Scottish primary school children will be taught three languages in newly announced plans by the Scottish Government. The announcement comes as the Government allegedly recognises that global trade requires workers to speak more than just English.
Ministers of the Scottish Parliament heard plans that the Government has set aside £4 million earmarked for a scheme to ensure Scotland’s economy does not suffer as a result of poor language skills.
Increased immigration and tourism are the two major driving forces behind the plan; the European and External Affairs Committee were warned that the Scottish economy could lose £500 million if the myth that “all the world speaks English and you don’t need an additional language” was to be believed.
“Two plus one”
The initiative, dubbed “two plus one”, aims to have primary school children taught two languages in addition to their native tongue.
In the spotlight for contention are languages from growing economies, such as China and Brazil, and “community languages,” including Polish, Punjabi, Urdu and Arabic. Gaelic has also been singled out as a language to encourage among students.
The languages chosen, in addition to European languages, imply that the scheme will target the issue of Scottish workers who are in competition for jobs against valued immigrants who speak multiple languages.
By improving their language education, Scottish students can enter the global workforce, support Scotland’s international trade and communicate accordingly in a variety of languages.
Recent decline in languages
Chair of the Scottish Government Languages Working Group, Simon Maculay said, “there has been a decline in the number of pupils gaining certification in all languages except Spanish”.
“There will be something like a $500 million loss to the Scottish economy if we are unable to engage with foreign business, and there are issues of employability of Scots in the future if they are unable to speak another language other than English”.
“There is a concern that Scotland will be left behind”, he added.
As economies such as China and Brazil continue to grow rapidly, language education for English speakers will only become more important.
The Working Group’s recommendations
To ensure the economic stability of Scotland in this regard, the group suggested the first additional language should be taught in Primary 1 and the second in Primary 5 of primary school education.
To facilitate this, the group also called for primary teachers to have a language qualification to at least a higher level. This standard will ensure a quality language education that will be applicable in working situations.
At present, the Scottish Government has accepted all of the recommendations and will begin to implement them in schools across the country.
The importance of languages in business
Scottish Government Languages Team’s Senior Policy Officer John Bissett commented, “I think we need to draw on the increasing weight of evidence that language is something that will be of huge benefit to our young people, not just as individuals in terms of their confidence to engage with the world around them, but in terms of their future economic prospects as well.”
He added that “there are regular surveys now that suggest that in the nature of a globalised economy, increasingly companies are looking for youngsters who can offer more than just one language”.
Bissett’s words ring true not just for Scotland, but for the entire UK. Young British people are increasingly in competition with people from Europe who have the advantage of speaking two or three other languages, as they have long been integrated into their education system.
The Scottish Government’s acknowledgement of the importance of language is a positive and important step in allowing global business to be a success for them and their companies.
If you are entering into international business and need to communicate new opportunities across a wide range of languages, it is recommended that you seek the help of trained professionals.
Where important decisions and large finances are being discussed, it is essential that all individuals involved are confidently aware of the details and the implications.
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