LAUREL, Md. (WJZ)—The federal government says there are 337 languages spoken in the United States. The 12th most popular is Arabic with more than 600,000 speakers.
But as Mike Schuh reports, with many government agencies and private companies seeking those fluent in Arabic, a new pilot program has begun in Anne Arundel County to teach Arabic culture.
An after-school class at Brock Bridge Elementary in Laurel is getting a lot of attention because of its subject matter: Arabic language and culture.
“In this day and age I think it’s more appropriate that it’s Arabic that the kids are learning about,” said principal John Noon.
Targeted at elementary school children, it’s no accident this starts at schools near Fort Meade.
“Students at this school feed into middle school, where we’ve just begun an Arabic program, and will filter into our homeland security program at Meade Senior High School,” said Jenn Hernandez, Anne Arundel County Schools.
Some Arabic language is taught, but it’s more about the culture.
“Yes, our goal is exposure to a language, a culture, a people, a history,” said Hernandez.
So far kids and parents have responded. The four classes offered at two schools are full.
“The greatest part is that the world and the United States is becoming a more global community, and we are becoming more connected all over the world,” said Noel Miller, teacher.
“I think it’s outstanding. Our kids are getting the opportunity to really prepare themselves for beyond school,” said Noon.
The $35,000 cost is paid for with federal money. In the future, an Arabic language course is planned for Meade High School.