There is little advantage for 120 languages

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There have been complaints made about the lack of cuckoos this year.

However, I heard one two weeks ago, and I think The Star and councillor Jackie Drayton must be hearing them all the time, since they clearly live in cloud cuckoo land, if they think it a good thing that 120 different languages are spoken as their first languages by children in Sheffield’s schools (The Star, May 12).

Although some may speak and understand English well enough, there are probably enough out of this 20 per cent of the school cohorts, whose lack of adequate English makes considerable demands on their teachers at the expense of local children.

The claim that this diversity makes for a “rich learning experience in seeing and experiencing at first hand the world around them” seems somewhat fanciful, considering they are just children at school.

Speaking another language is always a mind-broadening accomplishment, but the vast majority of these 120 languages are of little importance globally.

Apart from when they visit the countries concerned, most of their first languages will be of no use.

Of those who speak a useful language, say, Arabic or Mandarin, few will grow up to use them professionally for business, teaching, or diplomacy.

There can be little advantage in this linguistic diversity, and conceivably more disadvantage, including for the children concerned.

BW Jervis

Sheffield, S11