Your Views: Languages constantly evolving

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It was amusing to read John Izbicki's comments about the "missing chapter" of Lord Dearing's report on higher education, that is the international dimension. ("But not la plume..." Word of Mouth, Education+, 14 May). I realise the comments were meant humorously, but there are three serious points that should be made in this connection. Languages are constantly evolving, and the fact that we "can't even master our own language" is a rather defeatist statement. (For our part, we at the Institute always ensure that our examiners keep their languages current and up-to-date, even their "own" language.) Britain is an increasingly multi-cultural society and there is a lot more linguistic activity going on than statistics in GCSEs would lead one to suspect. I imagine that John, judging by his surname (like mine), is no stranger to languages that do not figure in the usual French-German-Spanish tally. What is meant by "modern languages"? Does he also include community, ethnic, minority languages? If so, who should deal with issues of recognition, equivalence, funding, and so on.

Henry Pavlovich

Director & Chief Executive, Institute of Linguists

Saxon House, Southwark St, London SE1.

Telling students about drugs

The Study Safely campaign mentioned in Education+, 21 May, to provide accurate information to London students about drugs, was organised by a number of partners, including the London Drug Policy Forum, the 27 London Drug Action Teams, Event Planners Ltd, and the NUS, as well as ourselves. The campaign has been evaluated, and more up-to-date figures on student drug use, as well as the effectiveness of drugs awareness campaigns, will shortly be available from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (0171 927 2048). The information materials are now being distributed nationwide - contact ISDD on 0171 928 1211 for details.

Linda Fielding

Director of Operations, ISDD, Loman Street

London SE1

Retiring teachers with honour

In Personally Speaking (Education +, 14 May), Ian Roe (pseudonym) says of his staff: "They have all been used up and should be allowed to go with honour". Please pass on to him the following sentence (line 11, para XVI, Aelii Spartiani De Vita Hadriani), written some time between 293AD and 305AD, which describes how the Emperor Hadrian treated burnt-out teachers when he became emperor: "Doctores qui professioni suae inhabiles videbantur ditatos honoratosque a profesione dimisit" - "Teachers who seemed incapable in their profession, he loaded with riches and honours and sent into retirement." Perhaps he would like to send Mr Blunkett the translation?

Gavin Wraith

Reader in Mathematics, Sussex University

Please send your letters to: Wendy Berliner, Editor, Education+, `The Independent', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Include a daytime telephone number. Fax letters to Education+ on 0171-293 2451; e-mail: educ@independent.co.uk

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