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Language failings 'damage Scotland'

Educational institutions are failing children and limiting Scotland's economy with an inadequate provision of foreign language teaching, international experts say.

Foreign language assistants in schools have dropped by over three-quarters in seven years, college provision is "woeful" and universities are closing language schools when Scotland is trying to grow its exports and expand into diverse international markets, MSPs were told.

Holyrood's European and External Relations Committee heard from four experts from the British Council, the Confucius Institute and the European Commission on the decline of language teaching in Scotland.

British Council director Lloyd Anderson said: "The lack of language schools is limiting Scottish exports. Scottish employers tend to circumvent rather than address the language skills by saying English is enough, and are exporting only to Anglophone countries or those where they can easily find English speakers. So the lack of language seems to be a barrier to exports."

Frances Christensen, general manager of the Confucius Institute, a language outreach programme funded by the Chinese Government, said Scottish educational institutions are "failing our young people".

Christina McKelvie, an SNP MSP, said: "There is a commitment from the Scottish Government to language development in Scotland's schools."

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