Learning English

770,000 people living in England speak hardly any or no English. The British communities secretary Sajid Javid, is promising to expand teaching of English for immigrants. Up to 70% of those needing it are women, mostly Pakistani or Bangladeshi. Javid said that when his mother learned English 15 years after arriving from Pakistan it “transformed her life”.

770,000! I cannot imagine leaving the country of my birth for a foreign land on a permanent basis and not making an effort to learn the local language. There are still cities in Britain where Pakistanis and Bangladeshis only speak their native- born dialects. This must have led to isolation, alienation, self-segregation, potential exploitation and miserable half-lives.

Some men have clearly found it “convenient” to have their wives stuck at home, unable to communicate with the indigenous natives. Many young women have now rebelled, become educated and have successful careers. But the old religious culture persists – women are treated as second-class citizens. I think it is a human right for women to be able to go to classes, learn the local language, and integrate. No medieval-minded man should be allowed to stop them. Sajid Javid is right, even if late in the day. He is, in effect, finally undermining the male domination that is prevalent in poor moslem communities. Good! Epicurus would applaud. You cannot have a cohesive society if part of it can’t speak a word of the language after years of residence in a country.

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