Germany tries the Citizenship Test

Australia’s recently introduced citizenship test is currently being reviewed by the new Immigration Minister, Senator Chris Evans. Germany is in the process of introducing a similar test, which will operate from Sept 1st.  Some of the criticisms of it are similar to those that have been raised here.

This article, reporting on a conference on immigration issues between Germany Turkey, quotes Mustafa Unal, a Turkish MP, and Dieter Oberndorfer, a German Professor of political science, as agreeing “that controversial discourses taken up by politicians have been overplayed in public debate.” Germany has also recently introduced some discriminatory language requirements which look to me like they will force some spouses to say separated. Hard to see how that’s in Germany’s interest.

Regarding the new citizenship test that foreigners are expected to pass to be eligible for a German passport, both Ünal and Oberndörfer argued against it. 

After months of work, the Interior Ministry published a test of 310 multiple-choice questions on the Internet two weeks ago. From Sept. 1, applicants will have to take an exam that includes 33 of those questions and answer 17 of them correctly to pass. However, the quiz, which asks questions such as “Who wrote Germany’s national anthem?” “What is the population of Germany” and “Which German institution should you register your dog with?” is already a subject of controversy. It has been criticized for testing attitudes rather than knowledge.

“This test can hardly be answered by a German academic,” Ünal said. Oberndörfer argued, “If our immigrants manage to answer these questions, they are much more knowledgeable citizens than 80 percent of native Germans.”

Both agreed that the real problem of getting the immigrants to really identify with the German society and state will not be solved by such a test. “The real problem lies much deeper, we have to make our country more attractive for our immigrants,” Oberndörfer said.

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4 Comments

  1. With a pass rate of only 51%, how difficult can it be?

    The sample questions you mentioned seem to require facts for answers, not attitudes.

    Judging by the experience here in Australia, I think it’s ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that immigrants have a good command of the English language.

    I think it’s much harder for people to get a learner’s permit for driving than to pass the Citizenship Test. From what I’ve heard, the damned thing is a pushover, barely worth the bother.

  2. I think the Citizenship Test is racist.I’ve known many wonderful people throughout my life, who are/were wonderful people, wonderful contributors to the economy,raised great kids(some now extended family members-from Indonesia,Malta,El Salvador,Italy and more).Many would not have a good command of english, but are learning and are great people.
    The history of a citizenship test is not a new phenomenon in Australia, in fact,there was a very strong bias (racist)against new settlers, which included a Dictation Test, which was used to bring about failure.eg. a man from Germany who spoke 3 languages(one english) was given the ‘test’ in Greek-of course he failed. Nobody passed this test after 1909.
    Years ago,certainly during the Whitlam years and after, english was taught in the workforce and outside at TAFE colleges and also through a voluntary program called, ‘Each One Teach One’ (self explanatory). It was stopped for racist reasons I suspect. I don’t think knowing who Donald Bradman was is a necessary requirement for being a ‘good’ citizen.
    I understand,that when people retire and are away from their mainly english speaking work environment, they lose their ability to speak english, as they mix mostly with those from their home country – (a natural tendancy I believe)coupled with the aging process.
    I know many people born here who have ideal english language abilities, but aren’t worth a crumpet by comparison-the ‘yobbos’ at rugby league games, flag-wearing/waving thugs at the Cronulla riots, to name but 2 instances.
    This is part of Howard’s long term belief in a white australia policy. I find it offensive.Scratch an Aussie deep enough and you’ll find a racist,sadly!

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