Immigrants who fail to learn English "like a native" risk becoming part of an unemployable "sub-class", communities secretary Eric Pickles has warned.
Pickles, who recently published a new strategy on integration, said language skills were vital, and promised £10m to encourage teaching.
"In terms of wanting people, encouraging people, to be part of British society, they can't do that unless they have more than an understanding of English," he told The House magazine.
"If we don't get our resident population with an understanding of English, then they become a sub-class that is virtually unemployable, or are stuck in a ghetto. We should not be turning people out of our schools who aren't able to speak English like a native."
Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn criticised Pickles's choice of words."Eric Pickles should be thinking of practical ways to ensure that anyone settling in this country is able to speak English rather than talking about sub-classes and ghettos," he said.