How important is learning languages in school? Sehr Wichtig!

For my latest blog post, I thought I would choose to write about something that I feel very passionate about. The importance of children learning languages in primary school from a very young age. It was actually the topic did a presentation on for my Dundee University Interview, more specifically the 1+2 approach which I believe is vital in young people’s learning. I myself have had a great experience learning languages throughout school. I achieved A grades at both National 5 and Higher level German and am currently studying Spanish as a year 1 elective on my Education course. The reason for my enjoyment for learning languages was that the teacher made it interesting and fun and allowed us to learn in many different ways.  I believe that positive environments and fun teaching methods are essential for our future generations and I would love to play a part in that. Learning languages has the power to change children’s lives and will give them skills that can help them be successful throughout school and in their futures. For example, my experience in languages was very effective to use while abroad in other countries.


I feel the most important thing is to aim to instil a love of learning into children. The world nowadays is hugely multilingual and in order for the children of today to fully prosper as citizens, they must learn the skills that learning languages offers them which will also lead to them having effective communication skills.

“In today’s global, multi-cultural world, it is more important than ever that young people have the opportunity to learn languages from an early age. The ability to speak different languages will equip Scotland’s young people with the skills and competencies needed in a 21st century global marketplace.” – Dr Alistair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages. (2015)

The delivery of an earlier start to language learning in primary school will be challenging for schools and teachers.  Although all pupils at the moment are entitled to learn a language from P6, there are concerns that some primary children do not have access to an additional language due to staffing, training or funding issues, or other perceived curricular priorities. There are also particular issues in very small primary schools, especially in rural areas, where there will only be a small number of teachers with responsibility for delivery of the whole curriculum. Without ongoing training, many primary teachers do not feel confident in teaching a modern language and some do not volunteer despite training. Nevertheless, there is evidence of staff in some primary schools working successfully with children on language learning from the beginning of primary or earlier. Other questions that will have to be answered are

  • Do existing teachers have the skills and teaching resources required for language tuition?
  • Are teachers equipped enough to help young people’s development? If not, how will the training occur?
  • The choice of which languages children learn. For example, which languages should kids be learning to benefit them in later life, their careers and help Scotland flourish economically.

However, there is no doubt about the many benefits that will come from language learning from an earlier age. It will undoubtedly help Scotland become a confident, multilingual country.  Some ways in which language learning can further benefit Scotland would be more effective use of technology and regular use of native/fluent speakers to engage the children and stimulate their interest in learning new languages and other cultures.

Practical uses of foreign languages in school that I have seen first hand are:

  • register taking
  • date and weather
  • lunch routines
  • staff greeting each other
  • PE ‘warm ups
  • distributing resources
  • classroom commands
  • praise
  • use in assemblies

Overall, All language learning is valuable, it stretches us intellectually, giving us insights into other cultures and customs, broadening our view of the world, opening up new trade and business opportunities and enabling us to communicate with others. It is my firm belief that language learning is vital in helping children achieve their potential and broaden their horizons no matter who they are.

Die Sprache kann die Welt verändern!



2 thoughts on “How important is learning languages in school? Sehr Wichtig!

  1. Carrie McLennan

    I am delighted that you are enthusiastic about teaching ML, Liam, and your knowledge of German and Spanish means that you will be well prepared to engage you pupils! Great post.

  2. Derek Robertson

    Your enthusiasm for and recognition of the benefits of language learning is good to see. I totally agree with your sentiments regarding this. I picked this article up today from Twitter and thought it would be useful for you to reflect on. Some evidence seems to show that attitudes to learning foreign languages may have been negatively impacted on by some of the language used around the Brexit decision.


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