John Swinney has visited a Stirling school to promote an Open University (OU) project designed to help primary teachers teach languages in the classroom.
TEachers Learning to Teach languages (TELT), a partnership between the OU and Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, SCILT, allows teachers to learn a new language and simultaneously gives them the skills to teach that language to their pupils.
Mr Swinney visited Bannockburn Primary School where he met teachers and TELT participants Ellie Polson, Victoria McFarlane, Chiara Sportelli and their classes, all of whom are learning Spanish together thanks to the project.
The pupils, in primary one and two, showed the Deputy First Minister their new language skills by explaining a caterpillar lifecycle, counting, and describing shapes and colours in Spanish.
John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education, said:
“Language learning builds confidence, tolerance and respect for other cultures as well as supporting literacy and widening opportunities. Projects like this can empower our teachers with appropriate training so they can deliver an engaging language learning experience in schools.
“Initiatives like TELT, developed through The Open University’s Partnership with SCILT, help teachers bring languages to life by teaching pupils subjects in another language – helping support our 1+2 Languages policy and making Scotland a more welcoming country.”
Susan Stewart, Director of the OU in Scotland, said:
“The secret to the success of this project is its flexibility, which means that teachers can study at a time and place that suits them, and then immediately use their new skills and knowledge in the classroom. Because it’s available across Scotland, there’s also the opportunity to connect with peers across the country to share ideas and work together.
"It was a pleasure to visit Bannockburn Primary and see how well this is working in practice.”
Aileen Mellor, Acting Headteacher at Bannockburn Primary School, said:
“It was an absolute pleasure to welcome the Open University team and Mr Swinney to Bannockburn Primary School.
“The Open University/SCILT TELT project has been fundamental in providing external learning opportunities for teachers across Scotland.
“At Bannockburn Primary School, we are very fortunate to have three members of staff with a genuine interest in languages, who have been successfully learning Spanish as part of the TELT project.
“This has opened up an opportunity for the younger children in the school to learn Spanish, whether that’s through learning about Spain as a country or exploring the language along with their teachers – everyone is learning together.”
Councillor Susan McGill, Convener of Stirling Council’s Children and Young People Committee, said:
“It was fantastic to come along to Bannockburn Primary and see the positive impact this exciting project is having on both staff and children.
“The teachers’ participation in TELT has improved learning opportunities for pupils in an important area of the curriculum.
“I was really impressed at the dedication of staff and the enthusiasm of the children, and I am sure the Deputy First Minister was impressed in the way it has been embraced in the school.”
Councillor Margaret Brisley, Vice Convener of the Committee, said:
“I am really proud to see a Stirling school being showcased as a shining example of this type of innovative learning.
“The benefits of learning a second language are well known and this initiative will equip children at the school with key skills to help them achieve their potential.”
TELT is available across Scotland, either directly or through school or local authority sponsorship, and involves around five hours study per week for nine months. 133 teachers across Scotland are currently participating in TELT. TELT is currently available in four languages – Spanish, French, German and Mandarin (Chinese).
Registration is now open for the autumn intake and a new post-beginners level module will also be available in October for the first time.
More information on TELT
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