Language Learning

Language Learning at James Gillespie’s High School

“We Value the Diversity that Exists” is our school motto at James Gillespie’s High School where over 46 languages are spoken amongst the pupils and staff, but it could quite easily be our Faculty Motto. The Faculty of Modern Languages plays a key role in helping our young people develop an understanding of the importance of language learning and developing an awareness of other cultures.

Our aim has always been to promote the learning of all languages and not necessarily promote one language as being more important than the other. We hope to equip our young people with the necessary skills to make language learning accessible, create a thirst for learning more languages and an openness to learning about other cultures.

At James Gillespie’s High School, we currently offer four of the five languages recommended by the British Council: French, German, Spanish and Mandarin. In addition, we also offer Gaelic and Urdu and plans are currently underway to extend our range of languages to BSL and Italian.

Below you will find a summary of the main points from a recent document produced by the British Council entitled Languages for the Future. If you wish to read the full document, please follow the link at the bottom of the page.

Summary of main points raised by the British Council

At the British Chambers of Commerce we have long called for foreign language teaching to be made compulsory in schools between the ages of seven and sixteen” (Dr. Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce)

“The British Council is also championing the need to move beyond relying on English as a lingua franca.” (Dr. Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce)

“We must work together to ensure that the UK can effectively address its language deficit” (Dr. Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce)

“As firms look to markets around the world, languages are becoming increasingly valuable. Employers are showing a growing interest in those skills.” (Dr Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce)

“Speaking German will not only get you, in general, the highest-paid job, it is also the language that is in highest demand across job postings.” (Lianna Brinded, Finance Editor, Business Insider)

“Among the skills and capabilities the UK will need, an understanding of other cultures and languages will continue to be important for successful international relationships at all levels”

“Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic and German, make it to the top of the table. These five languages appear consistently as the most important, some way ahead of the remaining five.”

“With only just over one in three Britons reporting that they are able to hold a conversation in another language, the UK’s language capability remains a concern”

“Language provision in many schools and universities looks increasingly vulnerable”

“We recommend:

  • Schools prioritise language learning alongside science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and give pupils every opportunity to develop an understanding and appreciation of other languages and cultures.
  • Governments of the four nations of the UK prioritise the teaching of the top five languages identified
  • Education departments and regulators work together to set and ensure adherence to minimum time requirements for language teaching at primary and secondary level”

“An in-depth study drawing on the views of more than 600 employers found that UK nationals without language skills lose out not simply because they are limited in their ability to communicate, but as a knock-on effect of having restricted access to overseas work experience, a lack of international business sense, a failure to appreciate that other cultures have different ways of doing things and a misunderstanding of the global importance of British culture”

“Throughout the UK, it is the case that there is a widespread under-appreciation of the value of languages other than English which goes hand in hand with UK citizens’ generally poor record when it comes to learning new languages”

“Despite these positive policy developments, entry numbers for language examinations are still dropping in all four countries.”

“Declining numbers for these exams mean a smaller pool of students to take higher level qualifications which is increasingly a problem throughout the UK”

“The latest edition of the CBI/Pearson annual Education and Skills survey of employers found that the languages employers say they need most are French, German and Spanish”

“By combining the evidence from the four economic indicators used, the top five languages are French, German, Mandarin, Arabic and Spanish”

“In Scotland, visitors from Germany comprise the largest number of incoming tourists”

“Combining the data from all ten indicators resulted in the following ranking, with Spanish as the most important language, followed by Mandarin, French, Arabic and German”

Here is the link to the full document entitled: Languages for the Future