Brian Wilson, the Education Minister, has promised further action to cement the teaching of foreign languages in primary schools and may consider radical options such as bilingual classes. The success of Gaelic-medium education could be emulated in French or German to tackle what is widely recognised as a deep-seated problem.
An Inspectorate source said: "We have had four years of modern languages in the primary school, we have restructured examinations in the secondary school and we have revolutionised the teaching, yet we are not producing young people who can chatter in a modern language or continue it after S4."
Mr Wilson was announcing grants of Pounds 3.8 million to help train an extra 833 primary teachers. He said: "This is a programme to which I attach great importance. I will be taking a particular interest in this area of the curriculum and it is my hope that we can provide Scottish pupils with a coherent and rewarding modern languages experience."
In the past four years, 2939 primary teachers have been trained at a cost of more than Pounds 12 million.