El inglés hablado, la asignatura pendiente de muchos españoles

El inglés sigue siendo una de las principales barreras para muchos de los castellanohablantes en Escocia. La falta de competencia lingüística (1) hace que les sea muy difícil poder integrarse en las redes sociales y profesionales. Las causas son varias, pero los expertos coinciden en que los métodos de aprendizaje del inglés son inapropiados, pues no capacitan a los castellanohablantes con herramientas específicas para la asimilación de las lenguas anglogermánicas. Diferentes estudios apuntan a causas como la brecha educacional (2) entre generaciones jóvenes y adultas; en especial para aquellos que fueron niños o adolescentes en la posguerra. Esa brecha sitúa a los jóvenes españoles en desventaja con los europeos. Este artículo analiza el impacto de la barrera lingüística y algunas propuestas para superarla, de acuerdo con un estudio sociológico realizado en 2013.


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Polacos en Escocia, una historia de adaptación

Polonia se unió a la Unión Europea en 2004 cuando aún era un país económicamente pobre. Muchos polacos vinieron a Escocia en busca de nuevas oportunidades. El impacto de esta ola migratoria ha sido un tema de debate enfocado a la integración cultural de los polacos en el país. En 2006, tras sus estudios de máster en Polonia, Magda vino a Edimburgo para desarrollar su carrera en la industria creativa. Cosmopolita Scotland le ha entrevistado para conocer su percepción sobre la integración cultural de la comunidad polaca en Escocia.


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Spanish Immigration in Edinburgh, a Challenge for Integration

The Spanish economic crisis intensified the migration abroad, particularly to European and Latin American countries. Despite the recession, the Scottish job market offered some opportunities for the young unemployed Spaniards. In the United Kingdom, just after London, Edinburgh has become the second destination for young Spanish people, hosting almost 30,000 of them. A sociological study urges institutions to be more involved in the integration of the this community in Scotland.


Jordi Albacete      

Spain has experienced different wav[cml_media_alt id='1805']People with suitcases (8)[/cml_media_alt]es of migration, the last one started in 2010. High-educated people from a middle class background because of a lack of job opportunities in their home country decided to find new opportunities, mainly in central and northern Europe but also in Latin American countries.

[cml_media_alt id='1920']Emigrantes[/cml_media_alt]Their social class and aspirations have little to do with the last big migration wave from the 1960s when almost 2 million poor working class people (frequently unqualified peasants (1)) left the country to work in factories in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland or France.  

Over recent years, language and job prospects have made the United Kingdom a top country to settle in (2). In 2013, Spanish people became the third nationality for new immigration in the UK, just after Romanians and Poles, according to the UK Social Security’s statistics.  

Scotland alone, with a population of 5,313,600,  received 13, 700 new Spanish immigrants in 2012, most of them averaging 22 -23 years old, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Unemployment in Spain and the United Kingdom

  • In a year and a half (from 2012 to the first half of 2014 ) 2 million residents in Spain left the country (¾ of them were non-born  and 1/4 of them were natives). According to Eurostat, in 2011 the youth unemployment in Spain stood at a 46.2% while in the United Kingdom was at 21.1% .
  • In 2014 in the United Kingdom that figure improved relatively, descending to a 19.7%, but conversely in Spain this figure kept increasing reaching  54.9% .
  • The rate of unemployment in Edinburgh is 3.9%.  This is Below the Scottish average of 5.4% .

                              In 2012 the Spanish Consulate estimated an outstanding figure of 30,000 Spanish residents in Edinburgh, which has a population of under 600,000 inhabitants. This finding confirms that the Scottish capital is the second favourite destination for Spaniards.

Edinburgh’s Economic Profile

[cml_media_alt id='1798']Edinburgh (1)[/cml_media_alt]Most of the new to Scotland, had expectations of improving  their working conditions (3) in Edinburgh. However, the labour market of this city is very specialized and their access to it is not easy.

