The Blog for Culture Vultures

Satiate your inner Culture Vulture with regular news and posts about cultural awareness, doing business abroad, working in a multicultural environment, HR diversity and global mobility.

Spouse language skills part of revised migrant scheme

Husbands and wives of work visa applicants will have to prove their English language skills under plans unveiled by the government yesterday.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith announced that foreigners applying for spouse visas will have to undergo language tests.

She also said that criminals with unspent convictions will be refused entry, while the age at which people can come to the UK for marriage will be raised from 18 to 21.

The government is revamping the UK's migration system, introducing a tougher, points-based scheme. This will be introduced in five stages over the next 18 months.

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English is foreign for 40% of primary school kids

English is foreign for 40% of primary school kids
Schools are struggling to cover the cost of providing specialist teachers for thousands of new immigrant pupils, headteachers warned today.




Forty per cent of primary age children in London now speak a language other than English at home and some schools take several new arrivals a week as pupils "appear from nowhere", heads have said.

The National Association of Head Teachers called for schools to be given the "infrastructureî they needed to get pupils whose first language is not English fluent enough to cope with the national curriculum as soon as possible.Read more> Language 
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Blears urges HR staff to attract more BME workers

Communities secretary Hazel Blears has urged human resources professionals to get out more to attract more black and minority ethnic (BME) workers.

Speaking exclusively to Personneltoday.com, Blears said the role for HR in attracting more BME people into work was to go to the places where different communities live, and encourage them to apply for positions.

Currently, the ethnic minority share of the working age population stands at 9.3% or 3.26 million people, according to 2004 Department for Work and Pensions figures. The latest Office for National Statistic figures (2002-03) state that the employment rate for white people working in the UK is 75.5%, compared to just 57.3% for non-white groups.

Read more> Hazel Blears 
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Blears urges HR staff to attract more BME workers

Communities secretary Hazel Blears has urged human resources professionals to get out more to attract more black and minority ethnic (BME) workers.

Speaking exclusively to Personneltoday.com, Blears said the role for HR in attracting more BME people into work was to go to the places where different communities live, and encourage them to apply for positions.

Currently, the ethnic minority share of the working age population stands at 9.3% or 3.26 million people, according to 2004 Department for Work and Pensions figures. The latest Office for National Statistic figures (2002-03) state that the employment rate for white people working in the UK is 75.5%, compared to just 57.3% for non-white groups.

Read more> Hazel Blears 
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Cultural diversity and mental health

One out of 35 people in the world is an immigrant, and in virtually every country, different languages, beliefs and cultures coexist. In this context, promoting mental health requires incorporating cultural sensitivity into mental health services and programs, experts said today at a special event held to observe World Mental Health Day 2007.

"Culture and diversity are central to the everyday perceptions, behavior, and interactions of individuals," said Dr. Carissa Etienne, Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). "It is no wonder therefore that culture and diversity influence the way that mental illness manifests itself, how individuals and communities perceive and cope with this illness, and how health care providers diagnose, treat, and care for persons with mental illness."

Led by the World Federation for Mental Health and supported by PAHO and other institutions, this year's World Mental Health Day focuses on the growing importance of cultural competency and sensitivity in ensuring effective mental health programs and services around the world.

Read more: WFMH 
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Cultural diversity and mental health

One out of 35 people in the world is an immigrant, and in virtually every country, different languages, beliefs and cultures coexist. In this context, promoting mental health requires incorporating cultural sensitivity into mental health services and programs, experts said today at a special event held to observe World Mental Health Day 2007.

"Culture and diversity are central to the everyday perceptions, behavior, and interactions of individuals," said Dr. Carissa Etienne, Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). "It is no wonder therefore that culture and diversity influence the way that mental illness manifests itself, how individuals and communities perceive and cope with this illness, and how health care providers diagnose, treat, and care for persons with mental illness."

Led by the World Federation for Mental Health and supported by PAHO and other institutions, this year's World Mental Health Day focuses on the growing importance of cultural competency and sensitivity in ensuring effective mental health programs and services around the world.

Read more: WFMH 
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Blears launches new integration strategy

Blears launches new integration strategy


Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, has announced a £50m investment to help local authorities boost integration and the creation of specialist teams to tackle tensions in communities sparked by changing patterns of migration.

The money - up from £2m this year - is to be channelled over three years to groups which promote integration, rather than towards bodies which represent a single ethnic or religious identity. The change in approach is to be accompanied by guidance to local authorities that they should only spend money on translating documents into foreign languages where necessary, and put a much greater emphasis on teaching English.

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Welsh police call for more interpreting funds

A Welsh police authority yesterday called on the Home Office to provide extra funding to meet the spiralling cost of employing interpreters.

The demand came as it was revealed the amount being spent by some Welsh forces on providing translation services has risen by up to 200% in three years.

An influx of migrant workers from Eastern Europe and the Iberian peninsula has been blamed for the a sharp rise in costs for forces across the country.

Last week the Thames Valley Police Authority said the money it spent on interpreters had risen by more than £920,000 in a decade.

Read more: Wales 
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"Cultural pinpointing" and the multicultural consumer

The power of ethnic audiences is apparent in everyday life. But inherent risks exist when messaging previously meant for a minority group becomes part of the mainstream.

In its fourth year, the just-released Yankelovich Monitor Multicultural Marketing Study points to the impact of the "commercialization of culture," or repeated use of certain cultural elements to reach broader audiences. In 2004, 37 percent of non-Hispanic whites thought Hispanics were influencing everyone's lifestyle; today, it's 44 percent.

