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to think when Brits complain about immigrants not integrating

(130 Posts)
redpipe Sun 20-Oct-13 13:10:45

or learning English, it's a bit of a pot, kettle, black scenario.

I just heard someone moaning about immigrants not integrating or learning English when I happen to know their parents actually live in Majorca in an ex pat community and don't speak Spanish.

I think the there are loads of Brits living abroad in countries that don't speak English who don't integrate, learn the language or mix much with locals.

AIBU to think that we are probably one of the worst nations for integrating when we emigrate and learning languages but the first to moan about people not integrating in the UK.

ILoveAFullFridge Wed 23-Oct-13 13:49:19

No, of course it's not completely accurate for all communities everywhere. That would be as ridiculous a sweeping generalisation as some of the attitudes to immigrants on this thread!

Goldenhandshake Wed 23-Oct-13 13:35:45

The immigration of Bangladeshi's to Britain (mainly men in search of work) started in earnest in the 1920's, it just increased massively in the 1970's due to a change in immigration laws. Stoke Newington was (and still does) have a large Jewish community, but Bethnal Green has been dominated by Bangladeshi communities for a considerable amount of time, and most people in surrounding areas are fully aware of the lack of integration because it has become so ghettoised (if that's even a word?).

I don;t doubt the cycle that was described, but it is certainly not completely accurately for all immigrant communities everywhere. There are plenty of second generation Bangladeshi's in that area who speak only the bare minimum of English, if any at all.

ILoveAFullFridge Wed 23-Oct-13 13:06:02

But 50-100 years ago Bethnal Green was predominantly Jewish. The Jewish immigrants moved into areas that Huguenots were moving out of (IIRC). This process takes decades. The 3-generation change is the fastest turnover - it is rarely that fast for a whole community.

Goldenhandshake Wed 23-Oct-13 10:42:07

The pattern of immigration -> integration is pretty similar for all immigrants over the centuries. At first they tend to live with others of the same origins, for mutual support and comfort. The next generation tend to grow up bi-lingual, and be the interface between the immigrants and the country they live in. The 2nd generation tend to have the 'new' country's language as their mother-tongue, and move further from the self-imposed ghetto.

This is not always true though, take Bethnal Green as an example, there are huge estates where the vast majority of occupants are of Bangladeshi origin, it has been that way for years and there are still adults who either came to this country as children or were even born who and speak very little English at all. There are schools within the community that do not teach in English much, there is often no English spoken at home, so it further compounds the issue.

I know this from growing up nearby,having a sister who lived in the area and a friend who is a housing officer in the area and who, nine times out of ten will need to take a translator on home visits or for appointments.

The self imposed ghettos do not always tend to naturally break up through generations, and this does lead to resentments.

Callani Wed 23-Oct-13 10:34:15

I don't think its hypocritical on their part but I have to agree that people emigrating and not learning the local language makes my blood boil.

That being said, when I moved to France I really stuggled to integrate with the local language and humour even though I didn't spend any time with English speakers, although I do think a large reason for that was because French people were so disparaging of my attempts to speak French and accused me of speaking like a Parisian rather than a local etc making me feel very self conscious and giving me HUGE culture shock.

Conversely when I lived in Germany and Spain I got on really well and made friends, and didn't feel self conscious at all but the point is some people do struggle and even in Germany I enjoyed meeting up with English friends, and spending too much money on imported English foods to replicate home so I do understand the temptation for immigrants not to integrate...

BlingBang Wed 23-Oct-13 09:55:23

The MCDonads/KFC down our way all seem to be run by either Polish or Asian workers. I wouldn't be surprised if any interviews weren't in English. But yes, at least this kind of job will help them learn English, if they are on the tills and not just working behind the scenes.

I was an expat for a few years and it is a two way street often. We had many expat friends, many Brits and many expats from elsewhere. Also had some local friends but as the wife looking after the kids and the kids going to international schools - it is hard to integrate with a local population who often don't really have the time or inclination to make transient friends outside their own family group and friends.