  • Edinburgh has the second highest economic activity after London, having 43% of its workers qualified. Value added per employee is the highest of all the United Kingdom after London (around 60,000 pounds).
  • The main economic sectors in Edinburgh are: finances; scientific research; higher education and tourism.
  • The financial service industry makes Edinburgh the headquarters  for banks and insurance companies such as: the Bank of Scotland and the Bank Royal of Scotland; the Bank Group Tesco; or the Virgin Group.
  • Tourism drives the local economy. Edinburgh’s architecture qualifies the city as a World Heritage site. Its stunning landscape, green areas, the Castle  and old town right in the city centre are major attractions of the city. It draws (4) 4.4 million tourists and brings in 100 million pounds to the local economy. Because of its cultural appeal and high tourist attraction, Edinburgh is often compared to Barcelona.
  • Edinburgh as the Scottish capital city,creates employment opportunities in the public service.

Needs for Cultural Integration

[cml_media_alt id='1286']Flyer.El puente[/cml_media_alt]The Adult Learning Project (ALP) carried out transformative adult education based on the Pedagogy of the Oppressed of Paulo Freire, with a range of classes; projects; events and pieces of local and city-wide (5) research. They started to worry about the integration of the Spanish speaking community living in Edinburgh, what they needed and how to supply them with the necessary tools to integrate them and make the most of this coexistence. They used to support El Punto (a free service for advice and help for Spanish immigrants, which they managed themselves).

In 2013-2014 three Spanish researchers were commissioned by ALP to carry out extensive research into the experiences and needs of the Spanish community in Edinburgh.  As a consequence they developed a very detailed (103 page) report analysing the integration of Spanish residents in the city of Edinburgh since 2011 and indicating possible interventions that could be made to improve this situation. ALP funded and supported the research of El Puente, The New Spanish Community in Edinburgh. Situation and Needs, delivering and disseminating this research to the Scottish society. Last February they presented their findings in Edinburgh City Chambers.

[youtube height=”750″ width=”795″]PLACE_LINK_HERE[/youtube]

In this study they used 6 focus groups composed of Scottish and Spanish people, aged between 18 and 35 years. This confirmed the profile of these new immigrants -young, middle class background, highly qualified and doing unqualified jobs (kitchen assistants, domestic employees and waiters), non fluent English speakers, often unaware of their new working class status. This new profile was well portrayed In a Foreign Land (2014) by world known director Iciar Bollaín who lives in Edinburgh.

[youtube height=”750″ width=”795″]PLACE_LINK_HERE[/youtube]

[cml_media_alt id='2096']Unknown Station[/cml_media_alt]Despite their new working class status, just a few of them got in touch with trade unions or took part in working class movements. For many of them their social environment in Spain is far from these struggles. The unrecognition of social class contributes to the marginalisation of these immigrants. “We did everything that we are supposed to do to have a future,” said one of the participants in the discussion of the study groups.

“We did everything that we were supposed to do to have a future”

One of the issues that this research reveals is the lack of institutional protection provided by the Spanish authorities on the integration of migrants. The study argues that the lack of adequate involvement from Spanish and Scottish institutions means immigrants are left in a vulnerable situation when trying to integrate in the job market and social networks. This leads immigrants to rely on exclusively Spanish networks. Therefore the study urges institutions to play a more active role in the integration of these immigrants. The analysis also reviews where are the main inefficiencies in the different models for immigrant integration in Europe.

The French and the British Models of Cultural Integration, two different approaches

Within the EU there are different traditions for the representation of immigrant groups. Two of the models most competitive are the French and the British.

[cml_media_alt id='1799']Untitled (Part 2)[/cml_media_alt]The French model is based on assimilation of French civil principles, which are embedded in the Constitution. Foreigners have to foster them. The French model is based on the idea of egalitarianism, which grants citizenship to all the members a unique and homogeneous public space.

This approach to cultural integration is criticised because some believe that it segregates other cultures and religions, especially Islam. As it has been seen in the Charlie Hebdo’s post scenario in Paris, last February.

[cml_media_alt id='1921']article-1249823-0838A5DB000005DC-530_468x286[/cml_media_alt]The British model, adopts a multicultural perspective. Its approach for integration is indirect. This means that cultural diversity of values and religion in public life are protected, giving institutional rights. In contrast to the French model public space is not homogenous but diverse.

The ethnic minority is organized and represented in the public sphere in Britain. New immigrants often lack relevant knowledge about how society works in Britain. In fact, the higher criticism is the lack of awareness about class, society and power in British society segregates immigrants from others and into a position that lacks power, influence, social solidarity and political representation.

