Culture club

I was intrigued by the comment from a Department for Education and Skills spokesperson quoted in the article about the innovative language programme at Scorton primary school (TES, May 18), to the effect that Esperanto has nothing to offer in developing intercultural understanding. The whole point of Esperanto, surely, is that it is intercultural.

Learning French, Arabic or Chinese may give the learner some insight into one culture (or group of cultures); Esperanto, used by people from countless cultures and language backgrounds around the world, can provide insights into many ethnic cultures, from a uniquely independent perspective.

I have used Esperanto in many countries for more than 40 years. I have no doubt that chatting with an Albanian family in a language that belongs equally to us both gives me an incomparably better insight into their culture than I would gain through halting Albanian. I wonder, was the DfES comment based on research, careful study or (perish the thought) prejudice?

David Kelso. former HM Chief Inspector of Education in Scotland, Kilncadzow, Carluke

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