Welcome to the Arabic Language Discussion Forum

Being a retired professor of Arabic and Linguistics, I have elected to publish an archive on how the Arabic language is used in America and across cultures.

I hope to establish a dialogue with people interested in the language, the teaching of the language, the learning of the language, and the interaction of Arabic and English while learning the language.

I am also interested in having a discussion as to the use of Arabic within the contexts of globalization.

Arabic is very much a language that binds a culture and defines a people. This blog is dedicated to understanding how American use, learn, and teach the Arabic language, and how Arabic, in Arab countries has been impacted crossculturally.

Aug 26, 2009

Should Arabic be Taught in Schools ?

"By undermining the importance of learning other languages, we are losing an opportunity to educate our students to be better citizen of the world......."learning a language exercises the mind and enriches the spirit." Mario F. Guillen, Chronicle of Higher Education on July 27, 2009.

Arabic is spoken by over 300 million in the world today. The importance of the Arabic language propelled me to begin a discussion about the Arabic language in general and the Arabic language in the US.

Arabic is taught in many American universities and a number of government sponsored language schools. Actually, Arabic was taught in the US before the signing of the Declaration of Independence ( see Ernest McCarus in The Arabic Language in America edited by Aleya Rouchdy).

The question now is: should Arabic be taught in elementary, middle and high schools in the US?
For the sake of discussion,I would like to add that Chinese is taught in some middle and high schools.

Copyright © 2009 Aleya Rouchdy, All Rights Reserved


  1. I think that the best opportunity for some one to learn a language is in early childhood. So obviously it would be advantageous to teach Arabic in elementary education.

    On the other hand only limited areas in the United States would be interested in having Arabic available in the school based on the regional demographics.

    In much the same way that Chinese is taught in communities with a high Asian demographic, so should Arabic be taught in communities that have significant Arab-American populations.

    Now another issue will arise in attempting to teach Arabic in the public education system; Funding. The community would need to be willing to approve funding for Arabic education. If the Arab community is large enough, such as in Dearborn Michigan, this is practical. In other areas, it may be more cost effective for the Arab-American community to fund private Arabic classes.

  2. I totally agree with the first part of this comment,
    However, the last paragraph about private classes is not what I meant. The idea is to have Arabic language taught as a foreign language class and part of the general curriculum. This would not require extra funding, however it would require some pressure from Arab American community members on the local board of education.

  3. Business ties with the Arabic speaking world is increasing. It makes perfect sense to offer Arabic classes in interested communities.

  4. I strongly agree that Arabic should be taught in schools. More importantly, students should be exposed to Arabic at the elementary level. In Lamphere, the district I teach in, Chinese is being taught in Preschool and Kindergarten. In conjuction with Oakland Schools, Oakland County, Michigan State's Confucius Institute and the U.S. China Center, Lamphere is offering the only Chinese Immersion Preschool in Oakland County. The intent is to provide children with the language and skills to compete globally. Students are the business leaders of the future and being able to communicate in the world's most widely spoken language will be imperitive to success. The younger the children the easier they learn.

    Likewise, I strongly believe Arabic will be the next language to be taught at the elementary level in our district. The largest ESL population we presently have is Chaldean and Arabic.

    Moreover, at Andover highschool in Blooomfield School District, Arabic is being offered as a foreign language this year.

    Finally, a step in the right direction. I love it!!! I support this 100%. Language is culture and if we take away our language then we have eliminated the Arabic culture.

  5. Great comment Rhonda. I think it would be a great achievement for our generation if Arabic was taught in all school districts with a significant population.

  6. Why not? Arabic is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. In Dearborn Public Schools where I work as an Arabic resource teacher, Arabic language is taught as an elective with the other world languages like Spanish and French. Furthermore, we have started designing an Arabic curriculum, one for secondary level through the Flagship grant in coordination with Michigan State University, and one for elementary through the DFLAP grant. The Arabic curriculum, designed for non-heritage speakers, is currently adopted in other schools districts throughout the United States. In my opinion, Arabic language should be offered as a school subject in all levels like any other foreign language.