Schools should spend time on English

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From: Brian Hanwell, Bradford Road, Northowram, Halifax.

REGARDING the recent Government proposal to make it compulsory for all children over seven to be taught a foreign language, I would like to make several points.

The cost of implementing the scheme would be astronomical because each school would need to appoint one or more teachers.

If the Government were to make £50,000 available to each school so that they could teach foreign languages, where would all the teachers come from?

It would make more sense to let schools spend more time teaching children to speak English. In My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle achieve “upward social mobility” because Professor Higgins taught her how to speak English. If he had tried to teach her French, Russian or Mandarin he would not have been able to say: “By Jove, I think she’s got it!” He would have said: “What a waste of time – she’ll never get it!” Eliza would then have stayed a poor illiterate flower seller.

When I was at grammar school in the 1940s, I struggled with French for four years – getting nowhere (like everybody else in my class).

Finally I plucked up the courage to ask my French teacher if I could drop French. Her reply was: “By all means do! That will be one fool the less! Try to get some of your pals to drop it with you!”

I then concentrated on the subjects I was reasonably good at – maths, chemistry, physics and woodwork. Years later, when I was married and had children, every time we went to a foreign country on a camping holiday we all learnt a few words and phrases before we set off, and then tried to learn a few more while we were there.

That is the way to learn a foreign language. Unless a child has a special aptitude for foreign languages teaching them at school, for say an hour a week, is a complete waste of valuable time. It would probably also increase truancy rates.

Consultant was ‘brutal’

From: Kathleen Yates, Silver Street, Whitley Bridge, Goole.

I READ that Dr Kate Granger wants her diary, The Other Side to be “available to all medical students in a bid to improve patient-doctor communication”. She was, “shocked by the lack of quality communication” (Yorkshire Post, June 14).

I hope it will also be read by qualified doctors and consultants for the same reason. My late husband was told in a very brutal way, by a consultant, that he had cancer of the pancreas, for which there is no cure, and in his case, no medication, no chemotherapy, no surgery, no treatment – nothing.

We were given this information by a consultant during visiting time on the ward, with other patients and visitors present.

As I left the ward I was told, by a doctor, that should my husband suffer cardiac failure, he would not be resuscitated.

Our feelings were obviously of no importance at all.

From: James Hinchliffe, Beck Lane, Bingley.

WHAT a courageous and inspiring contribution from Kate Granger, which I read with increasing emotion. Speaking with experience of “the system” over the last few years, I can but totally agree with Kate regarding improved patient-doctor relationship.

All too often the doctor at the bedside “towers over” the patient making them almost intimidating and, quite often in the doctor’s surgery, they sit “across a desk” which gives the impression of remoteness.

I am convinced that if the relationship was much closer the patient would feel at ease resulting in a better understanding of the patient’s problem and, therefore, a much earlier diagnosis.

It is often this lack of early diagnosis, particularly in many cases of cancer, that results in chemotherapy being given too late or to no avail.

I consider that Kate’s book should be widely distributed to, and read by, not only medical students but many GPs.

While I think I would find the book too harrowing to read at this time, I will purchase a copy to read at some time later but do hope, however, that its sale will result in badly needed income for Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Righting the wrongs

From: John Gordon, Whitcliffe Lane, Ripon.

AS we look at yet another news bulletin about the horrors in Syria or the poverty nearer home, we forget that 100 years ago we would not know about these things or at least such news would only trickle through to those who could read a newspaper.

Television keeps us alive to what is going on in the world and by so doing, gives us the chance to right the wrongs and remedy the deficiencies that have been left for our generation to cure.