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Cameron Calls for Female Immigrants to Learn English

British Prime Minister David Cameron talks to lawmakers inside the House of Commons in London, Dec. 2, 2015.
British Prime Minister David Cameron talks to lawmakers inside the House of Commons in London, Dec. 2, 2015.
British PM: Women Immigrants Must Learn English or Risk Being Deported
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British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for women immigrants to Britain to learn English within 30 months or be deported.

The plan targets Muslim women joining their husbands already in Britain. Cameron said his plan would help Muslim women immigrants who spend most of their time at home.

Cameron wrote Monday that 190,000 Muslim women speak poor English and 38,000 Muslim women speak no English, although they have lived in Britain for years. Their lack of English socially isolates them, he said.

Cameron said his plan will help all migrants. Critics said he was “singling out” Muslims.

Cameron said people who do not speak English often live apart from British society. He said they are more likely to be radicalized. He said he believes his plan will help keep the country safe.

He says there is no connection between a lack of English and being radicalized. But, he said, “if you are not able to speak English, not able to integrate, you may find, therefore, you have challenges understanding what your identity is and therefore you could be more susceptible to the extremist message.”

He said the government will spend more than $28 million for English classes for migrants. The classes would focus on immigrant woman living in isolated communities. The government said classes would take place in homes, schools and community centers. Travel and childcare costs would be paid.

The government says the plan would take effect in October. Female immigrants must pass an English test within two-and-a-half years of their arrival, or face removal from the country. That threat would remain even if they have children in Britain.

No plans are in place to remove migrants who fail the test. But officials said the government may refuse to extend visas or could deny the immigrants permission to stay in the country permanently.

Andy Burnham is a senior member of the opposition Labor Party. He called the plan a “simplistic, headline-driven approach to extremism (that) risks unfairly stigmatizing a whole community, thereby making the problem worse.”

He said all women -- religious or secular -- should be helped to learn English, not just Muslim women.

Burnham noted that the government had cut spending on English-language classes in 2011.

The Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim group, also criticized Cameron. It said very few of the 3 million Muslims in Britain are extremists. It said the best way to fight terrorism “is to build support (with) Muslims and support the work done across the country,” not denigrating Muslims.

But Naz Shah, a Muslim and a Labor member of parliament, supports the plan. Shah noted that “too many children…are starting school with no English because it is not spoken at home." He says that has an effect on their learning ability because “education starts in the home.”

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

This story was curated from,,,, and Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

deported - v. expelled from a country

radicalized - v. causing someone to become more extreme

therefore - adv. for that reason

thereby - adv. because of those words or that action

isolated – adj. separate from others

single out – v. to treat or to speak about (someone or something in a group) in a way that is different from the way you treat or speak about others

integrated – adj. allowing all types of people to participate or be included; not segregated

susceptible – adj. easily affected, influenced, or harmed by something (often + to)

approach – n. a way of dealing with something; a way of doing or thinking about something; the act of speaking to someone for some purpose (such as to ask a question or make a request)

stigmatize – v. to describe or regard (something, such as a characteristic or group of people) in a way that shows strong disapproval

denigrate – v. to say very critical and often unfair things about (someone)