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Teach abroad as an English Language Assistant

18 December 2018 (British Council)

University students and graduates, why not teach English overseas on a paid six-month or one-year placement working as a language assistant? Experience life in another country, learn transferable skills and stand out in the job market. 

Applications for 2019-20 are open now and close on Friday 15 February 2019.

As an English Language Assistant, you will: 

  • strengthen your CV
  • improve your fluency in another language
  • gain skills in communication, presentation, time management, organisation, teamwork, working independently, creative thinking and problem-solving
  • immerse yourself in another culture
  • increase your cultural awareness
  • develop professional confidence.

Teaching time is limited to between 12 and 20 hours a week, giving you plenty of time to experience the country and pursue other interests. 

Visit the British Council website for more information.


Year of the Pig education pack

17 December 2018 (British Council)

According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, we enter the Year of the Pig on 5 February 2019. This education pack for primary schools contains information and activities to help teachers and pupils learn more about this important Spring Festival and explore Chinese language and culture.

Your pupils can read a traditional story to find out how Pigsy became the companion of the Monkey King, and learn how Chinese children refer to animals and animal sounds by singing Old Macdonald’s Farm in Chinese.

For these and other activities, visit the British Council website and download the resource pack.


Business brunches inspire Scotland’s future global workforce

17 December 2018 (SCILT)

Over 200 young people met with local employers at the largest business and languages engagement event to date! Twenty-five schools from across the west of Scotland were represented at the Business Brunch in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 5 December 2018. The event saw learners from S3-S6 engage with employers from a range of sectors, all who view language skills as key to the growth and success of their company.

A teacher attending the event said: “All my pupils came away from the event with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for languages, and I have had emails from parents commenting how excited and motivated pupils were in sharing their experiences of the event. It is a fantastic opportunity for pupils to be exposed to a range of different people, careers and industries.”

One of the young people added to this and commented: “I gained an understanding of the successes that the speakers had achieved due to them having knowledge of another language.”

Gordon Robb, VR Growth and one of the speakers, stated: “What a fantastic opportunity for young people thinking about leaning languages to find out what a difference it can make to them and their future opportunities in business.”

The event was organised by SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages based at the University of Strathclyde in partnership with the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland.

Schools represented were All Saints RC Secondary School, Alloa Academy, Ardrossan Academy, Auchinleck Academy, Bishopbriggs Academy, Boclair Academy, Caldervale High School, Cathkin High School, Clydebank High School, Duncanrig Secondary School, Eastwood High School, Grange Academy, Gryffe High School, Hamilton College, Hyndland Secondary School, John Paul Academy, Linwood High School, Paisley Grammar School, Renfrew High School, Sanquhar Academy, Smithycroft Secondary School, St Aidan's High School, St Ninian's High School, St. Andrew's High School and The Glasgow Academy.

Companies attending included Albion Overseas Ltd, Radio Lingua Ltd, Russian Centre in Scotland 'Haven', Scottish Engineering, Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and VR Growth Ltd.

The following businesses supported the event by hosting a stall in the Marketplace: Alex Begg, BSL Partnership in Scotland, Food and Drink Federation Scotland, Founders4Schools, Glasgow Life, IBM, KF German Translations, Supreme Tours Ltd, The Open University in Scotland, University of Glasgow and University of Strathclyde. 

Fhiona Mackay, Director of SCILT said: “In these times of uncertainty, it is even more important than ever that we equip our young people with the skills they will need for life beyond school.  We want them to be outward-looking and able to operate in an interdependent world. Events such as these highlight the importance of language skills and intercultural competencies in the world of work.

“The business leaders who speak at these events give of their own time because they understand how much these skills are needed and valued by employers and how vital they are for Scotland’s business community. This kind of collaboration is an example of how education and business sectors can work together for their mutual benefit so that we can support young people and help them develop the portfolio of skills that employers require in their workforce.”

Meaningful employer engagement and providing relevant careers advice are both key recommendations of Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy, “Developing the young workforce”. This Business Brunch supported these aims by giving young people the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the role of languages in the business world.  The targets laid out in the Scottish Attainment Challenge are about achieving equity in educational outcomes, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. Through hearing from a range of business leaders and interacting with employees, the aspirations of the young people who attended were raised.

This collaboration between schools and businesses supported Scotland’s International Policy to equip young people with international communication and employability skills that they will need in our increasingly globalised society and economy.

The event is one of a series of Business Brunches being held across Scotland in December 2018 and January 2019.

