Wednesday, February 19, 2014

U.S. Citizenship Test

I have a pet peeve.

Maybe it is from living overseas.

Maybe it is because I worked HARD to learn a new language (Turkish.) After two years, I was barely out of the novice stage of speaking.

Two years in Portugal, and my Portuguese is pathetic -- mostly due to the fact that I gave up when all I kept doing was translating into Turkish every time I tried to speak Portuguese.

But Americans, typical Americans, talk such a big game. 

How many times have I heard an American say, "Well ... if they are going to live here, they should try to learn our language."

They say things like, "They should get out of their communities and try to integrate with us."

I am pretty sure that almost every person who has said this to me only speaks one language themselves!

I am pretty sure that almost every person who has said this to me has never invited someone of a different culture into their home.

Living in a new place is HARD. Learning a new language is HARD. It can be much easier to stay connected to your own people group. Branching out into a culture that doesn't speak your language is much easier said than done.

I'd like to know how many Americans help others learn English? How many take the time to include these foreigners in their church or community events -- which is really the only way to truly learn a new language? Have you helped someone study for the Citizenship test? Have you taken them to classes on American culture or helped show them the facets of our society?

Americans want foreigners to do what they can't even do themselves.

For instance ... becoming a citizen. In order to become a citizen, you have to pass a test. However, when Americans were given this test, 29 percent could not name the vice president, 43 percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights, and a startling 40 percent did not know America fought Japan and Germany in World War II! Also, 73 percent did not know communism was the main concern of the Cold War, and 67 percent couldn't identify capitalism as our economic system!

More than three million immigrants took the test from October 2009 to August 2013. 

Roughly 92 percent of applicants passed it.

I know this test is hard as I watched my friend Angelica study for it when we lived in Turkey. Angelica is from Spain, married to an American. She easily passed the test!

But before we can point out the speck in someone else's eye, I encourage us to see the plank in our own.

I decided to take a sample citizen test and see how I did. I took the test twice (with different questions) and got an 85% and 80%. 

Want to see how YOU would do on this test?


Fe Adamsonn said...

I love it that you are giving an effort to learn new language. I would love to have that kind of attitude. Good for you.


jenicini said...

I grew up in Los Angeles with immigrants of all types who were always a part of my community. Perhaps because of the area, there are a ton of programs available for free to those who wish to learn English. The school systems themselves have several years of transitioning classes for common languages like Spanish, Chinese, Korean, etc built into the program for immigrants who are children. As an adult, we became close to family whom we helped support to get a green card so the mom could legally reside with her husband and children. My parents also encouraged me to go overseas at least one year after college. I did two years separately in Korea (without any association to the military). I spoke a good basic amount of Korean although it was very difficult. However, I never expected other people accommodate me bc of the language barriers...if they could, I really appreciated it. However, I was proactive and took a bilingual person with me if I was going to immigration or other offices that didn't necessarily have English speakers. That being said, while I have a lot of empathy for people learning English in our country, I do think it's appropriate for people to TRY. I don't care if they slaughter the language as long as they give it some effort. I think if you are living in a country long-term, then this is something that you do to be part of the country. If you don't want to try, that's okay as long as you don't expect everybody to accommodate you. I think it's all about attitude and willingness to try :)

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Jeni I completely agree! I think foreigners should learn English .... I just wish more families did what you do and helped other people and recognized that it isn't as easy as we think.

Kiley said...

Did you know almost half of the US has now done away with history or any form of social studies until the 8th grade!!!!!!!

One reason we are pulling our kids out of school

Thank you common core

Anonymous said...

10 out of 10! I can be a citizen!


Joia said...

Doing a lot of catching up on your blog. This one especially caught my eye, since I recently took this test myself. Thanks for giving us "foreigners" a break =)