December 18 is World Arabic Day. Arabic is spoken by over 400 million people worldwide, and it’s the the fastest growing second language in the United States.
Many people today believe that Arabic and Arab culture are at odds with American culture and values – something that could not be further from the truth. What we do know is that the language barrier has contributed to these misconceptions. Through Arabic language education, American schools can foster understanding and tolerance.
Arabic education strengthens the U.S. politically, culturally and economically. Over he next five years alone, job growth in the Middle East is primed to exceed that of the West. Arabic matters for our nation and our children to stay competitive.
Students who study Arabic go on to use the language in careers in business, journalism, diplomacy and humanitarian aid, national security, medicine, law, public health, education, architecture, marketing and the creative industries. By studying Arabic, students gain linguistic and cultural skills that help them shape opinions, win hearts and minds, and go on to greater success in the future.
Help start an Arabic program in your community, seek a federal STARTALK funded summer language program, support local Arabic teachers with resources, talk with policymakers, apply for a NSLI-Y grant for Arabic study abroad, check out the Arabic advocacy project site iSpeakArabic.com, reach out to organizations supporting Arabic language instruction, such as QFI, and inquire about ways you can help build educational programs, learn or even teach Arabic to students in your community.
Happy World Arabic Day!
Mouna is an independent consultant and language education specialist. She is actively involved in the foreign language education community – including with Qatar Foundation International. firstname.lastname@example.org