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You are in:Learning English > News English > Words in the News
 
Learning English - Words in the News
 
21 May, 2007 - Published 13:18 GMT
 
Controversy over citizenship tests in Australia
 
Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting
Prospective citizens may be tested on their knowledge of cricket

Sport and the history of aboriginals are likely to be part of controversial citizenship tests in Australia. The government in Canberra believes they will enhance social integration. Critics fear they will discriminate against non-English speaking migrants. This report from Phil Mercer:

Listen to the story

Migrants applying for Australian citizenship will have to know about the traditions of indigenous people and the colours of the nation's flag to pass these new tests. Sport is also likely to feature prominently, along with geography and politics.

Prospective citizens won't have to absorb long lists of facts and figures. The government does, however, want them to have a decent grasp of what customs and values make this country tick. The Prime Minister, John Howard, has said the tests will promote social harmony and integration. Those who fail will be able to re-sit the quiz. The pass mark will probably be around sixty percent.

Critics believe the measures will discriminate against migrants with low levels of literacy and for whom English is not their first language. A senior opposition politician said the tests were ideologically driven nonsense. They are due to be introduced later this year.

Phil Mercer, BBC News, Sydney

Listen to the words

Migrants
people who move to live in another country

indigenous people
people who originate in a certain place and belong naturally to it

to feature prominently
to be an important part of the new tests

to absorb
to memorise, to learn

to have a decent grasp
to be familiar enough, to understand well enough

customs
particular established ways of behaving

make this country tick
motivate, are the reasons for the Australians' character and behaviour

discriminate against
create a situation where some migrants are treated worse than others

literacy
the ability to read and write

ideologically driven nonsense
an absurd or silly measure based on a set of beliefs, especially political

 
 
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