Scottish Language Policy in Garnock Academy
In spite of generations of repression, neglect and the deeply-ingrained legacy of snobbery and ignorance about our native languages, it is in fact now official S.E.I.D. policy to promote the study of Scottish Language and Literature e.g. Scottish English: The Language Children Bring to School, English Language 5-14 Guidelines, The Scottish Language Project (The Kist), Effective Learning and Teaching (HMI), Higher Still etc. H.M. Inspectors endorse the view that the essential aim of English teaching throughout the Scottish secondary school should be to develop the capacity of every pupil to use, understand and appreciate the native language in its main English and Scottish forms. (Effective Learning and Teaching 3.3) Thus we have a clear public duty to help develop more positive attitudes towards the whole range of our native languages and to ensure that our pupils are literate in Scots as well as Standard Scottish-English.
Surely a fundamental requirement for any teacher should be a positive attitude towards all the languages of their culture and to make sure they have a rightful place in the school. I believe it is of vital importance to encourage our children to have more confidence in their own native speech, developing an awareness of our own traditions and conventions through the study of literature and encouraging a natural use of Scots alongside English, in speech and writing. We must firstly help our pupils, and their parents, to see that a policy of mono-lingualism, of instilling correct English via eradication of the vernacular is counter productive and damaging to Scottish children and to Scottish culture; that the norms of Standard English are no more linguistically correct than any other variety and in any case Standard Scottish English (S.S.E.) is a very distinctive variety of world English; that Scots is a correct and valid language, a sort of step-brother/sister to any Standard Scots English and a cousin tongue to Southern Standard English.
Thus Scots and English should ideally complement each other, but this will only happen if the dialects of all Scottish children, urban and rural, are given equal respect with a form of Standard Scots English, otherwise we will continue to perpetuate the linguistic prejudice and lack of confidence which has been a cultural cancer in Scottish education and society for far too long.
The speech of Scottish people is often distinctive ...The first tasks of schools are therefore to enable pupils to be confident and creative in this language and to begin to develop the notion of language diversity. (5-14 Guidelines)
In the general context of language varieties, our pupils must be given a basic familiarity with the rich diversity of language used in Scotland, past and present, and a chance to explore the differences of accent and dialect found in their own country and in the English language as a whole. They must also be taught how to use written forms like dialogue, script and monologue and taught some of the basic spelling and grammatical conventions of Scots. (See Spelling Sheets from English-Scots Dictionary, The Grammar Broonie.)
The Scottish Language Project/The Kist and the Jordanhill Scottish Literature and Language material on Accent and Dialect or Scotsheets 1& 2 (Merlin Press) offer a wealth of material here, as do our own department units like Burds an Beasts, the annual Burns Competition, Language of Ours, or poetry units like Tae See Oursels (both S.4).
These should be used along with other literary material to develop an appreciation of our linguistic inheritance as something unique, valuable and something to be proud of. We must develop an appreciation of the linguistic richness of Scots words and expressions in everyday use and some study of interesting or unusual ones from the past. The aim is to teach pupils to understand and appreciate the full range of Scottish language, past and present and to develop the BI-LINGUAL skills and confidence of SCOTTISH children. This is a key equal opportunities issue and no policy of social inclusion will succeed without it.
By the time our pupils reach Standard Grade or Higher, they should already have plenty of experience in using some form of Scots in their personal or imaginative writing and in learning to exploit the rich linguistic contrasts from the mixture of Scots and English in our culture so that they see that Scots can be used for serious purposes and not just the occasional comic poem (i.e. can actually be used for folios or exams). All the talking and writing options from Standard Grade onwards can be in Scots where appropriate and the Higher Still Arrangements make this explicitly clear
It is vital that we teach our pupils to express themselves via all the linguistic resources of Scottish culture and to liberate them from the imaginative constraint of thinking that we must write in correct English all the time. Possibly, our greatest challenge as teachers must be to throw off the shackles of mono-lingualism and attempt to develop confidence in our inherent bi-, or even tri-lingualism, which should be seen as a great cultural gift, not a handicap.
This can best be taught by letting our pupils see a variety of ways of handling Scots in their reading material, e.g. from the conventional format of English narrative voice with Scots dialogue to various ways of blurring the distinction and ways of experimenting with mixing voices, registers and codes.
An exemplar of some of these techniques is available and plenty of examples can be found in magazines like Lallans, New Writing Scotland, Chapman, or short story collections like A Braw Brew or A Tongue in Yer Heid.
We must also make sure that as part of their wider language education, our pupils learn about the history and varieties of Scottish language forms, their status and relationship to Southern Standard English, as well as learning something about the varieties of world English as a whole and how other former colonies have developed confidence in using their own distinctive forms of English, no longer looking to England as setting the correct standard.
There is plenty of material available and we have to ensure that at each stage a language unit on Scots etc. has been included in the course, e.g.:
sets of Scots School Dictionaries and worksheets in every room ; units on Scots, like Scottish Tongues, Burds an Beasts, Scotsheets 1& 2 etc.The Kist, with teacher's notes and worksheets, plus A Braw Brew + worksheets & tape ; The Fower Saisons etc by Sheila Douglas ; Jordanhill Project unit on Accent and Dialect etc ; Tae be Yersel unit & tapes+Haud Yer Tongue (S2/3?) video and worksheets by Billy Kay.
Grammar Broonie and S. Sc. Dictionaries, World English unit ( S.3), Tongues in yer Heid, Accent Dialect and Register material, Scottish Place Names, B.B.C. Standard Grade programmes and notes on Language in Scotland (93), This Language of Ours (S4 ), The Shottle (Teacher's Notes from the Kist).
Language That Awaits a Nation material+ NABs and Support material on Scottish Language and Identity; The Mither Tongue video by Billy Kay and programme note as additional reading ; American English (old Interp); various articles on language issues, esp. jargon, officialese etc. Box of Resources in Department Library for Disc. Essays and S.S.
Additional Support / Resources in Department Library
by W. Graham; Schools Scots Dictionary +Pocket Scots Dictionary. (Copies in each classroom), plus English-Scots Dictionary and Scottish National Dictionary (department and school libraries).
Haud Yer Tongue by Billy Kay (book + videos); The Guid Scots Tongue by D. Murison; SNDA's The Grammar Broonie ; Why Scots Matters by D. McClure; Accent, Dialect and the School by P. Trudgill;
Jordanhill College and Association of Scottish Literary Studies units on Accent and Dialect (+ tapes); Dumfries and Galloway Council Scots units; Tae Be Yersel material by Billy Kay.
Scottish Literature in the Secondary School; Scottish English - S.C.O.P.E.; The Scots Language and the Teacher of English in Scotland by A. J. Aitken; The Scots Language - Planning for Modern Usage by McClure, Aitken and Low ; The Scottis Lass Betrayed (Scottish Consultative Committee on the Curriculum); Glasgow University's Teaching of Scottish Literature and Language (3 vols / EUP.) ; The Scots Language Its Place in Education, ed Liz Niven and Robin Jackson ( Northern College).