12 February, 2007

Speak English or lose benefits.

The BBC reports that:

Unemployed people who cannot speak English will have to show they are learning the language or face losing benefits, the government has announced.
Quite right. There is increased danger to minorities of isolation, discrimination and victimisation, if they cannot communicate with the majority. It is long past the time when Scousers should be integrated into the rest of society.

Now that I have tested for the existence of the legendary Scouse sense of humour, here is the serious part of the BBC's story. At the same time as the government is shifting resources into language teaching for the unemployed, it is shifting resources out of language teaching elsewhere.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Philip Hammond said making working migrants pay for classes may end up trapping them in low-skilled jobs, because they cannot afford more tuition.

"We need to help them as well to acquire the language skills that will unlock the other skills they may have and allow them to move on," he said.
That is far too sensible a point for this government to grasp.

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