Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Teaching Arabic in Texas

My Arabic is horrible. I studied literary Arabic from seventh to tenth grade, as do most Israelis, and I was always bad at it. I felt that I didn't need to know the language. Boy, was I wrong. I took a spoken Arabic class in college and improved my language skills a bit, but lost most of what I learned because I didn't practice enough.

Arabic usually isn't taught in American schools. A school district in Texas has made the wise decision to change that and teach Texans Arabic. Parents are angry, saying that Arabic is equal to teaching Islam. That's just stupid and ignorant. First of all, teaching about Islam along with the Arabic language would not be a bad idea at all, and would not amount to proselytization, ifdone right. Secondly, this specific program focuses only on language and culture, not religion. This is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, and the more Americans know Arabic, the more the United States can engage the Arab world in the civil and public sphere.

Other than English, the three most important languages in the world are Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. People need to start learning them at as early an age as possible.

1 comment:

  1. I’ve been meaning to learn Arabic for quite some time now but haven’t gotten round to it yet. Speaking four languages already should facilitate that and I’ve been told it isn’t very hard to learn to begin with. And for Texans (not necessarily you), broadly speaking, learning something about Islam would not be a bad thing: it is the largest religion in the world (and growing, they claim) and one which Westerners have undoubtedly the most misconceptions about.

    I’ve been reading ‘A History of God’ (the best seller by Karen Armstrong) and it taught me a whole lot about the relationship between the three monotheisms and their largely common history, which really are kind of Godology v1.0, v1.1 and v1.2 in so many respects. But among some dumber parts of the religious blogosphere it’s still believed the trio worships three different G-ds!