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Arabic Language

Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to increase the number of Arabic speakers in his Department. (287013)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) places a great deal of importance on improving the language skills for its staff. It currently has over 40 active Arabic speaker slots (jobs with an operational language requirement). The number of these jobs, and level of language proficiency necessary, are regularly reviewed in the light of requirements.

The FCO offers a mix of full-time and part-time language training, in-country training, and on-the-job training to officers selected for these jobs. In addition, it assesses the level of Arabic language proficiency of the jobholders, through exams accredited to the Chartered Institute of Linguists.