More on the State Department’s Arabic Training

Arabic alphabet in Kufic script, cropped from page 4 of Fry’s Pantographia (1799)
Source: Wikipedia

“State enrollments in Arabic language courses, for example, have nearly quadrupled since 2001, with roughly 450 enrollments in the various types of Arabic courses in Fiscal Year 2006. To date in Fiscal Year 2007, there have already been 306 enrollments of State employees in Arabic language training courses, including full-time FSI courses, the Tunis field training course, online distance learning courses, and early morning language courses.”

That’s from Ambassador Heather Hodges’ (currently US Ambassador to Ecuador) statement at the Hearing on Building a Stronger Diplomatic Presence to Meet the Challenges of a Post 9-11 World in August 1, 2007. At that time, she was the Acting Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources for the Department of State.

I wonder what was the Arabic enrollment figure in FY 2008?

In 2008, Ruth A. Whiteside, the Director of the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State wrote about American Diplomacy and the Foreign Language Challenge in the Fall issue of The Ambassadors Review:

“Arabic enrollments have more than tripled since 2001 while Chinese enrollments have more than doubled. We have expanded and enhanced language and area training to more advanced levels including focused targeted in-language media training and other job-specific modules designed to meet the needs of the 21st century foreign affairs professional.”

Nearly quadrupled in 2007, more than tripled in 2008? Whatever –

What I’d really like to know is if they were both counting the 3.5 hour-Arabic training as part of this “surge” in Arabic enrollment? I mean, this is important — because eventually, Congress and the American public would ask for some accounting as in — Where have all the Arabists gone?” So then State could say:

A. These folks are serving in such and such posts overseas

B. These folks were TIC-out
(subjected to “up or out” limitation)

C. These folks were mandatorily retired

OR …

D. These folks only had 3.5 hours of Arabic training.

Related Posts: