IRAN: Confusion over the status of English Language

This week Iran witnessed its two main leaders, President Rouhani and supreme leader Khamenei, make conflicting remarks about the importance and extent of foreign language education in the country.

During a May 2 speech to Iranian teachers, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his concerns about the promotion of English language and that the "international hegemonic system" can effect their culture and identity.

Khamenei said that in some places "instead of Persian, English is promoted and it has got to the point that English is being taught in kindergarten."

President Hassan Rouhani on May 4 showed his progressive desire by highlighting the importance of foreign languages.

"The other day at a meeting of the Supreme Cultural Council, comments about the supreme leader's statements were exchanged," Rouhani said. "The question was presented, ‘Why is it that in Europe students must learn two additional languages in addition to their own language but in this field we are one step behind?’" He added, "However much we can familiarize our youth with other languages of the world, we have opened a new window of science, knowledge and understanding of the world to them."

"Today, because of its proficiency in English, the Indian subcontinent, with a population of more than 2 billion, appears to be greatly successful in the field of information technology."

Rouhani emphasized, "We must learn a language that will create more jobs for the future generation and strengthen our economic relations."


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