View Full Version : Can You Read This?

12-11-2005, 02:01 PM
Ross Chanin on the Huffington Post - هل يمكن أن تقرأ هذا ؟ (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ross-chanin/-_b_11866.html)

... The breakdown of Americans studying foreign language and Arabic specifically is representative of a much broader issue in American education – the need to align foreign language instruction with the nation’s present and future economic and national security priorities.

In our educational system, the study of foreign languages has never really been a priority and language study, if actually encouraged and required, has been focused on expanding a student’s cultural horizons – the ability to read Albert Camus in French and Immanuel Kant in German.

While I am not out to underestimate the clear cultural value of studying French (the world’s number #11 most widely spoken language) and German (#10), when American high school students still do not have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement (AP) exams in Mandarin (#1) and Arabic (#4) we have a problem...

10-07-2006, 02:29 PM
From the Vital Perspective blog - Public Schools, Michigan St. Univ. Awarded Grant to Develop Arabic Curriculum (http://vitalperspective.typepad.com/vital_perspective_clarity/2006/10/pentagon_awards.html).

Michigan State University (http://www.msu.edu/) and Dearborn public schools (http://www.dearbornschools.org/home.htm) have received a grant from the Department of Defense to develop the first comprehensive Arabic instruction curriculum (http://lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061005/NEWS06/610050342&SearchID=73259033542365) for U.S. schools. The grant, which will be approximately $1 million for the first year, has obvious ties to U.S. national security efforts...

10-08-2006, 03:18 PM
From the Vital Perspective blog - Public Schools, Michigan St. Univ. Awarded Grant to Develop Arabic Curriculum (http://vitalperspective.typepad.com/vital_perspective_clarity/2006/10/pentagon_awards.html).

This will have to be driven (i.e. funded) by DoD and/or the Federal Department of Education on a "most bang for the buck" basis.

First, there is no pool of qualified instructors in Arabic, Mandarin, Urdu etc. to provide for anything resembling a state-wide, much less national, critical foreign languages program k-12 ( and it should begin EARLY, not in HS). This, BTW, sets aside the issue of mandated certification and license requirements for these people to enter a classroom, though I suppose, they can begin on emergency waiver provisions. So the best option will be to cherry-pick school districts that, like Dearborn, are adjacent to universities woth robust language studies programs.

Secondly, few of these people who are qualified will elect to teach at 1/3 or 1/2 of the salaries what they could make with their language skills working for the Feds or with private industry. Knowing Arabic does not mean they cannot make economic calculations. They cannot be local school district employees if we want to have anyone to hire.

Third, the States, most of which refuse to adequately fund or hold accountable basic education, will not provide money for this, so these programs cannot be "seeded" with Federal start-up money and continued with state appropriations. Most school districts that carry out existing Federally mandated education programs, unless their entire student population is indigent, do so without state support, relying on local funds or only spending what portion the Feds have granted.

A vital need but if we want ppl to actually be trained, fluent, linguists in these languages we need to start with the acceptance that the only way to do this is with high quality scattered pilot programs run by an autonomous agency.

10-08-2006, 03:58 PM
I agree 100%. The Vietnamese language component we took (4 hours a day, six days a week for six weeks) at the MATA course at the JFK Special Warefare School at Ft. Bragg (1966) in preparation for advisor duty used Vietnamese nationals who had an excellent graps of the language, pronunciation, slang, amd a heavy dose of the cultural component. We left there with better than a 500-word vocabulary and a partial ear for the tonal quality of the language. This effort at Michigan State (well-funded by the DoD since before Vietnam) is wishing well to pour money down.