Brexit ‘will leave Scotland short of foreign language teachers’

14 December 2018 (TESS)

The leader of the organisation that represents Scottish independent schools has issued a warning about the impact of Brexit on the education sector.

John Edward, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, suggested that schools specifically should be worried about the end of freedom of movement.

“Only 14 EU teachers applied for General Teaching Council for Scotland registration up until 30 June 2018 – down from 128 in 2015, 159 in 2016 and 186 in 2017. There are already significantly fewer language teachers in Scotland than in 2008. There were 722 French teachers last year in the state sector, compared with 1,070 in 2008.

“Over the same period, the number of German teachers has almost halved, to 100 (the number of Spanish teachers has increased from 64 to 107).

“At the very least, EU withdrawal poses a real challenge for the Scottish government’s admirable 1+2 modern language ambitions.”

(Note - subscription required to read full article).


Immersion courses in France and Spain

14 December 2018 (LFEE)

Languages for Education Europe (LFEE) run immersion courses for primary and secondary teachers of French and Spanish, with funding available from Erasmus+. The next funding deadline is 5 February 2019.

Visit the LFEE website for more information.


SQA course reports for Higher Modern Languages 2018

13 December 2018 (SCILT/SQA)

We have summarised the Course Reports for Higher Modern Languages, including Gaelic learners. These reports highlight areas where candidates performed well in the 2018 exam and areas where they encountered difficulty. They contain sound advice for both teachers and pupils in the run up to this year's exam diet. The summary can be found in the Senior Phase section of our website.

The full report for each language can be accessed on the SQA website under the Course Reports tab.


Japanese Language Group for Scottish Schools

12 December 2018 (Japanese Language Group for Scottish Schools)

The Japanese Language Group for Scottish Schools met in Edinburgh in November to discuss the work being done to support the teaching of Japanese within Scottish schools.

Attached are the minutes from the meeting. Anyone with an interest in the subject who would like to join the group or mailing list can contact -

Power of the Scots language in traditional Angus song celebrated in new BBC Radio Scotland documentary

11 December 2018 (The Courier)

Ahead of his latest BBC Radio Scotland programme Sangsters, Newport-based broadcaster Billy Kay tells Michael Alexander why Scots song – including Tayside classics – is a national treasure.

As a founder member of the award-winning Scots folksong group Malinky, and a graduate of the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University, Arbroath-raised musician, lecturer and author Steve Byrne is no stranger to traditional music and culture.

But in a new BBC Radio Scotland radio programme Sangsters which celebrates the power of the Scots language through its most beautiful songs, Steve admits that some lyrics well up his emotions more than others.

[..] Sangsters, a two-part programme which airs on December 19 and 26 respectively, celebrates the emotive power and beauty of Scots song in the company of some of the country’s finest traditional singers, who also discuss the importance they place on speaking Scots both for their performance and interpretation of the songs.


Erasmus+ schools funding

11 December 2018 (British Council)

Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport, which runs from 2014 to 2020. Through Erasmus+, UK schools can access funding for life-changing international activities:

  • Pupils can take part in international exchanges and study experiences: to develop new skills, raise their aspirations and gain vital international experience
  • Staff can teach, train or job shadow abroad: to develop their professional practice, build relationships with international peers and gain fresh ideas
  • Schools can collaborate with international partners: to drive innovation, share best practice, and offer new opportunities to young people.

The 2019 Call for applications is now open, with €36 million proposed for UK schools.

Visit the Erasmus+ website for more information.


Teaching primary foreign languages in multilingual classrooms

10 December 2018 (EAL Journal)

The EAL Journal blog publishes plain language summaries of EAL-related Master’s and doctoral research. In this post Katy Finch, doctoral researcher in the Division of Human Communication at the University of Manchester presents a summary of her Master’s dissertation on teachers’ experiences teaching modern foreign languages to linguistically diverse classes. 


Arabic Language and Culture Programme

10 December 2018 (British Council)

The British Council and Qatar Foundation International are working together to promote the teaching and learning of Arabic language and culture in the UK

The new phase of this collaboration aims to make Arabic a realistic choice for UK Schools, Headteachers, parents and students. 

Recent research into long-term language needs, looking at a variety of economic, geopolitical, cultural and educational indicators, identified Arabic as the second most necessary language for the UK over the next 20 years. 

However the gap between this need and current provision is particularly great: Arabic is taught in only five or six per cent of secondary schools in the UK, the majority of which are Muslim faith schools, and often only as an extracurricular subject or in the supplementary sector. 

