Policy


Policy

GCSE modern languages scheme 'doubles uptake' in some areas

7 October 2017 (BBC)

A scheme to encourage more pupils in Wales to take modern languages at GCSE has reported "significant" success.

More than a third of Welsh schools now have less than 10% of Year 10 pupils studying a foreign language.

But the Welsh Government-funded modern foreign languages (MFL) mentoring project said it had seen uptake double in some schools.

The scheme trains students from Welsh universities to talk to pupils about the benefits of studying languages.

Read more...

Why asking struggling pupils to take a language GCSE early is a winner

25 August 2017 (TES)

How do you encourage lower-ability students to stick with learning a new language? By offering them the chance to take the subject at GCSE … a whole two years early. The results speak for themselves, says Eva Vicente.

Learning languages didn’t come easy to Jack when he first joined secondary school. Ordinarily, he would have dropped the subject when he was choosing which GCSEs to study at key stage 4. So imagine his delight that he’d already notched up a Spanish GCSE by the end of Year 9, two years before his more proficient friends would have the opportunity to do the same.

His impressive achievement was made possible by the unconventional system we have implemented at Rushcliffe School, which allows struggling pupils the chance to study for their Spanish GCSE in Years 8 and 9. Asking teenagers to sit what is supposed to be one of the hardest GCSE subjects two years early may seem a little crazy – even more so when you consider the pupils in question are the ones who are struggling the most with the subject – but there is method in our madness.

Britain is at the back of the queue in terms of language skills. Why? Because children here don’t study languages as early, as often or for as long as those in other countries. Despite endless changes in policy, the UK simply does not invest in language learning.

But at Rushcliffe we don’t buy into the idea that learning a language is only for a handful of very academic students who are able to leap over the education system’s barriers – delayed exposure to learning languages and limited timetable allocation. We decided to turn things around and commit to ensuring that as many students as possible get a language qualification, without it impacting on their GCSE choices at key stage 4. So how does it work?

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...

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...

Modern languages: four reforms to reclaim the future of our discipline

26 June 2017 (THE)

Recent measures taken at a number of UK universities – including cutbacks on modern languages staffing, redundancies and in some cases the closure of courses – show the unprecedented pressures that UK universities are facing (and the serious implications these pressures have for an already embattled modern languages community).

Modern languages disciplines can exercise some control over their future, if they are prepared to be pro-active, to countenance radical reform of their programmes, to rethink their relationships with other disciplines and to engage in a creative reimagining of the place of languages in a globalised world.

Below we offer some suggestions that, if they do not represent a water-tight, universally applicable solution, may at least initiate the sort of conversation across our community that is urgently required.

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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.

Belfast council unveils policy to promote Irish and Ulster-Scots

23 May 2017 (Belfast Telegraph)

Belfast City Council is to transform how it treats minority languages, with a major promotion of both Irish and Ulster-Scots.
 
In a new policy, which was revealed on Tuesday, May 22 as a public consultation was launched into the proposals, the council will create micro-sites on its website in the languages, as well as responding to correspondence in both.

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Call for case studies or practical examples of the use of instruments and frameworks for language teacher education and development

22 May 2017 (ECML)

The European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) is compiling case studies or practice examples of the use of instruments and frameworks that describe the competences and experiences of language teachers and, with respect to language-related issues, of all teachers.

They are inviting teachers, teacher educators/ trainers, administrators/officials at all levels, and employers to share their experiences of using these instruments. The practice examples will be published on the website of the current ECML project Towards a Common European Framework for Language Teachers.

Read more...

Should pupils have to learn sign language?

15 March 2017 (BBC News)

"When I meet hearing children who can sign, I feel happy and confident," says Emmanuel, seven.

"I want to teach everyone British sign language - the whole world."

Faiza, 11, says: "If children learnt more sign, it would mean I'd try to play with them more. Communication would be easier.

"If my hearing friends didn't sign, I would feel lonely and sad."

