Lost in translation - Refugee Council
June 11, 2007

Lost in translation

Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly has caused a bit of a stir over the weekend by suggesting that translation of official materials has been used “too frequently and without thought”. 

The suggestion is that £100m a year spent on translation is too high – and that migrants should learn English instead.  But as Tim Finch, the Refugee Council’s Director of Communication said on Radio FiveLive’s Stephen Nolan show on Sunday night, it is not an either/or choice.  We obviously need to encourage people to speak English, but in our experience most refugees are very keen to do this anyway.  The irony is that the Government is cutting back on ESOL support for asylum seekers!

But translation services will need to continue – there clearly has to be some support for people in their own languages while they are learning English.

You can hear Tim’s interview on the phone-in on the Stephen Nolan show on BBC ‘Listen Again’ – fast-forward an hour into the programme unless you want to hear about Lewis Hamilton!