The British Council and QFI are working to develop Arabic to the same standards expected of the other major world languages in the British school system as a viable option for any student of any background to explore.

UK schools are invited to work together with us to provide Arabic in the curriculum, with three-year funding and support available.

Visit the British Council website for more information.


Gaelic speakers must step up their efforts

8 December 2018 (The Press and Journal)

The first female MSP to make a plenary address in the Scottish Parliament chamber in Gaelic has warned the language’s future will only be secured for the next generation if all speakers step up their efforts.

Kate Forbes MSP believes that more Gaelic speakers should be using the language “loudly and noticeably” in the public square.

Delivering the prestigious Oraid an t-Sabhail lecture last night at Scotland’s national centre for Gaelic language, culture and the arts, Sabhal Mor Ostaig on the Isle of Skye, she follows in the footsteps of four serving Scottish First Ministers (Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond, Jack McConnell and the late Donald Dewar).

Ms Forbes said: “Great progress has been made in the last few decades to secure the future of Gaelic, but we need to go further and faster.


Latin reading competition

7 December 2018 (Association for Latin Teaching)

The Association for Latin Teaching (ARLT) is holding a reading competition for secondary schools. Entries should be a recording of pupils reading the prescribed Latin text.

Entries will be judged on accuracy of pronunciation and ability to convey the meaning and mood of the passage. For verse, sensitivity to metre will also be noted. These features will be given approximately equal weighting. 

Visit the website for full competition details. Recordings should be submitted by 22 February 2019.


French pop video competition

7 December 2018 (Institut français)

Do you think you could sing or rap in French? Do you have the skills to make a video clip for your song? If so, this competition is for you!

The Institut français du Royaume-Uni, in association with Francophonie UK, is inviting you to submit a short video, or animated clip, to accompany a song or rap in French. The competition is open to all UK primary and secondary schools (ages 7 to 18) across the 4 countries + Channel Islands. 

Find out more about the competition and how to enter on the flyer.


New job profile on the SCILT website

7 December 2018 (SCILT)

We have a range of job profiles on our website showcasing professions where language skills are being used.

The latest addition comes from Francesca Smith, a former marketing professional who is now studying for a PGDE Secondary in Modern Languages (Spanish and German).

Having embraced languages from an early age, Francesca tells us her skills gave her confidence and opened many doors and opportunities for her around the world. Her aim now is to share that experience and encourage language learning in secondary schools in Scotland.

Teachers share her profile with your pupils to demonstrate the benefits of language learning for life and work.


Gaelic teachers encouraged to share resources via new website

6 December 2018 (Stòrlann)

A website for Gaelic teachers to share resources has been created by Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig. Material can be uploaded and downloaded via the website Seo Sibh.

The website is aimed at saving teacher time and effort through the sharing of resources. All resources that are uploaded will be quality assured by Stòrlann staff for vocabulary, grammar and good design, before being made available for download.

The resources are split into sections – early years, primary, secondary, parents and general resources – and teachers are encouraged to contribute towards building a bank of material that can be accessed by colleagues across the country.

Some of the Seo Sibh resources are also editable files, so they can be tailored to suit.

Teachers who submit their resources will be clearly credited for the work, although they can also opt to be anonymous.

Neil Smith, Head of Development Services for Stòrlann, said the site had been created “to meet a need and respond to teacher feedback” and added: “We want to encourage people to use the sharing site and share their work with others to help each other out.”

Visit the website for more information.


Gaelic education: is it effective?

6 December 2018 (Holyrood)

“Teachers in Gaelic medium are exceptional because they have to instil this language that will be new to most pupils,” Donalda McComb, headteacher of Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu in Glasgow, tells Holyrood.

“The experience [the children have] had in the nursery, a Gaelic nursery, will help give a baseline, but they’ll still go through processes for language learning where a lot of it is understanding before they’re actually speaking it.”

In Gaelic-medium education, children are fully immersed, taught solely through Gaelic, in primary one and two. English literacy is then introduced during primary three or four, with elements of Gaelic and English taught throughout the rest of the primary years.

Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu (SGG) is currently the biggest provider of Gaelic-medium education (GME) in Scotland and the only end-to-end Gaelic school delivering nursery, primary and secondary education through the medium of Gaelic. McComb has more than 30 years’ experience in Gaelic-medium teaching, which began in Glasgow and Inverness in 1985 with 24 pupils, and now sees around 5,600 children being educated in Gaelic in 13 local authority areas.

