A RADICAL shake-up of foreign language teaching is needed in Scotland's primary schools, linguistic experts in Glasgow told MSPs.

Exposing children to a language early and learning at least one fluently must be the target, they said.

The Scottish Government has a proposal to increase foreign language learning in primaries.

The plan includes teaching at least one foreign language starting in the first year of primary and learning a second foreign language later, known as the one-plus-two strategy, which is common in many parts of mainland Europe.

Academics agreed the earlier children are exposed to a foreign language the better.

MSPs on the European And External Affairs Committee heard from experts and asked if primary teachers were sufficiently trained to deliver such a strategy.

Brain Templeton, Reader In Pedagogy at Glasgow University, said: "If we hope to have a national strategy we need to move to a position where all primary teachers can contribute, so they need to be trained to a certain level. We need to look at what we want to do then and then train them to do it.

"We should train primary teachers during teacher training so they can work with their class. We need daily exposure."

Scotland is considered to be well behind other European countries in language learning.

The Scottish Government report states languages in other countries is compulsory and usually starts in Primary 1, with other languages added later on.

It states: "There is no reason why Scotland should not offer children the same opportunities as children in other European countries and many other countries worldwide."

Dr Dan Tierney, Reader In Language Learning at Strathclyde University, said: "We must decide what the objectives are.

"Do we want to learn French or Chinese and become fluent or learn a little of a number of languages? The easiest one would be French and a second language of German or Spanish. That is where we have people trained already.

"Other countries have the simple answer of English and continuing through with it.

"I want this to succeed. It is ambitious to talk about starting in Primary 1 and carrying it through, competing with other European countries.

"Most of Europe has gone down the one-plus-two route, but the continuity is in English, so it is easier for them. Which language do we choose?"


The easiest one to teach would be French and a second language of German or Spanish. That is where we have people trained already