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Author: Filip Davydov, Bulletin Slovo II/2021
On average, more than 5,000 people acquire Czech citizenship every year. That may seem a lot at the first sight, but this number represents only about 1% of hundreds of thousands of foreigners living in our country. According to some of the comparative studies, the process of ‘naturalisation’ of foreigners in the CR is one of the most demanding in the EU. Foreigners often have to live in the country continuously for more than 10 years, they have to prove that their income is sufficient, and since 2014, with some exceptions, they also have to pass an exam from Czech language and a Czech life and institutions test. Most exam candidates are citizens of Ukraine, Russia, and Slovakia.
Oganisation of the exam is in the remit of the Institute for Language and Preparatory Studies, Charles University (ILPS CU). The language part is usually held once a month. Applicants for citizenship are expected to master vocabulary used in common conversation or at work, to be able to talk without preparation on topics that interest them, to retell a story, to express their opinion on a film, book, etc. They have to be able to write a text at the B1 level with a logical structure, coherent syntax, and comprehensive content, especially on topics within their field of interest. It is possible to prepare for the exam independently or to take paid offline and online courses offered by the ILPS CU. The exam fee paid by the exam candidates is CZK 3,700.
Test tasks on Czech culture are prepared by the National Pedagogical Institute of the CR. Unlike the language exam which tests foreigners’ communication skills, the aim of the Czech life and institutions test is to find out how much the citizenship applicants know about public affairs in the Czech Republic and whether they are acquainted with significant local traditions and customs – in other words, it tests whether they have integrated into the majority society.
Another difference from the language exam is that all questions that may appear in the Czech life and institutions test are known in advance. It is therefore possible to prepare for the test using a database of 300 test questions covering 30 topics divided into three areas: basic information about Czech life and institutions, geographical information, and history and culture of the Czech Republic. A big advantage is that the questions take the form of multiple choice with four answers to choose from. There is always only one correct answer. With proper preparation and good memory, it is thus possible to memorise the questions. Hopefully, the candidates will remember the information even after leaving the exam room. This part of the exam costs CZK 1,800, which means that for both parts together foreigners pay CZK 5,500.
It is interesting to see that the difficulty of individual tasks varies: There are simple questions such as ‘What day marks the beginning of the Czech calendar year?’ as well as more difficult ones such as ‘What is the approximate area of the Czech Republic?’ that would leave many a Czech perplexed without prior studying. Also let’s not forget that what seems obvious for us locals (or even to Europeans in general) may be all Greek to incomers. A distinctive view of the world and everyday things is what enriches each society, making it diverse and unique. However, integration is a two-way process and therefore any foreigner who wants to become part of the Czech society should know what values it is built on and what historical events are behind people’s attitudes and beliefs.
An attempt has been made to pose some of the questions to Czech politicians, including for example to the current minister of the interior, Jan Hamáček. Neither him nor other politicians gave a correct answer to all the questions.
You can now put yourself into the shoes of a Czech citizenship applicant and take a mini test of 10 questions on Czech life and institutions. The actual test consists of 30 tasks.
1. The Czech Statehood Day is also the feast day of St. Wenceslas. Prince Wenceslas of the Přemyslid House is the patron saint of Bohemia and Moravia. When is the Czech Statehood Day celebrated?
- a) in September
- b) in October
- c) in April
- d) in May
2. The notice period starts from the date of delivery of the notice. How long is the notice period for an agreement to perform work (‘DPČ’)?
- a) 15 days
- b) 30 days
- c) 60 days
- d) 90 days
3. Mr Novotný is a citizen of the Czech Republic. He is unemployed and registered with the labour office as a job seeker. Who pays for his compulsory health insurance?
- a) the state
- b) the tax office
- c) Mr. Novotný himself
- d) Mr. Novotný’s last employer
4. What is the minimum age for a Czech citizen to become a mayor?
- a) 18
- b) 21
- c) 30
- d) 40
5. The All Soul’s Day is commonly known as ‘Dušičky’ in the Czech Republic. The Czech tradition is to decorate graves with flowers, light candles and remember the deceased on this day. In which period of the year is this holiday celebrated?
- a) in spring
- b) in summer
- c) in autumn
- d) in winter
6. In which region can you find the Temelín nuclear power plant?
- a) in the Ústí nad Labem Region
- b) in the South Bohemian Region
- c) in the South Moravian Region
- d) in the Moravian-Silesian Region
7. Ms Svobodová’s new computer has broken. She went to the shop to make a complaint. What is the deadline for the seller to process her complaint?
- a) 7 days
- b) 14 days
- c) 30 days
- d) 60 days
8. How many elected representatives are there in the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic?
- a) 27
- b) 81
- c) 200
- d) 281
9. Mr Novotný lives alone and has an insufficient income. At which office will he apply for living supplement and additional housing allowance?
- a) at the Labour Office
- b) at the Social Security Administration
- c) at the social department of the municipal authority
- d) at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
10. Which of these places is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
- a) Karlštejn Castle
- b) historical centre of Prague
- c) Gardens and Castle at Kroměříž
- d) historical centre of Kutná Hora
The National Pedagogical Institute of the Czech Republic is the exclusive owner of the copyright to the test tasks. Correct answers are: 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, 5c, 6b, 7c, 8b, 9a, 10a.