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Free language course launched by the Open University

By David Porter

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A free online course in Scots language and culture has been launched by The Open University (OU) and Education Scotland.

The only course of its kind, it represents a novel approach to language learning by teaching Scots through the context in which it’s spoken, highlighting the role of Scots in Scottish culture and society, past and present.

Senior Lecturer in Languages at the OU, Sylvia Warnecke said: “As Scots grows in popularity, it feels right to show how as a language it has developed over time as a vital aspect of Scottish culture and history and how it links to other European languages.

“The course is written to appeal both to existing Scots speakers and those new to the language.

“It will give learners a chance to practice using the language themselves and develop their understanding of written and spoken Scots in different dialects.

“There’s something here for everyone!”

The course has been developed over the last two years in partnership with the Scots community and is intended to help grow knowledge and understanding of Scots, and its history, in Scotland and further afield. Its launch comes in the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Author and contributor to the course James Robertson said: “This comprehensive course underlines the range, vitality and national significance of Scots.

“It shows what a crucial and integral part of Scottish culture and identity Scots has been and continues to be.

“Anybody who dips into this course, let alone completes it, will emerge with a greater understanding not only of the language but of Scotland itself.”

Scots Scriever at the National Library of Scotland, Dr Michael Dempster, added: “As a first language Scots speaker, and someone who teaches other speakers about their language, this course is a significant step forward in the continued recognition and understanding of our language.

“By taking this course speakers will discover their own spoken language in locations, historical periods, and contexts that they've perhaps never encountered it before.

“They will discover variations from their own speech in the wide range of dialects and literary forms represented here, but a clear commonality across all Scots really leaps out.

“The diverse selection of expert contributors offers a uniquely wide range of perspectives on the language.

“This is an excellent resource for both Scots speakers and learners, gie it a shot!”

It’s also hoped that the course will be used in the classroom by teachers and other educators.

Scots Language Coordinator at Education Scotland Bruce Eunson said:”It is a braw addition to Scots language education materials, offering support to a great many – whether studying on your own, starting from the very beginning, and wanting to read about the history of Scots – or working within a wider group, wanting to improve your understanding and communicating skills in contemporary Scots.

“We hope this course will be welcomed by practitioners and teaching staff across the country and that all enjoy stravaigin alang the gates and wynds o this learning journey.”

The course has been tested with learners to ensure that it delivers its learning outcomes and that it meets the needs of as wide an audience as possible.

The course is split into two parts and the first part is now available free on the OU’s OpenLearn Create platform.

The second part will be online by the end of the year.

The course is flexible and learners can study at a time and place that suits them.

It should take around 40 hours to complete both parts and those completing the course will receive a digital badge to acknowledge their study.

It can be accessed via https://www.open.edu/openlearncreate/course/index.php?categoryid=382

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