18-10-25: Breaking the Languages Barrier

Issued: Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:15:00 BST

Scotland’s future economic success and influence will increasingly depend on having a global outlook and skills – the facility to use other languages is a critical part of this.

A new report by Reform Scotland calls for a major restructuring of our approach to language learning, suggesting a new model focused on practical, everyday use of foreign languages, and advocates pilot schemes to explore this fresh approach.  The report draws on the research of Prof Alison Phipps (Unesco Chair and PI of Researching Multilingually at Borders) and Dr Giovanna Fassetta (PI Impact of Language) and references their 2015 paper "A critical analysis of language policy in Scotland".

Specifically, the report argues for an end to the outdated distinction between ‘community’ and ‘modern’ languages – Urdu and Chinese are more commonly spoken around the world, and in Scotland, than French and German. Scotland has growing Polish, Arabic, Urdu and Chinese communities, presenting a rich opportunity not only for pupils to engage with native speakers and learn from their peers, but to use these language skills on a daily basis.

If we want to see genuine growth in language skills in Scotland, rather than just paying lip service to the idea, we need to rethink our approach.

For more information and to read the report in full, please visit reformscotland.com