Mind Your Language

A friend of mine posted a link to a You Tube excerpt from the classic 70’s show Mind Your Language on my Facebook wall last weekend. I have fond memories of watching Mister Brown’s class when I was younger. I loved it, even though the polyester suits indicated it was broadcast in South Africa about 18 years later than it was produced. 

The timing of this posting struck me as I started formulating my plan of attack this week to apply for naturalisation here in the UK. I thought the process couldn’t be more complicated than my Indefinite Leave to Remain Application, well, I was proved wrong.

Before I can send the £900 package off to collect dust in a corner of the Border Agency, I will need to inform the SA government of my intentions so I can keep my South African citizenship. Thinking this was the best place to start I started filling in this form, but noticed halfway through that a step actually preceded this one. I have to get proof that I haven’t already somehow achieved British citizenship, as if by accident. (Like there’s some kind of statehood ‘lost and found’). 

Feeling bogged down by the red tape I was grateful that I’d already done my Life in the UK test for my previous application, the results are still relevant, but turning my attention to the Border Agency website, I saw a glaring warning that appeared above my appropriate application form link. The rules had changed and I was obliged to prove I could speak English. I was not impressed. 

Now I have the privilege of sitting with an examiner for an allotted ten minutes making sure I can string sentences together. Not only will this be the most expensive ten minutes since I bought my GHDs, but there’s a little prep work. I have to fill in a form, titled with my own chosen topic of conversation, along with five subtopics over which I am to converse. Do they not know trees had to die to make the paper to write this nonsense on? This part forms the first five minutes of my test, followed by five minutes discussing a topic of the examiners choice.

Whilst discussing topic suggestions, including ‘extortion’, a colleague of mine suggested I discuss languages themselves, using as many foreign words as possible. My response was I would check to see if there was an interpretive dance option available. My sister suggested comparing highlighters, why yellow is always better than pink (fact), but my colleague’s second suggestion is the winner so far… the boy band Take That. There are five members in Take That, I can discuss each of them for a minute (maybe two on Robbie), including my newly discovered three degrees of separation from Jason Orange (her sister was once chatted up by him – but she turned him down!) With the limited amount of knowledge I have of them I would still have to speak at the pace of Gary Barlow to fill the five minutes. I could discuss five philosophers and put the examiner to sleep, or five comedians and just tell jokes…

Any other suggestions? I have a few weeks before my test. I have time to prepare an epic topic, hopefully make the examiners day, and not be the worst candidate they’ve ever had to endure. I wonder what it must be like for the examiners, doing this every day.

What would you speak about under scrutiny? (That could be conveniently divided into five bite sized segments)