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Letters extra: languages are worth learning

I was astonished at Peter Wilby's views on language learning ( TES March 1). It is no wonder that British people have a poor reputation when it comes to speaking other languages. How arrogant to assume that outside France (and why France?) most "foreigners" are able to or will want to speak English?

He states that there is no obvious point to language learning, and therefore no reason to teach them. Surely the point is to learn to communicate with people from other countries and learn about their culture. These reasons are what inspire my students who are from an inner-city, multicultural, and mixed-ability learning environment. They are highly motivated and do not find the lessons dull or pointless.

Whatever happened to learning for learning's sake? Why should we have to offer the prospect of a career as the incentive to pursue an interest in a subject? Students learning languages are involved in an intellectual process which most of them find stimulating.

The subjects which Peter Wilby suggests students study as alternatives (film, media, sport and tourism), are, oddly enough, the topics which they learn to discuss in their language lessons. Perhaps Peter Wilby should find out how students feel before making ill-informed generalisations.

Maureen Oswald
Morpeth School
London E2

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