Foreign language teaching to be subject of debate at Holyrood

29.03.2013

The teaching of foreign language learning in Scottish primary schools will be the focus for a conference taking place at the Scottish Parliament in May.

The European & External Relations Committee is holding the event as part of its inquiry into the Scottish Government’s recent proposal to increase foreign language learning in primary schools. It will bring together parliamentarians and those involved in language learning to discuss the key findings of the committee’s inquiry to date.

Open to all with an interest in language education, whether as a parent, teacher or policy developer, the conference takes place on the morning of Friday 10 May 2013 at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Addressing the conference are three keynote speakers:

  • Mr Jan Truszczyński, Director General for the Directorate General for Education and Culture, European Commission;
  • Mr Waldemar Martyniuk, the Executive Director of the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe; and
  • Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, the Scottish Government Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages.

Speaking ahead of the event, Committee Convener Christina McKelvie MSP said:

“This inquiry has taken us across the country meeting pupils, parents and teachers alike. In our formal meetings, we have heard evidence from policy-makers and language experts. This conference will help us to bring all those perspectives together to explore the issues highlighted to us and we’d like to invite all interested parties to take part in our discussions on 10 May. Taking place just after Europe Day seemed fitting and importantly also allows us to further probe the matters before we report to the Scottish Government with our findings.”

Issues explored in the Committee’s investigations have included:
1. Funding (including use of EU funds)
2. The skills base and teaching resources available for language tuition
3. The capacity within the curriculum to accommodate greater language study
4. The choice of languages for teaching
5. The role of languages in economic development.

After the conference, the Committee will consider all evidence taken from its school visits, formal evidence, social media discussions and the conference. A report to Parliament is anticipated before the end of June.

Schools visited as part of the inquiry include:

  • Dalmarnock Primary School, central/east Glasgow (14/12/12) visited by Christina McKelvie MSP and Hanzala Malik MSP.
  • St Elizabeth’s Primary School, Eddlewood, near Hamilton (25/01/13) visited by Christina McKelvie MSP and Clare Adamson MSP.
  • Balmerino and Leuchars Primary Schools, East and North Fife (18/02/13) visited by Roderick Campbell MSP.
  • Darvel and Kilmaurs Primary Schools, East Ayrshire (08/03/13) visited by Willie Coffey MSP.
  • Machanhill Primary School, Machanhill, Larkhall (11/03/13) visited by  Christina McKelvie MSP and Clare Adamson MSP.
  • Lochyside Primary School, Fort William, Highlighlands (18/03/13) visited by Jamie McGrigor MSP.
  • Donibristle Primary School, Dalgety Bay, Fife (25/03/13) visited by Helen Eadie MSP.

Anyone wishing to attend the event should contact the Parliament by 19 April to secure a space. Please contact Eileen Martin or Natalie Ross via email:
Languages.inquiry@scottish.parliament.uk  or by phoning: 0131 348 5191.

Background

The Scottish Government proposes to enable all young people to learn 2 languages (as well as their mother tongue) whilst at primary school. This proposal follows the recommendations of the Scottish Government’s Languages Working Group report, ‘Language Learning in Scotland: A 1 + 2 Approach’. The Working Group recommended that children should learn a second language from Primary 1 and that learning of a third language should start no later than Primary 5.

Further information and detail of the evidence considered is available on the Committee webpages

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