Let’s be clear on foreign languages

4th March 2016 at 00:00

As an experienced German teacher, I recognise the pleasant anecdotal lightness of your editorial (“Viewing languages as a luxury? Nuts to that”, 19 February). However, the serious problem of foreign language provision in Scottish schools is not advanced by such trivia.

Neither in your editorial nor in the national discussion surrounding the 1+2 policy is there appropriate definition of terms. Does “proficiency in two languages before leaving primary school” mean the transactional language required to buy peanuts, the ability to sing a few songs, or the ability actually to create and manipulate language?

What does “learn two languages by the end of primary school” mean? If two have been “learned” before S1, what will happen between S1 and S6? If this vagueness is added to the widespread foreign language inadequacy among primary teachers (not a criticism of colleagues) the future is not rosy. Ab initio, CPD training may promote organisational competence but it does little robustly to teach them the language. We need to apply the principles of continuity and language progression, supported by teachers knowledgeable in the language; we need fewer vague soundbites and less elaborate window-dressing in schools for visiting politicians, inspectors and dignitaries.

John Nolan

Dunfermline, Fife

Short and tweet

Is speaking Scots an equity issue in some areas? What part does it have in the Attainment Challenge? #scotedchat


Aye. Puir areas is aften mair Scots spikkin. Cuid help tae steik the gap.


@d_anderson878 Hugely significant – we need to recognise this is a way to raise attainment and engagement re literacy.


Heid, shooders, kane and taes. Heid, shooders, knees and taes, and even lugs and neb and mooth. #scotedchat


Sorry, autocorrect disnae like Scots! #scotedchat


In early years, I think it’s respectful to use children’s dialect. #scotedchat


Plenty of tales from grandparents of time when not allowed to use dialect at school so happy to support when we do use. #scotedchat


I think also that [ the publisher] Itchy Coo had a massive effect on me as a new teacher. Brand new books in Scots! Gallus!



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