Why Learn Arabic?

  • Arabic is a major world language, one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is spoken by over 200 million people in the Middle East and elsewhere.
  • Arabic continues to grow and expand in the US. People who identify themselves as Arab increased by 40% between 1990 and 2000, according to the US Census Bureau.
  • The need for Arabic continues to outpace the supply of people who can fill jobs in the US government, in NGOs, and in private industry. Over 25 US government agencies and offices, including but not limited to intelligence and security, identify Arabic as essential.
  • There are financial incentives for Arabic. Scholarships are available from the US government and private industry to help US students study Arabic in the US and overseas. Some jobs offer salary supplements to those who can demonstrate their knowledge of Arabic.
  • Arabic can be a bridge to learning other languages. Knowing the Arabic alphabet can jump start the study of Persian (Farsi), Urdu, and the languages of Afghanistan. Even languages such as Turkish, which no longer uses the Arabic alphabet, have a significant number of words derived from Arabic.
  • As the language in which the Qur’an was revealed, Arabic is key to studying Islam as well as Islamic cultures and civilizations in the Arab world and elsewhere.
  • Arabic contributions to the sciences and the arts began while Europe was still in the Dark Ages. Arabic libraries preserved Greek and Roman knowledge, and speakers of Arabic made major contributions to astronomy, mathematics, medicine, and philosophy, among others. Knowing Arabic makes it possible to investigate these developments in their original form.
  • Arabic is the language of a rich and varied modern culture. We all know about falafel and hummus from the grocery store, but there is much more to Arabic culture. Arabic can open the doors to the exploration of food, music, dance, and many other areas of expression.
  • Arabic is beautiful! The visual impact of Arabic calligraphy is based on only 29 letters. The sounds of Arabic are the building blocks of a language whose structure is very unlike that of English.
  • Learning Arabic does not have to take a long time. Beginning in the spring term 2012, Miami University will offer intensive Arabic courses. Students in these courses will complete ARB 101 and ARB 102, the first year courses, in one semester. They will then be able to go on to intensive summer study and complete their basic language requirement in under a year.