Another downside in the British system is the lack of representation for Western immigrants, particularly European. Policies of integration in the United Kingdom are strongly focused on ensuring the integration of ethnic diversity. Only existing policies in this area are the recognition of the rights of refugees, as published in a study about immigration and integration of Saggar and Sommerville in 2012.

In general the EU has respected each country’s integration policy and subsidiary principle. However, the EU has increasingly acquired more power in immigration controls, relating to the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997.

In this respect,  the EU wants to promote intercultural, and equitable access to institutions, public goods and private, as well as the services such as education and the importance of knowledge of the language, history, institutions and access to participation in political life.

Source: Casado, I. et al. (2013) The New Spanish Community in Edinburgh. Situation and Needs. El Puente.

Proposals for Better Integration

[cml_media_alt id='2061']communication painting_Flickr DailyPic[/cml_media_alt]

There are two main overarching (5) proposals for the integration of the Spanish speaking community in Scotland: on one hand, to tackle the language  barrier, and on the other, to make all the information resources available to Spaniards.

El Puente urges institutions to be more proactive in the integration of the Spaniards living in Edinburgh. For example, language has been identified as one of the main barriers to better integration and more professional job opportunities.

The study suggests that this problem should be reviewed.  It  argues that it should offer courses that are more specialised and job oriented according to the immigrant’s skills and qualifications. Authorities should play a part (7) and clearly advertise all the current job opportunities that could match their abilities and expertise.

In conclusion, effective integration is a long journey where all passengers need to be willing to reach the same destination. Individuals, institutions, public authorities, small companies, charities, etc. need to play a part. International Solidarity has always been valued and  acclaimed in the working class movement and should be at the heart of it. Ultimately as the study pointed out integration is a matter of shared responsibility between the Spanish immigrants in the first place but equally the European, Spanish and Scottish institutions, the Scottish Society. In a welcoming, friendly and cosmopolitan society such as the Scottish society this should be an easy task. Everyone is responsible for this enriching journey.

Participating in and Supporting the Already- Established Associations and Collectives

In November 2013, ELREC organised, in partnership with Alba Spanish Association, an event in which several kinds of groups  (cultural, artistic and educational amongst others) took the opportunity to explain their activities to some institutional representatives from the City of Edinburgh, such as the police and the City Council, and create a dialogue with them. In February, 2015 El Puente presented the conclusions obtained during the research about the motivations and expectations of the Spanish people when arriving in Edinburgh and the experiences and barriers of integration, paying special attention to their specific needs. The aim of this presentation was not just to share the research, but to try to build solutions through bringing together different associations, charities, councillors and representatives from authorities, both Spanish and Scottish, who are interested in this issue. The idea was for people to talk about their different points of view and to begin to formulate a plan for political, theoretical and practical action.


[cml_media_alt id='1994']302994_236068646454335_1899542775_n[/cml_media_alt]     ALBA (Spanish Association ALBA) was  created in 2011 by bilingual families living in Edinburgh, to promote the use of Spanish and establish bonds between the Spanish speaking community living in Edinburgh and their families.


[cml_media_alt id='1857']Adult-Learning-Project (1)[/cml_media_alt]The Adult Learning Project (ALP) carries out transformative adult education based on the Pedagogy of the Oppressed of Paulo Freire, with a range of classes; projects; events and pieces of local and city-wide research.


[cml_media_alt id='1998']25896_115428635137476_7799485_n[/cml_media_alt]CinemaAttic is the platform for Spanish, Iberian and Latin-American cinema in Scotland. Their main purpose is to bridge the expressive quality of young filmmakers from national cinemas such as      Spanish, Latin-American or Portuguese with the wealth of British organizations.


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Cosmopolita Scotland is a monthly newspaper, bilingual and independent, published from Scotland. We aim to integrate the Spanish speaking community in Scotland with the Scottish society. To do this  we will adapt and analyse information based on current affairs from the Scottish and the Spanish speaking world.


Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC) [cml_media_alt id='1839']ELREC[/cml_media_alt]promotes equality of opportunity for all; fights discrimination; promotes a culture of human rights; fosters good relations in our communities; and promotes cooperation and partnership to meets its aims.



