11/10/2006

Did I mention they were going to EAT OUR CHILDREN?

In 'The'yre coming to turf us out of our beds and EAT OUR CHILDREN! Parts I and II', I looked at how the Mail used made up or misleading stats about the number of children speaking English as a second language in UK schools to demonise the Polish.

Well, they're at it again in 'English a foreign language in London schools', except this time they're just having a go at foreigners generally. There's only one gratuitous dig at the Polish in this one.

The wording of that headline reveals the prejudices of the Mail as well as anything else in the article. For most Little Englanders who make up the Daily Mail's readership, a foreign language is something they can't speak - so if English is a foreign language to someone it must mean they can't speak it. Or only have the skills enough to try speaking by 'SHOUTING. VERY. SLOWLY. IN. THEIR. OWN. LANGUAGE.' But remember, English was a foreign language for Vladimir Nabokov and it didn't stop him from being one of the best writers in it.

I can't be arsed to check every stat in the article this time, but we know what the Mail does with its stats already. You can bet your arse that the figures they use for 'English as a second language' includes bilingual kids. And possibly kids who speak English as their first language but speak other languages too. See, they don't list sources, so they make it difficult to check the facts. Funny that, eh? Because when you can find them, you sometimes find out that the figure they quote as 3,000 turns out to be just 100.

The language in the text is quite revealing, but only in exposing the paper's tiresome need to exaggerate the level of migration and its effects. As noted at The Ministry of Truth, the rhetoric of racial prejudice has changed very little over the years - certainly since I started secondary school over 20 years ago and someone asked me if it was 'spot the white man' at my school.

We get:

Headteachers are having to accommodate pupils, not just from traditional immigration hotspots such as Pakistan and Bangladesh but also more recent arrivals from Eastern Europe.

A huge increase in students from countries such as Poland is leaving some councils with massive bills to fund extra support such as interpreters.

See the creepy way in which Polish people are inserted again, without figures. Nice that. So we don't know how much this figure has increased over any period of time, or how much of the figure is taken up by new immigrants. Some London boroughs have had the largest proportion of ethnic minorities and people speaking English as a second language for years. Most of these kids are almost definitely British-born, and possibly of British-born parents. Maybe even grandparents too. A large proportion probably speak English well enough to not need extra help, but we have no idea because the paper deliberately doesn't tell us so we get the impression they're all new migrants who can only speak another language properly. Polish, probably. Note also the weaselly wording of 'having to accommodate pupils' too, to make it sound like the pupils need loads of extra help, when we know from before that the actual nationwide figure for the rise in the number of these pupils is just one percent.

Even if the 'English as a second language figures' they use for London are accurate - which I sorely doubt - the article still uses the less accurate figures I spoke about previously in 'They're coming to turf us out of our beds...' in the last paragraph.


1 comment:

NotSaussure said...

Second language? Józef Konrad Korzeniowski apparently only learned English at the age of 20, as his third language (after French).