English Language Test for Permanent Residency or Citizenship

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 20:10 Erika Baker

1st step – book your English language test

As a foreigner wanting to obtain UK permanent residency or British citizenship, you have to prove that you can speak and understand English. Even if you hold a post-graduate translating diploma from the Chartered Institute of Linguists and have worked as a professional English-German translator for 27 years, you still have to prove it in an English language test.

You book a day. While you can’t choose the time, you can hope and pray that it will not mean a 5 am start from your village to the test centre in London. Or Southampton. But not Bristol or Cardiff or Bath. The 10-minute English language test that costs a cool £150. Add to that transport costs, doggie day care, plus £16 if you want to make sure the result doesn’t get lost in the post. The test assesses your listening and speaking ability.

Your reading comprehension has been extensively tested by the time you get that far.

Hoops to jump through

The Home Office cunningly provides no facility for asking question, anywhere, about anything.

It provides a website that requires post-graduate language skills and the input from a helpful colleague or two to navigate. And possibly a glass of wine to steady your nerves. No wonder immigration lawyers are not short of work!

The English language test centre is friendly and bright. Plenty of friendly staff, a nice person even supervises you putting your belongings including wrist watch into a locker.

Another friendly person then registers you, checks your ID, takes a photo and records your voice.

Apparently, the voice recording is so that you cannot find a clever way of smuggling a Doppelganger into the examinations room later to take the test on your behalf.

The test

You can choose the topic you would like to talk about and provide five possible questions. In my case I spent five minutes chatting away happily about dachshunds. I elaborated on the varieties, the purpose of the breed, exercise, whether they are trainable or not (they’re not), and how they get on with cats (perfectly, in our case).

The examiner then asked me what I do for a living. So we spent another few interesting minutes talking about the difference between translating and interpreting. We also discussed why literary translators generally have a lower income than commercial translators.

He didn’t bother to inform me that I had passed the test but thanked me for a very interesting chat!

Another stop completed! Back to that long application form!