[cml_media_alt id='1996']581040_266250170163223_271893477_n[/cml_media_alt]Hispanic Arts Scotland (HAS) is an arts and cultural non-profit company whose main objective is to promote collaborations between Spanish, Latin American and Scottish artists.


[cml_media_alt id='2004']11110805_655101547855418_5687930388181392431_n[/cml_media_alt]IberoDocs is the first showcase for Ibero-American culture in Scotland, focused on documentary films by Spanish, Portuguese and Latin-American filmmakers.

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In Fact Edinburgh is an online local media destined to Spanish speakers living in Edinburgh, as well as to native people interested in the local news. One of the main goals of this site, created by two journalists from Barcelona established in Edinburgh, is to break the language barriers that most of the immigrants find when moving to a new city.


People Know How[cml_media_alt id='1917']10314592_638551026226124_6501502082588262472_n[/cml_media_alt], is a charity that promotes social change by consulting and engaging actively with people. Currently PKW are trying to organise the event that will gather individuals and groups, charities, associations, services, etc. t to integrate the Spanish speaking community.


[cml_media_alt id='1841']PIE[/cml_media_alt]Spanish Information Point (Punto de Información en Español, PIE ),  which gives free legal information  (Scottish and British law) for citizenship rights, not only for Spaniards but also for Latin Americans, with specific information for VISAS, work permits, etc.).

[cml_media_alt id='2002']163134_186046161425616_1626913_n[/cml_media_alt]El Punto, settled in Tollcross Community Centre, is an organization started up by Spanish speakers with the support of the ALP. It tries to construct a platform of reference from which the Spanish-speaking group could know better the new environment, to look for help, to face the possible problems and to defend their rights.



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Teléfono de la esperanza UK. Prevencion y promocion de la salud emocional de los hispanos-lusos hablantes en el Reino Unido



Vamos Scotland[cml_media_alt id='1859']banner_vamos_scotland[/cml_media_alt], is another organisation that supports financially Spanish self-employed entrepreneurs.



[cml_media_alt id='2014']download[/cml_media_alt]Volunteer Centre  Edinburgh offers information in Spanish about volunteer opportunities. On Wednesdays from 13:00 to 15:00.


[cml_media_alt id='2000']541522_590668814295141_101194579_n[/cml_media_alt]Vivir Edimburgo was created by Spanish people and is written in Spanish, gathers information and indications step by step on housing, work, English learning and cultural and leisure activities in Edinburgh.


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The Welcoming, is another organisation that offers free social events, health and well-being advice, volunteering opportunities, free English lessons and many other free services.



Use of English for Spanish Speakers

(1) Peasants. 

  • Definition: 
  1. a member of a class of small farmers of low social rank, as in Europe :tried to unify the workers and peasants.
  2. an uneducated person lacking in good manners.
  • Example: “[…] almost 2 million poor working class people (frequently unqualified peasants)” ([…] casi dos millones de personas de clase trabajadora pobre (frecuentemente campesinos sin estudios)
  • Translation: Campesinos.
  • Comment: Peasant has slightly a negative connotation than a farmer (meaning living in poverty and having a low level of literacy)

(2) To settle in. 

  • Definition:to take up residence in (a place).
  • Example: Over recent years, language and job prospects have made the United Kingdom a top country to settle in. (“En los últimos años, debido al idioma y a las oportunidades laborales el Reino se ha convertido en un destino prioritario para establecerse“). 
  • Translation: Establecerse.

(3) Working conditions. 

  • Definition: The conditions in which an individual or staff works, including but not limited to such things as amenities, physical environment, stress and noise levels, degree of safety or danger, and the like. Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/working-conditions.html#ixzz3Yun5pwfM
  • Example: Most of the new to Scotland, had expectations of improving  their working conditions in Edinburgh. (La mayoría de los recién llegados a Escocia, tenían expectativas de mejorar sus condiciones de trabajo en Edimburgo”.
  • Translation: condiciones en las que se realiza un trabajo.
  • Comment: Spanish speakers do not use work conditions.

(4) To draw. 

  • Definition: to bring.
  • Example: Tourism […] draws 4.4 million tourists. (“El turismo trae 4,4 millones de turistas“).
  • Translation: traer.

(5) City-wide. 

  • Translation: a lo ancho de la ciudad.
  • Comment: it is an easy compound to use. It is an alternative for across the city or all over the city.

