Scotland has been suffering from a shrinkage on the study of foreign languages in the recent years in most levels of education, with only 12.1% of Scottish students studying a foreign language. The decrease has been worrying Scottish authorities because it could harm the country’s position in the world by creating students who are unfit to fulfil certain requirements in an increasingly multicultural and multilingual world. The government is recommending an increase in the teaching of languages and will be giving it a place in 2014’s budget, with £4 million being dedicated to supporting language learning. A recent report by the Higher Education Academy stated that the apparent disinterest in languages springs from modern languages’ low priority and little esteem combined with Scotland’s increasing interest and focus on internal matters.
Incessant Decrease in Language Teaching and Learning
According to recent reports, only one in ten students entering their 5th Senior year chooses to take a foreign language course. The number of course entrants in the higher years has fallen by 25% in the last twenty years, affecting German the most, with a 23% drop. These results are a consequence of students being able to choose their courses and placing other options, such as art, drama and science, on top of languages. The plans for next year put an even greater emphasis on student choice, which could lead to a further decline. Professors have stated that the importance of languages lies on their ability to become means through which to interpret cultural diversity and their place as an inextricable part of today’s world.
Turning the Tide
To counteract that possibility, authorities have come up with various suggestions. Sarah Breslin, director of Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, affirms that students should be encouraged to take up language courses by “selling” languages to them. The Education Minister, Michael Russell, proposes to implement measures similar to those which are currently available in Barcelona, involving language teaching in two languages apart from the mother tongue throughout primary school.