Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is heading a proposal the will require all migrants to take a primary school level English test as a prerequisite to acquiring permanent Australian residency.
One of the problems faced with rising immigration rates has always been integrating them into society. Their inability to speak conversational English is certainly a big deterrent. The language barrier also makes it difficult for immigrants to embrace the local culture.
The challenges brought forth of integrating immigrants into society has carried over to additional costs for educational institutions and government agencies. Schools have to change their menu to accommodate migrants’ preferences. Agencies have to hire translators to help immigrants through processes.
For PM Turnbull, if migrants want to achieve and build a productive life in Australia, they have to learn the language:
“Everyone should recognise that we all have a vested interest in being able to converse and engage in the national language.”
Alan Tudge, Australia’s citizenship minister, believed it was possible to craft a locally designed test that is focused on conversational English. This type of English test might be more appropriate for immigrants instead of the internationally- recognised exams.
If the program is successful, Tudge said they might make it into a prerequisite for permanent residency in Australia:
“If you have a lot of people not speaking the language, then you start to get social fragmentation and we don’t want to see that happen. We’re looking at whether or not we can have a reasonable, basic conversational English language requirement at that stage.
“We want people to be able to interact with one another, work together, pay together, and continue to contribute to Australian society.”
According to Tudge, the number of non- English speakers in Australia is growing at an alarming rate. Presently, the number is estimated to be one million.
Shayne Neumann, Labor immigration spokesman, questioned the merits of Tudge’s recommendations:
“Minister Tudge needs to explain where this has come from and what evidence it is based on. We haven’t seen the detail but we’ve seen this rhetoric before and the government doesn’t have a good track record.”