Language learners and diverse legacies: a question of confidence?

Nicolson, Margaret (2000). Language learners and diverse legacies: a question of confidence? Scottish Educational Review, 32(2) pp. 118–130.



In general, Scots have not shown an excess of confidence in their potential to learn languages. A school system which did not previously encourage the majority to study languages, but reserved them for a certain academic elite, has undoubtedly played its part in this. A study of a group of Open University language learners supports the view that it is mainly those with considerable school experience of language learning, and strong present links with the language who have the confidence and motivation to enter and remain in the adult language learning arena. Yet, Scotland has a rich
historic and current multilingual profile which largely goes untapped and which could be of great benefit in raising language awareness and confidence about language learning. In a devolved Scotland, it now seems appropriate to widen participation, to make language learning a more inclusive domain, and to rekindle a previously discouraged polyglot mentality. An ideal opportunity presents itself to introduce new policies which would reverse negative cultural and educational legacies and enhance confidence in language identity and language learning potential. This would provide the means to a healthier and more open cultural and social dialogue, ensuring the democratic future of Scotland in the world at large.

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