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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > March 2016 > Should all immigrants learn English?

Should all immigrants learn English?

The Duel


YES Of course migrants should learn English. The strategy to date has le^ an astonishing number of people mute in our mainstream economic, social and cultural life. The last census (taken in 2011) showed 863,000 people living in England who are not able to speak English well or at all. They might as well be faced with hieroglyphics. The bus stop is babel. They are here but not fully here.

We have come to this situation through wrongheaded kindness. Proponents of multiculturalism didn’t want to “impose sameness” or be guilty of cultural imperialism. And so a whole architecture of interpretation and translation was erected.

Tameside council’s website boasts “access to a bank of interpreters covering over 140 different languages.” Manchester council printed a leaflet about pigeonfeeding in Urdu. You can register to vote or apply for housing without having a good grasp of English.

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In Prospect’s March issue: Peter Pomerantsev describes the situation in Eastern Europe as the governments of Hungary and Poland turn right. Simon Tilford, from the Centre for European Reform, questions the substance of David Cameron’s EU deal and Philip Collins argues that Jeremy Corbyn is not fit for purpose. Also in this issue: Peter Kellner shows us that we are feeling more optimistic than during the last stages of the last Labour government and Jessica Abrahams explores the sexism of Valentine’s Day. Plus Justice Malala on South Africa and the Prospect Duel asks: "Should all immigrants learn English?"