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Fish and chips, all the time?

11 Comments
By Michael R Czinkota

Applicants for British citizenship face a rigorous test with some questions too obscure even for natives. According to a mock test for its British staff, the Wall Street Journal found that many couldn’t answer the questions correctly.

The compulsory citizenship test was first announced in 2002. Lord David Blunkett, home secretary at the time, initiated the test. Originally, it aimed to help people know things which make local life easy and safe. Tony Blair’s government also wanted to show encouragement and welcome immigrants via the test. Now, the test is up for review. What does it mean to be British? Here are some examples.

Where did the people of the Bronze Age bury their dead? Who first introduced “shampooing” to the UK.? Does “having the ability to laugh at oneself” represent an important part of the British character? Do the British eat fish and chips for every lunch? 

Immigrants must pass such mandatory questions in order to obtain British citizenship. The test has become harder in reaction to the surge of aspiring Britons from emerging nations. Given Brexit and Britain’s possible drop-out from the EU, more Europeans are also taking the test to ensure their right to remain in the UK.

By comparison, Switzerland also has a naturalization test based on acculturation. The State Secretariat for Migration examines whether applicants are integrated in the Swiss way of life, familiar and accepting of Swiss customs and traditions, able to comply with the Swiss rule of law, and not threatening to Switzerland's internal or external security. 

The Swiss government also makes its naturalization test harder as of 2018. Swiss migration regulations seem stricter than the UK’s. A non-EU citizen can apply for a Swiss permanent residence permit after living in Switzerland for 10 years. Naturalization as a Swiss citizen takes 12 years, while in the UK it takes only five years. Passing the test is only the start of a process rather than a guarantee of citizenship.  

The oral test for language assessment seems to be a particular obstacle for many applicants. But yodeling is not required. “What would you say is typically Swiss?” is a question on the Swiss citizenship test. Swiss women with a gold lace cap preparing the Cheese Fondue for her family might be the first image to pop out your head. But is that always true?

It’s interesting that when you search the term of “British citizenship test” or “Swiss citizenship test” on Google, the first page results will mainly offer test preparation services. The cottage industry coaching applicants for the citizenship test has become increasingly popular.  Due to harder tests and stricter application processes, this industry will likely expand substantially in the near future. 

Is it time to rethink the concept of a citizenship test? Should there be only one version of a country’s culture? How can governments identify different characteristics of citizens and translate those into behavioral norms, especially in the diverse European environment? Diversity makes life more interesting but also more unexpected. There is much enjoyment nowadays with many different foods, fashions and habits in the UK and Switzerland. What is the value and price of homogeneity?  

There might well be a need to insist on a common spirituality supporting national underpinnings. Some criteria may need to be adjusted and individual support of them affirmed for citizenship to work! Otherwise people are visitors, a fine and useful role, but different from citizens. Not everyone needs fish and chips for lunch. How about dumplings? Or hot dry noodles? 

Professor Czinkota (czinkotm@georgetown.edu) teaches international marketing and trade at Georgetown University and the University of Kent in Canterbury. His latest book is “In Search For The Soul of International Business”, (Businessexpertptress.com) 2019

Shiying Wang (sw1115@georgetown.edu) of McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University contributed to this commentary.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

11 Comments
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The British citizenshp test should have questions on everyday daily living, as well as a few historical ones thrown in. This should be a question;

If you spill a person's drink in a pub what should you do

a) leave the pub

b) apologise

c) buy them another drink

If you get it wrong you should be permanently barred from UK citizenship as there is no hope for you.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Who first played drums for the Beatles?

What are the names of any two members from Monty Python?

Is Sherlock Holmes a real person?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It would be massively helpful if they would only include questions on the test that actual British people all know the answers to (such as Luddite's excellent example). I'm a Brit who has no idea who introduced shampooing to the UK. As for Bronze Age Britons' burial habits, a quick google reveals that they might not even have been burying them at all......

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/oct/01/preservation-society-how-bronze-age-britons-mummified-the-dead

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Name all of the Doctors, in order."

"When in a soccer riot, is it appropriate manners to declare your club allegiance prior to bashing someone, or should your colors alone be sufficient?"

"Name 5 ways to spot a chav at 10 paces."

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Which of the following people is a casual racist?

a. Prince Philip b. John Terry c. Jeremy Corbyn

Answer: c. ;)

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

when in a soccer riot

Referring to football as ‘soccer’ should be a straight red card in the test.

colors

Misspelling the word ‘colours’ should be another.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Why do you love the UK? What do you love about being British & why/how do you 'feel' British?

Although simple, no-nonsense questions (luddite's spot on) about the local culture, history, day to day stuff etc are important, i think that applicants' affective ties & emotional connection with their new country should also be assessed. Too many ppl naturalize for the 'wrong' (i.e opportunistic) reasons, imo.

Many/most 'new Brits' will never enjoy a proper fry-up or a pint at the pub and that's fine, I guess, as long as they know why they are here & why they 'feel' British.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Rather than a history test , how about making sure that they can speak the language?

Theres nothing more frustrating than being held up in a supermarket queue by people linguistically challenged by some simple phrase....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Had fish and chips last night, very nice too with a pot of tea. However not something I would have frequently.

Understanding the applicants reasons for wishing to become a British subject and their acculturation is fundamental to the process, and the test should be only a part of a longer process by which they demonstrate their connection to the country. Yes a clear grasp of English (not american) should be fundamental for the whole family not just the husband.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yes the test should be just a part of the process and fufill something useful. Anyone can answer a paper test, especially if it is multiple choice or yes or no question.

Originally, it aimed to help people know things which make local life easy and safe. Tony Blair’s government also wanted to show encouragement and welcome immigrants via the test. 

On the other hand imagine if there was ever a Japanese citizenship test, I bet it would be epic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"When in a soccer riot, is it appropriate manners to declare your club allegiance prior to bashing someone, or should your colors alone be sufficient?"

This question alone is a permanent ban. 'Soccer'? 'Colors'?

Rather than a history test , how about making sure that they can speak the language?

Idefinite Leave to Remain, which you need to hold before applying for UK citizenship, requires the applicant to pass an English language test.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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