Moral Low Ground


Arabic Language Class Mandatory for 2nd Graders at New York PS 368

May 25, 2012 by Brett Wilkins in Education with 0 Comments

Starting this fall, students at one New York city public school will be required to study Arabic.

The New York Post reports that all 200 second-through fifth-graders at PS 368 in Hamilton Heights, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, will be taught Arabic twice a week for 45 minutes.

Principal Nicky Kram Rosen chose Arabic partly because it will help PS 368 obtain International Baccalaureate status, a prestigious honor.

Angela Jackson, CEO of the Global Language Program, told the Post that the parent association was “very supportive” of the move.

“Arabic has been identified as a critical-need language,” she said, citing students’ future “career trajectories.’’

“It means they can spin the globe and decide where they want to work and live.”

“This makes the world smaller for the kids,” said parent Bella Moon Castro. “It develops their confidence.”

Students have also responded positively to the new language.

“I like Arabic class. I like the words we learn. I thought they sounded funny at first, now I think they sound cool,” Nayanti Brown, a 7-year-old second-grader, told the Post. “I teach my little sister the words I learn.’’

Nayanti says her mother was a bit skeptical at first.

“When I gave my mom the [permission slip] to sign, she was shocked. [Now] she’s happy I’m in the class,” she said.

Although studying Arabic will be mandatory come September, PS 368 is a “choice” school and students who don’t want to study the language have the option of picking a different school.

But few are expected to do so.

“Soon, Arabic will be a global language like French and Spanish. These kids are like sponges. It’s amazing to see their progress,” Mohamed Mamdouh, who teaches the language at PS 368, told the post.

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