Call to teach second language in Scots schools from P1

Foreign language teacher and pupils
Image caption Under the plans children could start learning a second language as young as five

A new report has said children in Scotland should begin learning a second language as soon as they start school.

The study, commissioned by the Scottish government, called for a "radical change of approach" in language learning.

The proposals put forward would see all children learning a second language from primary one, rather than primary six when most children currently start.

The plans are likely to be piloted in a dozen schools across Scotland.

'Multi-lingual world'

The recommendations - made by the government's Modern Languages Working Group - also suggest that children should learn a third language no later than P5.

To increase its support for language learning, Scotland's National Centre for Languages (SCILT) is to receive increased funding totalling more than £600,000 in 2012-2013.

The minister for learning, Alasdair Allan said: "The world is changing rapidly and radically and the government has a duty to ensure that Scottish schools prepare young people so they can flourish and succeed in the globalised, multi-lingual world we now live in.

"One indisputable aspect of modern life is that more people travel widely for jobs and leisure and we must respond accordingly; we will not be as successful as a country and economy if we remain essentially a mono-lingual society."

Ministers have signed a voluntary EU agreement to make the changes outlined in the report.

However, the full proposals are as yet un-costed and could face hurdles because of the high costs associated with training language teachers.

Lloyd Anderson, director of British Council Scotland, welcomed the report.

He said: "Scotland needs globalised citizens who can go out confidently on the world stage and win business to grow Scotland's exports.

"Language learning is a vital part of creating that outward-looking mindset."

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