Sunday, April 22, 2007

Multilanguage Federal and State Resources

I have been crawling through the internet for the past several days, looking for the 96 questions in other languages. The last six pages of the M-476, the USCIS Guide to Naturalization, which was published in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, & Hmong, had the 96 questions, but the M-476 has been removed from the USCIS website (hopefully because the USCIS is updating the M-476).

What to do? A great resource is the new USCIS Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants (M-618), published in many languages. Of particular interest are two sections: first, "Learning about the United States" which jumpstarts an immigrant's education about US History & Government; second, "Becoming a US Citizen" which would be of paticular interest to a Citizenship student.

I then went to, which hass been renamed as On the top left-had side of, the is a direct link to the Spanish version and another link Other Languages that will bring you to the The Federal Citizen Information Center Links to Multilanguage Publications (Warning: their Citizenship links are out-of-date).

Back at, I searched on the following terms: Amharic, Arabic, and Vietnamese. Each search pointed me to Social Security & Medicare Multilanguage Publications, a gold mine for EL/Civics! And the California State analog from the CA Dept of Social Services is even better! Most of the larger states have multilanguage material (of particular interest Minnesota's DHS which features several African languages), but the standout is Washington State's website, which is published in English, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and Cambodian.

Why collect multilanguage material? Students can gain the experience needed to fill-out the N-400 by practicing on govenment forms (authentice materials!) in English and their own native language.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Marstan's Citizenship Study Stack

About 30 pages into a Google search of "citizenship questions," I came upon a fun resource: Marstan's Citizenship Study Stack--java-script flash cards of the USCIS 96 History and Government Questions. Study Stack publishes each flash card stack's javascript, which can be easily added to a personal webpage. The flash cards can also be exported to an iPod, cell pone, or PDA. A crossword puzzle, wordsearch, and matching games are also included.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NEW! USCIS Introduces The Citizen's Almanac

USCIS has released The Citizen's Almanac, a publication specifically developed for new citizens. The Almanac is a collection of America's most cherished symbols of freedom and liberty, linking our newest citizens with America's rich civic history. Here is the Table of Contents.

Citizenship in America: Rights and Responsibilities of US Citizens
Rights of a Citizen
Responsibilities of a Citizen

Patriotic Anthems and Symbols of the United States
The Star-Spangled Banner (1814)
America the Beautiful (1893)
God Bless America (1938)
I Hear America Singing (1860)
Concord Hymn (1837)
The New Colossus (1883)
Flag of the United States of America
Pledge of Allegiance
Great Seal of the United States
Motto of the United States

Presidential and Historical Speeches
Farewell Address—George Washington (1796)
First Inaugural Address—Abraham Lincoln (1861)
Gettysburg Address—Abraham Lincoln (1863)
The Four Freedoms—Franklin D Roosevelt (1941)
Inaugural Address—John F Kennedy (1961)
I Have a Dream—Martin Luther King, Jr (1963)
Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate—Ronald Reagan 1987)

Fundamental Documents of American Democracy
The Mayflower Compact (1620)
The Declaration of Independence (1776)
The Federalist Papers (1787–1788)
The Constitution of the United States (1787)
The Bill of Rights (1791)
Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Landmark Decisions of the US Supreme Court
Marbury v Madison (1803)
Plessy v Ferguson (1896)
West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette (1943)
Brown v Board of Education (1954)

Presidential Statements on Citizenship and Immigration

Prominent Foreign-Born Americans

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Interview-01: Intro to the N400 and the Basic Citizenship Interview


Today we will listen to our first practice interview. The interview questions are based on the USCIS N-400 form, which you can download from

On the top of the page, you will see six choices: Services & Benefits, Immigration Forms, Laws & Regulations, About USCIS, Education & Resources, and Press Room. Choose Immigration Forms.

A new page of USCIS forms will appear, organized alpha-numerically. Immigration forms begin with I, and they will appear first. Naturalization forms begin with N, appear after the Immigration forms. Scroll almost to the bottom of the page for the N-400, Application of Naturalization. Click the link and you will be brought to a new page which gives a summary pdf the N-400. At the bottom of the page there are two documents (or pdfs) which you can download. The first pdf are the instructions to fillout the application and the second pdf is the N-400.

