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Second choice

Having worked overseas both on the ground and as a UK based civil engineer for more than 20 years the lack of a second language has not prevented me undertaking work in a sound and professional manner. I agree that the ability to communicate in a second language could be important - however, in which foreign language should the individual become competent? Our peers in Germany, France and Japan have a fairly easy decision since much of our work, in particular in Third World countries, is conducted in English.

To become technically competent and communicate well in English must be the prime objective to achieve chartered status. Once this has been achieved and the direction the individual wishes his /her career to take will determine whether a second language skill is necessary to achieve the individual's aspirations. If an engineer wishes to work in South America then he/she will have to be prepared to put in the hours to learn Spanish. A second language should be seen in the same light as any other specialist skill needed to advance one's career.

It makes no sense to learn a language just to pass an exam. Languages learned in such a fashion, like muscles, become wasted if not used. I support GSNC rejection of ICE's plan.

Albie Hope, (F), WSP International, 814 Brighton Road, Purley, Surrey CR8 2BR.

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