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Kevin S. Assilleekunt

If you dont speak English you cant belong in Britain

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When the last Labour government introduced a requirement that immigrants who wished to marry a British citizen must learn English before coming to live here, it struck most people as a perfectly reasonable expectation. But that requirement is now being challenged in the High Court on two grounds. First, it is said to be racially discriminatory, because it impacts disproportionately on certain ethnic groups; and second, under the European Convention on Human Rights, it is said to obstruct the right to family life.

 

The case has been brought by Rashida Chapti, who wishes to bring her husband to the UK from India. Her barrister claims that the language requirement contravenes Article 8, the right to family life, and Article 12, the right to marry. Mrs Chapti is reported to have travelled back and forth between India and Leicester for about 15 years, but now wishes to settle here with her husband.

 

The Labour government planned to bring the requirement into force in July 2011, but it was brought forward to November 2010 by the Coalition. When Theresa May, the Home Secretary, announced her plans, she said: “I believe being able to speak English should be a pre-requisite for anyone who wants to settle here. The new English requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services.”

 

The requirement is not too exacting. Applicants will have to demonstrate English at “A1 level”, which requires them to demonstrate a basic command of conversational English, currently the same as the level required for skilled workers who have been offered a job in the UK. Similar expectations apply to immigrants seeking work throughout the EU. Since 2006, France has tightened up its rules. Anyone without a job, and especially if they lack scarce skills, must go through the French consulate in their home country. They have to prepare a petition showing why they should be allowed in. If they can’t speak French they have little chance.

 

Australia requires applicants for work visas to have “vocational English”, which means they must be able to read, write, understand and speak English well enough to hold down a job. Applicants may be required to take an independent test of proficiency. Canada requires proficiency in either English or French, and also requires applicants to take a language test from an approved agency.

 

Why should this matter? Modern nations are more than collections of isolated individuals who just happen to live in the same geographical space. We value not only our personal freedom but also the ability to uphold a particular culture, whether Irish, Welsh, Scots or from further afield. Our system allows space for personal and cultural freedom – but such freedom is only sustainable if we have something in common. A nation holds together because we each accept an obligation to search for the common good, despite differences. There is such a thing as the public interest, and an intangible sense of public spirit is also a vital ingredient of a successful country. On occasion a nation may even call for self-sacrifice from its members.

 

Language is central because we can only search for the common good through face-to-face discussion and public debate via the mass media. The simple fact is that if you can’t speak the language, you can’t take part. You can’t belong. And treating the requirement to speak the language of the people you plan to live among as an infringement of your rights gives away a self-centred attitude that is incompatible with citizenship.

 

The concept of a human right achieved its status as a “universal good thing” when it implied a list of things that should never happen, such as torture or genocide, along with some things that should always happen, such as free elections. Recently, the ideal of human rights has been purloined by people engaged in acts of aggression against established communities. These individuals want to take something for themselves at the general expense. But rights that are legitimate and sustainable do not exist outside society. They are part of the give-and-take of a political community based on reciprocity and imply a sense of mutual obligation, not one-sided taking.

 

Against this background, the least we can do is to learn the language. It does not require individuals to surrender their culture, merely to be able to communicate with everyone else. Language is the means by which we can defuse controversies, offer compromises, and explain our point of view in the hope of finding common ground. Without a common language, interactions become more crude and more likely to be based on sheer emotion, and perhaps a kind of tribalism.

 

This is what we find in some of our cities, where effectively there are cultural enclaves. A study by David Goodhart in this month’s Prospect magazine found that 10 years after the riots in 2001, the populations of Burnley, Oldham and Bradford were “even more divided by race and religion than in 2001”. Ted Cantle produced the official report on the 2001 riots and described the “parallel lives” being lived by local whites and other people, largely from the Mirpur region of Pakistan. Cantle acknowledges the efforts made by some councils, but feels that serious divisions still remain.

 

Some Muslims make strenuous efforts to preserve some estates as enclaves where they can assert the values of the Asian village, and other community leaders work with councils on schemes to promote integration. It is in these areas, where some members of ethnic minorities strive to integrate and others fight them, that the language requirement for prospective marriage partners is so important. It is still common for young men to bring over from Mirpur a girl who is not only unable to speak English, but is also illiterate in her own language.

 

Such separation is especially harmful in schools. If parents do not speak English at home, it is impossible for them to assist their children. Official figures for January show that nearly 17 per cent of pupils in state-funded primary schools did not speak English as a first language, up from over 12 per cent in 2006. In state-funded secondary schools, over 12 per cent of pupils did not speak English as a first language; the figure was under 10 per cent five years ago. To make matters worse, classrooms in London are frequently overcrowded and teachers have a hard job to cope. Schools get a bad reputation and parents try to escape the worst of them, thereby reinforcing social segregation. Back in 2007, the policy director of the Commission for Racial Equality (now merged into the Equality and Human Rights Commission) warned that segregated schools were “a ticking time bomb”. Since then the problem has deepened.

