What is Scots?

A language in its own right

Scots is the official name of a West Germanic language spoken in modern Scotland. It is recognised as a language in its own right by the Scottish and UK Governments and by the European Union. The Scots language is now part of Curriculum for Excellence.

Often mistakenly called slang or regarded as only a dialect of English, the Scots language can boast a world-class literature dating from the early Middle Ages to the present day. As with any language, there are many dialects of Scots including Glaswegian, Doric, Ayrshire and Shetland among others.

People were asked in the 2011 Census if they could speak Scots. It was the first time a Census had set out to record the number of Scots speakers. One and a half million people declared on their Census form that they spoke Scots.

Traditionally, Scots language provision in schools has been restricted to annual concerts or poetry recitals. But many teachers across Scotland have reported improvements in levels of attainment and attitude among their pupils as a direct result of building more rather than less Scots language into programmes of study.

A significant number of children in this country use Scots in one form or another in their everyday lives. They speak it at home with their family and with their peers. Scots is a living modern language which children in their tens of thousands bring to school.

This module aims to show why increasing the quantity and quality of provision of the Scots language can bring about significant improvements in our children’s literacy.

'Scotland has a rich diversity of languages, including Scots.’

Building the Curriculum 1: Languages
Curriculum for Excellence