The positive contribution of foreign-language assistants has been highlighted in research by Glasgow University.
The British Council commissioned the university to carry out six case studies showing good practice, and the ways in which assistants can help achieve the aims of Curriculum for Excellence.
The research finds that, as well as improving pupils' confidence and fluency in speaking a language, assistants have increased cultural awareness through cross-curricular activities.
They also acted as role models, being "outward-looking European citizens who exemplify European mobility and the importance of learning other languages and embracing other cultures". In more rural areas they have offered what may be the only contact a pupil has with a person from another country.
Foreign-language assistants involve themselves in school life "to a far greater degree than is often considered", and play an important role in developing learning across the curriculum.
At St Mungo's Academy in Glasgow, the Italian language assistant researched the history, music and costumes for the Tarantella, then taught S2 pupils how to perform the dance.
After collaboration with the home economics and music and drama departments, the pupils performed in front of the whole school during their "Italian Week", using costumes they had designed and made themselves.
"As a result, pupils were made aware that departments work together, not in isolation," the report states. They were also "more culturally aware of another country's customs and celebrations".
The research is being published through Glow, the schools intranet.