Tuesday, 30 May 2023

How to serve immigrants who can’t speak English

What do you do if you are in a foreign country and cannot speak the language? It’s best to always be prepared and learn a few phrases beforehand, but sometimes that is not sufficient. What other advice would you give a foreigner? How about getting yourself a bilingual dictionary? How about finding someone who can speak your own language to help you out? If that person cannot attend personally, perhaps they can write things down for you.

I have been in situations where immigrants refused to learn the language of the new country. I know exactly how frustrating it can be to serve them when I cannot understand them and they cannot understand me. I am maddened by those who take for granted that I can speak a second language and expect me to use that language to address them, even when said second language is difficult for me to maintain. Then they continue to live in their little world and have no wish to integrate into the bigger community.

Yes, it is difficult for a new immigrant to assimilate immediately. However, there is not one immigrant entering the UK who cannot find a representative from his own community to help him. There really is no excuse for this immigrant to go out into the community and expect services to be rendered if he cannot ask for it nor understand it. Therefore, I am completely in agreement with Mr. Kumarasiri, the postmaster who initiated a foreign ban against those who cannot speak or understand English. It is not discrimination. How can anyone force Mr. Kumarasiri to stand there and help someone if he cannot understand the other person? If it was simply a stamp issue, it would not be difficult to figure out. The immigrant only needs to point to that area of the envelope where a stamp usually is. From this, I would conclude that the immigrant is asking for other services that may require a translator. Unless the government is willing to provide a translator for every language in every post office, this problem will not be fully addressed. Either that, or the immigrant must be forced to learn the language of the new country. I would think that the language requirement for immigrants would cost taxpayers’ a whole heck of a lot less money.

It does not take that long to pick up a few words and phrases in a new country. You cannot force an immigrant to integrate into society if he/she chooses not to. However, if said immigrant refuses to do so, he/she cannot expect that society will bow to his/her every whim. The idea that they can come here and expect to receive benefits and services and give nothing in return is downright stupid. All this political correctness as regards immigrants have turned us into a society of non-thinking idiots, who shrug their shoulders and point their fingers at those who show any signs of intolerance. It’s discriminating against those who follow the rules and do what’s right. It devalues the achievements of those who show motivation and determination by rewarding those who make no efforts.

How do you serve an immigrant who can’t speak English?  In England, on a silver platter, apparently.


  1. I understand the sentiment coming from America with it’s high population of people from Mexico. Now I live in Japan and so now the tables are reversed. I do study Japanese but I also appreciate the option to have some things in English.

    ESL for Kids

  2. Author

    Yes, Spanish is sort of a 4th language for me, but there are other immigrant groups in America, just as here in the UK. But English being the international language for diplomacy, commerce, etc., it is advantageous to have some knowledge of that language wherever you go. Yet I would encourage anyone planning on staying in a foreign country for a long spell to learn something of that foreign language. Even some Americans feel they don’t need to know another language, because everywhere you go, there will be English speakers and English signs. That’s so selfish and egocentric, so I’m glad to hear that you are studying Japanese.


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