For these deaf children at Blanche Nevile School in north London, helping hearing peers learn British sign language (BSL) is a chance to break down barriers and make new friends.
Their school shares a site with Highgate Primary School, and the schools work in partnership so that deaf and hearing children can learn alongside each other.

While BSL was recognised as a language in its own right 14 years ago, it is not included in the national curriculum in England.

Now, an online petition set up by Wayne Barrow, who grew up with deaf parents, is aiming to change that.

Read more...

Related Links

Should hearing children learn sign language? (BBC News, 15 March 2017) - meet school pupils learning to sign and learning alongside deaf children (video report)

Sign language costs 'too high' for some families
(BBC News, 15 March 2017)

Watch as MP uses British Sign Language in the House of Commons (Daily Mirror, 16 March 2017)

MP Dawn Butler praised for using sign language in Commons (BBC News, 16 March 2017)

Bòrd na Gàidhlig consultation on Scotland's National Gaelic Language Plan

3 March 2017 (Holyrood)

Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the public body with responsibility for Scottish Gaelic, published the draft National Gaelic Language Plan 2017-2022 for public consultation two weeks ago. Its purpose, explains Bòrd na Gàidhlig chief executive Shona MacLennan, is to lay out the policy for Gaelic which will further strengthen the language, at both local and national levels, for the next five years.

Read more...

Taking the leid: Scots needs more promotion at a national level

3 March 2017 (Holyrood)

Across Scotland, 30 per cent of the population identified themselves as Scots speakers in the 2011 census, and in Aberdeenshire the figure was almost half, 49 per cent, yet there is no public body equivalent to Bòrd na Gàidhlig responsible for the promotion of Scots at a national level. Scots tends to feature as part of culture studies, through Burns poetry or folk music, but not so much promoted as a living daily language.

Read more...

Consultation on the British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan

1 March 2017 (Scottish Government)

This consultation on the Draft British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan seeks to gather your views about the proposed actions. The plan has been produced in collaboration with the BSL National Advisory Group.

The consultation is open from 1 March to 31 May 2017.

Read more...

Agenda: So much to be gained from young people learning modern languages

12 February 2017 (Sunday Herald)

Does language learning have a place in the Scottish curriculum? Yes. Are modern languages and their teachers under pressure in secondary schools? Yes. Has there been a better opportunity for promoting language learning in our schools ? No.

Language learning has a vital place in Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) on a learner journey from 3-18 but in a manner that does not see it as the preserve of the secondary school.

It has always baffled me that traditionally in Scotland, given its place in Europe, we started language learning so late in a child’s development.

The earlier we expose children to learning languages, the better their chance is of seeing this as something that is just part of their culture.

From a child development point of view, there’s much research to confirm that children are more receptive educationally and emotionally to language learning from an early age.

They soak it up and acquire language skills at a great pace. We know that bilingualism not only helps the cognitive development of the child but also that children who are in bilingual education such as Gaelic Medium Education also attain and achieve at least as well as, in many cases better, than their monoglot peers. They are fluent in two languages and are learning a third by the age of 11. In addition, there is another plus to early exposure to acquiring additional languages; most parents like it, understand it and support schools that promote it.

The Scottish Government-led 1+2 languages programme is a long-term policy commitment started in 2011 due to run until 2021, aimed at making it normal for all children and young people in Scotland to learn languages from primary one.

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Statutory guidance on Gaelic Education published

10 February 2017 (TESS)

Statutory guidance on Gaelic education has been published, spelling out the process that will allow parents under law to request a Gaelic unit for their child. Another key document has also been published: the public consultation on the National Gaelic Language Plan 2017–2022 runs until 6 May.

Read the full item in TESS online, 10 February 2017, under the 'A week in primary' section (subscription required).

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Regulations are unintentionally killing the French exchange and our students will be all the poorer for it

6 February 2017 (TES)

Not long ago, schools would send many, many students on exchange trips to France but new red tape makes this unfeasible, writes one leading headteacher.

