DCSIMG

Language barrier

The proposal that Scottish children should study two foreign languages in primary school, which is currently being investigated by a committee of the Scottish Parliament (your report, 14 December), brings to mind the old proverb that you shouldn’t try to run before you can walk.

By far the main foreign language taught in our schools is French, and the main reasons for this are historic. It is amazing that we inflict the difficulties of French spelling and pronunciation on children when they can’t yet spell English properly. Are we trying to put them off foreign languages for life?

There are two far better candidates for the first foreign language which our children learn – Spanish and German. Both are far easier to spell and pronounce than French. Both have plenty of cognate vocabulary. Spanish is a major world language.

What is most important is that, through their first foreign language, our children gain the confidence and the skills to learn another. The chances of that are significantly higher with Spanish or German.

By all means, let a child learn a second foreign language, if they have made a success of the first one. But forcing children to study a second foreign language to meet some Holyrood target, when they have failed in their first one, is pointless.

Otto Inglis

Inveralmond Grove

Edinburgh

 

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