top of page

mid-week Connect: 6/22/22 ~ Wrong language or…??

Greetings and Happy Midweek!

You might have seen a recent story about an airline which had added a language proficiency test to the proof of identity requirements for passengers. I thought we’d pause today with this somewhat ill-conceived practice, and the resulting cross-cultural dilemma. It fits nicely into both the 1st/HOME and 2nd/HOST dimensions of Global SKILLs 3D Dynamics.*

The proficiency test was administered to travelers entering the UK using a South African passport, to help avoid the use of fake passports. BUT one major problem was the test in question demonstrated a woeful lack of awareness or perhaps respect by the intended HOST country (the UK) for the passport holders’ HOME country. South Africa, like (I think) all the countries on the continent and (I’m sure!) most around the world, has a multitude of different languages represented and spoken by diverse ethinic groups. So it was highly likely that any given traveler might well have a legitimate passport, just not be a speaker of the chosen language, which happened to be Afrikaans. Singling out one language simply didn’t serve the purpose of the test. Maybe they should have asked the travelers to sing their South African national anthem - which is in 5 languages!! ** That would have been just a tad more determinative…

Now, for the record, I am all about properly designed and administered proficiency tests - and have used them in my work for decades! One take-away though from this situation, which is applicable across the spectrum of tools for measuring cultural (or national or political or whatever) authenticity, is that the tool must be appropriately designed and strategically implemented within both the HOME and HOST cultures involved. Otherwise… watch out for major issues!!

How about you ~ what is one cross-cultural ‘test’ faux–pas you have experienced - I am sure we all have dealt with at least one!

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for more on how this all played out!

Thanks for being part of this Connect community.

Until next week,




* Global SKILLs 3 Dimensional Dynamics Model:

1st dimension = HOME ;

2nd dimension = HOST (both of which we looked at today);

3rd dimension = HARBOR)

~ contact me for more information on this model and how you might use it in your current programming

2022 ~ Celebrating 40+ years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

“It takes a community to build a community”

Please Note: this is copyrighted content.

Please do not reproduce or share without my permission (

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page