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New course makes Scots language accessible to all

Scrabble pieces, spelling out Scots

A free online course in Scots language and culture has today (Thursday 5 December) been launched by The Open University (OU) and Education Scotland.

The only course of its kind, it represents a novel approach to language learning by teaching Scots through the context in which it’s spoken, highlighting the role of Scots in Scottish culture and society, past and present. 


Sylvia Warnecke, Senior Lecturer in Languages at the OU, said:

“As Scots grows in popularity, it feels right to show how as a language it has developed over time as a vital aspect of Scottish culture and history and how it links to other European languages. 

“The course is written to appeal both to existing Scots speakers and those new to the language. It will give learners a chance to practice using the language themselves and develop their understanding of written and spoken Scots in different dialects. There’s something here for everyone!”

The course has been developed over the last two years in partnership with the Scots community and is intended to help grow knowledge and understanding of Scots, and its history, in Scotland and further afield. Its launch comes in the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages.

James Robertson, author and contributor to the course, said:

“This comprehensive course underlines the range, vitality and national significance of Scots. It shows what a crucial and integral part of Scottish culture and identity Scots has been and continues to be.

“Anybody who dips into this course, let alone completes it, will emerge with a greater understanding not only of the language but of Scotland itself.”

Dr Michael Dempster, Scots Scriever at the National Library of Scotland, added:

“As a first language Scots speaker, and someone who teaches other speakers about their language, this course is a significant step forward in the continued recognition and understanding of our language.

“By taking this course speakers will discover their own spoken language in locations, historical periods, and contexts that they've perhaps never encountered it before. They will discover variations from their own speech in the wide range of dialects and literary forms represented here, but a clear commonality across all Scots really leaps out. 

“The diverse selection of expert contributors offers a uniquely wide range of perspectives on the language. This is an excellent resource for both Scots speakers and learners, gie it a shot!”

It’s also hoped that the course will be used in the classroom by teachers and other educators.

Bruce Eunson, Scots Language Coordinator at Education Scotland, said:

“We were delighted to be involved in the design of this course and the delivery of this project. It is a braw addition to Scots language education materials, offering support to a great many – whether studying on your own, starting from the very beginning, and wanting to read about the history of Scots – or working within a wider group, wanting to improve your understanding and communicating skills in contemporary Scots. 

“We hope this course will be welcomed by practitioners and teaching staff across the country and that all enjoy stravaigin alang the gates and wynds o this learning journey.”

The course has been tested with learners to ensure that it delivers its learning outcomes and that it meets the needs of as wide an audience as possible.

Pauline Turner, who took part in the testing of the course, said:

“The course material blends Scots language and culture to give a fusion of Scotland’s historical past with the contemporary present. Not only did I learn more about Scots language, I re-discovered parts of my childhood and heritage which I had long since forgotten. I really enjoyed this course.”

The course is split into two parts and the first part is now available free on the OU’s OpenLearn Create platform. The second part will be online by the end of the year.

The course is flexible and learners can study at a time and place that suits them. It should take around 40 hours to complete both parts. Those completing the course will receive a digital badge to acknowledge their study.

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