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July 30, 2004

Tougher English Standards to Enter U.K., U.S.

Both the British and American governments have announced plans for stricter English language tests for new immigrants. In Britain, tests designed to demonstrate a defined minimum standard of English are said to be tougher than previously expected. Failure to pass the tests will mean compulsory language and citizenship classes, with those who can afford it having to pay. The announced plans go against advice given to the government by experts last year, who argued against the idea of a minimum standard and recommended that applicants should simply be able to demonstrate having made progress in English.

The U.S. meanwhile has decided that current tests for new citizens vary too widely. It was announced earlier this month that new tests will be piloted next year and introduced in 2006. The revised standards would include getting applicants to participate in a conversation, give simple directions, express needs and preferences, respond to warnings, read and comprehend simple material and fill out forms.

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