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Policy actions 5 of 5

Language learning

We are committed to ensuring that all children and young people in Scotland are equipped with the skills they need for life and work, and language skills are very much part of this.

By improving language learning in Scotland's schools, we are ensuring that our children and young people have the skills they need to live and work in an increasingly global society.

The 1+2 approach

In response to recommendations from the Languages Working Group we have pledged to enable and encourage every child to learn two languages in addition to their native tongue – the 1+2 approach.

By 2021, every school in Scotland will offer children the opportunity to learn a first additional language from primary one, and a second additional language by primary five. It is expected that this will continue until they reach their third year of secondary education.

Schools and local authorities will decide which additional languages are taught. We will encourage parents to work with their childrens' schools to explore ways of enriching the language learning experience.

Support for implementing 1+2

We aim to implement this policy by 2021 and are giving local authorities significant extra funding to help them to deliver it. As of April 2017 we have given them an additional £24.2 million to fulfil this task.

We are working in partnership with Education Scotland to ensure that parents, teachers and others with an interest in language learning have access to advice and support that will help them to understand and implement 1+2.

Scotland's National Centre for Languages, known as SCILT, offer complementary support, resources and training.

Benefits of learning additional languages

We believe it is important for Scotland that our young people are attracted to learning languages, so that they are well equipped for life and work in the ever-changing global marketplace.

According to 2014 research by James Foreman-Peck of the University of Cardiff, the UK loses an estimated £48 billion worth of contracts per year due to a lack of language skills in the workforce.

By supporting our young people to learn two additional languages, we are helping to grow our economy.

Language learning also improves children's communication skills, increases their confidence and encourages a better understanding of other countries and cultures.

The 2015 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSA) found that most people in Scotland (89%) think that learning a language other than English in school from the age of five is important.

Progress in implementing 1+2

In 2011 we set up the short-life Languages Working Group (LWG) to consider how we could improve language learning in schools.

The LWG published their report, Language Learning in Scotland: a 1+2 approach, in 2012; in The 1+2 language learning policy: Scottish Government response, we accepted all of the report's recommendations in full or in part.

On the LWG's recommendation we set up the Strategic Implementation Group (SIG) in 2013 to oversee delivery of the 1+2 policy commitment.

In October 2014, the SIG produced an interim report on the progress with implementation, which also set out the priorities for the coming year.

We set up a sub-group called the SIG Engagement Group to take forward some of the actions concerning direct engagement with employers, further and higher education, and those linked with industry. In particular, the SIG Engagement Group is charged with changing attitudes towards language learning in wider society.

In June 2016 we commissioned the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) to produce a review of the progress made so far in implementing 1+2.