Early days of a better nation? Languaging, translanguaging and learning in Scottish schools

Research output: Contribution to conferenceKeynote


When the Scottish Parliament was re-established, in 1999, writer and artist Alasdair Gray challenged us to “work as if you live in the early days of a better nation”. This opportunity to review, renew and innovate in all the areas for which the Parliament is responsible can be discerned across all policy fields in Scotland. Specifically in relation to languages education policy, it started a shift from a conventional focus on the teaching of ‘modern foreign languages’, to the recognition, valuing and promotion of a richer language ecology in Scotland’s increasingly multilingual schools: expanding the range of languages, starting language learning earlier, encouraging innovative approaches in using languages for learning, and building on existing languaging and translanguaging practices of classrooms and communities.

As elsewhere, policy formation and implementation in Scotland are influenced by global change, such as 9/11, superdiversity, and rapid technological innovation; and, closer to home, by the fallout from Brexit, and from the Scottish independence referendum of 2014. The long-lasting consequences of the financial crash of 2008 and ensuing austerity mean limited resources to implement bold educational policies. In this presentation, I draw on a range of studies concerned with Scottish language education policy over the last 20 years, to reflect on ways in which Scottish teachers, policy-makers, opinion formers and school communities have reviewed and renewed thinking around languaging, translanguaging and language learning, and begun to change school practices in challenging times.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2019
EventInternational Conference: TLANG2 - Languaging in Times of Change - University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Sept 201927 Sept 2019


ConferenceInternational Conference: TLANG2 - Languaging in Times of Change
Abbreviated titleTLANG2 Stirling Uni 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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