Friday, January 06, 2006

Bush: Learning Arabic and Persian vital for US security

Washington Post - President Bush announced plans yesterday to boost foreign-language study in the United States, casting the initiative as a strategic move to better engage other nations in combating terrorism and promoting freedom and democracy.

The plans, which represent an expansion of some programs and the start of a few others, aim to involve children in foreign-language courses as early as kindergarten while increasing opportunities for college and graduate school instruction. They also would draw more linguists into government service and establish a national corps of language reservists available to the Pentagon, State Department, intelligence community and other agencies in times of heightened need.

Much of the instruction is intended to focus not on the traditional European and Latin American languages that Americans have tended to study most, but on what the U.S. government has identified as languages "critical" for national security. These include Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi and Farsi, among others.