ASN pages logo

Not all learners are equally well served by the availability of expert advice on how they might benefit from the inclusion of some form of foreign language learning in their curriculum.

themes and topics
resource finder
site map
cfe main page


Additional needs - introduction

Why teach languages to learners of all abilities?

Workshop 1 Why should we offer opportunities for second language learning to learners who are already struggling to master their first?

Workshop 6 Working together: Planning support in MFL for learners in difficulty

That is not to say that learners not represented elsewhere on this site cannot benefit from language learning. Indeed this website is built on the premise that all but a very, very few children can benefit from exposure to other languages and other cultures.

An investigation into foreign language learning in special schools and mainstream units in Scotland in 2002 found that...

Although, overall, pupils with severe, profound and complex learning difficulties (SLD) and those with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) are somewhat more likely than others not to be included in modern language programmes, pupils of all abilities, including those with SLD and SEBD, are represented in the programmes described in this survey. The decision whether or not to offer modern languages appears to relate to adult expectations of pupils' capabilities and to staffing resources rather than to the ability of pupils to benefit.

(Modern Languages in Special Schools and Mainstream Units in Scotland 2002, page 5: Key findings.)

This is a 'catch-all' page for links to information about other learners who may have additional support needs but for whom there appears to be little information relating to foreign language learning. You will find here links to information about various low-incidence disabilites, about teaching boys, about teaching learners with profound and complex needs.

Some of the information relates specifically to foreign language learning; other links are to generic advice that can help foreign language teachers to devise suitable programmes.

Qualification and Certification at Access levels in Scotland

Assessment and certification of foreign language skills at all levels in Scotland is managed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). Learners with difficulties can be entered for certification at Access levels 1, 2 and 3, with Access 3 being the equivalent of Standard Grade Foundation level. For information about National Certification at Access 2 and 3, see:
Information about Derived Units in Modern Languages at Access 1 can be found here:


Please see note on copyright

SQA does not currently make provision in Modern Languages at Access 1 'Independent Units' or 'Supported Units'. Some ideas for including learners working at those levels can be found in this download. Please note that the ideas are not 'official' in any way, and cannot be certificated nationally. They may, however, be useful as a means of including learners who are working towards Access 1 (Derived Units).

Some thoughts about how learners with profound and complex needs might be included in a progressive programme of communication leading towards participation in cultural and linguistic studies. Download
A possible framework leading towards presentation for certification in Modern Languages at Access 1 (in Scotland) Download
Some thoughts on how such a framework might be developed. Download

Research Report: Modern Languages in Special Schools and Mainstream Units in Scotland 2002
Download Research report


[Links last checked on 13.6.11 unless otherwise indicated]


[8.2.12] Help for teachers on dealing with epilepsy in the classroom
Available to download at:

Teaching boys
Are women really better at language? A report about research by Nikhil Swaminathan

Boys 'need to move in lessons'
Teachers should let boys walk around during lessons to aid their learning, American research suggests. A report from the University of Virginia found boys learnt better when lessons were "high-activity" and presented ideas and concepts visually.The study also called for greater competition in schools, saying boys responded positively to it. For more information:

[4.7.11] Exploring the ‘Boy Crisis’ in Education
A Canadian research report exploring notions of the gender gap. Find a summary of finding here:

[1.8.11] Books for All: improving accessibility to curricular materials for print disabled pupils
The project supports local authorities, teachers and other practitioners in the provision of adapted learning materials in accessible, alternative formats for pupils who have difficulties reading ordinary printed books.

[15.10.11] Strategic review of learning provision for children and young people with complex additional support needs
The Doran Review interim report of 3/10/11 includes comprehensive background information on terminology, history of provision, legal issues, policy and practice in meeting additional support needs.

[8.11.11] la troisime, c'est la bonne!
Emma Verrill, who uses a wheelchair and previously taught and studied abroad with CIEE in Rennes, France, will be writing a three-part series for the blog about her current time abroad. You can read more of Emma on her blog: Ma Vie Est Belle.

[16.3.12] Scotland's Colleges: Profound and complex needs project
The project concentrates on four task areas: Curriculum for Excellence, quality assurance, transitions and support.

[1.9.12] Speaking two languages also benefits low-income children
Living in poverty is often accompanied by conditions that can negatively influence cognitive development. Is it possible that being bilingual might counteract these effects?

[26.1.13] Teaching children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Instructional strategies and practices
A US Department of Education production, full of useful information about the effects of the disorder and practical advice for teachers.

[21.2.14] Embedding the international dimension at Milton School
Milton School, which caters for children with complex learning needs, has become a model of how to use international education to improve standards within the classroom and support the professional development of teaching staff.

[30.10.15] Corseford School
Capability Scotland's Corseford School, one of Scotland's seven Grant-Aided special schools, supports children and young people with complex health, education, movement and communication needs aged 5-18.
In June 2015 they won a Scottish Education Award in recognition of their work in "Making Spanish Come Alive" for their pupils.
See more about their achievements here:



HomeThemes and topicsResource finderSite map - CfE main page