English is the most common language in the United States. Generally speaking, you must be able to speak, read, and write in English to become a US citizen.
Spending time with people who understand English, reading material written in English, and writing in English can help to prepare you for your citizenship (or naturalization) test. As you get ready for your test, you can also sign up to take a US citizenship preparation class.
Why Is English Important in Becoming a US Citizen?
The US doesn’t have an official language. While people speak other languages in the US, the most common language people speak is English. Understanding the language that most Americans speak can help you communicate with and understand those around you. Learning English can be helpful when you live and work in the US.
The more English you know, the easier your day-to-day interactions with other Americans will become. However, you will also need to know English if you want to pass the naturalization test and become a US citizen. Unless you meet a few specific exceptions, you will be required to prove that you can read, write, and speak English to become a US citizen.
Exemptions to the English Portion of the Naturalization Test
There are a handful of reasons you could be exempt from taking the English test to become a US citizen, including:
- A medical disability
- You are over 50 and have lived in the US for at least 20 years when you file for citizenship. You must be a legal permanent resident (LPR).
- You are over 55 and have lived in the US for at least 15 years as an LPR.
- You are over 65 and have lived in the US for at least 20 years as an LPR.
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What Is the English Portion Like on the Citizenship Test?
On the citizenship test, you will likely be asked questions in English. Through this process, the interviewer will assess how well you understand the English language. This does not mean your English has to be perfect. It means that you can understand it well enough to answer questions and engage in conversation.
Next, the officer will ask you to read a sentence in English out loud. You have to read it clearly enough so that the officer testing you understands it. This demonstrates that you can read English. Finally, you will write a sentence in English that the officer tells you to write, proving you can write in English.
What Happens if I Fail the English Test?
If you end up failing the English test, you will be able to take it a second time to pass successfully. It is a good idea to prepare accordingly before taking the test to ensure you are ready.
Learn Through Immersion, Reading, and Writing
English can be a complex language to learn, but one of the best ways to practice it is by being around people who speak it. You can practice your English through simple interactions and work toward more complicated interactions. You can have your friends who know English ask you questions to test your understanding.
You can also learn to read and write in English. These skills might require more formal teaching. For example, you could take an English course involving reading and writing in English. You may be able to find online courses or other online resources to help along the way.
Finally, using media can be a fun way to reinforce your English. For example, reading books or watching movies that interest you can help make the language easier to understand. The keys are repetition and practice. You will improve as you consistently practice reading, writing, and speaking English.
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Take a Citizenship Preparation Class
As you prepare for your naturalization test, you can also sign up to take a citizenship preparation class. These classes can prepare you for potential test questions and give you an idea of what the test will be like.
You can search for a citizenship preparation class on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. This search tool allows you to find preparation classes close to where you are already living.
There is also the option to take a practice civics test before your naturalization test. While this is not the English portion of the exam, taking this test can help you practice reading in English and prepare you for the test questions.
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Start a Strategic Session with Us Today
At New Frontier Immigration Law, we help people through the process of achieving US citizenship. Taking the naturalization test is a big part of the process. We can answer all of your questions and go over the necessary documentation when you call.
Call us today for a strategic planning session. We want to help you through the steps to becoming an official US citizen.