London

Black cab drivers learn languages for London Olympics

Black cab drivers across London are learning foreign languages ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.

More than 3,000 drivers for Radio Taxis, one of the city's biggest taxi firms, are being given CDs and MP3s teaching them useful phrases.

The scheme, developed by publisher Collins, will teach drivers French, Spanish and Chinese.

The company hopes tourists will get a taste of cabbies' "colourful trivia and forthright opinions".

Once drivers are able to say phrases in a foreign tongue they will have a flag denoting the language they speak on their cab.

Geoffrey Riesel, chief executive of Radio Taxis, said: "In 2012 we expect to see an extra 10 million people in London.

"Frequently the first people they see are the taxi drivers - so we feel that it is up to us to make sure we not only give our visitors a warm welcome.

"We are attempting to ensure many more of our drivers can pick up some of the basic phrases of a number of languages."

Paul Noble, who wrote the Collins course, said: "As well as helping visitors to the Olympics get around the capital, these obliging cabbies can help more people feel at home once the final gold medal has been given out."

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