Expert comment: Rise in Arabic Studies Class Enrollments

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According to a just released report by the Modern Language Association, enrollments in foreign-language classes at American colleges and universities have risen significantly, with Arabic showing the most dramatic increase.

Dr. Roger Allen, professor of Arabic and comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania

• Has taught Arabic at Penn since 1968 and holds the oldest professorial post in Arabic in the United States.

• Has served as editor of several Arabic journals and been involved in major translation projects including translating works by Naguib Mahfouz.

• Publications include the textbook “Let’s Learn Arabic.”

“The larger issue to be addressed is that learning language is only part of the issue. The other part concerns cultural competence: knowing about the history of the Middle East region, its religions and religious communities and its important cultural monuments and texts, all with the purpose of establishing new kinds of relationships based on mutual respect for each other's histories and traditions.”