Independence Day is a celebration for all Americans, but for some it has special significance. It's a traditional day for holding naturalisation ceremonies, welcoming new citizens to the U.S.A.
More than three-quarters of a million people obtained U.S. citizenship through naturalisation in 2018. Ceremonies take place all year round, but a lot take place in honour of July Fourth. In 2019, 7,500 new citizens will be honoured in nearly 110 naturalization ceremonies between July 1 and July 5.
One of the most symbolic is held every year at Monticello, the family estate of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson near Charlottesville, Virginia, now a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Every year, around 70 new citizens take the Pledge of Allegiance at the home of the man who helped write the Declaration of Independence. They also listen to an address by well-known speaker. This year it is Khizr Khan, constitutional rights and national unity advocate, who, with his wife Ghazala, started campaigning for religious tolerance after one of their sons, a U.S. Army Caption, was killed in Iraq trying to stop a suicide bomber. Mr and Mrs Khan, originally from Pakistan, were naturalized themselves in 1986.
Take the Test!
To become a naturalised citizen, candidates must have lived legally in the States for five years, and be "of good character". They take tests to show they can communicate in English and also a civics test on American culture. You can do online practice tests and they're a great English-learning activity. They're not particularly difficult: 20 multiple-choice questions like, "Why are there 50 stars on the national flag?" Pupils can do them alone — they're auto-corrective and there's an explanation of the correct answer if pupils don't know. Or do it as a class activity with pupils using flashcards to vote A, B, C or D for each question. From A2 as a class activity or B1 alone.
State Dept./D. Thompson