 

Without parental support, it is very difficult for children to make progress. The lack of a common language opens up achievement gaps that can be hard to close in later life. At Civitas, we see this in the Saturday schools we run for children falling behind in English and maths. We are teaching more than 500 children a week in 20 centres, including Bradford, Birmingham and London. The majority of the children are from ethnic minorities and some parents have only a little English, which means that our teachers cannot have even the most mundane of conversations, perhaps to suggest that the children should be supervised while reading a particular chapter, or helped to practise something they are struggling with, such as long division.

 

Millions of newcomers have arrived in Britain over the last decade. Avoiding conflict is no easy task at the best of times, but if we can’t even communicate through a shared language we’re asking for trouble.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/imm...in-Britain.html

 

Thoughts? I agree with the sentiments, from what I've personally experienced. I know about 5 immigrants who have only an infantile grasp of conversational english. A couple of phrases and words; little beyond, "yes; no; maybe; can you repeat?"

 

As far as I know, immigrants have to take a UK citizenship test before they can gain full residency, though perhaps there are exceptions to this. The test has a multiple choice format. It is about equivalent to the driving theory test in difficulty. I know an immigrant who made an effort to learn english; he speaks very well and can also write probably as well as the average Brit, if not better--he passed the test after a day's revision. Those who have no English comprehension repeatedly fail the test. I know of two people who took the test 7 times over several years. Eventually they went to a seminar where they paid a fee, and on completion of the seminar they were given a pass. I've heard fellow immigrants imply that you basically pay the fee and they will pass you if you turn up to these schemes.

 

There is one woman I know who is basically an illegal immigrant. Her visa expired 2 years ago. She lied in court to help relatives get into the country, but was caught out when her relatives didn't corroborate her story. She was given a Visa on the basis that she could practice her nursing here and not take a second job. She took a second job and tried to hide it with a separate bank account, but was caught out again when she accidentally sent a statement to respond to some immigration inquiry, I don't know the full details. Now she cannot work, and has to pay substantial legal fees because of this pending case against her. She can't understand a word her lawyer says to her, but she can read the numbers on the bill.

How does she pay for all this? Loans. Loans which she has no intention of paying off. For she has no intention of staying in this country. Why did she and her family come here? Money. They can get more money for the same job here than they did in their home country. They did not have a bad standard of life in their country of origin, they just wanted more money, at the expense of all happiness. Having been around them briefly, their unhappiness is palpable. They have pictures from around Britain of the family stood in front of various famous landmarks and buildings, and not one of them is smiling in any picture. They don't smile in general. They talk of how much happier they were in their home country, but they want the money enough to lead this unhappy selfish life.

 

I've gone on long enough already, I'll just say this: learning a language helps you communicate with more people. It is a wholly good thing to do. I can't think of a downside. I agree with the subtitle of the article, that, "it is a very reasonable requirement of any immigrant."

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I've had this conversation with my friend who teaches asylum seekers English. I think he has a somewhat distorted take on it, but his argument is along the lines of; they can't afford to learn English, have no previous experience of learning environments, have the obvious challenges of actually getting onto courses, may be from very different cultures and simply too scared/alienated to try and integrate in this way and many others. There were a few other points but I was struggling to understand him as his dad's Indian.

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I've had this conversation with my friend who teaches asylum seekers English. I think he has a somewhat distorted take on it, but his argument is along the lines of; they can't afford to learn English, have no previous experience of learning environments, have the obvious challenges of actually getting onto courses, may be from very different cultures and simply too scared/alienated to try and integrate in this way and many others. There were a few other points but I was struggling to understand him as his dad's Indian.

 

This is more to do with the type of immigrant who comes here to work and does not come from exceptional circumstances like a civil war and so on. The people I refer to in my original post have been educated and taught English as a second language in their own country. They don't want to learn and they don't want to stay here. They only want to stay here long enough to accrue enough money to buy a big house at home, or whatever they desire. That is why it is very accurate to say that they don't belong here. They would much rather be in their country of origin.

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I can understand the reasons behind it but how many of the bnp supporting folk learn Spanish before they retire to benidorm?

 

Not many, but then two wrongs don't make a right.

 

Tbh, I think it's a perfectly reasonable requirement and massively beneficial. And if the argument is that they haven't had any prior experience of a learning environment, then what better way to be introduced to one? If it's something as fundamentally important as being able to communicate then unless they have actual learning difficulties I don't see a counter argument.

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Guest alex

I agree with the notion. It's definitely a barrier to integration if you don't speak the lingo. I tend to think most do learn the language though. As for the nurse with two jobs, since she isn't staying, what's the problem? :rip:

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Friend of mine is heavily involved in a charity (or NGO, I'm not sure) which tries to help teach English to the wives who cannot speak English and who're effectively cut off from society because of that (and cultural restrictions).

