MORE work has to be done to ensure Scottish schoolchildren are attracted to study foreign languages, it has been warned.
Following the publication of the Language Learning in Scotland report, the Scottish Conservatives have called on new opportunities to be created in both the early and later years of primary school, and for the very sharp decline in the number of foreign language assistants who operate in Scotland’s schools to be reversed.
Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP said:
“Learning foreign languages ought to be part of any curriculum, not just because of the discipline of learning the language, but because of all the doors that can be unlocked when it comes to understanding the history, geography and culture of these countries.
“For far too long, there has been uncertainty about the place of foreign languages in the curriculum and therefore a lack of appropriate focus in our classrooms.
“In several cases we have seen a decline in the number of pupils taking SQA courses, and in a few cases such as Russian we have seen it disappear altogether.
“Perhaps worst of all, there has been a very sharp decline in the number of foreign language assistants who provide the essential contact for pupils with native speakers.
“At a time when many businesses and industries are saying that fluency in a modern language is a key skill for new recruits, this is a deeply worrying situation.
“The Scottish Government needs to pay attention to the calls from language teachers for earlier access in primary schools and it must stop turning a blind eye to the crisis with language assistant provision across our local authorities.”