Modern Languages in Scotland in the Context of Brexit

  • Hannah Doughty
  • Marion Spöring


This chapter examines a number of initiatives that have responded to the language deficit in Scotland. It notes that there is a strikingly positive attitude to languages in national surveys of opinion, but that this has yet to be translated into widespread language learning at all levels of education. It suggests that the fortunes of modern languages in Scotland have not been linked in the media to the outcome of the Brexit vote, but may be more directly related to lack of funding to implement plans. It argues that there is an urgent need for structural reforms in education, for a strategic promotional campaign focusing on all sectors and for a strategy that will increase the number of graduates with high-level language skills in a diversity of languages, suitably qualified for entering teacher training. There is some comfort in the positive indicators about languages evidenced in the growing numbers of language learners in schools and universities. Just maybe the Brexit cloud in Scotland will have a silver lining.


  1. Christie, J., Robertson, B., Stodter, J., & O’Hanlon, F. (2016). A Review of Progress in Implementing the 1+2 Language Policy. Edinburgh: ADES and University of Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  2. Doughty, H. (2005). Critical Perspectives on Modern Languages in Scottish Further Education 2000–2002, Doctoral Thesis. Stirling: University of Stirling.Google Scholar
  3. Doughty, H. (2011a). La Grande Illusion: Why Scottish Further Education Has Failed to Grasp the Potential of Modern Languages. Scottish Languages Review, 23, 7–14.Google Scholar
  4. Doughty, H. (2011b). Modern Languages in Scotland: Social Capital Out on a Limb. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 10(2), 141–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gallagher-Brett, A., Doughty, H., & McGuinness, H. (2014). Social Capital and Modern Language Initiatives in Times of Policy Uncertainty. Scottish Languages Review, 27, 39–52.Google Scholar
  6. Hall, J., & Bankowska, A. (1994). Foreign Languages for Vocational Purposes in Further and Higher Education. Edinburgh: The Scottish Council for Research in Education.Google Scholar
  7. Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) (2015). Student Records 2010–2015.Google Scholar
  8. Lo Bianco, J. (2001). Language and Literacy Policy in Scotland. Stirling: Scottish CILT.Google Scholar
  9. McPake, J., Johnstone, R. M., Lyall, L., & Low, L. (1999). Foreign Languages in the Upper Secondary School: A Study in the Causes of Decline. Edinburgh: Scottish Council for Research into Education.Google Scholar
  10. Ministerial Action Group for Languages. (2000). Citizens of a Multilingual World. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.Google Scholar
  11. Scarino, A. (2016). Australia’s Language Policies. Video presentation and discussion as part of a 1+2 Development Day held on 29 November 2016 at a Scottish Government venue in Glasgow. Video available at:
  12. Scott, J. (2015). Modern Languages in Scotland: Learner Uptake and Attainment 1996–2014. Scottish Languages Review, 29, 11–26.Google Scholar
  13. Scottish Executive. (1992). Modern Languages in the Primary School. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.Google Scholar
  14. Scottish Executive. (2001). Government Response to Citizens of a Multilingual World. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.Google Scholar
  15. Scottish Government. (2011). Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 Approach. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.Google Scholar
  16. Scottish Government. (2016). Attitudes Towards Language Learning in Schools in Scotland. Available at:
  17. Scottish National Party. (2007). Election Manifesto. Available at:
  18. Scottish National Party. (2011). Election Manifesto. Available at:

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hannah Doughty
    • 1
  • Marion Spöring
    • 2
  1. 1.University of StrathclydeGlasgowUK
  2. 2.University of DundeeDundeeUK

Personalised recommendations