Modern foreign language education for learners with additional support needs in Scotland

Essex, Jane and Macaskill, Maggie Gurney (2020) Modern foreign language education for learners with additional support needs in Scotland. Support for Learning. ISSN 1467-9604 (

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The face of Modern Foreign Language education (MFL) in Scotland is changing. A major shift was marked by the Scottish Government’s policy, ‘Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 Approach’ (2011a), setting out the aspiration that all students up to the end of third level education in Scottish schools will have the opportunity to learn not one but two languages, in addition to their mother tongue. Over the last twenty years there has been, concurrently, an undertaking by the Scottish government, in a series of policy documents, committing to provision that will ensure that students with additional support needs (ASN) receive equality of access to a broad and balanced education. This paper draws upon policy documents and published research in the area to review the extent to which the vision of language learning of all has been made available to students with ASN, and the documented benefits associated with MFL education for those with ASN. Drawing upon case studies of inclusive MFL pedagogies, it identifies successful strategies that can be deployed by teachers. It then considers some of the mechanisms by which the current gaps in provision have arisen and proposes possible remedial steps, drawing on both an analysis of policy and case studies of effective practice.