It’s funny how often laws or regulations collide. Perhaps the most famous absurdity can be found in Joseph Heller’s novel, Catch 22: airmen couldn’t be discharged from the American army in the Second World War unless proven mad. Yet to seek discharge was the only sane thing to do in an insane conflict.

This is, of course, the law of unintended consequences. A great example is this country's shortage of doctors. Many among the refugees arriving in the UK are qualified doctors but, as refugees, they’re forbidden to work.

Another example is a regulation now hitting schools, creating what I’d describe as another unintended consequence – unintended because, if it was spotted, then it’s crazy.

Ever more stringent safeguarding requirements, recently reinforced in the latest version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), make it all but impossible for schoolchildren on a language exchange to stay with host families in, say, France, Germany or Spain.

According to Annexe E of KCSIE, “such arrangements could amount to ‘private fostering’ under the Children Act 1989 or the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, or both”.

Thus, if a school makes an arrangement with, for example, its opposite number in France, so that the English children stay with French families and vice versa, they’re setting up “private fostering”. Because the school is a regulated activity provider, all adults in the host home must have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

In the heyday of language exchanges, schools might have sent 50 or more children to France or Germany. Calculate the DBS checks required for the return visit, estimating two adults over 18 in every house (not necessarily parents): 100-plus. I guess they’d be free, being for volunteers, but the cost in office time of that paper-chase is colossal – as well as dragging parents in for their identity checks and the like.

Even if we can navigate that bureaucratic labyrinth, what about the parent who feels that such a check is intrusive or just plain wrong? If they stand on principle and refuse to be checked, they cannot host a child from the exchange school.

This regulation is surely the death knell for such activities as language exchanges. Even with all parents in both schools willing to be checked, sheer administrative workload makes the task impracticable in a busy school.

Read more...

Cuts forcing schools to axe language and science exams

19 January 2017 (The Herald)

Schools are having to cut the number of subjects they offer to pupils as a direct result of cuts, teachers’ leaders have warned.

An education union said current budgetary pressures meant courses such as extra languages and sciences could not run unless at least ten pupils were interested.

The concerns were raised at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s education committee which is examining the roll-out of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) reforms.

Read more...

Why making languages non-compulsory at GCSE is a step backwards

17 January 2017 (The Telegraph)

I am nervous as I take my seat in front of the Head of Languages; it is GCSE choices evening and the school gym has been transformed, criss-crossed by rows of tables and chairs with eager parents and their offspring gathered around harried-looking teachers.

“I'd like to do Triple Language,” I say, “French, Spanish and Italian.”

She regards me over the top of her sheet full of names, in front of her.

“Oh no, I don't think so. You could do Spanish, maybe, but you'll find three too difficult.”

Seven years later and I am on the brink of successfully completing my undergraduate degree in, you guessed it, languages. And whilst I look back on that exchange now with a certain degree of victorious pride, I still can't help but wonder what prompted her to turn a perfectly capable student away from her course.

In this performance-obsessed climate where a pupil's grades are often put before their education, it is unsurprising that even some of the best teachers find themselves advising students against courses which are deemed too challenging. But we must do away with the notion that languages are an elite subject if we are to improve the dire situation in which we now find ourselves.

Read more...

European Language Gazette N° 34

13 December 2016 (ECML)

The latest edition of the European Language Gazette has just been published.

The ECML's e-newsletter provides up-to-date news about the ECML (events, projects, resources) and other relevant sectors of the Council of Europe, as well as our partners. It focuses on national developments in the field of language education in the member states and beyond.

Read more...

Ofsted annual report: Primary emphasis on spelling and grammar risks narrowing the curriculum

1 December 2016 (TES)

Report also warns that secondary heads do not realise that the primary curriculum has changed and still think that pupils' progress is measured in levels
The emphasis on reading, writing, spelling and grammar at primary school risks narrowing the curriculum, today's Ofsted annual report states.

