Importance of language skills


Recent events in the global economy mean Scots youngsters will have to become much more adaptable and creative in determining their futures.

In a keynote speech to a conference for language teachers on Saturday, Maureen Watt, Minister for Schools and Skills, said the young workers of the future need to "think out of the box" about their employment plans - and a useful advantage in the global jobs market will be the ability to speak at least one foreign language.

Ms Watt told 400 language teachers gathered at the annual Scottish Association for Language Teaching (SALT) conference at Stirling University that they were among the key people who can help young people cope with an uncertain future.

She said:

"We must ensure that our young people understand and can respond to the challenges that are presented by globalisation. If the curriculum is to be excellent, it must incorporate an international perspective; if it does not our society and economy will be poorer."

Ms Watt told the conference that Scotland's young people need to be outward looking and confident about themselves and their nation, as well as develop a modern and enterprising world view.

She said that in order to achieve this aim, the bar would be raised in terms of the Government's expectations of what young people can achieve in modern language learning.

The Minister further announced that the Government will continue to fund the Scottish Centre for Information on Language Teaching and research to promote teaching and learning languages in the classroom and support modern languages teachers in implementing Curriculum for Excellence.

She said:

"None of us knows what the future holds but working together we can ensure that Scotland's young people will have the skills to embrace their future in this globalised society with confidence.

"Our new curriculum will make sure all children leave school properly equipped for the next stage of their education and the workplace.

"With the economic climate getting tougher and unemployment rising, we will make sure that school leavers have the right skills to prosper."

Robert McKinstry, Deputy Director of Scottish CILT, said:

"We at Scottish CILT are honoured and delighted to help further with the Minister's vision for modern languages in schools. We look forward to co-operating fully with Ministers, curriculum developers, teachers and students to ensure that Scottish school leavers are well equipped with modern language skills so that they can seize the opportunities available in Europe and throughout the world - opportunities to develop a thriving, vibrant, outward-looking Scotland, well placed to prosper in the 21st century."

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government announced the creation of the Scottish Language Baccalaureate, designed to stretch able students, which will first be awarded in 2010. Designed to build on the back of the Advanced Highers' success, the Baccalaureate will contribute to the Government's principal purpose of creating a more successful Scotland with opportunities for all to flourish through increasing sustainable economic growth

SALT acts as a focal point for language teachers and students throughout Scotland.

The Scottish Government has agreed to extend its current grant offer to Scottish Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (Scottish CILT) for a further two years until March 2011.