First of all, you should know I’m not writing this as someone with a right-wing agenda about immigration, but more as someone who cares about the well-being of the UKs many migrants.
I’m not trying to inflame any kind of xenophobic argument!
Currently, people who are moving into the UK from outside the EU, and some other groups, have to demonstrate a knowledge of language and life in the UK. However, those people who move into the UK under Free Movement of Persons stature do not have to.
Recently I started volunteering for a migrant help scheme in a town called Goole, which has very high numbers of migrants and lots of tension between the local people and migrants.
At a recent event I spoke to some Eastern European migrants, many of whom struggled with life in the UK because of their lack of English.
It seemed as if this especially affected women, as men go out to work and learn english and make friends, and children go to school and pick up English quite quickly.
I think if the government introduced some basic english tests for migrants, provided some educational material and more information about trying to learn english, then it would be better for people who move here.
But then this would get rid of the whole point of ‘free movement’, if it was to be more closely legislated.
We have all experienced difficulties with language barriers whilst on holiday, especially those of us who like to go a little further from the tourist trails and the Costa Del Sol.
But imagine you lived there permanently, and how much of a struggle in would be in say rural France, or Italy, without some of the language.
It’s not like there are many people in England who can help translate Polish in shops!
I think in reality it would be too difficult to carry out these measures, and also they would have to be rolled out across the whole of Europe. I do wonder how some English people who go abroad for work would feel about having to learn a new language.
Does anyone think there is a way of helping migrants to learn more English without having to enforce it?