22nd March 2009

Many people who have left the UK cite reasons such as 'too many immigrants have been allowed to enter the country, without feeling obligated to take on the new culture and language'. So, I was interested to read that France is introducing free and obligatory French lessons to immigration candidates before they leave their country. Those currently applying to join family members in France - some 35,000 people - must now take a test to ensure their French is of a high enough standard. Also, answer questions like 'In France, does a young woman need the permission of her husband to go to work?' Interesting words because they reveal the immense gap between different cultures. Those who fail the test will have to take lessons in their own country.
France will be the first country in Europe to introduce such a scheme. Of course, France says that the tests are not a prevention to immigration. However......
For me, although I approve of these measures, it is not nearly enough. I have always liked the US style of requiring immigrants to swear on oath to 'uphold the principles' of the new country. There is a subtle difference there. It's one thing to be forced to learn about a new culture, quite another to change long-held beliefs and behaviour patterns so that newcomers begin right from the start to integrate fully. By that, I mean: wear the clothes of the new country, speak the language, integrate with the indigenous population and don't live in ghettos with former immigrants. One can hope I suppose.

1 comment:

Dyonn said...

I thought you might mention this story