MistressDeeCee Wed 23-Oct-13 01:50:18

Where Im from there are many British living there and no, they dont learn the language or mix with the locals really, many tend to live on gated estates..the tourist ones stay in their all inclusive & I guess, never come out. Its as if they want British lifestyle in the sun. Thats what I see and know so yes I believe just as much as some immigrants dont integrate into UK life, there are British who also dont assimilate when they live & work abroad. So Im always hmm when I hear convo about immigrants not being part of UK life.

WallyBantersJunkBox Wed 23-Oct-13 00:40:08

No, I was just expressing examples of life day to day I see as an immigrant myself. I see people from the UK/US working in the country I live in, applying for residency and doing nothing to integrate into the community or learn the language because, well "most people speak English these days, don't they..?"

We even received a letter last week asking if all children wanted to take a Thanskgiving holiday due to a large number of requests from US parents. This is not an American school, or a British school!

And I'm assuming those people working at the counter in McDonalds that you quote would have had to pass an interview of some sort? And it wouldn't be in Polish, or Bulgarian or whatever? You cannot know the back story to every non UK person who comes to the UK, surely? When they arrived and how long they have been learning English?

What better way to learn than by customer interface? All it takes is a little patience from both sides. At least they are putting themselves into the position of trying to learn by working in an English environment. I wish I had the guts to be frank. I'm still struggling with apps and tutorials when I can.

vichill Wed 23-Oct-13 00:05:22

A bit unreasonable. Ex pats in Spain are basically on a very long holiday till they die and iimmigrants to the uk are often economic migrants who need to integrate on a different level. Some gobshite Brit asking for "two beers por favor" is different than going into a McDonald's and not being understood by the non English speaking staff.

WallyBantersJunkBox Tue 22-Oct-13 23:26:08

Nope the people I meet at DS school who are British, or from the US describe themselves as Ex-pats even though it's a permanent move. My colleague describes herself as an Ex-pat even though she was born in Malaysia, grew up there for 25 years and her parents own an apartment there for over 30 years.

Our lifestyles aren't transient in the same respect as Saudi workers and yet there are Ex-pat expos, clubs etc.

As far as I am aware we don't know the status of every single person who had moved to the UK (and may have every intention of having an adventure, learning a language and going home) but from what I can see they are generally classed as immigrants.

mijas99 Tue 22-Oct-13 15:41:00


If you live in a Spanish city then that is a very different environment to the British expat ghettos where sometimes you can struggle to hear a word of Spanish spoken

I live in Asturias and I'm the only British person I know. When I lived in the South I didnt know any British people who spoke enough Spanish to have even have a conversation. Many of their kids even dropped out of school because they couldnt understand the teachers. It was absolutely shocking

ImAFrequentNameChanger Tue 22-Oct-13 15:28:38

We've lived here for 4.5 years and both speak fluent Spanish and are well integrated. The DC go to an international school and also speak and learn in Spanish, 60% of the children in their school are Spanish with the other 40% being from all different nationalities. DH works in a Spanish company. Here I'm friends with lots of people from all over the world and many Spanish people, and they (the Spanish included) say it's one of the things they love about the city so I don't think I'm wrong. Of course there will always be a few but none I've come across, except the tourists who have a moan loudly about 'The fucking Spanish, why can't they speak English' when they are in shops and bars.

When we have visited England I find the level of casual racism shocking and sad. It's one of the many reasons why we will never move back there.

mijas99 Tue 22-Oct-13 15:12:36

I've met British people on the Costa Del Sol who told me that their main reason for moving to Spain was to get away from all the bloody foreigners (seriously)

The segregation in areas like the Costa Del Sol is absolutely shocking and is down to British people not wanting to speak Spanish or to live in Spanish society at all, they just want a British life in the sun. It makes me ashamed to be British

BurberryQ Tue 22-Oct-13 15:05:36

no you live in Spain obviously ........just they might not agree with your view of your lovely non racist city that is all. never mind.

ImAFrequentNameChanger Tue 22-Oct-13 14:55:57

BurberryQ Why? I don't live in Morocco or Ecuador and don't know any here so not sure why I should seek out some to ask them.

