(Editor’s note: This is posted in collaboration with Preply, where you can learn languages online via private sessions with tutors.)
Sixty percent of global mobility experts agree: learning the local language is the main obstacle on the way to a successful expat assignment. Indeed, speaking the host country’s language is one of the key demands for residency in many European states, but it is not as daunting as it sounds.
In this post, we will discuss how to meet language requirements for citizenship and residency in different countries and improve your communication skills without even leaving your house.
So, you’ve decided to obtain citizenship in the Netherlands? We don’t want to disappoint you, but riding a bicycle, eating tons of cheese or skillfully complaining about the weather won’t get you there. But passing Inburgeringsexamen (Civic Integration Exam) certainly will!
The Inburgeringsexamen consists of two parts: language and society.
The language part is subdivided into usual writing, speaking, listening, and reading and does not require any specific preparation. So, you don’t have to attend any obligatory government language classes and are able to learn Dutch online at Preply, Udemy, Skillshare or any other digital platform you like.
All you need is to perform at A2 level, which proves you can convey short, simple messages relating to matters in areas of immediate need; for instance, make an appointment to see a doctor or fill in a form with your personal information.
The United Kingdom
In order to become a British citizen, most migrants will need to pass the Citizenship Test, as well as an English language test demonstrating their communication skills at B1 level minimum.
There are four different B1 tests you can pass:
- IELTS Life Skills provided by IELTS SELT Consortium
- IELTS provided by IELTS SELT Consortium
- Integrated Skills in English (ISE) provided by Trinity College London
- or Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) provided by Trinity College London
This is because all the above four tests can be found on the Home Office-approved Secure English Language Test list. All the training materials an the list of preparation course providers are available online – on the websites of Trinity College and British Council.
Since 4 December 2018, Italy has made new demands concerning Italian language proficiency. Now, due to a recent amendment in Italian law, anyone who applies for citizenship must prove adequate knowledge of the Italian language. All migrants must obtain at least B1 certification, meaning they are able to speak and write easily on everyday topics, express their opinions and make comparisons.
To assess the skills for people seeking Italian citizenship, The University of Siena has specifically created the CILS B1 Citizenship exam. And as more and more people learn languages online, Fondazione Italia has recently launched new courses specifically geared to preparing students for the CILS B1 Citizenship exam at home.
Since Belgium has three official languages, to get residency you have to pass a language test either in Dutch, German or French – depending on the region in which you are currently registered as living.
The minimum level required is A2.
To prove your knowledge, you will have to pass any of the following language tests: ACTIRIS, FOREM, VDAB, SELOR or Bruxelles Formation.
Or you can complete an integration course.
But in case you have a diploma obtained in one of the national languages or uninterrupted work experience during the past 5 years, it might not be necessary.
So it all depends on your situation.
To get French citizenship or residency you have to pass the exam called the Test de connaissance du français, or TCF, for French nationality. It was specifically designed to meet the new provisions introduced by the French Ministry of the Interior.
The exam consists of four standard parts as well. The minimum level required is a B2 certificate.
As with the Dutch Inburgeringsexamen, the French exam requires no particular preparation and suggests that language practice of any kind prepares candidates for taking the test: radio, television, press or conversation.
In October 2015, two new laws modified the language requirements for citizenship in Spain. Now applicants are obliged to pass the exams designed and administered by the Cervantes Institute: DELE Spanish diploma (level A2 or higher) and Test on constitutional and sociocultural aspects of Spain-CCSE.
To prepare for the exam, expats are advised to take an online course by Cervantes Institute, because, with the help of this language training, the candidate not only acquires the necessary knowledge but becomes familiar with the specific format of the test.
If you want to live in frosty Finland, you will have to get a YKI certificate proving that you have the necessary language skills in Finnish or Swedish. YKI is the Finnish government’s official system for language proficiency testing.
To become a Finnish citizen you are obliged to have at least satisfactory skills in one of the following:
- oral and written Finnish
- oral and written Swedish
- Finnish Sign Language
- Finland-Swedish Sign Language
So, as you can see, many European countries won’t let you stay for long unless you learn their language. Nevertheless, they offer you a pathway to citizenship. Depending on where you come from and where you’re going to live, you may find it easy to become a citizen or you might have to put a lot of effort into it.
Anyway, study hard, learn languages online and don’t expect to make it happen overnight. This process may take time, but it is definitely worth it.
Find your ideal tutor today and get residency or citizenship without too much hassle.
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