Gaelic medium schools are becoming successful in Scotland, according to an article in the Scotsman.

A big commitment to teaching the language to children has been made in parts of the country – including Edinburgh, where a council is looking into creating a dedicated Gaelic school. This follows the success of Tollcross Primary’s Gaelic Medium Education unit in the city, which has seen pupil number rise in the past five years.

Critics of the move point out that Gaelic is a dying language (one per cent of Scots speak it) and wonder why it’s use is being promoted in this way. Teaching children other languages such as Mandarin may prove more useful, they say.

Whatever the second language taught, the benefits of bilingualism for children are clear:

A glowing HMIE report has just highlighted the great academic success of children at Tollcross Primary, where “a significant proportion achieve national levels in English, Gaelic and mathematics earlier than might normally be expected”. It adds: “Children learning through the medium of Gaelic progress very well.”

Antonella Sorace, professor of developmental linguistics at Edinburgh University and director of the new information service Bilingualism Matters, says: “The results are consistent with research on child bilingualism, which shows that growing up with two languages brings a range of benefits to children.

For example, bilingual children tend to display improved attention and an enhanced ability to deal with complex information, have better metalinguistic skills and are more efficient language learners.”

And as the headteacher of another primary points out

“It’s like building a house. If you have one other language, whatever that is, it’s far easier to learn other languages and the benefits are wonderful.”

For language learners who aim to achieve more than two languages, that’s encouraging news.