You can also find a copy of the U.S. History and Government Questions and Answers at the USCIS website. From the USCIS home page select Education & Resources, then Civics and Citizenship Study Materials. You can find copies of the questions in English, Spanish, and Chinese, as well as other study materials.

If you need a translation of the questions in other languages besides English, Spanish, and Chinese, do a search of the USCIS document M-476. A M-476 is a Guide to Naturalization. The questions appear in the last 6 pages of the M-476.

You can also find a pdf of the questions that I can ask during this interview at Look under the Documents category for Basic Citizenship Interview. You can listen to the interview with or without the N-400 or Basic Citizenship Interview. More importantly, you can give the N-400 or the Basic Citizenship Interview to your friends your or family and practice answering the questions. Remember, during the USCIS interview, the USCIS examiner has yout N-400 but you are the star witness fro your own case.

Thanks to Mae Chen and the students and staff of Milpitas Adult Education School.

The N-400 and U.S. History and Government Questions and Answers are available at the USCIS website

This podcast is copyrighted by Jennifer Gagliardi and Milpitas Adult Education School. This podcast can used for educational or personal use only and may not be resold or used for any commercial purposes. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

"I didn't pass!"

One of my students just called--she didn't pass her USCIS interview. She is so sad! She said that she had no problem answering the N-400 questions, but she didn't know the answers to two US History questions.

Student: "A preamble? What is a preamble, Teacher?"

Teacher: "The introduction to the Constitution."

Student: "Ah, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land."

Teacher: "That's right. What was the second question?"

Student: "I didn't understand the question."

Teacher: "Did you ask for another question?"

Student: "No, the examiner gave me a paper with 10 questions. He told me to read and answer each question."

Teacher: "Did you say, 'I studied very hard for the test, but I don't remember this answer. Please ask me another question.'"

Student: "No, I didn't."

Teacher: "What else did the examiner say?"

Student: "He said, 'Come back in two months.'"

Teacher: "Yes, they will send you a letter for another appointment in two months. Don't worry. You passed the most difficult part, the N-400. You know most of the 96Qs. You can learn the rest and pass the test."

Student: "Ok, but I am still sad."

Teacher: "I am sad for you. Will you come to class on Monday?"

Student: "Yes, I will be there."

Teacher: "Ok, we will talk more on Monday."

We then talked more and said good-bye.

I should have anticipated this problem. Although the USCIS 96Qs and 144Qs are posted in the hallway and every student school carries a copy of the 96Qs with them, I don't always usually ask students 10 questions when I do practice interviews. Why? Because I usually do two to four practice interviews every evening after class (10-15 minutes each). If I do ask the 96Qs, I usually orally ask the question and they reply. Rarely have students reported that they had to read and answer the questions during the USCIS interview.

Because this particular student is from the Mid-East, we prepared several questions about Al Qaeda and the Taliban. (I didn't want her to be caught off guard). We did several practice interviews, but I never asked her 10 questions. At the end of the last interview, I asked her some 96Qs. Initially she was able to answer them. Then she began to miss some. I didn't want her to panic, so we practiced, "I studied very hard for the test, but I don't remember this answer. Please ask me another question." I reasoned that if she can pass the N-400 section, she will be able to pass the 96Qs.

I feel bad. Students rarely fail the interview. The last one was totally prepared, but froze when the interviewer peppered her with small talk (ex: "What color is this chair?"). This is the first student who got all the way through the N-400 section, and tripped on the 96Qs. Maybe it was because she had only been in class for a short time, but the lesson I learned is that I must take two extra minutes to ask the 96Qs during every practice interview.

In Progress: "All men are created equal"

After reciting the alphabet and doing mental math, my Senior ESL students reviews a couple of USCIS 144 Qs posted on the whiteboard. Today's questions:

When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?

What did the Declaration of Independence do?

Name one important idea found in the Declaration of Independence.

Who was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence?

When is his birthday?

