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Elsewhere – Language study crucial for nation

(U-WIRE) PHILADELPHIA-Struggling through “Intermediate Arabic” may do much more than fulfill graduation requirements. The Committee for Economic Development, an independent reorganization that studies ways of promoting economic development in America, released a report Feb. 9 with recommendations on how to enhance diplomacy, national security and economic growth.

The report calls for increased foreign-language and culture study at all levels of education and for more study-abroad opportunities at colleges and universities.

“Among the reasons that the U.S. has gotten into so much trouble in our activities abroad is lack of knowledge-our ignorance of the cultures, the histories, the languages,” said Committee Trustee John Brademas, president emeritus of New York University and a former Indiana congressman, who co-chaired the effort.

Finance professor Jamshed Ghandhi said that while foreign-language and culture education do not directly affect the economy, Americans must understand the thoughts and behaviors of others to succeed in global relations.

Ghandhi added that studying abroad, which the report encouraged, is central to this.

“You cannot hope to understand a culture . effectively unless you have lived in it on a day-to-day basis, not as a tourist who wanders in and out of international hotels,” he said.

Eastern Languages and Civilizations professor Joseph Lowry said that foreign language proficiency is not necessary for the U.S. economy because English is so widely studied in other nations. However, he noted its importance for those involved in international business dealings.

February 24, 2006

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