Why should the US Encourage Arabic Language Study?
With a lack of cultural understanding and shared language, Americans hold negative attitudes towards Arab Americans.
"Prior to 9/11 I had absolutely no exposure to the Arab world or its culture. I was frankly afraid of the Middle East and its people and seeing Arabic script inspired a visceral discomfort."
Positive attitudes have only decreased in recent years.
Americans need more education about Arab culture.
By studying Arabic language and culture, learners can gain a deeper and more nuanced perspective of the Arabic-speaking world. In having a more balanced view, Americans can develop better attitutes about Arab Americans and Arabs in the U.S.
This is because language learning is not only a means of improved communication, but also a tool for promoting global understanding and respecting cultural differences.
Today, Arabic is spoken by nearly 300 million people and is an official language in over 20 different countries. Encouraging Arabic language study will be necessary to develop cultural understanding and to maintain a dialogue with Arab world.
Language is especially imporant to develop understanding considering that the United States and the Arab world lack a shared language.
According to the Modern Language Association, roughly 10% of American college students actually pursue the study of a foreign language. Of these students, only 2% study Arabic. Arabic language skills is lacking in the United States.
Similarly, compared to other regions, the Arab World (The Middle East and North Africa) demonstrate very low English language proficiency.
"The more students who take it upon themselves to learn Arabic – or any language that carries a culture that is misjudged and stereotyped within American culture – the better off they will be in their understanding of the world."
Professor of Arabic at Fluent City
Language is a crucial tool for developing cultural understanding. As positive attitudes of the Arab world decrease in the United States within a population that needs more understanding and more nuanced perspectives of Arab culture, the United States should encourage Arabic language study. Better communication people from the Arab world and better perceptions of Arabic people in the US is necessary to maintain sustainable and healthy international relations.
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