Opportunities for all learners to engage in foreign language learning must be matched by opportunities for that learning to be suitably assessed and for achievement to be officially recognised.

[22.9.13] CAUTION Please note that the new National Qualifications in Scotland came into effect in August 2013, rendering many of the items below obsolete. Full details of the new programmes can be found on the Scottish Qualifications Authority's website:

This page will be updated shortly.

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Workshop 16
: Access levels - help with planning.
Languages plus

The principle means of recognising achievement for school leavers in Scotland is through National Qualifications awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). Learners who find learning difficult, for whatever reason, are often presented for qualifications at one of the Access levels. This page focuses on qualifications at Access 1, 2 and 3. Older beginners who have no special educational needs may start to climb the qualifactions ladder at Access level 3 or at Intermediate 1 or 2. SQA produces the official documentation for all levels. Examination arrangements are subject to change, however, so all details referred to here should be checked on SQA's official website:
It is the teacher's responsibility to ensure that he/she is working from the latest information available, so always check publication dates.

Elsewhere in UK the Languages Ladder, Asset Languages and the European Languages Portfolio (ELP) are used as alternative means of ensuring accreditation. See links, below. There are plans to develop versions of ELP suitable for learners in the Scottish system, but this will take time.



Access 3
Three National Units make up a course in Modern Languages at Access 3. Each unit places the language learned in a different context: Personal Language, Transactional Language, Languages in Work. Units can be taken and accredited individually. There is also a freestanding Unit called Languages for Work. This can be used in conjunction with other Units or group of Units across a range of subject areas to make up a course devised by the examining centre. Languages covered: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin.
Details via the link below.

Access 2
Three National Units make up a course in Modern Languages at Access 2. Again, there are four Units to chose from and each can be accredited individually. Three of the Units articulate with the three Units at Access 3: Personal language, Transactional Language, Languages in Work. languages covered: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian.
The fourth Unit is Life in Another Country. This uses investigation to link the communicative language encountered in one or more of the first three units to the culture of a community that speaks that language. Any language.
Details via the links below.

Access 1
There are three types of Unit at Access 1: Derived, Independent and Supported Units. At present, Modern Languages is supported only by Derived Units, of which there are two. Each one is derived from one of the learning outcomes of the Access 2 Unit Life in Another Country. Any language.
(Some ideas for including learners who are not ready for the Derived Units are offered for download on the page for learners with complex needs, but it must be stressed that these are NOT official SQA provision. They are simply ideas that may be used or amended as required. Any certification offered can be provided only by the school involved.)

UPDATE [5.6.12]

Final documents for the new National Qualifications are now available.

All Modern Languages National 2 documents can be viewed and downloaded here:

For National 3 documents, go here:

For general information about developments at National 1, 2 and 3:


[links last checked on 5.11.10 unless otherwise indicated]


Introduction to (special) Assessment Arrangements
Links from this page to:
Special arrangements in Modern Languages for candidates with hearing impairments; Use of a scribe in the assessment of writing in Modern Languages and; a Higher case study.

Links on the right provide general guidance:
Introduction to Assessment; Using Sign in SQA Exams; Assessment Arrangements Explained; Adapted Digital Question Papers; English as an Additional Language in SQA Exams; Quality Assurance; Assessment Arrangements Guide for Candidates; Assessment Arrangements Guide for Parents.

Access 3: Course arrangements documentation
[26.11.11] Access 3: Draft national course specification:

Modern Languages for Work Purposes:

Access 2: Course Arrangements documentation
General information:

Access 1

Information about Derived, Independent and Supported Units at Access:
Follow the Modern Languages link for the Specification for the Derived Unit at Access 1.

[22.10.14] Modern Languages National 1 Professional Focus Paper
Published 5/8/14

English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
Access 3 English for speakers of other languages

[8.11.10] SQA inclusion group

[8.11.10] National Assessment Resource (NAR)
You will need a Glow account or SQA credentials to access the National Assessment Resource

[2.3.11] Adapted Digital Exams
Adapted digital SQA Exam Papers for students with additional support needs.

[10.5.11] Course specifications
Links to draft Course Specifications for SQA National 4 and National 5 qualifications in Modern Languages, Gaelic, ESOL, and Latin can be found here:
An overview of proposals for Access 1 and Access 2 can be found here:

[30.5.11] British Sign Language Studies
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is developing a Professional Development Award (PDA) in British Sign Language (BSL) Studies, as part of the initiative to improve linguistic access through support from the Equalities unit at Scottish Government. Updates on the project:


National Qualifications: Modern Languages
Links to suport materials for existing qualifications

National Qualifications support
Search for resources by subject (Access 3 and above):

Support for Access 1 & 2:

Background to Access 1 & 2:

[7.2.11] Life in Another Country: Support for teachers and students
This pack provides revised and updated (April 2005) support for teachers and students using the Access 1 and 2 units 'Life in Another Country'. Part A contains support for teachers, including suggestions for delivering the unit. Part B contains customisable materials which can be used to teach this unit according to the suggestions in Part A. Staus: Archive.

Life in another Country: Life in Greece
Exemplar material showing how one school used this unit to underpin curriculum linking.
Archive material, for reference only.

ESOL: Resource database

[8.11.10] National Assessment Resource (NAR)
You will need a Glow account or SQA credentials to access the National Assessment Resource

[10.3.11] Access to assessment at the tertiary level - developments in application of Universal Design, led by Sheffield Hallam University:

[24.11.11] Exam Statistics
Numbers of candidates for Access 1 and Access 2 2003 t0 2011



European Languages Portfolio (ELP)
The European Language Portfolio provides a way to record and reflect on skills in any language, however they have been acquired, without the need for formal assessment. Information, exemplars and guidance in a UK context:

[18.10.11] The junior version of the Portfolio can be downloaded here:

[27.5.11] European Languages Portfolio for Deaf and Hearing Impaired People

For information on ELP in a European context:


The Languages Ladder
The scheme endorses achievement in language skills at all levels of competence for all ages in a wide range of languages.
Further information:

[10.1.13] Asset Languages
A statement from OCR on the future of Asses Language.

[2.6.11] Qualifications and curriculum development agency has added French levels 1 and 2 to its Exemplification of Standards on the National Curriculum website at:
These materials provide a real insight into good assessment practice of pupils, many of whom have special educational needs. The files also support schools in meeting their statutory requirements in inclusion and teacher assessment.

[19.8.11] 2011 results for Modern Languages at Access 2 and 3



[27.5.11] Reaching every student in the classroom through alternative assessments


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