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Immigration and Integration: The Importance of English

Today, the APPG on Social Integration is launching its first report into how the immigration system could more effectively promote integration.

The cross-party groups of MPs and peers calls for:

  • The Government to look at introducing a regionally-led immigration system with region-specific visas based on the Canadian model;
  • Immigrants to be required to learn English before coming to live in the UK, or be enrolled in compulsory classes when they arrive;
  • A new national Government strategy for the integration of immigrants that includes issues such as access to the labour market, awareness of the UK’s laws, traditions and culture;
  • Councils to set up local integration action plans, a new Controlling Migration Fund and the immediate introduction of an Integration Impact Fund;
  • Ministers to recognise that integration is a two-way street requiring action on the part of newcomers and host communities.

One of the main recommendations regarding the use of English is important and something that FaithAction has a lot to say about.

Creative English, FaithAction’s programme which looks to teach individuals through the use of drama, has been running nationally in different locations since late 2013.  Since that time, we have seen over 2,600 individuals engage with the programme that operates through faith-based and community centres.  100% of those who have completed the 10-week programme have reported an increase in their confidence in the English language, with a number of them reporting that they have gone on to get involved in community activities.

Teaching English overseas is not something that we think we will help create integration and give individuals a sense of belonging to their community.  Community-based English language programmes, like Creative English, are a fantastic way to engage those most isolated who would struggle to go to standard ESOL classes, even if they could afford them. They give them the language skills to get on a bus, phone the GP, and get involved in local community events confidently.  They also give individuals friends and an understanding of local culture and English traditions – whilst teaching English skills.

The Casey Review, which this report builds on, also picked up the need for English classes.  Classes for those with little or no English who are new to the community, or for those who have been in the country for 30-40 years is a central part to building community and getting individuals involved.

FaithAction will continue to keep you updated with how this progresses, but if you want to find out more about Creative English, visit http://www.creative-english.org.uk/