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Only bad linguists should drop out

The 14-19 Green Paper shows the Government has realised, at long last, that learning a foreign language is beyond some pupils, who have problems enough with their own tongue. To that extent, the decision to make languages no longer compulsory after the age of 14 makes good sense, particularly in view of teacher shortages.

However, in spite of the claims of English as a world language, we still need linguists. Applicants with a language continue to have an edge in some jobs. Arguments for the personal cultural rewards of language study are as valid as ever.

For these reasons, it would be a grave mistake to allow all pupils to drop languages at 14. To weaken the supply of linguists would have a serious knock-on effect at A-level and beyond. The decision to drop the subject should not be that of the pupil but the school. Staff should decide who had reached their linguistic ceiling at age 14.

Such a policy was operated by many comprehensives before the national curriculum with its mistaken "languages for all" mantra.

Michael J Smith 13 Hulland View Allestree, Derby

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