Free Esol is essential for integration

5th October 2007 at 01:00

It will be a long time before we know for certain how many fewer English for Speakers of Other Languages students there will be after the new funding policy was introduced, but the early signs are not good.

My college was not one of those mentioned in your story last week but, like those quoted, we have also seen numbers fall sharply and we have many would-be students working in rural areas who would come if they could afford to.

I know the Government has limited money, but it is strange that we have one rule saying foreign migrants can come to the country in any numbers they like and another saying we don't require them to speak English at least, we don't think of it as a basic need which should be paid for.

I teach Esol but have no vested interests being able to teach on other, more lucrative, subjects. I like, however, to think I'm providing a public service by turning these students most of mine are Eastern European into English speakers who can integrate properly. It's actually a double public service because some of these people are the hardest-working young people I have encountered, and English language skills make it more likely they will stay in the UK, where we need them.

Give it a year and the number of Eastern European immigrants setting up in this country will become a real problem if they can't integrate. No doubt someone will have the bright idea that they should all be given free English tuition.

Esol lecturer

East Midlands, name and address supplied

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