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Reviewer's repost

While I agree with Mr Bryan re languages, as I have worked in some 20 countries and it would be impossible and slightly absurd to try and master so many languages, I must take issue with his sentence concerning the Professional Review system.

I am a senior reviewer for the Institution, and I can assure him that the reviewers take great care to keep a high standard concerning the essential essay writing which follows the review.

Despite advice from supervising engineers, liaison officers and a very stiff warning by the reviewers at the conclusion of the review, most candidates do not prepare properly or think logically for the essay, and almost invariably say that it has been practised.

Maybe, but not under stringent time rules.

Too many good candidates fall at this hurdle which, considering that the essay is based on their experience or a list of possible subjects, is lamentable. Perhaps if the people signing their papers took it upon themselves to check this important function before letting them go forward, the situation may improve.

Paul Lacey (F), Laconsult, 87 Lyndhurst Gardens, Finchley, London, N3 1TE

Sign language

It is generally accepted that, as English is spoken practically worldwide, the 'British' are somewhat reticent in learning foreign languages. The suggestion that a study of the industry abroad will provide an insight into foreign practice is a little misguided. After two weeks in a half- built hotel on the Spanish coast, I can hardly call myself an expert on Spanish construction methods. However, to

be able to attend meetings

and prepare tender documents, an in-depth working knowledge of the language is required. I have now lived and worked in Germany for just over four years, and having recently passed a language degree in German, I am now in such a position.

I do not agree with the opinion that a second language as a requisite for professional qualification will deter teenagers from taking up civil engineering. Most teenagers do not even realise what a degree in civil engineering actually involves, let alone what is to follow one.

Also, the suggestion that learning another language reduces the ability to communicate is nonsense. I know many people, including myself, who speak three, four and more languages without having a hampered ability to communicate.

In my opinion, the whole debate is irrelevant. The decision to learn a foreign language should be left up to the individual. An engineer working for a rural local council will hardly see the professional need of such a skill, whereas for those working for an international company, it will be a company prerequisite and, for the engineer working and living abroad, it is an ab solute necessity. Learning a foreign language can count towards CPD anyway, so the incentive is already there and, if all else fails, you can always shout and wave your arms.

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