News has emerged that the Department for Work and Pensions has hired a translator who speaks Nigerian Pidgin – an English-based creole language spoken across Nigeria – drawing attention back to the millions spent by the government on paying interpreters to help foreign-speaking nationals claim benefits. The ignorant example used by The Daily Mail is that a Nigerian claimant who tells Job Centre staff ‘I wan go job but I no well’, would have his words translated to ‘I would like to work but I am sick’.

The DWP provides translators in 165 different languages, who were used 271,965 times between October 2010 and September 2011. Polish, as you might expect, reeled in a majority total of 51,000 translations, followed by fellow Eastern European languages Slovak and Czech coming in at second with 22,000.

The need for translators

Translators were needed for languages as uncommon as French Canadian, Icelandic, and the Ethiopian language of Tigrinya, while even three Welsh-speakers received interpreting services courtesy of taxpayer’s money.
Is Hindi translation available in London?
Off the back of the ongoing saga caused by the government’s failure to supply quality court interpreters, I for one feel they’ve got this one completely wrong by paying for interpreters at all. Not that they won’t be getting paid peanuts like their legal counterparts. Instead of splashing out on a service that isn’t going to benefit an individual more than once, though, why can’t English language tuition be paid for that will benefit the country’s foreign workforce in the long term?

We’re so quick to round on immigrants and criticise them for not speaking English, despite our country’s own deserved reputation for being monolingual speakers. The vast majority of them haven’t come to here to scrounge of benefits but to work immensely hard and do many of the jobs that we deem beneath ourselves. Given an opportunity to learn English properly, all of us would reap the benefits.

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