“Foreigners must learn the language before working in our country”

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London, UK, 4th March 2008: Foreigners should be made to learn a country’s language before being allowed to work there. This is the sentiment recorded by over 400 respondents to an online survey. The results portray a growing feeling that immigrants are not assimilating well into adopted countries and that immigration laws should be tightened to ensure those offered work are able to effectively integrate within their host country.


As a result of globalization, people are emigrating to foreign countries in seek of opportunities. Until recently, the increased workforce has been welcomed, allowing economies to grow by filling jobs and boosting spending. However, the last few years have started to show the first signs of cracks. Debates rage across Europe and North America on the issues of immigration, multiculturalism and the need to protect indigenous cultures against a perceived influx of ‘foreign invaders’.


One area of particular concern has been the issue of immigrants entering countries for work without knowledge of the language. A discourse at lay-level, now raised in political circles, espouses the idea that immigrants with no knowledge of the language are not able to assimilate into the culture or society. The resultant problems include the creation of ghettos by immigrants, a perceived lack of contribution to communities and an increased strain on public funds and resources across services; such as health care, legal, translation and interpreting. At a political level this has manifest in a number of ways. In December 2007, the British government announced that husbands and wives of work visa applicants will have to prove their English language skills before being allowed entry. In Japan the government is tightening its long-term visa conditions by requiring applicants to pass a language test. Nowhere has the impact of immigration on language been seen more clearly than in the USA. The debate over whether or not English should be deemed the official language stems from America’s concern that immigrants must learn English.

Results of an online survey released today suggest the mood is not changing. Held by Kwintessential Ltd, a cross-cultural communications consultancy, the online survey attracted over 400 votes. 62% of respondents agreed that “Foreigners must learn the language before being allowed to work in my country.” The votes were taken from visitors to the company’s website site, the ten most registered nationalities (in order of votes) being United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Norway and Sweden.


“It is interesting to see the politicization of language and culture at the moment in the immigration debate. The sentiment is no longer about jobs and a strain on resources, such as benefits. It has moved to a whole new level where people seem genuinely concerned about the impact immigrants are having on native cultures and specifically their inability to engage with and adapt to it,” states Kwintessential’s Managing Director Neil Payne. “Now the political classes have latched on to this it will be fascinating to see what policies they adopt in order to counter it.”

Founded in 2003, Kwintessential is one of the world’s premier providers of cultural awareness training and cross-cultural services such as translation, interpreting and multilingual website design. The company is dedicated to helping individuals, organisations and businesses understand the implications of working in an interconnected world economy. The survey is one of many run on the website to tap into current feelings about cultural issues resulting from globalization.

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