Scotland’s headteachers have been told that it is more important than ever that they promote the benefits of bilingualism.
At a seminar in Glasgow, the second hosted by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, headteachers from throughout the country were told that bilingualism is essential to the survival of Gaelic. The key speaker at the event, Professor Antonella Sorace, Professor of Development Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh, told delegates that having two languages had “many cognitive benefits for children.” A world leading authority in the field of bilingual language development, Professor Sorace said that many parents and teachers still believe that bilingualism can cause confusion and intellectual delay in children. In reality, she said,
“there are no such drawbacks and research proves that bringing children up bilingually could have further benefits besides being able to speak two languages. Having two languages systems in the brain, makes it more flexible: it’s the extra gear that allows bilingual children to be more efficient when they are faced with complex situations. Bilingual children follow the same patterns of sequence and milestones as monolingual children so there is no risk of confusion between the two languages. Bilingual children also have an advantage because their understanding of another language makes them aware, at an early age, that others can have a different point of view. That’s something all children have to learn eventually! So if there is an opportunity to raise children bilingually, they should be supported to go for it without any hesitation.”
Head of Education and Learning at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Mary MacMillan said:
“It is more important than ever that teachers promote the benefits of bilingualism. The future of Gaelic in Scotland requires an increased support for Gaelic education at all levels and in all sectors leading to greater promotion, support and expansion. Seminars like that held today, and the one in Inverness in December, are important to make headteachers more aware of the advantages of bilingualism and Gaelic-medium education. "
The Scottish Government will soon be launching the 2012-17 National Gaelic Language Plan and Bòrd na Gàidhlig will be working with the Scottish Government, Local Authorities and other agencies to ensure a year on year increase in the number of children enrolling in Gaelic medium education and doubling the current annual intake of 400 to 800 by 2017.
The following are available for interview:
Mary MacMillan, Head of Education and Learning, Bòrd na Gàidhlig. Mobile: 07500 099 394