U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently released an updated guide for teachers of citizenship preparation classes. The guide, Understanding Key Concepts Found in Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, aims to help teachers build a curriculum around not only the naturalization application form but also the naturalization interview.
The guide breaks the application form into eight key sets of concepts, listed below, and provides interactive tools for practice on each section.
The guide lists the parts of the naturalization form where each of these concepts appears. It also offers ideas for activities that teachers can use to help students understand the material.
Everyone has a name. But the way we talk about and understand naming conventions varies among cultures and languages. The N-400 asks for a lot of names: given, first, middle and maiden names, as well as nicknames and aliases. It is important for applicants to understand how they should write their names on the application.
Address systems vary from country to country. Immigrants learning to speak English must learn how to talk about addresses and the numerous vocabulary words used to describe them. Students also must know the proper order for an address’s different numbers and words.
For immigrants learning English, knowing how to refer to family members can be challenging. In foreign languages, words can differ depending on birth position or to which side of the family a relative belongs. Some labels aren’t even translatable into English at all. This section teaches the labels we give to family relationships, including biological and adopted children, and stepchildren.
Employment and Schooling:
Understanding employment and scholastic terms and definitions is important for students. Doing so will allow them to describe their daily lives and provide background information about themselves.
Duration of Time:
Many citizenship questions include dates and duration of time. Time in English is expressed through the various tenses, moods, specific vocabulary, expressions, and nuances. This can be challenging for students learning the English language.
Have been/Have you ever/Were you ever:
These concepts relate to questions about a person’s character or associations. The present and past perfect tenses found on the application are part concept and part grammatical construction. These tenses are used in many questions and statements throughout the N-400.
Memberships and Associations:
These concepts deal with the questions that screen applicants for association, membership or involvement in various activities or groups that may disqualify them for citizenship.
Promises and Oaths:
These concepts deal with the sections of the form in which the applicant certifies that the information he or she has given is correct. It also addresses the concepts an applicant must understand in the citizenship oath.