Parents Complain of Children’s Forced Arabic Learning

arabworldIn a Texas, a school district has revised it’s curriculum after parents are up in arms about the fact that Arabic Studies would be taught to their children.

The program is apart of a 5 year, $1.3 million federal Foreign Language Assistance Program which names Arabic as a “language of the future.” It also recognizes Chinese and Russian as being important languages for more Americans to fluently speak, according to the ‘’ in a recent online article.

How dare the US government recognize the importance of communicating fluently in these languages in the years to come. If anyone wants to communicate with us, they can learn English! (I don’t really believe that so don’t quote me.)

As I read through the article, just as I had both feared and expected, the dreaded ‘Islam’ was mentioned. A word that has practically become a dirty word in the American culture. Why? Because our news and media tell us so.

The parents are furious that their children will be taught about Islam. Since, they say, it’s apart of their culture and language it is bound to come up in lessons.

How is learning about another culture and language so threatening to some of these parent and why can’t they see this as a positive opportunity for their kids? As of now,  Arabic studies courses are not mandatory in the district, but  they are optional for the students.

So I am asking you, Mansfield school district in Texas, to put down your fears and go ahead and let your children learn about Arabic culture and language. It doesn’t mean your kids will convert religions or become terrorist.



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8 Responses to Parents Complain of Children’s Forced Arabic Learning

  1. John says:

    I am a fanatic about language learning, any language. I believe that children should absolutely be required to learn a least one foreign language throughout their K-12 schooling and then continue in college. We are not alone in the world. But it should be a language of their choosing! With so many languages in the world and so many cultures that our students come from I would be curious to know who had the authority to choose that we should force our kids to choose Arabic? I myself am studying Arabic, Chinese and French because I feel they are important languages and I love languages. My child is learning Chinese and I am encouraging her to learn Arabic as well (we are American-Amercian). But should a child of Chinese decent be forced to learn Arabic before they learn their own language? It is akin to forcing a political or religious belief on our kids (I am not equating to learning Arabic to any religious belief so don’t go there). Our public schools now teach French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian , Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Japanese and more. Who is the government to force any of these languages on our kids. Who gave them the right to use tax dollars to do so. Grants should be equally spread over all foreign language programs. If they want to learn Arabic by their own choice please be my guest.

  2. Admin says:

    Hey John, thanks for the comment. You have some good points. Although I do think it’s important for people to choose their languages, I don’t think children ever really want to learn a language… or math.. or science.. or social studies. I believe this particular situation was about elementary and middle schoolers. When I was that age, I don’t I have any opinion about the language or culture, but I think it would have still have been beneficial to learn( I don’t think I knew what Arabic was, so it’d be hard to have an opinion about wanting to learn it.) At the end of the day it’s going to be the scared parents telling their kids what to do. How many children actually have an choice? I think grade school is about finding out what kids are actually interested in.

    The government grant is for Arabic language and culture because our country lacks this language(and cultural knowledge) and our international relations with Arabic speaking countries is very poor. I am not exactly sure where the grant money has come from, so I don’t think I can give an opinion of ‘where my tax dollars’ are going. Our schools mandate so many other subjects in school that I think have been useless to my life(and forgotten), so I think learning about a culture and language would be more beneficial to students. The students don’t have to devote their lives to it, it’s a subject in school.

  3. Daniel says:

    I’m possibly wrong, but the picture you have there looks a lot like persian miniature paintings, while arabs are more likely to look like this.

    That’s like showing a picture of a samurai on an article about Chinese.

  4. Admin says:

    Hi Daniel, I got the image listed under “arabic”, so it’s a possibility you are right, but that’s what it was categorized as. I’m not familiar with the image so I decided to switch it anyway. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Mohamed says:

    Hi Janelle,

    Very nice post indeed. It is really a shame to pass our -most of the time – unjustified fears about a particular culture or religion to our children. The media depict all Muslims as terrorists whom we should stay away from. Terrorism has no religion and terrorists come from all cultures and religions. Our world need more collaboration and mutual understanding instead seeing fears and misconceptions in our kids’ minds and souls.

    Also, I think the school district or US government are trying to force Arabic, besides Chinese and Russian, not because they are the languages of future, but because people from those countries represent a threat to the future of US in the decades to come. This is not my thinking, but this is what the US government thinks and therefore they want more Americans to be able to understand and speak Arabic. We have an Arabic saying that says it all:

    “Who knows the language of a people is safe from their evil”.

    At the end of the day, we should all encourage our children to learn new languages and if they really have a choice, let them ‘pick’ the language they ‘like’.

  6. János Samu says:

    The term “forcing a child to learn a language” is quite improper in public education, because the schools have to come up with a curriculum. Mandatory foreign language education should be part of it from 4th through 12th grade. I don’t think that an unlimited choice of languages should be given to 4th graders, but a choice of 2 or maximum 3 (provided the school or school district has the resources) is a good idea with the “no switching” provision. The decision will probably be made by the parents anyway, and it is important to stress to them that in order to achieve free conversational level with weekly 3 or 4 hours of language education in schools, will require that many years of studying. The language immersion schools are a different story.
    Considering the indoctrination (mea culpa for the term! – perception management is the politically correct term) of the masses by the mainstream media in the United States, it is time to counterbalance it with the education of the language of the presently demonized nations (Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Persian). By learning a language the student will also learn about the culture of the ethnic groups using the language. The more the child learns about the beauty of a culture, the less likely he/she will be hateful towards those people and the more likely he/she will understand their motives. Yes, there will be parents who will oppose it, but the public schools don’t have the resources to educate the parents too, and this opposition may come from the lack of understanding of the issue by the parents and from the degree of being indoctrinated by the fear mongering media. When the parents gradually see that their child is learning about a beautiful culture they may start to develop doubts about what CNN says on a daily basis. So, the intent is good and definitely progressive for the entire world.

  7. Admin says:

    thanks for the comment. I put the ‘forced’ in there, because that is what a few articles I read called it. Why is it so bad if Arabic is ‘manditory’ when all the other subjects are? I really agree that having them learn about the culture will help let go of some of this discrimination. I don’t like ‘hate!’

  8. Admin says:

    Salam Mohammed! Although you may be partly right about the government wanting to learn languages that have become a threat, it’s also true that relations could be better between some of these nations if we weren’t taught they were a ‘threat’ Learning these languages will help understand the cultures and the people and hopeful create more understanding and less ignorance. I hope to learn Arabic someday!

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