Joe Williams home
I read this blog on a regular basis. I find that the information, dicussion and topics are interesting and educated. If you are all interested in the US "War on Terror" or Middle-East/World relations I recommend it. A recent post describes a study about the language skills of the state department. As you might guess we are severly lacking in these skills. Here's a run down of the "hardest languages" according to the study:
Korea: 17% do not meet requirements Arabic: 38% Chinese: 40% Japanese: 40%
I find these numbers fairly staggering. The jobs these people have, most of which are in the country where these languages are spoke and they cannot meet the requirements? To me, that means that they can't do their job. I know if I couldn't do my job, I would be removed. Beyond that, we should be able to understand the countries we are in and being able to speak the language is a huge part or gaining the cooperation of the citizens. For instance, while I was in Belguim I picked up a little Dutch. Even the small amount I learned was benefical during my stay. Going to the grocery store was much easier when you could ask the price of something. Even if I screwed up trying the check-out lady appreciated my effort and would then speak in English to be nice. Just like us in the US they would much rather speak in their natvie language. Can you blame them? In the end this is key to our relations with other countries. Also, this is key to our security. Simply (albeit bluntly) put if you can't understand the person sitting next to you on a bus how you do know they aren't talking to the next person about when they are suppose to hit the trigger on the bomb? We have to be able to understand the countries/NGO's (non-goverment organizations) we are at war with, language is the key. If you want your kids to have job, teach them Arabic and push them toward a Poli Sci degree. This war won't be over any time soon.
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