Post Author: Miriam, Arabic Summer Institute student
Graduating high school can be a terrifying time. Most likely, your parents, relatives, teachers and friends have repeatedly asked you what you plan on studying in college. Perhaps they’ve gone one step further, prodding you with questions about your career aspirations, goals, and dream job. Talk about stressful, huh?
If you, like me in high school, are unaware of what the future has in store for you-- don’t fret. The world is big and possibilities are endless. It is okay to be unsure of your future. In fact, it is exciting to explore all the options. And while it is perfectly okay to be unsure of the future, now is the time to begin exploring your options and setting yourself apart from others. You can do exactly that by studying Arabic, and here’s how:
Become a better student
The Ohio State University’s Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures maintains that studying a second language can help students improve their skills and grades in math and English and can also improve entrance exam scores, including those for college and grad schools. In fact, research shows that the longer you study a foreign language, the stronger your skills become to succeed in school. Maintaining a higher GPA, scoring well on entrance exams, and increasing study skills are all factors that may help you secure a job after you complete your university education.
Most of you may already be aware of this. After all, you’ve all studied at least three years of a foreign language in high school. Whether you chose Spanish, French, Latin or Mandarin, you are already ahead of the game, as these foreign languages have exposed you to different cultures, ways of thinking, problem solving skills and enriched your vocabulary. While studying any foreign language can be beneficial, I am here to make the case that studying Arabic specifically will open up new doors for your future, regardless of your aspirations. If you’re still with me, read on to discover the exciting careers that need bright, capable and innovative Arabic speakers like you. Remember, freshman year of college is upon you and now is the time to begin your language study!
Now that we’ve established that studying a foreign language can help you raise your grades, which will help you get a job, the question then becomes “why Arabic?” Brooke Holland, features editor of The Channels magazine of Santa Barbara City College writes that Arabic is the official language of more than 20 nations and the fifth most commonly spoken language in the world (Nations Online). With a large worldwide population that speaks Arabic come a plethora of opportunities. Students who speak Arabic can work in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt or even Lebanon, just to name a few countries. Speaking Arabic opens work opportunities around the globe.
Students may be ambivalent to travel or work in a foreign country. After all, many parts of the Middle East and North Africa are quite different than the United States of America. If that’s the case, that should not deter students from studying Arabic, as there is a plethora of career opportunities here in the U.S. According to Lianne Berne, Program Coordinator for the Arabic Flagship Program at the University of Maryland, Arabic is a critical language for the government, which means that many governmental sectors are in need of Arabic speaking professionals. For example, students can work as U.S. federal government employees, serving translators for the National Security Agency, analysts in the CIA or as diplomats in the State Department. However, if a government career does not appeal to you, there are numerous other jobs that require Arabic speakers. For example, you can become an academic, teach English in an Arabic speaking country, join a nonprofit as a refugee case worker, pursue a career in international development, or become a research assistant at a think tank in Washington, D.C. Are you interested in a career in business, consulting, engineering or technology? Arabic can help you with that too. Major companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Deloitte all have offices in the Middle East and North Africa and are searching for employees who can communicate with and travel to these regions.
As you can see, there are numerous opportunities, both at home and abroad, in a variety of different sectors that are searching for Arabic speakers. Whether you dream of being Carrie Mathison from Homeland or a refugee case worker, I encourage you to begin studying Arabic in your freshman year of college!
Arabic Flagship Program. "About Our Program — Special Programs in Arabic and Persian." University of Maryland. http://www.globalprofessionals.umd.edu/afp-about-our-program/. Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.
Berne, Lianne. Personal Interview. 18 October 2017.
Holland, Brooke. "Arabic studies lead to high salary, top career opportunities." The Channels. https://www.thechannels.org/features/2014/04/28/arabic-studies-lead-to-high-salary-top-career-opportunities/. Accessed 29 Nov. 2017.
"Most spoken Languages of the World." Nations Online Project. http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/most_spoken_languages.htm. Accessed 2 Dec. 2017.
"Why Study a Language? | Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Ohio State University. https://cllc.osu.edu/undergraduate/why. Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.