Arabic Classes Overtakes English and French in Sweden

395410 05: A student reads a textbook at the Islamic religious school, Tajdal Quran madrassa, October 5, 2001 in Quetta, Pakistan. Like most Islamic school students in Pakistan they memorize the Qu-ran (Koran) but they don''t understand much of the contents of the Koran since it is in Arabic which …
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Arabic language classes for adults are becoming increasingly popular in Sweden with a major adult education federation saying more students are now studying Arabic than English or French.

The Swedish educational association Folkuniversitetet, which focuses on language courses for adults and projects with an “international emphasis”, has seen a surge in the number of adults interested in learning Arabic, Sveriges Radio reports.

Anas Idlibi, who teaches Arabic at campuses in Kristianstad and Hässleholm, said that the number of Arabic classes has dramatically increased since he started teaching at the association.

“I started two years ago with just one course and now we will get nine courses next semester,” Idlibi said.

According to Idlibi, one of the reasons for the spike in students has come from professionals like social workers and others who deal with newly arrived migrants.

“We have people who work with integration, social, and employment services. They may need Arabic to be more effective at their jobs,” he said.

Cristina Boldrini Tisci, who also works at the Folkuniversitetet in Kristianstad in the business department, said that she thought that the reason for the increase was the increase of migrants from Arabic speaking countries coming to Sweden in recent years.

“We may need to learn more about the Arab culture to be able to socialise. So it’s getting bigger and there is more interest,” she said.

During the height of the migrant crisis in Germany, left-wing Green Party politician Volker Beck argued that Germans should learn Arabic to help newly arrived migrants integrate. Beck was heavily criticised by other politicians for his remarks and was lambasted on social media.

Despite the backlash against Beck’s comments, Arabic has managed to find its way into German life.

On New Year’s Eve, anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician Beatrix von Storch was temporarily suspended from Twitter after she commented on the Cologne police putting out messages in Arabic on their Twitter account saying: “What the hell is happening in this country? Why is an official police site tweeting in Arabic? Do you think it is to appease the barbaric, gang-raping hordes of Muslim men?”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at) 


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