Language barrier

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You report (16 April) on the shocking result of a survey of businesses which report very poor levels of literacy and 
numeracy among school leavers. Some firms are having to resort to back-to-basic tuition in these areas. This is the result of the destruction of traditional methods of teaching which have become more and more downgraded since the 1960s.

People who are teaching now weren’t taught in the traditional ways and so we have reached a second generation of poorly 
educated teachers who do not have the knowledge to pass on.

It is only when graduates are exposed in the real world that the inadequacy of the teaching system comes to light.

One great source of literary education when I was at school in the 1950s was reading. Home reading should be a compulsory element from primary school.

As far as grammar is concerned, most children could be forgiven for thinking that an adverbial clause was a relative of Santa Claus.

Notwithstanding the parlous state of education in Scotland and the dire need to get capital projects under way in industry, what are our MSPs planning? There is a proposal for Gaelic to be introduced as a compulsory subject at primary school level. This will be of no use in the outside world to anyone and is a waste of resources and learning time in schools.

I approve of languages being taught and I studied languages at school myself. It is amazing how French and German have links with the English language and help in the understanding of words. The most useful language in which to have a grounding is Latin which, while a so-called dead language, really is the source of vast amounts of root derivations of English words and phrases.

Before one can learn a foreign language, it is necessary to have an understanding of the grammar and syntax of one’s own language.

Unfortunately, teaching in these areas is woeful.

Foreigners learning English at school are being taught proper English and grammar and the day will come when we might have to employ foreigners to come to Scotland to teach English and stop the rot.

Donald Lewis


East Lothian