English Language Testing for Citizenship

Megan Watts, David Hodgson


The proposed changes to citizenship requirements in Australia have an increased focus on English language competency and on ‘Australian’ values. The dominance of the English language on the global stage can reinforce the hegemonic nature of the English language, which is becoming increasingly embedded in the image of an Australian citizen. This raises questions on what is motivating the centrality of English language testing for citizenship, and how these shape conceptions of Australian identity. This research is a thematic content analysis of media releases from newspapers, government statements and other grey materials on the recent changes to Australia’s citizenship requirements, particularly English language testing. The research found that English language testing can be seen as a form of cultural hegemony, which is shaped by a discourse of social integration and border security. Implications for understanding diversity and working with diverse language groups are explored in light of the English language testing and citizenship discourses in Australia.

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Social Work & Policy Studies: Social Justice, Practice and Theory

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