Monday, October 10, 2005

English Language Test for New Australian Citizen


Recent news indicated that the debate of requiring all new Australian citizens to pass an official English language test.

Once upon a time, on a sunny evening with a distant rainbow in the east, sitting on the wet green lawn near the roses, Albert and Trebla went into an argument AGAIN...

Albert: Applicants for citizenship are assessed for their understanding of basic English already, see current regulation. I don't understand why we need to change.

Trebla: Well, "questioning the need to change" is not a good argument. To survive in the modern world, change is required. A better question should be what kind of change, which direction is the change.

Albert: True! It seems to me that they want to increase the level of English for the new citizen.

Trebla: To what level? Secondary school graduates? University? Post Doctoral?

Albert: ???

Trebla: Another more fundamental question: why English? Should it be the aboriginal languages? Shouldn't all Australian be required to speak the local aboriginal language?

Albert: There are too many aboriginal languages and they are not used worldwide!

Trebla: So, your point?

Albert: English IS the international language!

Trebla: Brother, the choice of language is political and economical. Once upon a time, England has been strong and have colonies all over the world. Now, US is economical strong and they speak a dialect of English. But if we are talking about change, we should look into the future and find out what would be good for our citizens or countries in the future.

Albert: And your suggestion?

Trebla: Find the most used language and support the population to learn that language.

Albert: and it would be?

Trebla: I would suggest Mandarin Chinese, see here. It is used by 1.12 billion, compared with the second, which is English 480 million.

Albert: But looking at the same website, Weber compiled the world's ten most influential languages and English is at the top with a points of 37 whereas Chinese came 6 with points of 13.

Trebla: I don't know when that list was compiled. But is it almost universally agreed that China will be the biggest economy in the world in this century? This should at least shift the data somewhat.

Albert: OK, change is necessary. So the debate will be good for Australia?

Trebla: No, I can't agree. The problem is in the assumptions of the debate question. I am afraid it will give the wrong impression of Australia going back to a "white policy", and that English-speaking people has a supremacy over non-English speaking people. The world is now about multi-culture and cultural diversity. I suggest Australian should keep it that way.

Albert: Agree.

Trebla: Good, brother. At least we can agree on ONE thing.