AbstractGenet has set down an answer to a question implicit in my title. What is the point of "learning" one's own language? It is to achieve a tone, in the telling of a life that may otherwise be far from satisfactory, and to be guided by that tone. The simplicity of this statement may be deceptive; it has, I suggest, the force of the kind of truth that the humane studies have always been intended to bring into play in people's lives. Recognised as the legitimate aim of language teaching in English, it could make of the study something worthy of the respect it at present deservedly lacks.