Arabic is on the Rise
There are over 422 million people around the world who speak Arabic, it is the official language in more than 27 countries, and in the last 10 years, even the use of Arabic online has grown by 2,500%.
According to a 2019 U.S. Department of Education study, Arabic is now the second most common language spoken by English Language Learners (ELL) in the U.S. (after Spanish) thus making heritage speakers a strong stakeholder for Arabic language education in the U.S. This is seemingly the trend in other geographies as well like in Sweden where Arabic is the next most spoken mother-tongue language to Swedish. Supporting the global base of Arabic speakers by establishing Arabic language education programs in their local state-funded primary and secondary schools offers a great opportunity for this stakeholder group to improve their own proficiency in Arabic and at the same time increases access to Arabic language learning for all students in these schools.
Arabic is missing from global language education discussions at the primary and secondary levels
In the language education field, Arabic is often underrepresented. It is viewed as a critical language in the US and in other countries, yet not commonly offered to language learners at the primary and secondary levels (although much more widely offered at the university levels). For students to be proficient in Arabic, evidence shows students have more success when beginning to learn it at the primary and secondary levels, rather than waiting to learn Arabic during the university years or as an adult.
State funded primary and secondary Arabic Education programs face significant needs
Despite the growth and interest in learning Arabic at the university level, there has been little change in the number of Arabic education programs in K-12 public and public charter schools in the U.S. At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, QFI estimated fewer than 100 public schools in the U.S. offered Arabic. By 2017, an American Councils report indicated 161 high schools in 31 states offered Arabic. The growth of these programs from 2012 forward was severely impacted by the U.S. Department of Education decision to cut the Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP), the only Federal government foreign language funding available for state-run primary and secondary schools interested in starting an Arabic program.