Responding to minority ethnic groups’ language support needs in Britain

Aspinall, Peter J. and Hashem, Ferhana (2011) Responding to minority ethnic groups’ language support needs in Britain. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 30 (2). pp. 145-162. ISSN 2040-7149. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to answer the question: in the British state's relationship with its diverse minority ethnic communities, how have politics framed administrative allocation of language support services? The dynamics of policy development are investigated, a tangible effect of the shift from unofficial pragmatic multiculturalism towards community cohesion/“Britishness” having been a government focus on English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) rather than translation/interpreting. This change has revealed a tension between the demands of identity and equality for minority ethnic people: respect for cultural identity requires provision of translation/interpreting while creating (political) equality between majority and minority communities entails the latter having access to the political language so placing an emphasis on ESOL. Design/methodology/approach – An evidence synthesis is undertaken of policy documents relating to the British state's provision of language support services and data on the skill levels in English from government surveys. Findings – The relative contribution of financial constraints and new policy/ideological positions to changes in the direction of policy and provision is assessed. With respect to the “new approach to ESOL”, this process of discretionary allocation that privileges policies of integration and community cohesion rather than language need itself is viewed against the inadequacies of the data currently available on levels of English language proficiency in providing the basis for making policy decisions and allocating resources. Originality/value – The level of English language skills amongst Britain's minority ethnic groups and of government policy to address skill deficits has been substantially neglected. The paper provides a policy focus ahead of the release of the 2011 Census findings on language questions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: United Kingdom, English language, Ethnic groups, Equal opportunities
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages (inc film, TV and radio studies)
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Depositing User: Tony Rees
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2011 11:05
Last Modified: 08 May 2014 07:58
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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