Thursday, February 25, 2016

Reading on Test Validity and Integration (Inclusivity and Exclusivity) - 3

Goodman (2011) refers (p252) to "the public perception that countries are inundated with immigrants and governments are incapable of managing immigration", (and this was before the "Arab Spring" and the current Syrian "migrant crisis"). Which opens a door onto the bigger picture of xenophobia in populations, the process of "othering", and where it all comes from. It's easy enough to say it comes from a right-wing press, but that oversimplifies it: their words do seem to fall on fertile soil. 

This is being thrown into sharp relief for those of us going through what is likely to become an extremely tedious UK Leave/Stay EU Referendum campaign. I can't say, objectively, how representative of any statistically apparent population of people in the UK Cllr Lisa Parker is when she says of her own Party's Conservative government "We’ve sold this country out and we’re being ruled by the European Union – by people who hate us, who loathe us. I’ll be voting out, and campaigning every weekend." It's her perception of hatred and loathing that are noteworthy. Europeans hate "us", but non-EU migrants want to come to the UK in preference to (say) France - where they are treated "like dogs" - because of its supposedly better welfare and housing provision for asylum seekers.  

So, we are hated, perhaps, because we're giving away houses and benefits to all and sundry? I heard another side of this in a pub in the east end of Glasgow a couple of months ago, Why do all these "Muslims" want to come here? Because we (Scots) "are stupid". 

It's an unattractive picture all round, but one we need to critique as it's coming from some of the stakeholders in language tests for migrants, (an English local politician, aspiring migrants, and a concerned Glaswegian), and I can't discount the views of stakeholders just because I disagree with their content or form of expression. 

Deep waters, and I need some navigational aids. Murphy & Green (2011) might be helpful. Menno Spierling, (2014) is about Euroscepticism, but it will likely have something to say about UK xenophobia in general terms. 

To get back to Goodman, 2011. What she's saying is important to the migrant test validity research. She argues that there's been a shift from testing at the point of "naturalization", (although of course we still have that), to "pre-entry integration", (p236) and notes that such testing acts to "assess a newcomer without any cultural or linguistic exposure". The difference is fundamental, there's no period of residence to allow the tested person to adapt. And, of course, no UK state-funded language lessons, that has effectively been privatized for the benefit and profit of English language learning providers in the would-be entrant's country of origin, (or perhaps elsewhere en-route). 

We now know the pre-entry test is an A1 test, but it'll be interesting to see the actual tests with regard to their contents. That is, what SVOs are chosen for the "very simple sentences". How far have the item writers gone to avoid PARSNIPS?

Goodman points to the inconsistency inherent in "control of family member visas through testing as a means of ensuring integration. Allowing reunification of families is in itself a route to integration."

All of which suggests better to focus on family-member visas, as against citizenship/"naturalisation". Goodman points out that there has always been some sort of test or other obstacle to overcome at the latter stage. The business of "pre-entry integration" is an innovation, brought about (it can be argued) to control migration, or, on the most charitable view, to ensure those who enter the UK to join family members are able to take up employment. This process is clearly ongoing, as we saw in the recent David Cameron Today programme interview

So, where I was referring to the rather cumbersome Language Tests for Migrants, I am now going to focus on the equally inelegant pre-entry visa tests for family members, PEVTFM for labeling purposes. It frees me (at last!) of the Bonfiglio "nat-" root business, (because I'm not focussing on "naturalization". It also gives a specific group to focus on, who are extra-national, with a large number of potential L1s and cultural histories. Also a narrower (do-able) focus for media CDA and legal research. And identifiable people with their specific individual histories for case studies. 

So that's a voila, kind of, but not yet an khalas, as I've got the PEVTFM bit between my teeth the now.


Goodman, S. W. (2011). Controlling Immigration through Language and Country Knowledge Requirements. West European Politics, 34(2), 235–255.

Menno Spiering. (December 2014). A Cultural History of British Euroscepticism. Retrieved from

Murphy, C. C., & Green, P. (Eds.). (2011). Law and Outsiders: Norms, Processes and 'Othering'in the 21st Century. Bloomsbury Publishing.