In that time, the profile of the pupils has changed significantly, from most being the children of Gaelic speakers to now a majority of children coming from non-Gaelic-speaking households.

This in itself presents challenges. At one end, some children arrive at school having been exposed to Gaelic at home and been through croileagan (Gaelic toddler group) and sgoil àraich (nursery), while others have not heard a word of Gaelic before they start.

This year, SGG is piloting two separate classes, one for children with a background in Gaelic and another for those with no Gaelic. The school has also brought in play-based learning in primary one, because the school was finding that some children “weren’t ready for that more formal side of things”.

This is already used in Bun-Sgoil Taobh na Pàirce in Edinburgh. Anne MacPhail, headteacher there, says the play-based approach works well because it means the teachers have opportunities to take small groups of children, work with them and encourage them to “become confident in trying Gaelic”.

Gaelic-medium education is considered a success story and the benefits of it, and its encouragement of bilingual competency in general, have been well publicised. Research shows it provides improved cognitive development and pupils going through GME perform at least as well, if not better, in English than their monolingual peers. Academically, for example, Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu has the highest attainment in the city, with around half of sixth years achieving five or more Highers.

There are plans to expand GME as part of a drive to secure the future of the language. The Scottish Government’s Gaelic language plan aims to double the intake into GME primary to 800 and increase the range of subjects taught in Gaelic at secondary, while expansion of GME has been among Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s key priorities in successive national Gaelic language plans.

But there are serious challenges. Firstly, in achieving the aim of Gaelic-medium education creating a new generation of Gaelic speakers – with much of the focus of discourse around GME levels of attainment in general, particularly in English, rather than on levels of attainment in Gaelic – and secondly, the needs that go with the planned expansion, given a serious shortage of Gaelic teachers and other resources to meet existing and future demand.


Sky’s the limit

5 December 2018 (CIOL)

An Intelligence Analyst in the RAF Specialist Recruitment Team explains why language skills are so vital to the work.

An Intelligence Analyst (Linguist) or Int An (L) plays a vital role in protecting the security of domestic, national and international interests by interpreting, analysing and disseminating intelligence through the interception of foreign voice transmissions using state-of-the-art receiving and recording systems. From this, valuable intelligence about actual or potential enemies, and their strengths, weaknesses, movements and locations, can be discovered. There is also the opportunity to act as an interpreter for troops on the ground.

Whatever their role, the contribution from linguists is vital to operational success as they support operations across the globe and assist senior commanders in making key decisions. In some cases, they may be the first or only people to hear vital pieces of information, which can affect the outcome of a military objective and save lives. On operations, linguists can be expected to support ground missions by intercepting enemy communications in the area and monitoring potential threats. This is especially significant in operational theatres where soldiers are deployed on the ground in hazardous territory.

In-depth training

The Royal Air Force (RAF) relies significantly on the high-calibre skills of its Int An (L) cadre. Personnel are currently taught languages of operational importance in an intensive 18-month course designed for people who have never learnt the language before. Students are taught all four aspects of a language (reading, writing, speaking and listening) and are assessed regularly on their progress. 

The languages taught at the Defence College for Languages and Culture change depending on operational requirements (currently Arabic, Russian and Farsi). This is followed by an applied course designed to bridge the gap between formal language learning and the ability to interpret, decipher and analyse real-world military intelligence audio cuts.

Here, linguists become fully equipped to affect operations and able to influence commanders’ decisions effectively based on the information they gather and translate. CIOL now offers membership to RAF personnel who train to become linguists, commensurate with training and the application of the language.


Getting Down with the Lingua!

4 December 2018 (Developing the Young Workforce)

During the 2018 school year, DYW Ayrshire in partnership with SCILT (Scotland's National Centre for Languages) ran a series of 'Broaden your Horizons with Languages' events. These were aimed at S3-S6 pupils across Ayrshire with an interest in foreign languages.

Over the past few months we have had over 231 young people in Ayrshire attend to hear from a variety of professionals who utilise language skills in a work context. These included Radio Lingua, Arcs Partnership and EasyJet.

View the video to see some of the action.


How to nurture speakers of ‘difficult’ languages

4 December 2018 (Financial Times)

The UK Foreign Office has made a big effort to improve diplomats’ language skills, only to see it undone by staff rotations and expulsions.

