Different states have an legit language that is used in all its businesses and government workplaces with several having more than one dialect. As a result, the activities in that state such as printing of documents amongst others are done using the legit language. Also, schools and national occasions are conducted using this semantic. Therefore, most nations require that for a person to be granted the right of citizenships, he or she ought to know the official language used in that country. However, the extent to which this requirement is enforced varies from state to state. For instance, in the United States (US), two methods are used to ensure that an applicant fulfills the dialect requirement and the general US lifestyle. The first test can be computer-based, in which a person takes a citizenship test or undertake an English course that includes the teaching of citizenship. Therefore, this article debates on whether the language should be made a requirement while applying for the citizenship in the United States.
Language as a Condition for Citizenship
Citizenship refers to a condition in which an individual is recognized under the law as a legal member of a specific sovereign state. Moreover, a person can have multiple citizenships whereas others may not be belonging to any nation, and therefore, can be said to be stateless. However, in some states such as the United State, the nationality and the citizenship have been identified to be different. A person can become a citizen of a particular country through various ways including the following: by birth, regardless of the nationality of the parents, and naturalization, in which a person who was previously not a citizen is registered legally. Marriage is also another method for acquiring the citizenship, implying that a non-citizen person marries a registered citizen. As a result, an individual can gain the nationality of a given state with no regards to his or her ethnicity or race. However, the language as a requirement has been an issue in some states as a person must be able to communicate fluently with other citizens. Therefore, this paper discusses whether the language should be made a requirement while acquiring the citizenship of a particular state, especially in the US.
When the dialect of a person is an obligation while applying for citizenship, many individuals would encounter troubles since they have to be fluent in English. Most of the people who are eligible for the citizenship or are given the green card opportunity are from countries that do not speak English; therefore, unless they are allocated a chance to learn how to communicate in English, they might be denied the opportunity.
Moreover, it is a privilege to be a naturalized citizen or to immigrate and start living as well as working in a particular state. English is the national language of the United States, thus, all immigrants are expected to embrace it though they may hold their cultural values and customs (Shohamy and McNamara 2009). As a result, the US is made to be a multicultural landscape with multilingual citizens that fits for everyone to settle in. With English being a dialect that is taught in academic settings, I believe that it should not be a requirement when applying for the citizenship in the US.
However, a person should be allocated a period in which he or she learns the US dialect. Therefore, it should be made a requirement that all the immigrants from countries that do not speak English learn and perfect their communication style both spoken and written. Moreover, while learning English other lessons should be incorporated to assist the individual cope with the changes in life such as; driving skills, the US missions, and history as well as basic rules and regulation (Hogan-Brun, Mar-Molinero and Stevenson 2009). As a result, I advocate that everyone should be given a chance to learn a country’s language as a procedure of acquiring the citizenship in that state as well as have a comfortable life while working with the citizens of that country.
On the other hand, simple language comprehension should be obligatory while applying for the citizenship as a way of enhancing a person’s swift assimilation and adoption into the US culture. When an individual is moving to the US either for the work or the permanent settling, he or she must at least have the basic skills of English communication. It is necessary since one must and will interact with people on different occasions and at times perform tasks such as taking children to school as well as helping them with various home assignments (Joppke 2010). As a result, having a general understanding will help one become assimilated into the society, thereby increasing the chances of receiving a job among other benefits.
Immigrants are required to know the rights that the state accrues to them and the repercussions of their actions. Therefore, by understanding the US dialect, they can obey as well as comprehend the extent to which they are obliged to behave in a particular situation. Moreover, the immigrants need to be conversant with English to enhance the sense of safety in their neighborhoods and as they walk in the streets. There is so much uneasiness that an immigrant feels as he or she does not understand other people’s speech. However, when one is fluent in English, he or she can guard own rights (Shohamy 2009, p. 50). Moreover, it is very crucial to be conversant in English, especially when dealing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since this department is very tough in terms of illegal immigrants.
Not every word that a specific foreign language uses can be translated still retaining its original meaning. Therefore, being able to understand the usage of words and the difference their have while compared to English is crucial (Blackledge 2009, p. 12). It creates the necessity for a person to be well-acquainted with the language, specifically the US English. As a result, one can use the proper words while communicating with the US citizens.
Language is one of the features that is used in enhancing the sense of the national cohesion and responsibilities. Consequently, becoming similar with other citizen discourages the division among the people. No matter of the nationality or the native language, a person must be able to converse in English when dealing with any stranger. This creates a sense of unity and togetherness (Byram 2011 p. 13). Moreover, the US consists of individuals from different parts of the world who speak English, thereby overcoming the issues related to ethnicity or racism. For this reason, people are required to learn English as it fosters the sense of integrity rather than makes them lose their ethnicity or culture.
In summary, I think that the basic knowledge of the language, especially English, should be the first requirement while applying for the citizenship in the US. Moreover, those who are not fluent should be given an opportunity to learn and achieve the required level of both verbal and written communication means. However, the accent of a person should be positioned as the exception because the individual pronunciation can mostly be influenced by the primary language of a person. Some people may suggest that the language should not be a requirement while applying for the citizenship due to the fact that the forced learning of a foreign language is against human rights. Besides, it is considered that the engagement in the new culture may result in the loss of the own cultural identity. Nevertheless, it is common knowledge shown in practice that learning the new language only facilitates the processes of immigration and citizenship obtaining as well as enhances the level of life, which is particularly apparent in the USA.
Blackledge, A., 2009. “As a country, we do expect”: The further extension of language testing regimes in the United Kingdom. Language Assessment Quarterly, 6(1), pp. 6-16.
Byram, M., 2011. Intercultural citizenship from an internationalist perspective. Journal of the NUS Teaching Academy, 1(1), pp. 10-20.
Hogan-Brun, G., Mar-Molinero, C. and Stevenson, P. eds., 2009. Discourses on language and integration: critical perspectives on language testing regimes in Europe (Vol. 33). John Benjamins Publishing.
Joppke, C., 2010. Citizenship and immigration (Vol. 2). Polity.
Shohamy, E. and McNamara, T., 2009. Language tests for citizenship, immigration, and asylum. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15434300802606440.
Shohamy, E., 2009. Language tests for immigrants: why language? why tests? why citizenship. Discourses on Language and Integration, pp. 45-59.
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