Inquiry on learning foreign languages in primary schools - call for views


At its meeting on 20 September 2012 the European and External Relations Committee agreed to conduct an inquiry into the Scottish Government’s recent proposal to increase foreign language learning in primary schools.

The Scottish Government proposes to enable all young people to learn two languages, in addition to their mother tongue, whilst at primary school. A Scottish Government 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. The Government wants this to happen within the next decade and is running pilot schemes in a series of Scottish primary schools.

Read the Scottish Government report Language Learning in Scotland: A 1 + 2 Approach.


Inquiry remit

In the course of its inquiry the Committee plans to consider the means and allocation of the funding for the project, the skills base and resources that would be made available for it and the specific languages to be taught. The Committee will also consider the capacity for the proposals within the current curriculum and the role of languages in overall economic development.


The inquiry will be held in three phases: Phase 1 will be Committee visits to primary schools; Phase 2 will be the taking of formal written and oral evidence; and Phase 3 will be a cumulative event in the Parliament's Chamber.  

In advance of the start of Phase 2, the Committee would welcome views on the issues outlined above and in particular on the following points:

  • Is there enough funding for the Scottish Government’s proposal (including use of EU money)?
  • Do existing teachers have the skills and teaching resources available for language tuition? Are existing teachers and teaching assistants equipped to teach languages? Should there be more training and support for new and existing teachers for language teaching?
  • What is the capacity within the curriculum to accommodate greater language study? Can language learning be embedded in existing teaching?
  • The choice of languages for teaching – which languages should children be learning and why?
  • The role of languages in economic development – what languages should children be learning to benefit their future careers, and to help Scotland flourish economically?

Submitting your views to the Committee

Before making a submission, please read the Parliament’s policy on treatment of written evidence by subject and mandatory committees.

To allow the Committee to take account of any views received, submissions should be sent to the address below, no later than Friday 22 February 2013.

Written submissions should be submitted electronically (preferably in Microsoft Word format) to—

[email protected]

If you have any questions regarding the Committee’s work on the teaching of languages in primary schools, please contact the Committee clerking team at the above e-mail address or on 0131 348 5226.