Should English Language tests be more widely introduced to immigrants?

This week our Prime Minister announced that tighter control was being put on those who fail to learn English after coming to Britain. Mr. Cameron spoke specifically on Muslim women and spouse visas but I think the scheme should run out to every single person on any form of visa or at any stage in the immigration process. I can’t even comprehend the counter argument to this. I’ve talked about immigration before and the acceptance of the values and expectations of having a different home country in my post about Angela Merkel, so in many ways it’s the same argument. If you come to live in the UK you should have a basic understanding of our language and our customs. The national news showed a group of women who had been living in the UK as a British citizen for anything from 45-58 years. None of them spoke any English.

I can only talk from the perspective of a white, unmarried, non-religious women. I don’t know the cultural experiences of muslim women first hand or understand the cultural expectations put upon them. The Telegraph’s article Only Muslim Women Can Reform Islam is well worth a read, it makes the case for more integration rather well. For some muslim women, learning anything bar making and raising children is not acceptable. According to an article by Mario Cacciottolo, a lot of muslim men won’t let their wives learn the language of there residence for fear of empowering them to communicate with others and consequently rebel. I mean thats oppression right there!

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Photograph from BBC

I would like to know how it is even possible to live in the UK be totally immersed in all things English and not pick up a single word? I only have to be in Holland for 1 week and I’m understanding the gist of what’s happening and desperate to join in. How can these women be here for 58 YEARS and not know a single word? Or is it a case of fear of their husbands finding out, or indeed fear of them being empowered from the constraints of ‘wife’.

The language you choose to speak in your own homes and families is your choice. Absolutely. But when you are living everyday life in a different country there really is no excuse for not having basic pleasantries. I am sick of seeing grown adults using a child of school age as a translator. If you are sending your child to an English speaking school how do you help them with their homework if you yourself don’t the words? Do I think children should grow up bi/tri/multi-lingual? Yes. Should the language of the country in which they are educated in be their main language? Without a doubt. What gives these men the right to prevent a woman from being able to communicate with anyone but themself is absurd. We don’t work like that is this country. Everyone has a voice.

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Photograph from The Telegraph

I am all for equality of opportunities but where is this going to stop? Come to this country to live, work and prosper but please learn our language. It’s the language of business, it’s the language of the silver screen, keep your traditions and cultures but meet us half way! We are an attractive nation, hence the reason so many want to live here. If we mute our women we change the shape of British culture and I for one won’t stand for that.

My issue here isn’t with the women. Ok well partially it is but we have to look below the surface of what Mr Cameron wants to achieve and look at why that isn’t already the case. Our rules and laws can’t and won’t change the cultural expectations within muslim families only the women themselves can do that. I suppose the only aims really is to prevent people from coming here full stop if they refuse to integrate. But what happens to the women then? We aren’t solving the problem, we are in many ways increasing it. It is easy to try and put myself in their shoes as a educated, working, independent woman, I wouldn’t stand for that but we are not talking about women like me. We are talking about women who aren’t educated, have no voice in the family home let alone in the rest of the world and who are in many way controlled and overlooked. I think they are already having a pretty shit time but the problem isn’t ours. Not in the sense of ‘not in my house’ its not ENGLAND’S problem and I don’t know how or who can fix it. Women should be free to be and say and do whatever they want regardless to religion, language or expectations.

Radicalisation on the rise and a serious risk to us here in Britain. The telegraph reports that radicliation and British jihadists are on the rise. How much of this is avoidable I don’t know; but when we have these impenetrable communities in the UK who do not speak or understand English how can our English laws govern them? We are an English country, run on English law. Information packs shouldn’t come in a multitude of language options. Some information leaflets come in that many variations but they don’t even come in brail.

I think Mr. Cameron is right to make the English language tests compulsory and I don’t think they should be only for Muslim women on Spouse visas but on all entrants! Our education system aims for all children of school age to have a basic level of English and Maths, if we are making our children have this we shouldn’t we be making our citizens have this too.

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