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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Scots access for everyone

5th December 2019

The new Scots language and culture course was officially launched today by the Open University and Education Scotland.  The free online course, which was created from materials contributed by a variety of individuals and organisations, including the Scots Language Centre, aims to highlight the role of the language in Scottish society, both past and present day.   The launch of the course is timely as its marks the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.   Emerging during the Middle Ages, Scots became the most widely spoken indigenous language in Scotland and was formerly the language of government until the union with England in 1707. At the last census of Scotland in 2011 a total of 1.5 million speakers were returned, with higher figures for those with varying degrees of understanding.

Sylvia Warnecke, Senior Lecturer in Languages at the OU, commented “As Scots grows in popularity, it feels right to show how as a language it has developed over time as a vital aspect of Scottish culture and history and how it links to other European languages”, and added that “The course is written to appeal both to existing Scots speakers and those new to the language. It will give learners a chance to practice using the language themselves and develop their understanding of written and spoken Scots in different dialects. There’s something here for everyone!”  Dr Michael Dempster, director of the Scots Language Centre, also made the important point that students will be accessing the richness of a culture that has previously often been rendered invisible to them: “By taking this course speakers will discover their own spoken language in locations, historical periods, and contexts that they've perhaps never encountered it before. They will discover variations from their own speech in the wide range of dialects and literary forms represented here, but a clear commonality across all Scots really leaps out.” The importance of educational access and debate was also highlighted by Bruce Eunson, Scots Language Coordinator at Education Scotland. He said “We hope this course will be welcomed by practitioners and teaching staff across the country and that all enjoy stravaigin alang the gates and wynds o this learning journey.”

The course was tested among learners in order to measure learning outcomes and one of those participants, Pauline Turner, commented: “The course material blends Scots language and culture to give a fusion of Scotland’s historical past with the contemporary present. Not only did I learn more about Scots language, I re-discovered parts of my childhood and heritage which I had long since forgotten. I really enjoyed this course.” The course is split into two parts, the first of which is now available free on the OU’s OpenLearn Create platform.  The second part will be available soon and both parts take around 40 hours to complete. Those completing the course will be awarded a digital badge to acknowledge their study.