New York School Requires Students To Learn Arabic
May 28, 2012 by Bryan Nash
In September, a public elementary school in Harlem will require students to learn Arabic.
Students in the area have a choice as to which school they will attend, but students in the 2nd grade through the 5th grade who decide to go to PS 368 will be required to study Arabic twice a week for 45 minutes.
The Global Language Project is providing teachers for the initiative, and the Qatar Foundation is providing the funding.
One of the ways students learn the language is by playing traditional games such as Duck, Duck, Goose or Simon Says. But the games are played using Arabic words.
“I like Arabic class. I like the words we learn. I thought they sounded funny at first, now I think they sound cool,” said second-grader Nayanti Brown. “I teach my little sister the words I learn.’’
Many New York City students already speak two languages: Spanish at home and English at school. They are excited about learning a third.
“I like it. You learn new words,” said one student.
“Two girls in our class are sisters and they actually speak Arabic. While they help us learn Arabic, we help them learn English,” added another.
“Soon, Arabic will be a global language like French and Spanish. These kids are like sponges. It’s amazing to see their progress,’’ observed teacher Mohamed Mamdouh.
In addition to learning the language, the teachers are hoping the students will learn to understand and appreciate the Mideast.