Inspired by the burgeoning sales of the Nelson Croom CPD courses I started some CPD myself: learning Italian from scratch a couple of years ago. My French is still quite good after VSO in Algeria 50 years ago. I wanted to see whether the post 65 brain could tackle another language. In fact it is much easier than expected particularly with two bouts at an Italian language school. I have combined online, face to face and Skype.

I have been in Genoa for five weeks preparing for the Italian competence exam, CILS. Most Italians are amazed that anyone would want to learn their language. Students yes but retired adults: 'perche' they ask? I tell them it's to avoid dementia which they accept as further evidence that Brits are mad. My brain may be protected against early decay but it is certainly having to work harder than ever before. Three hours of Italian grammar numbs the mind and poaches the head. It doesn't so much hurt; more like 15 minutes too long on the rowing machine.

Debate swirls in CPD circles on the style and content of appropriate learning. I hesitate to engage but I can promise that starting a new language past 65 is challenging and the sense of achievement is enormous as you get the hang of it: arithmetic and algebra with the need to speak. You will not be able to make sense of dinner party conversation around you but you will soon be able to talk to the person next to you. Their English will likely be far superior to your Italian/French/German but they will be astounded you can do it at all.

I have got so excited that I am starting German next September once my Italian A level is finished in the summer. Three years German, then three years Spanish and maybe three years Russian to follow: it's a CPD regime that any professional body should be pleased to endorse. I shall write again next November from my German school in Muenster.