Language is central to our cultural heritage and national identity, and essential for supporting a diverse and inclusive society.

We recognise the importance of Scotland's rich diversity of languages, and the cultural, economic, historic and social benefits they bring.

In schools we are encouraging young people to learn two languages in addition to their native tongue, to equip them with the skills needed to participate in the global economy.


We are supporting the development of languages in Scotland by:


Scotland's main language by custom and usage is English, with Gaelic, Scots, British Sign Language and minority languages making up the country's other main language groups.

The 2011 Scottish Census found that more than 150 languages other than English are used in Scottish homes.

Bills and legislation

The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 gained royal assent in June of that year, confirming Gaelic as an official language of Scotland.

The British Sign Language (Scotland) Act 2015 places duties on Scottish Ministers and other public bodies to publish BSL plans every six years, and to publish a national progress report in 2020.

The Education (Scotland) Act 2016 came in to force in February 2017 and seeks to give parents the right to request Gaelic education for their child, places a duty on local authorities to promote and support Gaelic education and places a duty on Bord na Gaidhlig to develop guidance on Gaelic education.

The Statutory Guidance for Gaelic Education came from the Education (Scotland) Act 2016.


Email: Central Enquiries Unit

Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

British Sign Language (BSL) users can contact us via contactSCOTLAND-BSL.

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