Scotland's language teachers - the good, the curious, the battle-scarred and the plain worn-out - gather today to share, learn and do some professional hand-holding at the annual conference of the Scottish Association of Language Teaching, or Salt.

With the grim news about the decline in Scotland's ability to talk to the rest of the world; the challenges of the Curriculum for Excellence; the Scottish Government's ambitious 1+2 policy to teach primary school children two languages; and the overhaul of national qualifications, it might be expected that language teachers would be waving the white flag.

But is it really a case of "nil points" for les profs? The keynote speaker at our conference is Dr Dan Tierney, who is championing meaningful continuing professional development for teachers and giving us a voice in national policy.

He wants to join up learning from nursery to university and to take a long hard look at evidence from previous pilots to inform how we take language learning forward.

But what do language teachers want? First, we want to work in an environment where we don't feel like dinosaurs teetering on the edge of extinction, with the "results sword" hanging over us and facing curriculum maps that are going to destroy our rich, cultural and diverse landscape.

We would like the same things every teacher wants for learners: we want to work in a climate where we feel our subject is valued and have the chance to reach our full potential.

We have the opportunity to examine what it is that we need to be able to teach and learn.

We are crying out for professional development that does not solely involve learning about new assessments.

We have been through the technological revolution; in fact we were probably at the heart of it when the language lab was first introduced.

Securing access to foreign languages has never been easier. How things have changed. In the past, we borrowed videos from our cultural institutes, tracked down three-day old copies of foreign newspapers, begged, borrowed and stole (perhaps not literally) authentic material from our friends in countries where the language was spoken.

Now we have YouTube and Skype; we podcast, tweet and blog; we go to restaurants, dress up and bring in the food; and we'll pretty much abuse of all our contacts to secure visits, speakers and resources.

And when the paperwork allows and the money is available, we even venture to the country or countries where the language is spoken.

Technology, visits and the French café routine aside, we need to maintain our language skills to make sure we are "au courant" with linguistic developments and that's not just about going on holiday and engaging with the locals as we do the shopping and try and wind down.

At the heart of the languages issue is the age-old notion that we have heard for so long. We need to "win hearts and minds" about language learning. That means pupils, staff, senior management and decision makers.

How do we convince our learners, colleagues and senior managers that languages matter? Of course, we need to be brave.

We need to make brave decisions about curriculum issues and make sure that our learners have a rich, diverse experience and learn about culture.

We need to have high expectations and a curriculum to meet the needs of all learners.

For all of that to happen we need to make sure we are heard, informed and, perhaps most important of all, we need time to learn too.

We need time to engage with our peers and senior managers and we need to be proud of our subject.

We need to be able to put our heads above the parapet and remember that what we teach is not only an essential tool for the world of work but also a major way to enhance and contribute to literacy.