In an interview, the communities secretary, Sajid Javid revealed that 770,000 people living in England speak little or no English at all, and warned that up to 70% of them are women from the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities.
Javid was critical of the statistics which were derived from census data. He said, “If you don’t speak English then there is no way you can take full advantage of the opportunities that modern Britain has to offer you.”
Sajid Javid gave his personal experience as an example where he described being a “six-year-old interpreter” for his Pakistani mother when they would visit the GP. However, after 15 years of being in England, his mother decided to learn English – a decision that “transformed her life”. This decision, in turn, enabled her to work for the family clothing business, as well as make new friends. And years on, it also meant that she could communicated freely with her daughter-in-law, Laura, as well as with her grandchildren.
He shared, “I used to go to the doctor’s surgery with her – not because I was ill, but because I had to interpret for her. I was six or seven and an interpreter. But when the family moved to Bristol, which was more integrated, and his father opened up a clothes shop, his mother was persuaded to take up English. “She started working and made friends... All her grandchildren speak English. She speaks to my wife in English. It is transformative in every way.”