Scots in the classroom


Joanna McPake (Scottish CILT)
Dr Jo Arthur (Edge Hill College of Higher Education)


Edge Hill College of Higher Education




Despite continuing confusion over whether Scots is a language, a dialect, or several languages/ dialects, there have been a number of initiatives in recent years to promote Scots in schools. However, so far, the impact of these developments on Scottish schoolchildren's awareness of Scots, their motivation to use it – whether in semi-formal situations, such as the classroom, or outwith the school – and their proficiency in the tongue, has not been evaluated. This pilot study, based on work with one P7 class in which there are ongoing initiatives to promote Scots and to encourage students to use the tongue, colloquially and as a means of literary expression, therefore aims to explore ways in which the impact might be researched. The researchers are investigating :

  • teachers' aims and approaches in relation to the teaching of Scots
  • students' perspectives on the study of Scots in a school context
  • students' experiences and motivation to use Scots outwith school
  • students' Scots repertoire

Research approaches include classroom observation and interviews with the class teacher and with students. In addition, recordings of students' oral use of Scots and examples of students' writing in Scots will be analysed, firstly in order to describe the repertoires and secondly to evaluate the impact of specific teaching input.


Arthur, J. and McPake, J. (2004): Legitimate Classroom Language: Scots in a Scottish Primary Classroom. Paper presented at Sociolinguistics Symposium XV , Newcastle (April)



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