Mind Your Language

Images of the 70’s sitcom, Mind Your Language, came to mind as David Cameron iterated the importance of immigrants speaking English to enable an integrated and functional society. I really do agree with this and think learning the native language of the country you live in is only for your own benefit.

Within my own family, I am aware of so many elderly people who cannot speak English. There are also those in their 50’s whose English is so poor despite over 30 years in this country. All have their own limitations and problems as language becomes a real barrier in many parts of their lives.

I cannot imagine having to rely on family to translate medical, financial and legal procedures and documents. We all know how things get lost in translation. Having witnessed my grandfather’s life dependant upon the choices we made, and how, whichever member of family was with him would translate medical issues and procedures, I support the ability to speak English wholeheartedly.

A further issue is the containment of women by preventing them from learning to speak English. This oppression stems from a fear of what would happen to these women if they learnt English. They live in communities where they often do not need to and so the women carry on their lives speaking their own languages.

As my gran says now, “I wish I had learned English when I had the chance”.

Bunty

3 Comments to “Mind Your Language”

  1. Hi Bunty

    I think it’s really important to learn the language of the country you’re living in too. It helps integration and it is a wonderful feeling to be able to participate in society.

    Tell your gran to give it a go, she probably knows a lot more English than she realises. When my grandmother visited the UK from Pakistan she learned loads of English and went back to the village quite the poshie! She particularly liked giving orders in English, what a surprise.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this and I agree with Bunty that immigrants should have to learn English. However I would not be so hard on our older generation. They did not come to here to mix in with locals and to learn the culture (as opposed to what we might do if we moved to eg France) – they came here to work and to (hopefully) move “back home”.

    They therefore naturally grouped with other Asians and were able to survive without learning English, or get by with a few words.

    I have a friend whose mother I simply cannot communicate with which is very sad as I would love to thank her personally for all the lovely meals I have eaten in her home.

    Are you sure that these women are suppressed? I think they are a simply a little ignorant and not interested in learning – anyone can pick up at least some English by watching TV regardless of whether their men folk approve or not.

  3. Thank you MS for your extremely valid points.

    I worked with Social Enterprise London only 4 years ago in initiating programmes that worked with Asian husbands and mother-in-laws to enable daughter-in-laws to come and learn English. This programme still exists.

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