Immigrants who have settled in Britain but cannot speak English will be targeted with language lessons under radical plans to improve community relations.
Skills Secretary John Denham said too many long-term residents lack the English skills they need to communicate with their neighbours.
The proposals would see free English classes aimed at those with a weak grasp of the language and groups who are least likely to integrate.
Economic migrants who plan to work in Britain for only a short time will have to pay fees for English courses.
Mr Denham said the ability to communicate was "the most important issue" for promoting integration.
He said: "There are still too many long-term residents committed to making a contribution to Britain who cannot engage with other people in their neighbourhoods - let alone play an active role in their communities - simply because their lack of English prevents it.
"This is having a negative impact on their life chances and limiting their ability to integrate. It is this group we wish to prioritise."
Funding for courses in English for Speakers of Other Languages (Esol) will be "more specifically targeted to foster community cohesion and integration in our communities".
The plan was published for consultation by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. The document said that the expansion of the European Union and the UK's traditionally tolerant attitude to immigrants had fuelled demand for Esol courses.
But the system could not provide free lessons for all would-be students, the plan said. Migrants who can afford to pay will be expected to meet the costs of up to 37.5% of their course fees. A typical Esol course costs around £900.