Foreign Language Learning in Primary Schools Inquiry



Roderick Campbell MSP visits Balmerino Primary School in Gauldry, Fife to see evidence of primary school children learning foreign languages

At its meeting on 20 October 2012, the Committee agreed to undertake an inquiry into the Scottish Government proposal to increase foreign language learning in primary schools. This proposal put forward plans to teach all young people two languages (as well as their mother tongue) from the first year of primary school onwards. The Scottish Government piloted this exercise in selected schools across Scotland. 

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

In the course of its inquiry the Committee considered the means and allocation of 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 also considered the capacity for the proposals within the current curriculum, as well as the role of languages in overall economic development.


The inquiry was conducted in three stages:

Phase 1: School Visits (Dec 2012 - Mar 2013)

The launch of the inquiry took place on 14 December 2014 at Dalmarnock Primary School in Glasgow. The visit to Dalmarnock Primary School was the first of seven school visits arranged across Scotland to discuss the issues with those most involved.

See a video of the launch

See images of the school visits

Phase 2: Evidence (Jan - Mar 2013)

The Committee took formal evidence from stakeholders with an interest in the subject as the second part of its inquiry.

Call for written evidence issued on 14 December 2012

See video of interim findings and key themes

Phase 3: Conference (May - Jun 2013)

A conference was held at the Scottish Parliament on Friday 10 May 2013 to discuss key findings from the inquiry. 

The Committee published a report of its key findings and recommendations in June 2013 (2426KB pdf)

See images and video of conference

The inquiry concluded on 19 September 2013 when the Committee considered the Scottish Government's response to its report at its formal meeting.


The Committee issued a call for evidence on its inquiry into the teaching of foreign languages in primary schools on 14th December 2012. The taking of formal written and oral evidence focused on issues of funding, skills and resources, the capacity within the curriculum to accommodate further language study, the choice of languages for teaching, and the role of languages in economic development. 

Written Evidence

The Committee received written submissions to its inquiry between 14 December 2012 and 22 February 2013.

Read written evidence received by the Committee

Oral Evidence

The Committee took oral evidence from stakeholders on 10th and 24th January, 7th and 21st February, 7th and 21 March, and had a final session with the Minister on 18th April 2013.

Read submissions from stakeholders in support of their oral evidence


Additional Information

See below for SPICe briefing on Foreign Language Learning in the European Union:

  • SPICe research paper - Foreign Language Learning in the European Union (194KB pdf)

See below for Scottish Government Language Working Group Reports on language tuition:

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