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Old 03-27-2009, 08:41 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,788 posts, read 49,212,505 times
Reputation: 20637

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NOTTINGHAM, England, March 27 (UPI) -- A postmaster in the British city of Nottingham says he was fired from his job after he banned customers who couldn't speak English.

Deva Kumarasiri, who was born in Sri Lanka, said his employment agency fired him in the wake of his customer ban at Nottingham's Sneinton Boulevard Post Office, The Sun said Friday.

Postmaster fired over English stance - UPI.com
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Old 03-27-2009, 10:00 PM
 
Location: West Cobb County, GA (Atlanta metro)
9,188 posts, read 30,941,742 times
Reputation: 5171
Interesting article. I'm curious to see how U.K. residents overall feel about this.

As an outsider, I do appreciate his stance that someone who immigrates to a new country SHOULD learn the language of their new home. Otherwise it's somewhat of a slap in the face to your new hosts, as though you don't appreciate it enough to take the time to at least attempt to learn some conversational English. I'm not sure I agree with his practice of refusing to serve customers though - just simply speak to them only in English, give them a "huh??" look if they speak to you in another language, and if they don't "get it", well, they'll walk out and leave it at that, I would think - they'll either learn of bit of English before coming back or simply won't come back.

Here in Georgia (U.S.) a vaguely related bill is being proposed on a State level that would give employers the right to refuse employment to those who do not speak English, or fire those working for them who do not. Like many areas, we have a lot of Mexican immigrants (legal and not) who speak no English who many times work in restaurants, etc. Apparently the current laws do not allow business owners to fire or refuse to hire someone who speaks no English, so this law would allow that. Doubtful it will pass. But again, this just applies to employers vs. employees as to any right to refuse service to someone.
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Old 03-27-2009, 10:54 PM
 
443 posts, read 1,117,714 times
Reputation: 386
Bad ways to teach immigrants English:

1. Yell at them in your language and hope it'll just sort of sink in.
2. Make fun of them.
3. Ban them from your shop, restaurant, church, doctor's office, or town hall.
4. Dock their pay at work without offering any way for them to get access to English teaching materials in order to learn English and increase their wages again.
5. Expect them all to go out and drop hundreds on a language learning tape and book series. Not all immigrants are able to read or write in any language, English or their mother tongue.
6. Expect them to quit their job and hang around on street corners and just pick up the language that way.


Good ways to teach immigrants English:

1. Increase the number of after hours adult education English classes. There are very, very few of these around.
2. Set up conversation hours where immigrants can speak to English speakers and learn all the informal language, slang, and other every day stuff that classes don't and won't teach. If someone of came up to you on the street and said "will you speak English with me?", well, you can imagine the reactions.
3. Provide radio and TV English lessons - the BBC used to do a lot of this in the 1960s for recent Indian immigrants. It was a great way to learn English after hours when you're at home relaxing. Make them on the free channels or the paying channels...just put them somewhere.

Would it be nice if everyone in a given country spoke the same language? Absolutely. I imagine everyone in that post office wants to be able to communicate with each other. So this raises the question: why have the people concerned not learned English?

Are these customers first generation immigrants in their 80s and 90s, who have had British children and grandchildren to speak English for them for most of their lives? Try getting an 80- or 90-year-old person to learn something as complicated as another language. Not easy. So I doubt they're going to try. Are these new immigrants who've been here for a few years or months and who have spoken a non-English language all of their lives? If so, they have to set about learning English for themselves. And where's the best place to do this? Adult ed classes? English lessons on the radio and TV? Books from the library? Reading your childrens' English language textbooks from school?

A lot of people are keen to ban immigrants from this place or that, or yell at them, make fun of them, or tell them to go home if they can't be bothered to speak English. I don't get how people expect that attitude will actually help people learn English. The postmaster himself learned English but he doesn't tell us how. If he immigrated as a child, that's a very different story. He's in a privileged position and forgets that others are not.
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Old 03-28-2009, 08:09 AM
 
14,256 posts, read 15,967,881 times
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Some 28 years ago, I went to work in a foreign country. In my case it was the French speaking part of Switzerland. I was pretty fluent in French within 3 months. Of course, I had schoolboy French but that didn't help me actually speak the language.

