THERE is a lack of understanding in Scottish schools about how learning a language can help pupils improve their literacy, MSPs have been told.

Holyrood’s Education Committee has been hearing evidence as part of its inquiry into subject choice. It has previously been suggested that pupils at schools in areas of higher deprivation are being offered fewer subjects to choose from.

Francisco Valdera-Gil, a lecturer in modern languages, said some of the most deprived schools in Glasgow are not offering modern languages to pupils.

Addressing the impact of that, he said: “There’s a lack of understanding, although it’s very clear in policy, of the role modern languages play in literacy. To me, that is not totally understood by the profession.

“I work in teacher education and I can see that in Glasgow the most deprived schools are the ones that tend not to do the modern languages.

“There’s 4000 words in English that come from French and it’s through the learning of language that our students are exposed to that.”

Catriona MacPhee, of the Gaelic Secondary Teachers Association Comann Luchd-Teagaisg Ard Sgoiltean, warned reduced subject choice is affecting Gaelic learning.

She said: “The narrowing of subject choices in many Scottish schools has had a profoundly negative effect on the uptake of Gaelic, especially, but not exclusively, that of Gaelic learners.

"It needs urgent intervention.”