 

I thinkk it's massively important to speak English, if for no other reason than it shows an effort to integrate.

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Nobody is forcing me to learn German, it is passable when I make the effort - but too crude and guttaral for my refined tongue.

 

Immigrants who work in the UK and pay tax should be free to carry on imo.

 

Wot are we going to give immigrants a happy test? :rip:

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Friend of mine is heavily involved in a charity (or NGO, I'm not sure) which tries to help teach English to the wives who cannot speak English and who're effectively cut off from society because of that (and cultural restrictions).

 

I thinkk it's massively important to speak English, if for no other reason than it shows an effort to integrate.

 

Integrate with what exactly...Nightmare Britain?

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I agree with the notion. It's definitely a barrier to integration if you don't speak the lingo. I tend to think most do learn the language though. As for the nurse with two jobs, since she isn't staying, what's the problem? :rip:

 

She has stayed, 2 years after her Visa expired! The case is pending as to whether she can stay or not. Even if she has to leave, I imagine it will take a matter of years. She hasn't quite paid off her mortgage on her new house back home yet, so she'd like to work for a bit longer.

Edited by Kevin S. Assilleekunt

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Friend of mine is heavily involved in a charity (or NGO, I'm not sure) which tries to help teach English to the wives who cannot speak English and who're effectively cut off from society because of that (and cultural restrictions).

 

I thinkk it's massively important to speak English, if for no other reason than it shows an effort to integrate.

 

Integrate with what exactly...Nightmare Britain?

 

You make Britain sound like Cthulu :rip:

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Friend of mine is heavily involved in a charity (or NGO, I'm not sure) which tries to help teach English to the wives who cannot speak English and who're effectively cut off from society because of that (and cultural restrictions).

 

I thinkk it's massively important to speak English, if for no other reason than it shows an effort to integrate.

 

Integrate with what exactly...Nightmare Britain?

 

You make Britain sound like Cthulu :rip:

 

My point is what are these poor buggers meant to integrate with? The supra-americano culture? The bloke in the pub? Coronation street? Charves in the supermarket car park?

What?

 

Just hand out shakespear and a beano at the airport and forget about it.

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I agree with the notion. It's definitely a barrier to integration if you don't speak the lingo. I tend to think most do learn the language though. As for the nurse with two jobs, since she isn't staying, what's the problem? :rip:

 

She has stayed, 2 years after her Visa expired! The case is pending as to whether she can stay or not. Even if she has to leave, I imagine it will take a matter of years. She hasn't quite paid off her mortgage on her new house back home yet, so she'd like to work for a bit longer.

 

The whole booming economy of California in the last decade was made up of people like this fresh out theback of a lorry from Mexico and Gauatamala...

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My point is what are these poor buggers meant to integrate with?

 

It's beneficial to people to be able to understand what is happening around you and communicate with others, make friends etc. Those I know who cannot are not happier for it. What is the downside to understanding a new language?

Edited by Kevin S. Assilleekunt

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Guest alex
Friend of mine is heavily involved in a charity (or NGO, I'm not sure) which tries to help teach English to the wives who cannot speak English and who're effectively cut off from society because of that (and cultural restrictions).

 

I thinkk it's massively important to speak English, if for no other reason than it shows an effort to integrate.

 

Integrate with what exactly...Nightmare Britain?

 

You make Britain sound like Cthulu :rip:

I didn't expect to see H. P. Lovecraft cropping up in this thread.

Edited by alex

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Guest alex
I agree with the notion. It's definitely a barrier to integration if you don't speak the lingo. I tend to think most do learn the language though. As for the nurse with two jobs, since she isn't staying, what's the problem? :rip:

 

She has stayed, 2 years after her Visa expired! The case is pending as to whether she can stay or not. Even if she has to leave, I imagine it will take a matter of years. She hasn't quite paid off her mortgage on her new house back home yet, so she'd like to work for a bit longer.

 

The whole booming economy of California in the last decade was made up of people like this fresh out theback of a lorry from Mexico and Gauatamala...

Not a hint of racial tension there either. Good example.

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I was standing next to a German the other day and a cab pulled up with an Afghan taxi driver who spoke perfect German.

 

The wallah next to me turned round and said how he hated it when foreigners spoke good German the cunt. :rip:

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The premise of the thread bears no relation to the reality on the ground fella. Integrate? With what exactly....It's like those slightly feverish Guardian ed pieces from 1992...Fuck that!

 

It's just soppy nonsense the Govt throw out to the people when they realised they have fucked up and let a million poles in. :rip:

 

Yeah it's alright we're gonna MAKE EM LEARN ENGLAISE!! Sheeeet!

Edited by Park Life

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