Based on my own experience, you can throw all the facilities you want at people, but, fundamentally, they have to want to learn the language. What I have seen in the UK, in the USA and in Switzerland is that there are plenty of immigrants who have no real desire to assimilate. They want the economic benefits of the host country but are perfectly comfortable to reside in their own community, go to social functions in their own language and socialise with people who speak their own language. This was just as true of many of the "anglos" in Geneva as it is of Asians in the UK or many Hispanics in the USA.
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Old 03-28-2009, 06:30 PM
 
250 posts, read 669,456 times
Reputation: 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by John1960 View Post
NOTTINGHAM, England, March 27 (UPI) -- A postmaster in the British city of Nottingham says he was fired from his job after he banned customers who couldn't speak English.

Deva Kumarasiri, who was born in Sri Lanka, said his employment agency fired him in the wake of his customer ban at Nottingham's Sneinton Boulevard Post Office, The Sun said Friday.

Postmaster fired over English stance - UPI.com
I do understand his frustration, but banning customers at a post office was not his call to make. It seems under the circumstances only appropriate he was fired.
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Old 03-28-2009, 08:02 PM
 
Location: Strathclyde & Málaga
2,980 posts, read 7,480,192 times
Reputation: 1865
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
Some 28 years ago, I went to work in a foreign country. In my case it was the French speaking part of Switzerland. I was pretty fluent in French within 3 months. Of course, I had schoolboy French but that didn't help me actually speak the language.

Based on my own experience, you can throw all the facilities you want at people, but, fundamentally, they have to want to learn the language. What I have seen in the UK, in the USA and in Switzerland is that there are plenty of immigrants who have no real desire to assimilate. They want the economic benefits of the host country but are perfectly comfortable to reside in their own community, go to social functions in their own language and socialise with people who speak their own language. This was just as true of many of the "anglos" in Geneva as it is of Asians in the UK or many Hispanics in the USA.

Good post
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Old 03-29-2009, 02:49 AM
 
Location: The Silver State (from the UK)
4,663 posts, read 7,570,765 times
Reputation: 2862
Quote:
Originally Posted by atlantagreg30127 View Post
Interesting article. I'm curious to see how U.K. residents overall feel about this.

As an outsider, I do appreciate his stance that someone who immigrates to a new country SHOULD learn the language of their new home. Otherwise it's somewhat of a slap in the face to your new hosts, as though you don't appreciate it enough to take the time to at least attempt to learn some conversational English. I'm not sure I agree with his practice of refusing to serve customers though - just simply speak to them only in English, give them a "huh??" look if they speak to you in another language, and if they don't "get it", well, they'll walk out and leave it at that, I would think - they'll either learn of bit of English before coming back or simply won't come back.

Here in Georgia (U.S.) a vaguely related bill is being proposed on a State level that would give employers the right to refuse employment to those who do not speak English, or fire those working for them who do not. Like many areas, we have a lot of Mexican immigrants (legal and not) who speak no English who many times work in restaurants, etc. Apparently the current laws do not allow business owners to fire or refuse to hire someone who speaks no English, so this law would allow that. Doubtful it will pass. But again, this just applies to employers vs. employees as to any right to refuse service to someone.

I didn't know that. It is legal here not to hire an applicant if they can't speak any English, although you cannot reject an applicant based 'only' on that fact. There are certain business requirements that simply cannot be achieved if an applicant does not speak English... how would they even fill out the application? If people speak enough english to get by then positions can be found that are more suitable (non-customer facing etc).

I think that immigrants (managed properly) bring economic and social benefits to the host country that are not always obvious, and they are too often an easy target for our social or economic problems. I would agree that it could be frustrating for a worker trying to do their job when somebody speaks to them in a foreign language, but banning non-english speakers from a store is discriminatory, short sighted, and harmful to the business.
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Old 06-21-2009, 11:52 AM
 
81 posts, read 232,850 times
Reputation: 36
I'm not british but live in the UK, i thought this one was a little weird. Mostly coz the dude who did this was himself foreign born, so i thought he was indulging in a bit of stockholm syndrome there. Secondly, from having lived in the UK for a little while, i'm amazed at how few people in the UK speak a second language considering their proximity to the rest of europe (i used to speak 3 european languages fluently once upon a time, and i'm from africa!) thirdly...as a tourist, that doesnt' bode well for the image of the country, personally i find britain incredibly xenophobic, but i live here, i wouldn't think tourists need to know a country's dirty laundry just on visiting?? anyone who has worked in retail knows about timewasters and the many forms they come in, but to use the language barrier as an actual barrier..thats just mean-spirited and bitter. maybe he and others who think like him should be dumped in Leninsk-Kuznetskiy in the middle of winter while they're in summer dress so they can re-learn some sense of humanity.
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:22 PM
 
420 posts, read 341,981 times
Reputation: 153
The man was right to be fired. He made the rules when it wasn't even his business.
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