In this article I use findings from an ESRC funded project on language and identity in the narratives of Polish people to challenge a narrow approach to language in debates about integration. I argue that decisions about learning languages are influenced by wider concerns of self and other identification rather then simply being issues of instrumental need. I show how research participants viewed speaking Polish as an important part of being Polish, that is, of their identity. They recognised that changing the language they spoke involved questioning the way they presented themselves and how they related to others. I discuss how language was used to differentiate between ‘us’ and ‘others’, including in terms of values and the ways in which these perceptions of difference influenced social interactions.