Last Updated: Friday, February 19, 2021

Improving uptake in modern languages in the senior phase

What is this?

1. Video clips from a conversation day with modern languages principal teachers / curriculum leaders based around improving uptake of modern languages in the senior phase.

2. Four case studies of schools with high numbers of candidates studying languages in the senior phase.

Who is this for?

​Modern languages teachers in secondary schools

How to use this exemplar to improve practice

The videos and the accompanying text could be used at departmental/faculty meetings to support discussions around motivation, uptake etc.

The practitioners who appear in the video resource considered the following points:

  • What steps do you take to design courses to include motivational experiences for learners during the broad general education (BGE)?
  • What are your approaches to assessment?
  • What type of learning opportunities do you offer outwith the classroom environment?
  • How are learner surveys used to enhance learners’ experience and motivation?


Case studies

PDF file: Broughton High School (90 KB)

PDF file: Kilwinning Academy (107 KB)

PDF file: Linlithgow Academy (88 KB)

PDF file: St Ninian's High School (87 KB)








Improving uptake in modern languages in the senior phase - 1 (16 KB)

Improving uptake in modern languages in the senior phase - 2 (16 KB)

Improving uptake in modern languages in the senior phase - 3 (16 KB)

What was done?

1. In order to support schools and key languages staff on increasing uptake in languages post BGE, various 'leaders of languages' were invited to an Education Scotland conversation day. The group shared how they have managed to increase uptake in their departments and maintain a positive trend. The video resource provides ideas for languages departments on increasing uptake, motivation and attainment amongst their learners.

2. Four case studies were created focusing on departments where uptake in languages beyond BGE is positive.


The number of candidates taking modern languages in the senior phase has declined steadily and significantly over the past three decades. Reasons for this are many and varied. In this resource, principal teachers / leaders of departments where languages continue to flourish share their experiences of encouraging uptake beyond the broad general education.

Modern languages are key to achieving national prosperity; it is therefore important that young people are attracted to learning modern languages and that they become confident and competent linguists, well equipped with the skills and capacities needed in the new Europe and in the 21st century global marketplace. £48bn a year is lost to the UK in contracts because of the lack of language skills in the workforce (2014 research by James Foreman-Peck of University of Cardiff).