This means that subjects such as science and modern foreign languages can suffer as a result.

The report says: “The underlying importance of literacy means that reading, writing, spelling and grammar remain of the utmost importance in the primary curriculum.

“However, this clear emphasis, which has been embraced successfully by the vast majority of primary schools, can create a risk that the curriculum becomes narrowed.”

Evidence from inspections shows that science and foreign languages end up suffering, because not enough time is available for in-depth study, the report stated.

Foreign languages were particularly affected. None of the primary schools inspected this year spent more than two hours a week on language study. The majority – more than two thirds – spent less than an hour on foreign languages.

Read more...

Arabic? Polish? Dutch? Your views on the languages schools should teach

1 December 2016 (The Guardian)

What languages should we teach children in schools, and why? The question came to the fore on Monday after the Polish prime minister, Beata Szydło, called on Theresa May to introduce Polish classes in British schools.

With 831,000 Poles living in Britain – they make up the largest immigrant group in the UK – introducing the language certainly could help communities feel more integrated.

Traditionally in secondary schools in the UK, the most widely taught languages have been French, Spanish and German, according to data from the British Council in collected from 2013 to 2014. In 2010 the government also decided to train 1,000 Mandarin teachers to work in secondary schools in England thanks to China’s increasing influence on the global economy.

How should we select languages for the curriculum? Should we choose those that are spoken the most in Britain? What languages have been most helpful to you? We asked our readers these questions and this is what they said.

Read more...

Which languages should be taught in schools and why?

29 November 2016 (The Guardian)

The Polish prime minister Beata Szydło has called on Theresa May to introduce Polish classes for children in English schools.

It raises interesting questions about what languages we teach in schools and why. Szydło also called for more support for the 831,000 Poles living in Britain. Introducing the language could help communities feel more integrated.

In the past language choices have been for different reasons. In 2010 the government decided to train 1,000 Mandarin teachers to work in secondary schools in England due to China’s increasing influence on the global economy. Those in favour of the move said the next generation would need to understand Chinese culture and use its language.

Which languages do you think children should learn and why? Should an emphasis be put on how useful that language may be in the future? Or should the decision be made based on the needs of the local community?

Which languages have been most or least helpful to you? Which one did you enjoy learning and why? Did you grow up speaking another language at home? How would you have felt if your fellow pupils had studied it in school? Share your views with us.

Read more...

Related Links

The importance of Polish lessons in a post-Brexit world (The Guardian, 29 November 2016)

Brexit: Scheme extended to encourage foreign language take up

8 October 2016 (BBC News)

Addressing a serious decline in the number of Welsh pupils learning foreign languages is "urgent" following the Brexit vote, an academic has warned.

There were 700 A-level language entries in 2015 compared with 1,152 in 2009.

A scheme, which sees university students mentoring secondary school pupils, is being extended after making a "clear impact" on class numbers.

Professor Claire Gorrara said the scheme was more important than ever after the Brexit vote.

The Cardiff University professor, who leads the project, said it had led to improvements to the 28 schools involved in the pilot across Wales.

Read more...

Languages: GCE A-level

12 September 2016 (Hansard / They Work For You)

Question put to the Secretary of State for Education in the Commons asking 'what plans she has to encourage more young people to take A-level language subjects.'

Read more...

Pupils across England start intensive lessons in Mandarin

7 September 2016 (UK Government)

A new £10 million Mandarin excellence programme will see at least 5,000 young people on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020.

Hundreds of secondary school pupils in England have already begun intensive lessons in Mandarin Chinese as the first initiative of its kind is rolled out across the country.

Secondary school pupils will study Mandarin for 8 hours a week over the course of the next 4 years through the programme - a significant increase on the time pupils currently spend on the subject.

Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, and is seen as important for young people in the UK to master in order for the country to remain globally competitive in the future.

Read more...

