Sunday, 27 May 2012

Immigrant students struggling with English, despite being born in Britain

Many second and third generation immigrants can hardly speak or understand English despite being born and raised in the UK, an article in The Sunday Times reveals.

The newspaper quotes Philida Schellekens, author of the National Standards for Translators as saying that the inability of immigrant students to understand the language means they are unable to take notes or understand basic instructions on training courses.

Mrs Schellekens warned about English standards last week at a conference run by Cambridge Assessment, the exam board.

She said: 'It upsets me to go into further education colleges and you see Oxbridge material sitting there and, because they {the students} don't have the language to express themselves, they are stuck ... it's not good for them as individuals, but for society as a whole it's a tragedy.'

According to the Sunday Times, Ms Schellekens first analysed the issue of poor English skills among migrant students in 2005 in a study at a Birmingham college and said the same problems were still prevalent today.
'What happened was that these were kids born in the UK [but] their parents or even their grandparents came from abroad, ' she said.

'There were second language speakers where a less-than-sure command of English really [did] hold them back ...their tutors were really concerned.

'[The students] couldn't read a manual, couldn't get the meaning of what they had to do and follow instructions. They couldn't listen and take notes at the same time.'

As a result, students were not able to go on work placements because they could not understand what employers were telling them.

Phil Woolas, the former immigration minister and Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth backed Ms Schellekens.

He told the Sunday Times that poor English was a significant cause of segregated communities in northern
- UKAsian Staff

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