September 15, 2011

Article: Arabic Instruction on Rise in U.S. Schools Since 9/11


Arabic Instruction on Rise in U.S. Schools Since 9/11
By Erik Robelen
September 9, 2011

In exploring changes in the classroom since the 9/11 attacks occurred a decade ago, one notable development is growth in the teaching of Arabic as a foreign language. To be clear, it's still rare in comparison with most other languages, but the study of Arabic has been gaining ground in U.S. schools, in part with federal assistance.

President Bush singled out the teaching of Arabic for emphasis when he announced the National Security Language Initiative in 2006, a multiagency undertaking to promote the teaching of "critical need" languages. In his speech, he invoked the war on terror and the nation's needs in defense, intelligence-gathering, and diplomacy.

Experts say one challenge in expanding Arabic instruction in U.S. schools is finding certified teachers. But that is beginning to change. In fact, at least two universities—Boston University and Michigan State University—this fall for the first time are offering new teacher-certification programs in Arabic at the secondary level.

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