1+2 Case Study - Douglas Academy

18 August 2016 (SCILT)

Douglas Academy is a six year non-denominational, co-educational, comprehensive school serving Milngavie, Craigton and Baldernock. The current school roll is 994.

The school demonstrates a strong ethos of fairness and equality and encourages a strong pupil voice at both departmental and whole school level. Read how pupils and teachers work together to make the language department such a success and for some interesting ideas on the implementation of 1+2.

Read more...

Brazilians Speak Portuguese, but the Olympics Must Use French

9 August 2016 (NY Times)

Rio de Janeiro - Michaëlle Jean, secretary general of the International Organization of la Francophonie, spent a recent morning at the sultry Lagoa Olympic venue, where the world’s most exciting rowing was taking place. She was not so interested in what was happening on the water.

“You will notice that the commentators are not speaking French,” she said, indignantly. “In the venue, none of the signs are in French.”

Monitoring the use of French at the Olympics is a frustrating and quixotic job, particularly when the Games are being held in a non-French-speaking country preoccupied with non-French-related matters like street crime, economic chaos and how to cram thousands of excitable spectators into the beach volleyball venue. But Rule 23 of the Olympic charter states that the Games have two official languages, and Ms. Jean’s organization, which represents 80 Francophone countries, is determined to make sure nobody forgets that one of them is French (the other is English).

Read more...

Related Links

Is English the Lingua Franca of International Sports? (Transparent Language blog, 10 August 2016)

Don't leave languages behind when Britain leaves the EU

5 August 2016 (TESS)

We'd be unwise to neglect European MFL post-Brexit. Heather Martin explains why.

Read the full article in TESS online, 5 August 2016, pages 36-37 (subscription required).

Read more...

Boosting foreign language GCSE entries is not the way to improve our country’s language skills – but there is a better way, insists David Harbourne

27 July 2016 (Schools Week)

The Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, wants 90% of 16-year-olds to take a foreign language GCSE.

In a recent House of Commons debate on the EBacc, he said this is necessary because “some 77% of employers say that they need more employees with foreign languages”. I take the figure with a pinch of salt, because this would mean over 3.8 million employers are clamouring for better language skills – frankly, I don’t believe it.

Nevertheless, I am instinctively in favour of languages for all. I did French O-level at school and scraped a pass. I learned French properly when I had the chance to live and work in Paris, and became a convert to the cause.

However, I’m emphatically not in favour of Nick Gibb’s crude target.

Read more...

Ministers acknowledge the key role of languages and language education

19 May 2016 (ECML)

The importance of language education and the added value of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML), were highlighted at the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Education, Brussels, 11-12 April 2016.

The focus of the conference was the Council of Europe flagship Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture. This new educational tool for teaching democracy and democratic values has been developed by the Council of Europe with input from over a thousand teachers and experts across the continent. It sets out a series of 20 key competences needed to play an active role in democratic society and explains how these can be defined and measured.

Community languages saved to ensure diverse curriculum continues

22 April 2016 (UK Government)

Government action means GCSEs and A levels in a range of community languages such as Panjabi, Portuguese and Japanese are to continue to ensure young people can carry on studying a diverse range of foreign languages.

The news, announced today (22 April 2016) by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, marks a significant step for the government in its efforts to extend opportunity to young people and equip them with the skills they need in what is an increasingly global economy.

It follows a government commitment in 2015 to protect a number of language GCSEs and A levels after the exam boards announced that from 2017 they would be withdrawing several courses. In May 2015, the Secretary of State for Education wrote to the exam boards during the pre-election period to convey her concern about their decisions to stop offering GCSEs and A levels in certain languages.

Read more...

Related Links

Community languages continue as vital part of our curriculum (Speak to the Future, 22 April 2016)

Nicky Morgan: How we are reversing Labour’s failure to teach modern languages in Britain

22 April 2016 (Conservative Home)

As Education Secretary, and as a Conservative, I am passionate about making sure every child can access a great education. We have more pupils than ever before in good or outstanding schools, but I want to go further and make sure that every single child can fulfil their potential.

