Birmingham likes to portray itself as a major European city, but all the evidence suggests that the next generation of adults will be even less linguistically able than their parents - if such a thing is possible.
While Britain's reputation for bothering with foreign languages has always been dismal there appears now to be a tacit understanding that there really is no need for children to bother with such an onerous task.
Half of Birmingham secondary schools cut teaching provision in the past year, fewer than 15 per cent offer language classes for all pupils and two schools have no one at all studying a foreign language at GCSE level.
This is what the headteacher of one of the schools, St Pauls in Balsall Heath, had to say: "Language has never been a high priority among our pupils. It is something we would like to do in the future but we would need to employ a teacher and would need extra resources to do it."
Not only are languages not a priority for schools or for children - nothing new there - the Government has dumped whatever limited linguistic ambitions it once possessed.
Ministers sounded the death knell last year by deciding that schools would no longer have to teach languages at GCSE level. Only in the unlikely event of children expressing a wish to study, say, French or German would a school have to comply - although it is difficult to see in the case of St Pauls, which has no language teacher, how this could be delivered.
Two factors appear to be driving the decline. The first is that Government's focus on the core subjects of literacy, numeracy and science is dominating teacher time and is squeezing out opportunities for French, German and Spanish. The second, more worryingly, is a climate of opinion suggesting that the learning of a foreign language is too difficult for all but the brightest of pupils.
A similar trend can be seen in other "difficult" subjects such as maths and the sciences, where the number of pupils taking A levels and university degrees is also in decline.
It is abundantly clear as far as languages are concerned that Birmingham is failing to offer more than a favoured few children the chance to become multilingual. The contrast with the city council's ambition to present Birmingham as an international city on a par with Barcelona, Milan and Frankfurt could hardly be more obvious.
Let's hope that Birmingham's new CCTV coordinator has a sense of humour, because at a relatively-modest £36,500 a year he or she is going to need to see the funny side of life.
What's required to sort out the mess of uncoordinated cameras set up in a totally unplanned way is an official who can bang heads together at the strategic level. Whether the city council's CCTV supremo will have the ability or the authority to be able to do that remains to be seen.
As things stand at the moment the council has no idea how many cameras there are in Birmingham or how much money is needed to keep them working. With at least five organisations involved in running CCTV schemes - the council, the police, the transport authority, bus companies and the Bullring shopping centre - the difficulties of sorting out an effective strategy are obvious.
It is clear that the rush over the past ten years to install CCTV cameras, generally regarded as an effective deterrent to crime, has taken place with no real thought given to the size of longterm running costs or how they would be met. There is a real prospect now that many cameras in suburban shopping centres will have to be switched off because they are proving too expensive to run.
In many cases these cameras, campaigned for by local groups, are helping to reduce the fear of crime. People instinctively feel safer and the shopping centres are busier as a result.
The fact that the council is to appoint a CCTV co-ordinator shows that the problems are being taken seriously, but the challenges the new postholder will face if all existing cameras are to remain in place are huge.
Strikes a chord
The world's greatest rock stars deserve credit for making world leaders think seriously about poverty in Africa.
But it would be far too simplistic to imagine that even a gesture on the scale of wiping out debt and doubling aid will necessarily bring about change.
As Bono, Sir Paul McCartney and The Who were performing in Hyde Park 1970s pop icon Alvin Stardust was looking forward to selling his first guitar. Autographed by the likes of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Beatles and many other superstars the instrument is already the subject of a £1 million bid.
Mr Stardust said: "I don't really need the guitar, and I can't say I don't need £1 million."
Africans starve to death daily and a guitar is worth £1 million. Puts it all into perspective, really.