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Reply #17: There are different degrees of 'integration' [View All]

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Samba Donating Member (13 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 08:25 PM
Response to Reply #2
17. There are different degrees of 'integration'
In america we have immigrants who study english before they move here. But once here they can end up working in a group where they speak mostly their native language. You get one bi-lingual foreman who recruits from his immigrant countryman and translates from the boss to the workers. Their english often stops improving at that point as they rarely use it. Some of those who come here after 35 years of age, never master english - because they have no need to.

Similarly they can find clusters of stores that all speak their native tongue and around those shopping centers whole neighborhoods grow where someone can function with little knowledge of english.

Often their english will improve if they have young children and are exposed to the 'sesame street' type TV programs and then pre-school readers and elementary school. The first generation of kids may hear only the ancestral language at home for 2 or 3 years and have some difficulty with english the first years of school but - if they are in a well-integrated school - they will grow up bilingual. After having 12 years of english schooling and often no formal schooling in their ancestral tongue, they often prefer english because they become embarrassed that they speak the ancestral language at a childish level.

If you can de-segregate the workplace - and people have to use english every day - then they improve quite rapidly. If you get segregated neighborhoods then it can take 3 generations for integration. If the immigrants are more isolated and fully immersed in the host-culture then it takes less than one generation - but that requires friendly neighbors.

The fact that norwegian only has 5 million speakers, seems a drawback. Learning it will basically only help you in Norway and other Scandinavian countries to a degree. As compared to learning spanish, french, english, arabic with a billion speakers and useful in many places. I suspect that by not requiring/forcing immigrants to learn norwegian that you have many more potential immigrants to choose from than if you limited it to those who would commit to learning it well. Likewise if they know there are neighborhoods, shops, workplaces that aren't entirely foreign to them they are more likely to consider immigrating - but then expect much slower integration and islands of foreign culture in Norway.
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