The result may mean less authentic messaging for Hispanics and African Americans, the study reports, if the same marketing strategies are used to reach ethnic consumers. "We're calling it cultural pinpointing. It's about understanding that today there's a lot of borrowing going on from the ethnic marketplace," said Sonya Suarez-Hammond, vice president of multicultural insights for Yankelovich in Chapel Hill, N.C.

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Ramadan begins...

Imagine going without food or water for the entire working day, and several hours more. With Ramadan about to start, that's the challenge facing Britain's 1.6 million Muslims. How do they cope?

"Burgers. I crave burgers. I don't even like burgers normally."

Thirty-one-year-old Sumaya Amra is just one of the billion or so Muslims who takes part in the holy month of Ramadan by fasting in daylight hours, each day for 30 days.

Like many young Muslims, London-based Sumaya works in an office and has to fit the demands of a working day around her fast and her food cravings.

Read more: The BBC 
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Learn the language before coming to the UK

Gordon Brown is ruling that medium-skilled migrants from outside the EU must speak and understand English. The “highly skilled” already have to; the unskilled, it seems, may remain uncomprehending. The Home Secretary adds enthusiastically that it will help integration if we “expect people coming through the skilled and slightly less-skilled route to actually be able to speak English”.

Well, duh! This is good news (though met with whingeing from employers who fear for their cheap labour, and from Tories who find it not fierce enough). It would be even better news if there were some mechanism to put the same onus on EU citizens who plan to stay, but since that is impossible we could at least refrain from gratuitously featherbedding them by putting up diversion signs in Polish to prevent lorry drivers “coming into conflict with road workers”.

Read more: Language 
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Australia puts migrants to culture test

Migrants hoping to become Australian citizens will soon have to take a test examining their knowledge of the country's history and institutions, and endorse national values including "mateship".

While Australia prides itself on its multicultural heritage, the government wants newcomers to "integrate" more fully. From later this year, prospective citizens will have to demonstrate an understanding of the English language. They will also be obliged to answer 20 questions, from a potential bank of 200. Anyone who gives fewer than 12 correct responses will not receive a passport.

Read more: Australia 
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Are Americans prejudiced?

Most Americans believe their fellow citizens hold strong biases against minorities, according to a landmark poll by Zogby International commissioned by GSN. The survey of 10,387 American adults, one of the most comprehensive ever conducted on prejudice, according to Zogby, explores attitudes about race, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender, physical appearance, and politics. The poll's margin of error is +/- 1 percentage point.

The "Report Card on American Prejudice" is part of a wide-ranging effort by GSN to spur a national dialogue on intolerance and bigotry. The survey's release provides a powerful follow-up to the July 17th premiere of the groundbreaking new television series, "Without Prejudice?" which airs Tuesdays at 9 pm (EST) on GSN -- the network for games.

Read more: Zogby 
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UK court permits slaughter of "sacred" cow

UK court permits slaughter of "sacred" cow


Shambo, a sacred bull kept by a group of Hindus in Wales who has tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, can be slaughtered, a London court ruled on Monday, overturning last week's block on his death sentence.

The Shambo saga began earlier this month when the Welsh regional government ordered that the six-year-old animal, the temple bull at the Skanda Vale community in Llanpumsaint, Carmarthen, be put to death on health grounds.

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L'Oreal ads found to be racist

L'Oreal ads found to be racist


L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics firm, says its business is a "celebration of diversity" and its famous slogan is "Because you're worth it."  But is the company referring to White women only?

A French civil appeals court apparently saw it that way and found the cosmetic giant guilty of racial discrimination because it ruled out all but White women to promote its shampoo.

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Bid to ban 'racist' Tintin book

Bid to ban 'racist' Tintin book


The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) is calling on high street books to pull a Tintin adventure from its shelves over claims it is racist.

Complaints about Tintin in the Congo have led to Borders and Waterstones moving it to their adult section. A spokeswoman said the book contained "words of hideous racial prejudice, where the 'savage natives' look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles". Borders said they are committed to let their "customers make the choice".

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Language and Cultural background holding foreign-born workers back

“When you're looking at skills and technical professions there's a good body there of commonality,” said Tom Ryan, who's in charge of Communitech's recruitment strategy. “What we also find is culture shock. We find culture shock and language as a two-part killer.”

Not always, according to Herbert Hess, president of Hess Associates, which provides a placement service for people looking for work in the IT sector. Hess said that while language and culture shock can be a problem for some immigrants looking for work, people from countries such as India are used to working 10 to 14 hours a day - the kind of work ethic employers are looking for. “They've got language skills, communication skills and are very well educated. They don't seem to have a problem in terms of fitting in.”

Hess said he's seeing more Middle Eastern people looking for work nowadays compared to previous years, when Russian and Asian workers dominated the field.

Read more: Hess 
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Chinese Translations of Ballot Papers a Tricky Proposition

Boston's 2008 presidential primary ballot could read like a bad Chinese menu. There might be "Sticky Rice" in column A, "Virtue Soup" in column B and, in column C, "Upset Stomach."

Those could be choices facing some voters if the names of Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Hillary Rodham Clinton were converted into Chinese characters, according to Massachusetts' top election official.

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Chinese Translations of Ballot Papers a Tricky Proposition

Boston's 2008 presidential primary ballot could read like a bad Chinese menu. There might be "Sticky Rice" in column A, "Virtue Soup" in column B and, in column C, "Upset Stomach."

Those could be choices facing some voters if the names of Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Hillary Rodham Clinton were converted into Chinese characters, according to Massachusetts' top election official.

Read more: Ballots 
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Being British

"Being British is about driving a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, the travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows and a Japanese TV"
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