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SNP Member of the European Parliament Ian Hudghton said it was a great privilege to get a chance to play in the same team as Scotland international football manager, Berti Vogts. The pair joined forces as key speakers at the Aberdeenshire Schools Languages Day. This annual event, staged at Robert Gordon's University this year, is designed to encourage young Scots to learn foreign languages.
Mr Hudghton, who has spoken at the event in a previous year, was thrilled when he saw he was sharing a platform with the adopted Scot, and said:
"It really was an honour to be in the same team as Scotland's international football team boss. Like most Scots, I watch our home team play with the usual degree of pride and passion and I was just delighted when I heard who my fellow team member was to be for the day.
"Berti kept us all entertained with stories of his early days in Scotland. Arriving with what he believed was a pretty good grasp of English, he soon realised he was going to have to get to grips with some pretty strange accents, colloquialisms and dialects. I can really sympathise with that. Although nearly all business in the Parliament in Brussels is simultaneously translated, day-to-day living in the Belgian capital is conducted in French.
"When I was first elected to the European Parliament, I too was pretty confident that my Forfar Academy French would stand me in good stead. What both Berti and I learned was just how quickly your ear has to become attuned to all sorts of accents - and that not everyone talks slowly just for your benefit. You live there, so you speak in the language. There's no choice about that.
"I commend the Aberdeenshire Schools for another successful languages event. It takes living in another country to waken you up to how important language skills are. With the EU expanding eastwards in May, Scots will increasingly hear other languages joining those we've become more familiar with through education, media, business and so on.
"Given the right language skills, the opportunities open to Scotland's young people are immense. Berti Vogts is an excellent European role model and shows that language skills are not just good for working in an office somewhere in Europe. They're as much about achieving excellence in sports, or the arts or indeed anything you want to be. As Europeans we can go to live and work anywhere else in the EU. Being able to communicate effectively when you arrive is really an invaluable asset that I can't stress enough."