Then my director walks in the classroom. My normally very talkative class clams up. The director tries to prod the class into speech. No go. My director then begins to talk about Jefferson's very radical idea of equality. Silence. He the talks about Jefferson owning slaves. More silence. He then asks if we still have slavery in the US. The students say no. The director says, "Yes, we still have slavery." and starts talking about slave-like labor in overseas factories. One very advanced student, Nam Van Nguyen, ventures, "Neo-slavery..." and then the director starts talking about sex-slaves in the Bay Area. I'm thinking, "This will take me the rest of the semester to dig out of this, and we still need to read the Easter Story and dye eggs today."

After my director leaves, the class re-groups and we complete the questions. The were particularly happy to learn an easy way to remember Jefferson's birthday: April 13 = 04/13 = 04 for the 4th of July (stess again the Declaration of Independence); and 13 for the 13 original colonies. I assure them that this is not a new USCIS question.

Then it was time to capitalize my director's comments. I said:

1) Jefferson wrote "All men were created equal."

2) Jefferson was from Virgina. Slavery was legal in Virgina in 1776.

3) Jefferson was a widower (several "Ohs!" from the class). His wife died in 1782. They had six children, but four died in childhood (More "Ohs!" Translation activity begins to ramp-up).

At this point, I draw a very rude family tree on the board showing Jefferson, his first wife (Martha--unnamed) and children. As I talk about Point 4, I draw in the first wife's father, mother, slave-mistress, and half-sister (Sally Hemmings--unnamed)

4) Jefferson fell in love with his wife's half-sister. The father was white and had a white wife who was the mother of Jefferson's wife. The white father also had children with a black slave. A child of a black slave was still a slave. It did not matter who was the father or how white the child looked. The child was still a slave.

(Murmurs of sympathy).

5) Jefferson had five children with his first wife's half-sister. Because their mother was a slave, they were slaves. When George Washington died, he freed his slaves.

(I pause and ask, "Who was George Washington?" The students immediately reply, "The first US President." The ex-military students add, "The first commander-in-chief." Several other students say, "The father of our country." I continue...)

This is another reason why George Washington was a great man, because he freed his slaves. When Jefferson died, he did not free his slaves. The children from his second family left Virgina and moved to northern cities where no one knew them. They looked white and tried to live as free white people.

(Everyone in class is nodding furiously and are very sympathetic. There are thousands of stories like this in China. I continue: )

6) During the USCIS interview, you are asked: "Have you ever been a prostitute or procured anyone for prostitution?" Can a prostitute become an American citizen? (Most students say no. I continue...) The USCIS does not like prostitution because it is a crime. However, some girls are invited to the US and are promised good jobs or marriage. But when they get here, they are trapped into prostitution.

(There is a major explosion of primary language. Advanced students quickly translate and then regroup to talk in English about recent articles in a local newspaper, which were initally criticized as racist and sensationalist. Nam Van Nguyen repeats, "Neo-slavery." I continue...)

7) What can a woman do? If she complains, she will be beaten and sent back home with nothing. If she is married, her husband says, "You must take this punishment, or I will take the children, and you US gov't will deport you." Or maybe the men simply say, "If you complain, I will kill you." And they can't say anything because they can't speak English. But there is a solution. An abused woman or woman trapped into prostitution can stay in the US with a T Visa from the USCIS.

(Nodding and general relief. Back to Jefferson and the whiteboard).

8) Jefferson wrote "All men are created equal," when there was no equality for slaves and women. The Civil War brought freedom for slaves and the 15th amendment brought the right to vote for all men. The 19th amendment brought the right to vote for all women. The Civil Rights movement strengthened civil rights for African-Americans and inspired other groups such as women , Latinos, and Native-Americans to work for better laws for everyone. Freedom is a process, an ongoing struggle. That is why America is a great country, because we keep on working for freedom for everyone.

(Universal approval. Much more discussion/translation in native languages. We then rise to exercise stress away.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

New Name: uscitizenpod

One of the first questions they ask during the USCIS interview is: "What is your full name?"

The name of this blog is US Citizenship Podcast, alias USCITIZENPOD.

This blog was originally named "uscitizenshippodcast",
but that name was simply too long, and "uscitzpodcast" looks like a typo.