YOU were absolutely right (Comment Examiner, Jan 31) to stress the need for folk to learn other languages, particularly at an early age. I wonder if schools now offer better encouragement?

Way, way back I was taught Latin, which I found boring at the time but in later years found most useful.

There was also, then, a sort of academic view that if your French was pretty poor you were hopeless with languages.

That was a rubbish assessment and it wasn’t until I got into the sixth form that I could take German. I found it much easier and subsequently became fairly fluent. I found it invaluable in my professional life, albeit with a Viennese accent!

I remember, too, reading somewhere a quote by Marx or Engels that the optimist should learn Russian and the pessimist Chinese.

On reflection I perhaps made the wrong decision. Anyway I went to night school to learn Russian and must say it’s been very helpful, not least with the script in other countries, and on one occasion, a few years ago, it got me out of trouble at Kaliningrad Airport when I was arrested for smoking.

Mind you, it cost me several packets of cigarettes!

Foreign languages are vital if only in the get-out-of-trouble context, but then one can also make some super friends, as I have done worldwide. All it needs is the effort and enthusiasm.

Martin Noble