After re-opening its in-house language school, the Foreign Office says 55 per cent of diplomats who need languages for their roles now have them, up from 39 per cent in 2015. The level in Mandarin is almost 70 per cent, but, according to a parliamentary report last week, there are problems with Russian and Arabic.

About two-thirds of the British diplomats expelled by Moscow after the alleged Russian attack in Salisbury this year were Russian speakers. Only 30 per cent of UK diplomats who need Arabic for their jobs can manage in the language, although the number was 49 per cent as recently as December last year. The reason for the fall is that Arabic-speaking diplomats had been rotated to other posts.

The problem is not confined to the diplomatic service or to the UK. Foreign language skills in English-speaking countries are dire. Fewer than one-third of 16-year-olds in England achieve a decent grade in a foreign language. Fewer than a quarter of US school students study another language.

Employers, whether governments or companies, need to nurture, and work out how to manage, staff who speak foreign languages, particularly languages that English speakers find difficult. And ambitious would-be diplomats and international businesspeople need to think about which languages to concentrate on.


FOKUS: Films from Germany 2018/19

1 December 2018 (Goethe-Institut)

The fourth edition of Fokus: Films from Germany takes place from 22 November 2018 to 31 January 2019.
This year, we are presenting a particularly exciting and eclectic snapshot from the contemporary film scene in Germany. Alongside a selection of documentaries, we are presenting some beautiful new feature films as well as glimpse into the oeuvre of iconic filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. Come and join us for screenings in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, St. Andrews or up north in Huntly!

Visit the Goethe-Institut website for more information.


The German Quiz Challenge - coming soon!

30 November 2018 (Goethe-Institut)

THE GERMAN QUIZ CHALLENGE is the second assessment and learning tool produced and developed by the Goethe-Institut London in partnership with ovos, the development company based in Vienna, Austria.

After the success of the Erasmus + Project THE LANGUAGE MAGICIAN, a language learning and assessment tool for primary school pupils, our most recent gaming project THE GERMAN QUIZ CHALLENGE is targeted at secondary school pupils aged 13 to 16. The goal is to supply a tool that allows increasing the quality of German lessons and the motivation of learners to study the German language.

The game allows teachers to see the development of the pupils’ knowledge and their ability to use the language. It increases the motivation to learn, as the gaming nature of this assessment tool prevents students from feeling stressed by the evaluation process. 

The game will be available online for free by the beginning of the new school year in 2019.


SCILT Christmas 2018 webpage now live!

30 November 2018 (SCILT)

Are you looking for ways to bring the festive season to your languages classroom?

SCILT have compiled a range of online resources for use with your pupils, from songs and games to interactive advent calendars and videos. Find out how Christmas is celebrated in France, Germany, Spain and around the world!


SQA AH Modern Languages Visiting Assessing

29 November 2018 (SQA)

The SQA is currently reviewing aspects of the Advanced Higher Visiting Assessing process.

Updated information will be issued in December 2018/early January 2019. Visit the SQA website for more details.


Only one third of British Foreign Office diplomats based in Arab countries speak Arabic, new study reveals

28 November 2018 (Daily Mail)

Only a third of British diplomats stationed in Arab countries can speak Arabic, a new study has revealed.

By comparison, 64 per cent of American diplomats in the region can speak the language. 

The figures are to be included in a review of UK Middle East policy by the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM).

James Sorene, its CEO, said: 'To do diplomacy properly, you have to speak the language. 

'To protect our interests and boost our influence, we need to raise our game and send our diplomats back to the classroom.'

'The figures show how far behind we are compared to the United States and other Western countries,' he added.

In response to the study, the Foreign Office said that Britain already has the finest diplomatic service in the world, but added: 'We continue to reinvigorate and expand both in terms of people and places. 

'That includes the biggest expansion of Britain's diplomatic network for a generation, broadening the talent pool we tap into for our ambassadors and a massive boost in language training.'

Arabic is the world's fifth most-spoken native language and is projected to grow as the population in the region rises.

In 2015, the British Council ranked Arabic second in a list of languages important to Britain, ahead of French, Mandarin and German. Only Spanish was deemed more important.

The shortage comes despite the Foreign Office identifying Arabic as a priority language, and setting a target of 80 per cent of speaking posts being staffed by qualified officers by 2020.


Oral Revision Courses: Higher and Advanced Higher French

1 December 2017 (Alliance Française Glasgow )

The AF Glasgow will be running special revision courses for pupils who are sitting their Higher and Advanced Higher French oral examinations in early 2018.


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.


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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