Improved funding needed for Scotland to lead way in language teaching

Temporary classrooms: 493 used across Scotland
Teaching: More funding is needed for language lessons.©:STV

Improved funding and training will be needed if Scotland is to continue to lead the way in teaching foreign languages.

The British Council Scotland also said it was "critical" that businesses recognise the importance of language skills to the country's economy.

The organisation, which works to connect Scotland and the world through schools, higher education and the arts, said the attitude that it was sufficient for people to know only English "must be challenged if Scotland is to prosper in the future".

It made the points in a submission to MSPs on Holyrood's European and External Relations Committee, which is looking at the way languages are taught in primary schools

The inquiry is being staged after the Scottish Government proposed youngsters start learning a foreign language in primary one instead of the current primary six.

Children could then go on to learn a second one in primary five under the plans, which are based on recommendations by the Modern Languages Working Group.

Lloyd Anderson, the director of the British Council Scotland, is amongst those who will give evidence to the committee this morning.

In its submission to MSPs ahead of the meeting, the organisation stressed the teaching of foreign languages from an early age was "essential, both for the direct knowledge it gives children and for the ability language has to raise intercultural awareness and lift horizons and ambitions".

It added: "Scotland has led the way in the teaching of foreign languages in the past and it is essential that funding and training is improved if this is to be maintained.

"It is critical to Scotland's economic success in the future that businesses realise the importance of languages being taught from an early age. The 'English is enough' attitude must be challenged if Scotland is to prosper in the future."

British Council Scotland said Scottish employers "tend to circumvent rather than address language skill needs by exporting only to Anglophone countries or those where they can easily find English speakers".

But it added: "This approach is severely limiting Scotland's economic potential when one considers that only 6% of the world's population speak English as a first language and 75% of the world's population don't speak any English."