The rich and expanding Scottish language

English is the main language spoken in Scotland today and has been the since the 18th Century. However, there are a wide range of different accents and dialects spoken across the country. From the largest cities right through to the smallest of our islands, differing accents can be found. These range from soft and sing-song to stronger and more pronounced.

In our richly historic and vibrantly traditional country, the ancient Celtic language of Gaelic is still spoken. Gaelic has been part of the Scottish consciousness for centuries and is considered to be the founding language of the country. The origins of Gaelic can be traced back as far as the 10th Century and is believed to have been brought to Scotland from Ireland.

In recent times the Gaelic language has experienced a renaissance and is enjoying new levels of popularity. Although the Highlands and Islands are the stronghold of the Gaelic language, the number of speakers is steadily increasing and Gaelic speakers can be found in all parts of the country.  As well as this, the introduction of bilingual road signs and a dedicated Gaelic TV channel mean you are never far from an encounter with the Gaelic language. You can find out more about Gaelic from the Scots Language Centre.

Scotland is proud to maintain its indigenous tongue as a part of Scottish languages, but the country is also home to many other languages. Scotland has an excellent reputation for welcoming people from around the world to our shores to live, work and study, and this diversity brings with it many different languages, spoken by a diverse and growing population. While some languages are spoken by only a few, others are the first language of entire communities.

There are over 170 languages spoken in Scotland, and those include Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Dutch, Farsi,  French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Kurdish, Makaton, Mandarin, Punjabi, Polish, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu and many more.

English for speakers of other languages

Speaking the language of a country is very important for improving education or work opportunities. Our innovative English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programme offers people living in the Scotland an affordable way to learn and improve their English, and to get the most out of living in Scotland.

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