Is Arabic Becoming Scarce Among Its 300 Million Native Speakers? March 07, 2015 20:25
I recently came across an article titled "Special Report: Arabic 'At Risk Of Becoming Foreign Language in UAE'. I couldn't help but think that the same title could have been written with the word Egypt replacing UAE. I also happen to know that Jordan and Lebanon are experiencing similar problems. You should check out Suzanne Talhouk's TED video "Don't Kill Your Language" about the state of the Arabic language in Lebanon.
I mean look at me, having to write this blog post and promote Arabic language books for children...in English!
Could it be, that a language with close to 300 million users could be at risk of becoming a foreign language?
Sure each Arabic speaking country has its own dialect, and its own rules about Arabic education, but the truth is that language learning starts with early childhood no matter where you are, and that early childhood language learning requires parent education, materials, and support to succeed.
Unfortunately, the early childhood language education has dropped off Arabic's radar decades ago. It has been failing our children for generations and was then readily replaced with the hip and trendy language of the season: English, French, German, and now Spanish and Chinese. Each language coming to the party with plenty of songs, books, games, and edge that Arabic is not able to compete with at the early childhood stage.
In the mean time, other countries are seeing a big value in Arabic education, and are racing to teach their children Arabic as the language of the season. These children learn Arabic at the Foreign Language level...you know, like many Arabic kids these days, while we focus on our language of the season.
But what does that leave us at the end of the day? A generation of Arabic kids competing - in Chinese, no matter how fluent, with Chinese kids? Really, all 300-ish million of them under the age of 20? These Chinese children speak Chinese, you see. They might also speak English, but they speak fluent Chinese.
I hope you see how this math just doesn't add up to favor newer generations of Arabs.
So please, as you consider the best education and the best language school for your child to prepare them for the best possible career under the sun...don't forget the roots that will support your child when the competition gets tough and it is time to show an edge that is sharper than "Foreign Language" level.
Start teaching your children their Arabic language early. As early as you can. They will thank you for it.