"TRIA corda habeo" - I have three personalities - was a proud claim attributed to the pioneer Roman poet Ennius who, born in the third century BC in Calabria (the heel of Italy), professed to be at home in Latin, Greek and Oscan, one might say, the English, Spanish and Gaelic of his day.

Learning a foreign language in depth, beyond the naïve, idiotic level of tourist needs, is a priceless mental discipline, an exciting (if taught well), scientific study of another human psychology than one's own and a lifelong stimulus to intellectual health, cultural satisfaction and humane interaction.

So Deo Gratia for the sanity and realism of Dr Dan Tierney's call for the current, faddish fixation upon Mandarin in some Scottish schools to be questioned ("'Learning Chinese in schools is irrelevant to children'", The Herald, November 1).

Foreign language exposure should begin in Indo-European mode, with the tongue which has permeated, informed and enriched Scottish life for generations , but has been neglected and dismissed as irrelevant in recent decades. And what might that tongue be, in all its majestic, marmoreal magnificence, "a legacy more lasting than bronze?" See my opening sentence. If you want to see evidence of how its mastery can still shape and lend distinction to modern communication, look at the recently published Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson, a classic example of "rich, rollicking readability," the phrase he uses of Churchill's early journalism.

Stuart J Mitchell,

29 Windyedge Crescent,