Letter: Straight talk

Alistair Scott (Letters, 21 May) says his young son’s success at languages shows that these should be taught in all schools and success is guaranteed. This claim is totally unjustifed.

His son had an aptitude for languages and lived among people who spoke these all the time, as well as with his English-speaking family.

Having a few hours in a class, where others have no interest in learning, with a non-native speaker as teacher, and seldom using the language elsewhere cannot possibly have similar results.

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Very few competent language speakers became so merely because of school studies. They were motivated to learn and willing to put in much time and effort outside school.

The majority who have studied French in schools here can hardly understand, let alone speak, it. The same applies to many abroad, who, despite having had English classes at school for several years, have little capability in it.

One wonders how many of the German children Mr Scott’s son knew are fluent English speakers.

Very few children will ever need to use a foreign language and there are far better ways of using their short time in school – not to mention the scarce public funds. There are much better ways for those who want to learn to do so.

John Munro

Buccleuch Street

Glasgow