Being English, speaking English

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Language testing in various forms has been used for some time as a gate-keeping mechanism to determine whether applications for citizenship are successful. In recent times the rationale set out by politicians for such a policy has been that some people’s failure to learn and use English has been associated with social disorder, family breakdown and threats to social cohesion (Blackledge 2005, 2006a, b, c). In this chapter the debate is updated: the most recent political discourse has argued that not only should English language tests determine the status of those applying for British citizenship, but they should also apply to those seeking permanent leave to remain as residents of UK, and even those seeking entry to UK. This authoritative discourse, and extension to existing legislation, resides in a similar rationale to previous arguments which have associated minority languages other than English with threats to cohesion, integration, and British identity.


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