but can you speak English?

Vida J Morkunas vidamorkunas at TELUS.NET
Thu Aug 19 18:05:49 UTC 2004

Pommie lingo test is unfair dinkum, mate

Sarah Hall, political correspondent
Thursday August 19, 2004
The Guardian


They may describe women as "sheilas" and use "bastard" as a term of
endearment but, apart from pedants, few suggest Australians cannot speak
Few, that is, apart from the Home Office. Under rules introduced last month,
Australians - and Canadians, New Zealanders, South Africans, and Americans -
must prove they have a good grasp of English to become UK citizens.
Yet officials have still not decided how to prove this.
Under the new rules, all migrants wanting British passports must prove
sufficient English knowledge, the easiest means to which is gaining an
English for Speakers of Other Languages certificate.
Those who speak English as their first language cannot sign up, however -
they need written confirmation from a designated person that they have an
equivalent qualification. Proof can be obtained by having a chat with a
designated person.
The trouble is that the Home Office has not yet decided who the designated
judges will be.
A Home Office spokesman said the list would be determined "shortly" and
would be in place by September 1.
Meanwhile, applicants who have to wait an average seven months for
naturalisation, and who must have lived in Britain for five years, are
fuming at being rejected.
A public figure who has been knighted and has lived in Britain for 44 years
has been rejected, as has a 30-year-old Australian writer, who did not wish
to be named. She said the Home Office had turned her down despite her two
degrees in English and public communications. The writer's MP, the Liberal
Democrat for Brent East, Sarah Teather, yesterday wrote to David Blunkett
denouncing their treatment as a "bureaucratic nonsense".
The Home Office said it would be wrong to assume applicants from
English-speaking countries had workable English. "Just because someone's
born in an English-speaking country doesn't mean to say they're exempt from
these standards of proof," the spokesman said.

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