companies looking for bilingual workers has more than doubled in the last five years. The demand for foreign language proficiency is now at 630,000, a huge jump from 240,000 open positions for candidates with bilingual abilities in 2010. This trend will only continue despite the recent misguided shifts towards nationalism in the US and abroad.

In the past, the majority of listings involved hospitality and customer-service industries. Much has changed over time. Today, the fastest growing categories for bilingual positions now includes financial managers, industrial engineers and editors. We currently have presidents of investment firms, tech giants, and manufacturing companies taking our language courses. They see the value in gaining at least a basic level of understanding in a foreign language. The benefits of language training however are not only for high level executives. Over the years, it has become more evident that bilingual employees have an edge, no matter where they are in the skills-spectrum.

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Super-Brainy Translation Tools Mean Language Barriers Are Falling Fast

6 June 2017 (NBC)

Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, the dream of speaking to anyone regardless of language is closer to reality than ever.

Scientists say there are more than 6,900 languages in the world, and anyone who’s traveled abroad knows how hard it can be to get even simple points across in a foreign tongue.

Breaking down language barriers has long been a dream of science fiction — “Star Trek” had its Universal Translator to help the Enterprise crew understand exotic alien speech, and C3PO from “Star Wars” knew more than 6 million forms of communication from across the galaxy.

Now, thanks to advances in real-time translation software, the dream of speaking to anyone regardless of language is closer to reality than ever. Experts say human translators won’t be out of work anytime soon — they’re vital for legal proceedings, diplomatic discussions, and scenarios when exact word choice and tone are necessary — but new inexpensive digital tools allow people to speak easily in situations where communication once seemed impossible.

With software from the Austrian-based tech company iTranslate and a compatible set of wireless earphones, you can now have nearly 40 languages translated directly into your ear. But the tool doesn’t help users understand everything they’d hear on a crowded street yet. Currently, it’s focused on letting people speak with someone else using connected smartphones tethered to iTranslate-enabled earphones. It can facilitate basic transactions and everyday small talk between people who until recently couldn’t exchange a word.

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New website dedicated to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

5 June 2017 (ECML)

The CEFR was created in order to provide a transparent, coherent and comprehensive basis for the development of language programmes, curriculum guidelines and teaching/learning materials, as well as to assist the assessment of foreign language proficiency.

The Framework is particularly well-known for its 6-level proficiency scale (A1 < C2), which can be divided into different categories in order to create transparent and coherent language proficiency profiles – a major innovation in the domain of European education.

However the CEFR does not begin and end with the levels, nor is it intended as a standardisation instrument. As a reference tool, its aim is to facilitate transparency and coherence in language education at all levels: curricula, teaching, assessment and teacher education.

The new CEFR website offers a range of different resources, contributed by major European institutions and developed in different research projects and investigations.

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Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017

31 May 2017 (EIFF)

The programme for this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) taking place from 21 June to 2 July 2017 has just been published.

The event will showcase films from 46 countries so there are plenty of opportunities to test your language skills!

For more information about what's on offer, visit the EIFF website.

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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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New job profile on SCILT's website

21 April 2016 (SCILT)

We have a range of job profiles on the SCILT website to let your pupils see that languages are valuable in the world of work. People from a range of sectors - including sport, marketing, technology and many more - explain how language learning has influenced their professional lives. See our latest addition:
  • Ross Noble, Conference Interpreter - his role as conference interpreter at the European Commission gives him the chance to use all of his languages every day and to learn about varied and interesting topics.
See this and other job profiles on our website now.

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Latest News

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SQA update - National 5 Modern Languages More...

European Youth Event (EYE) 2018 More...

Coming soon: SCILT Associates More...

New approach to SCILT/CISS promotional events More...