 That commitment includes making sure that children study a range of core subjects, including foreign languages. The ability to speak and understand a foreign language isn’t just a skill that is valued by employers: it helps pupils understand different cultures and countries, broadening horizons and preparing them to succeed in an increasingly globalised world.

After all, one of Britain’s strengths is its rich and diverse society. Ensuring young people have the opportunity to study the widest range of languages is integral to that. I want every child to have that chance – regardless of their background, gender or race.

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Viewing languages as a luxury? Nuts to that!

19 February 2016 (TESS)

In 1995 I boarded an Aberdeen train for a marathon journey to the picturesque French town of Le Puy-en-Velay, where I was to spend a year as an English language assistant.

I'd done six years of French at school and another two at university. Now I was ready to throw myself into the land of Gainsbourg, Camus, Piaf, Truffant, Depardieu and (my main cultural reference point) Astérix. Or was I?

As the latest of several trains trundled past Bourgogne vineyards, I headed to the buffet car. I had a craving for peanuts.

Only I didn't know the French word for peanuts...

(see the Editorial, page 5 of TESS digital for the full article - TES subscription required).

Read more...

Related Links

Let’s be clear on foreign languages (TESS online, page 15) - subscription required to access.

Language interest grows

11 February 2016 (Scottish Government)

Pupils in the majority of Scotland’s council areas are now learning languages in Primary 1, under the Scottish Government’s 1+2 languages policy.

The Scottish Government made a commitment in 2011 to introduce the model in every council by 2020 – meaning every primary school pupil will start learning a first additional language in P1 and a second by P5, continuing until the end of S3.

Five years on, 21 out of 32 local authorities will be delivering the first additional language for P1 by the end of this school year, with all councils expected to meet the commitment by 2020.

Minister for Learning, Dr Alasdair Allan, met young people speaking French, Spanish and Gaelic when he visited Edinbarnet Primary School in West Dunbartonshire today.

Dr Allan’s visit follows the recent publication of figures from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSA) in 2015 that show 89 per cent of people in Scotland think that learning a language other than English in school from the age of five is important.

Read more...

Subject choice is vital in improving children's life chances, researchers say

20 November 2015 (TESS)

The Scottish government’s drive to close the attainment gap will fail to boost the life chances of deprived children because many are not choosing the right subjects, research suggests.

The University of Edinburgh researchers call for academic subjects such as English, maths, sciences and languages to be compulsory for longer and for schools to give pupils better advice about the long-term implications of their decisions.

(Please note a TES/TESS subscription is required to access the online article in full).

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Language teaching and learning in multilingual classrooms

19 November 2015 (European Commission)

Growing numbers of schoolchildren in the European Union have a mother tongue other than the main language of instruction used in school. Migrant children bring a multitude of languages and language skills to the classroom. This is a potential asset to the individual, schools and society at large. Linguistic diversity raises the issue of how schools can make best use of this potential.

The Commission has worked together with the EU countries to identify successful strategies for language learning in multilingual settings and to facilitate the sharing of good practices in the field. The results of this collaboration and of a comprehensive literature review on the topic, have resulted in a report entitled Language teaching and learning in multilingual classrooms.

You can access the report on the European Commission Multilingual Classrooms website.

Read more...

The council where one language isn't enough

6 November 2015 (TESS)

Glasgow to insist on 'dual linguist' specialists in its secondary schools.

Read the article on page 10 of the electronic version of TESS magazine.  Please note this is only available free online until 12 November 2015 after which a subscription will be required to access.

Read more...

Related Links

Enjoy the digital edition of TES for free (TES, 6 November 2015)

Language study bounces back after a decade of decline

10 August 2015 (The Herald)

A long-term decline in the number of pupils studying languages at Higher appears to have been reversed.

