Arabic is the fourth most spoken language in world, with more than 200 million people speaking it as a first language. Students at Charlestown High School are preparing to become the next generation of translators and diplomats by learning the language in a popular new Arabic program during the summer and school year led by teachers Steven Berbeco and Lama Jarudi. Charlestown High is believed to be one of fewer than 20 public schools nationwide to offer Arabic language instruction. The school's website provides details and multimedia, and the program was featured on National Public Radio. Pictured here are student calligraphy projects on display at the summer academy graduation ceremony.
Arabic, along with Chinese, Hindi, Russian, and Farsi, was recently identified by the United States government as a "critical language," one which is vital to national security and economic interest and of which there are not enough speakers. The U.S. government has committed millions of dollars through its National Security Language Initiative (NSLI) to dramatically increasing the number of Americans learning these languages. Students who completed the five-week summer academy, which was funded through a STARTALK grant, received high school credit and a $500 college scholarship.