U.S. English Foundation Research



Language Research

4. Minority groups: To what extent are minority groups in this country disadvantaged by their language?

Updated (September 2006)


Australian Prime Minister John Howard says new immigrants should pass an English language test before becoming citizens. They will also have to sign up to as yet undefined Australian values and might sit for a test on their knowledge of Australian history.

Since Australia is a nation of immigrants with almost twenty million people born overseas, the government has been worried about the social pressures and threat to national identity caused by the arrival of so many new people from such diverse backgrounds.

Prime Minister Howard is determined that foreigners seeking citizenship should quickly embrace an Australian way of life, and leave behind their previous national, religious and ethnic allegiances.

In his view, immigrants should be able to pass an English language test and sign up to some kind of oath of allegiance before being granted citizenship.

On the other hand, the prime minister said the proposals would not mark a return to the so-called White Australia policy, used until the 1950s to exclude mainly Asian immigrants.

Source: BBC News, September 15, 2006 by Nick Bryant http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5348276.stm

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