Esperanto's ends

I was intrigued by the comment from a Department for Education and Skills spokesperson, quoted in your article about the innovative language programme at Scorton primary school in Lancashire (TES, May 18) to the effect that Esperanto has nothing to offer in developing inter-cultural understanding.

The whole point of Esperanto, surely, is that it is inter-cultural? Learning French or 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, neutral 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 both of us gives me an incomparably better insight into their culture than I would gain through halting Albanian, Italian or English. I wonder: was the DfES comment based on research, careful study or (perish the thought) prejudice?

David Kelso (former HM Chief Inspector of Education, Scotland) Kilncadzow, Carluke

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