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 commitment. 

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 globalised 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 additional languages– the 1+2 approach.

This ambitious policy aims to offer all pupils in Scottish schools the opportunity to learn a first additional language from Primary 1, and a second additional language from Primary 5. 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 children’s schools to explore ways of enriching the language learning experience.

Support for implementation 1 + 2

We have provided local authorities with significant extra funding to support them to implement this 1+2 approach. As of April 2021, we will have given them an additional funding totalling  £35.6 million in order to fulfil this task.

We also provide over £1 m each year in grant funding to key delivery  partners, such as Scotland's National Centre for Languages, to support professional learning for teachers, pedagogy and leadership, immersion courses, and the provision of language assistants.

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 the 1+2 approach.

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.

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.

We have published a report, Young People in Scotland Survey 2017: STEM and language findings, to present data collected by Ipsos MORI on the choices young people make regarding STEM and language subjects at school.

Progress with 1 + 2 implementation

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

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

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

In  2014, the SIG produced an interim report on the progress with implementation, which set out the priorities for the coming year. The group also produces an annual report on progress with the implementation of 1+2.

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

In partnership with ADES, COSLA and Education Scotland, we carry out an annual survey of local authorities on 1+2 implementation The most recent survey, taken in 2019, showed that most schools have committed to embedding the policy and that good progress is being made to deliver the entitlement to learn a language from P1.


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