And how did she learn this important skill? “I learnt my Italian at the Adult Education Centre in Medway over 10 years”. Fair play to her: that’s a long haul, and learning another language – even one as beautiful as Italian – is work, real hard work.
Yet however hard-working, persistent and competent the learner, it’s virtually impossible to develop language competence without support. The attack on adult education across Britain has eradicated much provision – an attack often accompanied by politicians’ jibes about adult learners’ frivolous interests – and many adult modern language courses have disappeared.
So I was delighed to see that Medway Council’s Adult and Community Learning Service still offers four Italian classes and a Saturday morning ‘conversation cafe’ at its centre in Rochester – and much else besides. Just imagine what the sneerers would say about even a penny of public funding going towards a ‘conversation cafe’ in Italian.
I very much hope that Kelly Tolhurst, who is clearly a woman who knows her own mind, will share her views with the next politician to jeer at people who fail to show the properly serious and vocational mindset when tackling a foreign language.