If culture is the question, we have the answer!

by Neil Thomas
November 29th, 2011

It is not often enough that the international press inadvertently promotes our Speak the Culture activities. And even rarer for governments to play to our strengths.

Still, we are grateful for all puffs and accidental promotions whatever the source. What am I talking about?

First of all comes the news last week, that in France, from January 2012, all candidates for naturalisation will need to show that they have sufficient knowledge of French history, culture and cuisine. President Sarkozy’s government wants immigrants to demonstrate that they will be readily assimilated when they wish to take up French nationality.

Unfortunately for the would-be applicants, they are leaving it to them to find out for themselves that Speak the Culture: France is the ‘go-to’ book to help them in their endeavour to know their Arles from their Elba.

No sooner had reports of the French test provided this subliminal puff for Speak the Culture: France, than we found the press launching an accidental promotion for Speak the Culture: Britain. Libby Purves in The Times, inspired by the news from France, had an article (appearing in the printed version on 28th November 2011) castigating the contrastingly culture-free citizenship test in Britain. She rightly points out that the French have got it right by placing “importance on cultural assimilation and understanding” and on the need for there to be a “basic knowledge of (the) country’s artistic history, great painters, writers and philosophers, as well as its contemporary culture…Even cuisine matters.”

Hear! Hear! Libby. And where can the best summary of the culture of Britain be found?

Here! Here! In Speak the Culture: Britain.

OK, shameless plug over. Still, it’s worth considering – how would you fare in a test on your own (or anyone else’s) national culture?

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