Dr Daniel Tierney refers to EIS (Educational Institute of Scotland) concerns about the mismatch between the ambition of the Scottish Government's modern language policy and the resources committed so far (Letters, March 9).

No-one is clear about how much it may take, but the £4 million already committed by the Scottish Government, to support the formation of language plans at local level over the next four years, is welcome. Any future costing is complicated by the fact that it is not at all clear what is being proposed. It is hoped the present pilots will help give some shape and direction.

The EIS welcomes the commitment and ambition of the Government to the promotion of modern languages and would welcome the introduction of modern language teaching at the earliest possible stage consistent with Curriculum for Excellence 3-18. There is no genetic barrier to learning a foreign language. Any cultural or organisational obstacles which may exist need to be addressed to meet the challenges in a world of migration in the context of a globalised economy and employment opportunities. Equally, it is critical to promote the benefits of learning and language in improving confidence, knowledge and appreciation of one's own language, as well as promoting a broader cultural awareness and diversity.

This ambition does not sit comfortably with recent budget cuts across the country that have seen the removal of modern language assistants in schools, the reduced choice and uptake of languages in schools and colleges, the step back from reducing class sizes, reductions in professional development budgets, and the removal of teachers from nursery classes and nursery schools. In combination with apparent teacher shortages and the present supply crisis in schools, the EIS simply acknowledges the practical challenges that need to be overcome.

Short of achieving the stated ambitions of Government policy, the EIS would be delighted if it were possible, at the very least, to reverse the decline in the teaching of modern languages and begin to rebuild and expand on the excellent work that continues to be undertaken in schools by expert teachers with children and young people. And the younger the better, in our view, as it provides the base understanding and boosts the motivation necessary to overcome the obstacles to which we are all too familiar. This demands a clear appreciation and understanding of the role of the teacher as expert in teaching languages from the age of three through to 18.

Despite the challenges, the EIS welcomes the aims and ambitions of Government policy.

Hugh Donnelly, Secretary, EIS, Glasgow Local Association, 34 West George Street, Glasgow.