Arabic Classes for Elementary Students?

Last week, according to a report by Liberty Institute, “parents raised concerns about a new requirement that elementary and intermediate students attending two Mansfield Independent School District (MISD, southeast of Fort Worth) schools learn Arabic. While MISD put the plan on hold for now, the plan was to require Arabic language courses for students in two elementary and intermediate schools and offer the class as an elective to middle and high school students at two different campuses. The Arabic language course would include instruction on Arabic culture and traditions, history, and government.”

“The course is a result of a $1.3 million federal grant from the Department of Education, which is just another example of the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., deciding what works everywhere else. Parents are rightly concerned, because this government interference directly affects their children. Additionally, parents are curious about what’s going to be in the curriculum. Parents have the responsibility of deciding what is best for their children and being involved in their education.”

Because this is a federal program, it could happen here in Xenia.

While I don’t see anything wrong with children learning Arabic, I do see a problem school boards dictating what foreign language children must learn. Why only Arabic? Why not Hebrew or Farsi? Why not require German, Russian, Swahili, Spanish, and Chinese also. If Americans are to be genuine global citizens rather than good imperialists, Americans must learn at least one language of the major language groups.

Elementary age children are natural language learners. Now is the best time for them to learn new languages. Anyone who has attempted to learn a new language (mine was Hebrew and Greek) knows it is difficult for several reasons: (1) Time constraints of adulthood or other college course work, (2) rote learning of words, punctuation marks, and the like, and (3) applying this new knowledge through conversation and writing. Think about the process of babies learning to speak and children learning to form complete sentences. That the same process children and adults must go through to learn any language, which is the reason why early childhood is best time to begin.

By learning one language of each major language, children would be prepared to easily learn any other language. This would in turn prepare them for cross-cultural and cross-national relations within any in any given field of work or travel.

In Fort Worth Texas, the agenda is not preparing children for global citizenship, but rather sensitivity training for Muslim acceptance comparable to gay sensitivity training of federal employees.

Source: Liberty Watch, February 11, 2011.

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