LETTERS: Fatal flaws in schools languages proposal

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I t was with a combination of intrigue and a slightly sinking feeling that I read your article on the plans to vastly increase language learning provision in our primary schools (‘All pupils to learn two foreign dialects before high school’, News, October 13).

The multiple benefits of acquiring some skill in this area is without dispute, as is the comparative ease with which young children in particular can absorb and recreate new sounds.

However, as an ex-French teacher who battled for many years with the inertia and at times aggression displayed by Scottish adolescents with regard to language learning, I’m concerned that when children get beyond initial excitement at mimicking some exotic sounds in a different language and are hit by the reality that they won’t be fluent by Christmas, the familiar bleating of “What’s the point?” is heard by weary teachers all over the country, closely followed by, “Everyone speaks English anyway”.

Rather depressingly, this kind of attitude is also one demonstrated with frustrating frequency by parents.

If motivation is feeble, it matters not a jot what “language experts” or the government have to say on the issue – we will not be producing a nation of enthusiastic polyglots.

Additionally, what the article did not ask is who will be delivering these lessons – are we dosing already overworked primary teachers with a minimal dollop of a second language or are we fishing some secondary teachers out of their classrooms?

We have a poor take-up in language study at all levels – do we have enough competent, trained people to deliver this pie-in-the-sky, one manageable slice at a time?

Catherine Wood, Brougham Place, Edinburgh

Let’s hope airport is listening to residents

The letter from Gordon Robertson (News, October 13) regarding the trial of a proposed new flight path at Edinburgh Airport made interesting reading.

This trial has been shortened to the end of October and, as Mr Robertson wrote, “We are listening and have acted on what we have heard.”

Reading into the letter, it would appear that the findings of this trial will be analysed and any findings taken to the CAA.

Obviously, the trial will soon be over but the new flight path is still under consideration and then Edinburgh Airport will attempt to have this as a permanent feature. The promise of full public consultation does nothing to alleviate any concerns I have. It will be noted from my address that I live in Broxburn and the flight path doesn’t directly affect me but the increased frequency of flights does. Before anyone writes that one shouldn’t buy a house under a flight path then complain about it, I would point out that I have lived in this house since before the second runway was laid.

Edinburgh Airport caused quite an outcry when they stopped free pick-up and drop-off of passengers. They did not do much listening then and the complaints came from a wider area than West Lothian.

Colin J Oliver, Parklands, Broxburn, West Lothian

Guilty verdict damages Named Person Scheme

THE future of the SNP’s flagship Named Person Scheme is called into question by the conviction in Elgin Sheriff Court of a “named person”.

It has been reported that the sheriff ordered Dayna Dickson-Boath, a secondary school teacher and named person, to be placed on the sex offenders register.

The Named Person Scheme means every child in Scotland will have a state official, appointed on their behalf, to oversee upbringing from before birth to 18 years old.

The scheme presupposes that every “named person” can be trusted with the confidential information of our children and the power to initiate interventions into our families. This fundamental assumption is now demonstrated to be false.

The scheme also assumes that no parent can be trusted to bring up their children without supervision by state officials. Common experience teaches us that this assumption is simply wrong; evolutionary theory confirms this. Also, the scandalously poor outcomes of children in care demonstrate that the greater the state involvement in children’s upbringing, the worse the result.

The Named Person Scheme is not due to come fully into force until August next year, although some local authorities, including Dickson-Boath’s former employer, have already implemented it.

The First Minister should accept that this scheme has no place in a free society and lead the repeal of the enabling legislation.

Otto Inglis, Inveralmond Grove, Edinburgh

Car park and hotel are both needed at ERI

I AGREE with John McLellan, a multi-storey car park should be built at ERI (‘Treat parking chaos before it’s too late’, News, October 9).

Nowadays people from all over Scotland travel for treatment at one of Europe’s biggest hospitals.

A budget hotel should be built so people can book in the day before a visit, so that they arrive rested for treatment.

Jim Barrow, Leith Walk, Edinburgh