Short Courses

Languages Week Scotland – Q & A with Thomas Chaurin

Short Courses Head of Languages Thomas Chaurin tells us what sets Scotland apart from the crowd when it comes to language learning

​​​​​​Linguistically, Scotland is very diverse.

Did you know that 158 'main home languages' are spoken by its school pupils? Or that there are around 450,000 people living in Scotland who were born outside of the UK? 

This diversity will be celebrated during Languages Week Scotland which runs between 3 and 7 February 2020 and is an opportunity for schools, colleges, universities and the wider community to share the wonderful work they do.

At the Centre for Open Learning we have the largest selection of language courses in Edinburgh. From Arabic to Welsh, all are offered at beginners level and many continue through to advanced levels. So, whether you want to communicate with people from around the world, gain a deeper understanding of other cultures or just have some fun, there really is something for everyone.

We caught up with Thomas Chaurin, Head of Languages for All, to find out more…

Thomas Chaurin


1. What do you think makes Scotland unique when it comes to languages?

There is a new interest for languages in Scotland, thanks to the introduction of languages in first year of primary school, the research on the benefits of language learning and general awareness of the value of languages in a multilingual society.


2. What do you think are the main benefits of language learning in Scotland?

The demand for languages is growing, and this is an excellent news. Let’s continue encouraging language learning at all ages, and making it accessible to all, secondary pupils, college and university students, and life-long learners.


3. Tell us more about Short Courses in Languages at the Centre for Open Learning.

We offer courses in 23 languages, from beginners to advanced levels. Last autumn, we welcomed 1,572 students from all ages in our Term 1 courses. 75 per cent of our students are lifelong learners and a quarter are university students. Their motivation to learn a language varies from family reasons, personal development, or career advancement. French, German, Italian and Spanish are the most popular languages, but we are also known for our exceptional offer of less widely taught languages.


4. Who are the courses suitable for?

Our courses are open to everyone, from the age of 16 and up, with or without prior knowledge of the language. For students who have no prior experience, the learning journey will start in Beginners 1. All other students will soon find on our website self-assessment documents to help them assess their proficiency level and enrol in the most suitable course.


5. What can students expect from their course tutors?

We are a team of nearly 60 language tutors all experts in language teaching. Language classroom is fun, interactive and stimulating with task-based learning in small group and a focus on listening and speaking. All in a very safe environment, where everyone is encouraged to speak.


If you're keen to spruce up your language skills this spring and learn something new, Term 3 starts in April and booking is now open!


Browse our Term 3 Language Courses