What do you call a person who speaks more than two languages?
What do you call a person who speaks two languages?
And what do you call a person who only speaks one language?
So goes the oft-told joke, particularly loved by my European friends (all of whom speak at least three languages). Americans are often looked down upon for their inability to communicate in anything other than their mother tongue. Though English is the most popular choice as a second language all over the world, Americans would be well served to pick up second-language fluency themselves. According to an MLA (Modern Language Association) study, 82% of people over the age of five speak English at home in the United States. Of the 18% who don't, 60% speak Spanish. In order to survive in the modern world, Americans must learn not to become too comfortable in the warm blanket of English but, rather, must strive to take part in the world around them, which includes developing fluency in a foreign language. Our nation's security may well depend on it.
[...] So far I have discussed ways in which to train and increase the number of Arabic language instructors in the United States, and methods they can use by which to more effectively help US intelligence and diplomatic efforts (z.b. making sure Americans trained to speak Arabic can actually be understood by native Arabic speakers). The fact remains that Arabic is a very difficult language to learn. Becoming fluent can take a decade; no matter what we do or how much money we throw at the problem, no one will wake up after two weeks of Arabic classes and be able to fluently negate past-tense verbs. [...]
[...] As Bremer points out, the real distinction is between a 3 and a and we are seriously lacking in Arabic speakers who might be able to understand daily conversation. In short, the United States must realize that is has a serious problem when it comes to foreign language ability amongst its citizens. If the United States is to keep up and remain secure in an increasingly global society, it simply must understand it can no longer rely merely on English to get by. [...]
[...] Particularly in the case of Arabic, it might be decades before these same students are able to carry out a functional conversation with a native speaker in a foreign environment. The MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) which is taught in American colleges and universities is simply inadequate across much of the Middle East, as colloquial spoken forms of the language dominate daily life. The United States is in desperate need of accomplished speakers of languages such as Arabic, Urdu, Pashto, and Korean. [...]
[...] I believe it is essential for Congress to include funding for Arabic instruction and training in the next budget bill; the first portion of this federal funding package would be used to assist any and all native or near-native (US Department of State level four or five) Arabic speakers to receive foreign- language education degrees. As compensation for their contribution to the welfare of the American state through their future teaching careers, these fully licensed Arabic language instructors would be guaranteed jobs, and would be requested to continue teaching and training new teachers of Arabic for a minimum of five years (similar to many teacher education scholarships offered by universities currently). [...]
[...] This previous summer Nabil Abdellfatteh, a talented instructor from Egypt and the former director of the Arabic program at Middlebury College's famed Summer Language School, had to be specially brought in to teach a group of students who had registered for the University of Maryland's Intensive Summer Language Institute. Even though he worked for our department this summer, we had to share his talents as he taught Arabic tele-courses to his home university in Montana. Why is there such a shortage of faculty members? [...]
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