New figures show most modern languages have seen an increase in entries in 2015 after years where numbers have fallen.

Statistics from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) show French has seen a 10 per cent increase with entries rising to 4,572.

Spanish continues a remarkable rise over the past decade with entries rising 28 per cent to 2413.

Read more...

Now students are expected to study a language until age 16, the work to rebuild begins

2 July 2015 (The Conversation)

(Applies to England) The government’s decision that all pupils will now have to study a language GCSE as part of the English Baccalureate (EBacc) could be the moment when languages are restored to their rightful esteem in England – but there is still work to be done to ensure that.

For those who have fought to promote languages in the long years since 2004, when they were made optional for children aged 14-16, the decision should start a welcome reversal of the situation in which fewer than 25% of pupils in some schools have been studying for a GCSE in a language.

Read more...

Scottish Languages Review - latest issue published

1 June 2015 (SCILT)

The latest issue of the Scottish Languages Review has been published. Issue 29 includes:

  • a review of research related to language learning in the primary school, which is very relevant to the implementation of 1+2.
  • two opportunities to look back in time and examine Scotland’s language education from a statistical and qualitative point of view.
  • two discussions on language policy issues in other Anglophone contexts.

The Scottish Languages Review is THE electronic journal for language practitioners in Scotland and aims to provide language teachers, students, and researchers in Scotland with a strong voice in relation to all aspects of language teaching and learning; promote discussion amongst language practitioners across all education sectors about mutual areas of interest or concern;encourage greater debate between language learning theory and practice.

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Seven things that a Conservative government will mean for schools

8 May 2015 (TES)

(Applies to England) At number 6, Compulsory EBac - The Conservatives have pledged that all students should enter the English Baccalaureate at GCSE, stating that every Year 11 pupil should sit exams in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography.

Read more...

Related Links

So what about that Conservative Ebacc commitment? (Frenchteacher blog, 11 May 2015)

Scotland's International Framework

25 March 2015 (Scottish Government)

Scotland's International Framework sets out our internationalisation agenda and objectives, setting the context for delivery. It outlines our ambition for Scotland, its people, businesses and institutions through four strategic international objectives: enhancing our global outlook, strengthening our relationships and partnerships, increasing our reputation and attractiveness, and engaging with the European Union.

The document can be downloaded from the Scottish Government website.

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Schools: Foreign Languages — Question to House of Lords

26 January 2015 (They Work For You / Hansard)

Question put to the House of Lords by Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury – ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of progress in teaching foreign languages in schools.’

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Department urged to reinstate language programme at primary level

23 October 2014 (Irish Times)

Calls have been made for the Department of Education and Skills to reinstate a modern language programme at primary level that was shut down two years ago.

In a consultation document on its planned strategy on foreign languages, the department said the decision to terminate the Modern Languages in Primary School Initiative had been made “in light of concerns about curriculum overload at primary level”.

Read more...

Britain hamstrung by poor language skills

18 September 2014 (The Telegraph)

The roots of the trade deficit crisis lie not in the board room but in the classroom, says headmaster Richard Cairns; too few of us speak another language.

Read more...

Give languages a fair shout

4 September 2014 (THE)

We need policy to foster foreign language study at all levels of education, says Jocelyn Wyburd.

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Does the new primary curriculum teach the right languages? – poll

22 May 2014 (The Guardian)

(Relates to England) Is the department for education's list of obligatory languages too exclusive? Give your verdict by voting in our poll.

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Why UK schools need foreign languages now

17 March 2014 (British Council blog)

Good intentions alone will not help us introduce languages such as Chinese and Arabic into the curriculum. If we want to thrive in a global society, we need to take firm action now, says the British Council’s Vicky Gough.

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International Education Week: 18-24 November 2013

20 August 2013 (British Council)

International Education Week (IEW) is an opportunity to promote the importance of building an international dimension into the education of young people in the UK at primary and secondary levels. We know that familiarity with other cultures and modern foreign languages skills are an essential part of preparing young people to work in the increasingly globalised economy.

