Testing Paul Taylor’s knowledge of British life, history and culture and discussing the “Life in the UK” citizenship test. Practise listening to British English natural speech, learn facts about the UK and have a laugh as Paul gets angry about this test for people who want to become UK citizens. Will Paul actually pass the test? Listen to find out what happens. Transcriptions and notes available.
In this episode you’re going to listen to my friend Paul Taylor attempting to pass the UK citizenship test.
Every year thousands and thousands of people choose to become British citizens, for various reasons. This year one of those people is Meghan Markle, who is moving to Britain to marry Prince Harry – as everyone knows because it’s all over the news, probably all around the world. In fact the wedding is happening tomorrow! By the time you listen to this they will probably be married. I hope everything goes well for them.
Anyway, there are lots of complicated requirements for becoming “naturalised” as a British citizen, including the fact that you need to prove that your English is at B1 level or above, and you have to pass the Life in the UK Test. This test is supposed to make sure that you have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK in order to integrate into British life. The assumption is that if you can pass this test then you know enough about life in the UK to be considered worthy of being a British citizen.
By the way, quite a lot of people fail this test. I was looking for specific data. I found that in 2016 about 36% of people failed the test. Just over a third.
- What is the content of this test?
- Do you think you have enough knowledge of “Life in the UK” to pass it?
- What kinds of questions do you expect to find in this test?
- Is the average British person able to pass the test? You would imagine so, right?
- What can you, my listeners, learn from this in terms of “essential British knowledge” and useful British English vocabulary?
- And can my mate Paul Taylor, who was born in the UK and has spent much of his life living there, pass this test?
Let’s find out as we take the British Citizenship Test in this episode.
A Long Episode!
This is a long episode, but there is absolutely loads of stuff that you can gain from this in terms of historical and cultural knowledge – both from the past and present, as well as vocabulary and general listening practice and also just the pure enjoyment of listening to Paul becoming increasingly angry about the content of the questions in this test.
Also, there is quite a lot of swearing in this one, and by swearing I mean rude words that you normally shouldn’t use in polite company because they can be very offensive. So, watch out for those rude words – either because you don’t like that sort of thing, or because you love to hear how people swear in British English. In either case – you have been informed – there is rude language in this episode.
So I suggest that you do listen to the entire thing, perhaps in several sections – when you press pause your podcasting app should remember where you stopped listening so you can carry on later. There are notes and scripts for the intro and outro to this episode on the website – so check them out.
Now, without any further ado, let’s get started…
THE “LIFE IN THE UK” CITIZENSHIP TEST
The test is computer based. Applicants coming in from outside the UK need a certain level of English and they need to take this test.
Requirements for British citizenship https://www.gov.uk/becoming-a-british-citizen
⬇Click the link below to take the same test we did⬇
Criticisms of the Test
A summary of criticisms and comments on how the test needs to be reformed https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/01/british-citizenship-test-meghan-markle-brexit-reform
The criticisms in a nutshell:
- While it’s obviously good to know facts about a country’s history – what is the true purpose of a citizenship test? It’s to ensure that people understand the values of that country, and practical knowledge of daily life in order to help them integrate
- The questions seem arbitrary and inconsistent
- Fair enough, there are questions about certain key moments in our history and in our political system but a lot of important things are missing (e.g. the number of elected representatives in the devolved parliaments, but not the number of MPs in commons? The height of the London Eye?)
- They won’t help people integrate, and they won’t help people just get by on a daily basis
- It also doesn’t educate people about history – there’s no interpretation of why these things are important. If anything it will just piss people off.
- What might be more helpful would be:
- Teaching people social rules (e.g. how to order a drink in a pub)
- Teaching people about common culture so they know what the hell British people are talking about half the time
- Teaching people the essential basics of how to live – like, bank holidays, how to phone for an ambulance, how most Brits are shocked by things like animal rights or racial or sexist jokes
But it’s all wrapped up in politics and perhaps the people who wrote the test didn’t do it to help migrants – the opposite, maybe.
What would you include in the citizenship test?
The “Real” Citizenship test
This is an alternative test based on suggestions by British people on Twitter
I don’t want to extend this episode a lot more but I do want to say “nice one” for getting to the end of this one. I say that because I know it can be hard to follow about 90 minutes of native level speech in English, and Paul does speak pretty quickly as a few of you mentioned to me after hearing the previous episode with him.
I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again – the more you listen, the better, and sometimes listening to fairly quick speaking can be really good training for you. It’s important to mix it up – sometimes listening to content that you understand without too much trouble, and sometimes listening to more challenging things. There is value in both, and basically the important thing is to keep going and not give up. If you’re listening to this it means you didn’t give up even if you didn’t understand everything. Nice one.
Then again, some of you might be thinking – Luke, it was a pleasure and I wish there was more! Well, in that case – great! I agree. This was a fun one.
There’s more to be said on the UK citizenship test so I might be doing another episode on this soon.
But for now – that’s it! Download the LEP App from the app store. Check out the extra content you can find there.
Have a great day, night, morning, afternoon or evening wherever you are in the world and whatever you’re doing. Speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now… bye!