BlingBang Tue 22-Oct-13 14:31:50

Expats are different from immigrants. Often moving in and out of countries for a few years. They are not generally putting down roots for good so it's not surprising they often mix with other expats (often different nationalities, not just Brits) or become fluent in the language, also many other cou tries would never really accept them anyway - they would always be 'other'.

We are considering moving to Spain. If we go I will make an attempt to speak the language, have Spanish friends etc but the kids will go to an internatinal school and we probably will mix with other expats as it can be very hard to integrate and we probably won't be there for ever.

BurberryQ Tue 22-Oct-13 09:24:10

that is soooo true Grandstandingbluetit - see the mum in the headscarf sitting on her own at school pick up time every day, while the 'alpha mums' sweep past her to exchange their gossip? she is the one who gets slagged off for not 'integrating'.

GrandstandingBlueTit Tue 22-Oct-13 09:16:58

I don't disagree with you OP, but, there's another side to the story...

I'm sure there are plenty of immigrants who would love nothing more than to integrate, but who get frozen out at the school gate, coolly ignored, DC not invited on play dates, not included in the works drinks, etc, etc, yada, yada.

Brits expect people to just get on and integrate, and yet do absolutely nothing to foster that integration...

BurberryQ Tue 22-Oct-13 09:04:22

personally i find 'Brit' offensive because I have heard it used offensively so many times, but i guess that is just my personal experience and where I have spent time in my life.

Imafrequentnamechanger - if you really think that you are living in a a very multicultural and free and easy going non racist city (not in England I suggest you ask the Ecuadoreans and Morroccans if they agree with you.

ImAFrequentNameChanger Mon 21-Oct-13 20:51:12

Brit is not offensive. It is also nothing similar to using the word Paki.

It depends on what country you're in. Where we live we have 'Brit Superstore', 'Paki Internet' and 'Chino Bazaars' That's what the shops have on the signs, none are considered offensive. We do live in a very multicultural and free and easy going non racist city (not in England).

I met a Pakistani guy the other day and when we were talking I asked him what he did and he told me he owned and ran a 'Paki locutorio' (an internet/phone/photocopy shop)

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 21-Oct-13 20:50:14

Burberry - why do you see Brit as being offensive?

I don't consider myself British first and foremost but I still am British.

notthefirstagainstthewall Mon 21-Oct-13 20:25:50

I'm not sure the real issue is integration. The Chinese community are often living side by side without much integration (to the point of having an area known as China Town as a tourist attraction. Can you imagine the cries of racist if there was a area called Pakistan Park or something?

I think it depends on both the host country and the immigrants. Neighbouring countries are often the worse to integrate into.

redpipe Mon 21-Oct-13 20:09:40

BlueberryQ and Spirulina

Brit is not offensive. It is also nothing similar to using the word Paki.

We have the BRIT awards, even the Classic BRITS at the royal albert hall. We even have a school called The BRIT school fostering musical talent such as Adele et al.

It is not in the least bit comparable in any way.

WallyBantersJunkBox Mon 21-Oct-13 10:21:57

I totally agree and we have wonderful, wonderful neighbours who really want us to get involved culturally in the things that happen in the village - carnivals, fireworks etc and are super patient with my language skills. I wonder if neighborhoods in the UK extend the same hand?

On the other side I have made Christmas pudding vodka for my neighbours in the past (followed by Christmas pudding as they didn't know what it was either) mince pies and scones. As soon as parents come for a pick up after a play date they ask for a proper British cup of tea.

My husbands skills have helped enormously and we are forever "ruined" as we won't fit anywhere - if we move to the UK the bread, brezels, wurst and festivities will be really sadly missed.

nicename Mon 21-Oct-13 10:14:09

When we lived in the east end there were plenty of second generation women who spoke very little english. They worked in the family shops of Brick Lane and surrounds and just rubbed along ok. I found that quite sad really and quite suprising.

My dad did his national service in italy. He came back speaking italian and with a love of italian food, art, wine and culture. He didn't need to learn italian but decided that since he was there, he'd integrate and get the mosyt out of his posting. He said 'when you need to, to just do' with reference to learning a language - where he was few spoke english.

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