LETTER : A useless thing to learn? Nein!

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From Mr Max Wilcox

Sir: Hamish McRae thinks that "we teach our children things they will not need to know, like German (the Germans all speak English)" ("There's a bit of Sting in all of us", 19 October). Like any foreigners, certain Germans are capable of speaking English very well when it suits them but any export salesman, or casual tourist, will tell you that many Germans speak no English at all, especially when they are in their own country and/or you are trying to sell them something.

As for the "need to know" aspect, I would have thought that of all the useless things our children are taught at school, the knowledge of a modern foreign, indeed European, language is not one of them. Many Second World War veterans would be with me on this. (Airey Neave would never have made it back from Colditz without a German-speaking Dutch officer to help him).

Holidays in any foreign country, are a lot more enjoyable when you can speak with the citizens of the country in their own language. Moreover, as all foreigners are inherently untrustworthy, and the Germans most of all, what better way to forestall their evil plans than to learn their language?

Yours sincerely,

Max Wilcox

Brussels, Belgium