I SPENT last Saturday with 30 German teachers at a conference held at the Goethe Institute in Glasgow. We were presented with some depressing statistics, but it was abundantly clear that the small interest in learning German has nothing to do with any lack of enthusiasm from the German teachers themselves. They were a keen and impressive bunch who had given up their Saturday to learn more. I became even more convinced that the lack of interest in language learning in Scotland is connected to the lack of awareness of the benefits of language skills by the business community.

There are only 99 German teachers in Scotland. Only seven out of 32 education authorities in Scotland offer German in their schools.

The new German consul based in Edinburgh troubled to spend the day with us. She said you could not go to university in Germany without an Arbitur Certificate that included a foreign language. An "old timer" told me this used to be the case in Scotland.

For all the criticisms levelled, surely the 1 + 2 scheme for "compulsory" language learning at primary school must have an impact eventually. Foreign language learning is second only to Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in funding terms. Even the Government policy representative gave a gutsy, fun presentation. The Government seems committed.

The successful "internationalising" of Scottish business will not happen until business understands the magical importance of language skills and "shouts" for them, as it has done for Stem skills, which the universities will be forced to provide, which will in turn pressure the schools… We need engineers, scientists, business, marketing graduates with language skills.

Nelson Mandela’s often-quoted words that you win a person’s heart when you speak to them in their language remain as true as ever. How do we convince business this would produce better results?

Dick Philbrick, Glasgow.