Scotland’s education minister has called for more Scots to learn the languages of Europe, saying that it would boost the country’s economy and cultural diversity. He also announced a new strategy to promote language learning in schools and communities.
The benefits of multilingualism
The education minister, Angus Robertson, said that learning a second or third language was not only a valuable skill, but also a way of connecting with other cultures and peoples. He said that Scotland had a rich linguistic heritage, with Gaelic, Scots and English being spoken, as well as many other languages brought by immigrants and refugees.
He said that Scotland could benefit from the linguistic diversity of Europe, which has more than 200 languages spoken by its 744 million people. He cited research that showed that multilingualism could enhance cognitive abilities, creativity, employability and intercultural understanding.
He said that Scotland had a strong trade relationship with the European Union, which accounted for 45% of its exports in 2022. He said that learning the languages of Europe could help Scottish businesses to access new markets and opportunities, as well as to attract more tourists and investors.
He also said that learning the languages of Europe could help Scotland to maintain its ties with the continent, especially after the UK’s exit from the EU in 2020. He said that Scotland wanted to remain an open and outward-looking nation, and that learning the languages of Europe was a way of showing respect and appreciation for its neighbours and partners.
The new strategy for language learning
The education minister announced a new strategy for language learning, which aims to increase the number of Scots who can speak at least one other language besides English. The strategy has four main objectives:
- To ensure that every child in Scotland has the opportunity to learn a second language from primary school, and a third language from secondary school.
- To increase the provision and uptake of language courses in further and higher education, as well as in adult learning and community settings.
- To support the development and recognition of language skills in the workforce, and to encourage employers to value and promote multilingualism.
- To raise awareness and celebrate the linguistic diversity of Scotland and Europe, and to foster positive attitudes towards language learning.
The strategy will be supported by a range of measures, such as:
- Providing more funding and resources for language teaching and learning, including digital tools and online platforms.
- Developing a national framework and curriculum for language learning, based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
- Enhancing the professional development and training of language teachers, and increasing their recruitment and retention.
- Establishing more partnerships and exchanges with schools and institutions in other European countries, and facilitating the mobility and immersion of language learners and teachers.
- Organising more events and activities to showcase and celebrate the languages and cultures of Scotland and Europe, such as festivals, competitions, awards and campaigns.
The education minister said that the strategy was ambitious but achievable, and that he hoped that it would inspire more Scots to learn the languages of Europe. He said that he wanted Scotland to become a multilingual nation, where people could communicate and collaborate with others across borders and cultures.