The choice – languages transition from primary to secondary


It rarely happens in any other subject area but in languages we have to fight for pupils from the beginning of high school. In all other departments all pupils don’t have a choice about what subjects they do in S1 and S2 they just do it.

Pupils as part of the transition process from P7 to S1 have to pick which language they will study. This can be quite problematic for some languages as the majority of primary schools until recently have taught only French as an additional language. Most primary teacher also only are trained to deliver French which means other languages can have an unfair disadvantage when the time comes for pupils to make the choice.

The advent of the 1+2 initiative should help redress this balance for other languages as it is now expected that all primary schools will teach a third language in primary 7. In my associated school group that language is Gaelic and given that the choice in secondary is between French and Gaelic it given the pupils a more rounded decision as they now have had experience of both languages.

It is silly to expect pupils to pick something that they have had no experience of but this has and is a prevailing patten in the schools across Scotland. The Scottish Government asserts that our students have to become global citizens and that languages have a huge part to play in this. Any sort of bilingualism is good whether that is English and French or English and Gaelic the cognitive advantages and skills involved in learning a second or third language have been shown to benefit pupils significantly as they move from school into tertiary education and the world of work. The fact that any would be primary teacher will soon have to have a languages qualification at Higher level is testimony to the importance of languages in our primary schools.

I am fortunate to be responsible for delivering Gaelic as language 3 in my local primary schools as well as teaching in secondary. I hope that this new arrangement will have a possible effect on language learning and the transition and language choice process.


My aims in this venture are as follows:

1. Give pupils a taste of Gaelic language and culture in weekly lessons

2. Give pupils a positive and fun experience of language learning through games and song

3. Increase the number of pupils taking Gaelic in S1

4 To create resources to help primary teachers take ownership of language 3

5. Make positive links with the feeder primary schools, head teachers and class teachers


For more information on the work I do teaching Gaelic in primary schools have a look at my other blog



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