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24th April 2015 at 01:00

Scots isn't a language? I've something to say about that.

Steve Ainsworth ("Inconvenient truths about Scots", Letters, 17 April) feels obliged to tell us that Scots is not a language. What a shocker!

Every time the subject of Scots language in schools gets a mention, someone pops up to try to put Scots speakers in their place, usually with the old chestnut that Scots is just a dialect of English, a slovenly patois or horrible slang.

Perhaps if Mr Ainsworth actually spoke to the children, teachers and parents for whom the Scots language is now an indispensable part of learning, he might not be so quick to dismiss it. It has been demonstrated time and again that offering Scots-speaking pupils meaningful opportunities to express themselves in their own language in the classroom can transform their self-esteem, attitude to learning and attainment.

The change most remarked on by teachers and parents is in the children's personal confidence. A teacher working in a Scots-speaking community in Ayrshire recently commented that she, her class and the parents of her children had felt empowered and more motivated to learn when they discovered that their local Scots speech was part of a language and not "bad English" or "slang".

Inspired by this, they have gone on to develop rich learning experiences using Scots and, as a direct result of welcoming the Scots language into the classroom, the school finds itself up for a national award for improvements in pupils' literacy skills and levels of attainment.

Mr Ainsworth would take us back to the bad old days of scolding, punishing and undermining the confidence and self-esteem of young people simply because their mother tongue is Scots.

Matthew Fitt

Scots writer and teacher

Short and tweet

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Letters for publication in TESS should arrive by 10am Monday. Send your letters, ideally of no more than 250 words in length, including contact address and phone number, by email to scotletters@tesglobal.com or by post to TES Scotland, Thistle House, 21-23 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DF. Letters may be edited

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