The British Council is an authoritative voice on language learning, through our English teaching around the world, and we bring an intercultural dimension to foreign language learning in the UK through sharing our experiences, providing research and data and bringing in examples of international best practice.

This year IEW will support a major policy shift in UK schools. From September 2014 primary schools in England will be required to teach a foreign language to pupils at Key Stage 2 (upper primary). There is also increasing policy support in other UK countries for language learning at primary level.

International Education Week will form the starting point of a longer-term campaign to promote language learning in UK schools, with events taking place throughout the academic year.

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Language learning revisited

10 May 2013 (TESS)

In my article "Learning new languages is now a primary concern" (26 April), a particular emphasis was underplayed in the editing of the piece.

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Related Links

Learning new languages is now a primary concern (TESS, 26 April 2013)

1+2 Case Study published on SCILT website

8 March 2013 (SCILT)

The first of our case studies showcasing how schools across Scotland are responding to the recommendations in 'Language Learning in Scotland: A 1 + 2 Approach' has been published on our website. Westercraigs Nursery in Glasgow celebrates the range of languages spoken by the children at home as well as offering specific learning experiences in French, Italian and Gaelic. Find out more about how the nursery promotes the importance and value of learning languages to the children and their families.

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Funding for language policy a 'drop in the ocean'

7 March 2013 (BBC Democracy Live)

Teaching unions told the European and External Affairs Committee that £4m to fund the Scottish government's 1+2 language policy would be a "drop in the ocean".

The policy describes a framework for language learning in Scotland based on the mother tongue + 2 additional languages model recommended by the European Union and adopted in many countries in Europe and beyond.

The money earmarked by the Scottish government is £120k for the pilot projects, and £4m for after the pilots in 2013-14.

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Related Links

Access related papers from the European and External Affairs Committee inquiry into foreign language learning in the primary school from the Scottish Parliament website.

EIS warns over foreign languages (The Herald, 8 March 2013)

Languages in schools cost a ‘drop in the ocean’ (The Scotsman, 8 March 2013)

Letters on the Government’s 1+2 policy in the Herald

22 February 2013 (The Herald)

I refer to your article about the teaching of modern languages in Scottish schools ("Languages class target unachievable", The Herald, February 21).  The debate has gone on for some time now as to what is the best method to teach children modern languages and at what age to start. Why is it that the relevant people do not look at other European countries and see how they do it?

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Related Links

Scottish Government’s strategy for language teaching is unworkable (The Herald, letters, 26 February 2013)

Language class targets unclear (The Herald, letters, 27 February 2013)

Primary adds success by teaching 1+5

14 December 2012 (TESS)

The prospect of teaching 1+2 languages from P1 is a daunting one for many in the primary sector.

But today, the Scottish Parliament's European and External Relations Committee will launch an inquiry into the teaching of languages in primary - at a school where 1+5 is the norm.

At Dalmarnock Primary, in the east end of Glasgow, pupils have access to French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Greek, in addition to their home language of English.

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China plan paying off

4 December 2012 (Scottish Government)

Strengthening Scotland’s relationship with China has generated an additional estimated £220 million for the economy.  Since the publication of the Scottish Government’s first China Plan in 2006, Scottish exports to the world’s second largest economy have risen sharply and are now worth an estimated total of £1.295 billion in 2007-2010, compared to £1.075 billion between 2003-2006.

It comes as a new five year strategy for Scotland’s engagement with China is launched by External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop, on the first anniversary of the arrival of the Giant Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo.

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Feature: Chinese learning flourishes in Scotland

13 November 2012 (Xinhuanet)

Gleneagles, Britain, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- It used to be the place where the G8 summit was held in July 2005, and on Monday another event, dubbed G50, was staged at the same venue.
But this time the participants are 50 high school students from across Scotland who were exchanging their joys and hardships in learning the Chinese language.

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