(6) Overarching.

  • Definition: encompassing or overshadowing everything.
  • Example: “There are two main overarching proposals for the integration of the Spanish speaking community in Scotland”. (“Hay dos grandes propuestas primordiales que engloban la integración de la comunidad castellanohablante en Escocia“).
  • Translation:de amplio alcance, englobante, de amplio espectro.
  • Comment: Often used in the academia for “overarching concepts or principles”

(7) Playing a part. 

  • Definition:to participate.
  • Example: Authorities should play a part. (“Las autoridades deberían participar”).
  • Translation: participar.

Entrevista al economista Santiago Niño Becerra

Santiago Niño Becerra es catedrático de Estructura Económica en la Universidad Ramon Llul de Barcelona. Este economista catalán que ha escrito varios artículos, ensayos y libros sobre la crisis, anticipó el (1) descalabro económico y social años antes de que se materializara. En 2006, Niño-Becerra ya advirtió que “las elevadas tasas de endeudamiento desencadenarían un “crash” en 2010 de una proporción similar al de 1929”. Cosmopolita Scotland ha conversado con el catedrático sobre la evolución y características de la economía española de los últimos 50 años, así como de la precariedad laboral y su asociación con los fenómenos migratorios y la estabilidad del país.


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The Golden Years of the Spanish Economy: a Model based on Scarcity

Emigration is one of the top issues in Spain due to its financial turmoil(1), which has forced many young highly qualified people to leave the country. The often-called “diaspora” has unveiled the deep instability of the job market, traditionally regulated in favour of the big corporations. According to estimates,  about 2 million people have left Spain since the beginning of the crisis in 2008. Looking abroad for better professional prospects is not a new phenomenon in the most unstable job market in Europe. As figures and testimonials show in the following article, job insecurity was deeply rooted in the country before the economic crash.


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Poles in Scotland and the Ability to Adjust

Poland became part of the European Union in 2004 when the country was still economically poor. Many Poles came to Scotland looking for new opportunities. The impact  of this wave of immigration has been the subject of a debate focused on cultural integration of Poles within ScotlandIn 2006, Magda, a young Polish postgraduate came to Edinburgh in order to develop her career in the Arts. Cosmopolita Scotland  has interviewed her to get her perceptions and views on the cultural integration of the Polish community in Scotland.


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Los años dorados de la economía española: un modelo basado en la precariedad

El actual clima financiero ha reabierto el debate sobre la emigración en España, pero también ha revelado la inestabilidad de un mercado laboral que siempre se ha legislado en favor de las estructuras empresariales más poderosas. Desde la llegada de la crisis se calcula que más de 2 millones de personas han abandonado el país. Sin embargo, la salida en busca de mejores oportunidades no es un hecho nuevo. Como ilustran los datos y testimonios en el siguiente reportaje, la precariedad laboral ya estaba bien instalada antes de la crisis.


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Interview to Economist Santiago Niño Becerra

Santiago Niño Becerra is a professor of economics at Ramon Llul University in Barcelona. He has written many articles, essays and books about the financial crisis in Spain. In fact, he predicted the disaster in 2006 when he announced “high-debts will cause a crash in 2010 similar to the one of 1929”Cosmopolita Scotland has spoken to the professor about the evolution and characteristics of the Spanish economy in the past 50 years, as well as about job insecurity (1) and its links to the migration process and the stability of the country. 


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Understanding the Hosting Culture: The Challenge for Spaniards in Scotland

Scotland is one of the most popular destinations for Spanish emigrants. Although the media usually points to the 2008 economic crisis as the main cause of this migratory phenomenon, the reality is that lots of Spaniards were already arriving in Scotland before that date.

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Spoken English a Pending Subject for Many Spaniards

The English language is still the main barrier for many Spanish-speaking residents in Scotland. Lack of language management makes it hard for these individuals to integrate into social and professional networks. Although there is not a single cause for this, experts agree that English teaching methods in Spain are inappropriate. They do not well equip latin language speakers to tackle anglo-germanic languages. Various studies discuss that previous generations had a lack of foreign language ability and a low level of literacy (1). They show that this has given generations of young Spanish a poor starting point for learning a new foreign language. This article outlines the scale of this language barrier and some of the proposals to overcome it, according to a sociological study from 2013.


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