Ayatollah Khamenei

Learning foreign languages, yes! Adopting western culture, No!

The following are Ayatollah Khamenei's statements about learning foreign languages:


In the present time, teaching foreign languages -- particularly English -- has become very common. Teaching other languages is much less common. There are many language schools and educational centers for this purpose. All these educational books, which have been prepared on the basis of modern and good methods, promote the western lifestyle. They promote the lifestyle of the English people. When our children, teenagers, and young adults read these books, they do not learn only the language. It is possible that they even forget the things that they have learned, but what influences them the most is a western lifestyle they become accustomed to as a result of such books. This[ western influence] will not vanish. Westerners are doing such things.

Dec 10, 2013

All of a sudden, from a corner, someone has decided that we should teach English to our elementary students--or even pre-schoolers. Why? When they grow up, anyone who needs it will learn it. The American and British governments spend huge sums of money to spread their language throughout foreign nations, easily as this. We encounter big problems for spreading the Persian language in different parts of the world. Our cultural centers are closed down, our cultural personalities are killed, various obstacles block the way of our cultural centres. Why? Because Persian is taught in these places. But we do this [spreading English language], ourselves and voluntarily, in the interest of owners of this language--which leads to the spread of their culture. Of course, I am absolutely in favour of learning foreign languages; not only one: it is good to learn many different languages. There is no problem with this. However, we should not adopt the cultures of western society.

May 2, 2005

  • Imitating Western Culture only Brings about Catastrophe

For those who have imitated the ways of the West, imitation has brought about nothing but loss and catastrophe. This is the case with imitating countries that might have achieved wealth or technological and industrial progress on the surface. The reason is that western culture is aggressive culture. Western culture is one that destroys other cultures. Wherever westerners went, they destroyed local cultures and essential social foundations of host countries. They did their best to change the history of other peoples: their language and their orthography. Wherever the English went, they forced the local people to speak English, and they wiped out rival languages wherever they identified them. In the Indian subcontinent, Farsi used to be the official language for several centuries. Farsi was the language of correspondence among state organizations: the people, scholars, major schools and outstanding personalities. The English invaded and prohibited the use of Farsi, promoting the English language in its place.


Today Farsi has been sidelined in the Indian subcontinent, which used to be one of the main Farsi-speaking centers. English is the official language of the Indian subcontinent: English is the language of official correspondence. The majority of outstanding Indian personalities speak English; they have to speak English; it has been imposed on them. This happened in all countries where Englishmen were present, during a time of colonialism. They imposed English on these colonies. We did not impose Farsi on any country. Farsi used to be common in India, it was the Indians themselves who welcomed it. Outstanding Indian personalities composed poetry in Farsi. From the 7th and 8th century of the Islamic calendar to recent times, before the arrival of the English, there were many poets in India who used to compose poetry in Farsi: poets such as Amir Khosrow Dehlavi, Bidel Dehlavi and many other poets. Iqbal Lahori was from Lahore, but his Farsi poems are more famous than the poems he composed in other languages. Unlike the English, who promoted English in India, we did not promote Farsi. Farsi became common in India naturally: because the Indians liked it, because Indian mystics, scholars, and outstanding personalities spent time with Farsi-speakers. But the English came and forced the Indian people to abandon the Farsi language: they specified punitive measures for speaking and writing in Farsi.


The French, too, made the French language obligatory in their colonies. A leader in one of the countries in North Africa -- which used to be dominated by the French for several years -- arranged a meeting with me when I was President. He would speak to me in Arabic. Sometimes he would not find the right Arabic words to express what he wanted to say. He would turn to his deputy or minister, and he asked him in French how to say what we had in mind in Arabic. He was an Arab, but he could not make himself understood in Arabic. He had to speak French and ask his friend how to say what he wanted to say. This shows to what extent they had been isolated from their native language. They imposed this situation on them for many years. The same is true of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the Spanish. They imposed their language on the local people wherever they went, which is why their culture is an aggressive culture. Western culture is an aggressive culture.

Westerners destroyed cultural and ideological foundations wherever they could. In countries such as ours -- where direct colonialism did not exist and the English failed to directly influence our country, thanks to the selfless efforts of certain luminaries -- they paid certain people to act as their agents. If the Anglo-Persian Agreement of the year 1919 had not been met with resistance, from people like Shahid Modarres and certain other freedom fighters, Iran would have definitely been colonized, just like India. There were certain men who did not let this happen. But they imposed their culture on us through their agents: through installing and strengthening Reza Khan Pahlavi, through installing intellectuals who were dependent on the west, but I do not want to mention their names. Certain ministers and famous political personalities of the Pahlavi system were agents of the west, and they had been tasked with transforming the culture of our country. They did whatever they could to change it. One example was the banning of hijab in the country. Another example is how they pressured the clergy in order to undermine their position in the country. There were many other things which were pursued during the reign of Reza Khan Pahlavi.

Western culture is a destructive culture; wherever it goes, it destroys identities: it destroys the identity of the people. Western culture leads minds towards materialism. It makes money and wealth the top goal of life. Noble and spiritual values, as well as spiritual transcendence, are wiped out of minds. This is one characteristic of the western culture.

Oct 3, 2012

  • English is not the only language of Science! 

I would like to use this opportunity to repeat what I have sometimes said to the officials of the educational system. Perhaps, I have not said it to the current honorable officials in the educational system, but I have said it before, frequently. This insistence on promoting the English language in our country is an unhealthy course of action. Of course, we should learn foreign languages, but foreign languages are not confined to the English language. The language of science is not only spoken in English. Why do they not specify other languages in school as language lessons and programs? Why is there such an insistence to learn English? This is the legacy of the era of taghut. This is the legacy of the Pahlavi era.

An example is Spanish. Today, those who speak Spanish in the world are not fewer in number than those who speak English. There are many people in different countries – in Latin America and in Africa – who speak this language. I am saying this as an example, otherwise I am not promoting the Spanish language so much so that I would like to work for them. I am saying this as an example. Why are the French and German languages not taught? The languages of advanced eastern countries are foreign languages as well. They are the language of science as well.

May 2, 2016



  • When foreign language takes the place of a national language​​

Today, there are countries, where, unfortunately, their national language is not their official language. Today the official language of India and Pakistan is English. Their administrative language is English; although they have Hindi language, Urdu, and a hundred other languages. In Pakistan, Urdu; and in India, Hindi language is mostly spoken: but these languages are completely ignored. How did the foreign language replace the national language of a nation? This is how they seep in. The British invested in India in order to create the present situation. Some African countries have Portuguese  or Spanish as their official language. They do not pay attention to their own language. Is this good? Is coercion of a foreign language on a nation good? Language is the backbone of a nation. We should not weaken it in this manner. Why? Because an individual likes it and thinks it is useful? School and children should not be under trial and error. They're not laboratories for testing, to decide later that an experiment doesn't work. Children should not be treated in this manner; thus, a think tank is needed. There are so many other issues in the educational system which must be dealt with. 

May 2, 2005.


  • English Language


  • 2018-01-11 16:09
    Alhamdulillah ,we have such a great leader.
  • 2018-01-12 08:37
    درود بر شما من که در انگلستان زندگی میکنم و می بینم که زبان چقدر چیز مهم است ولی افسوس که ما قدر زبان را ندانستیم. انگلیس ها زبان کودکان ایرلندی را قطع میکردند اگر انگلیسی حرف میزدند همینگونه ریشه های زبانهای اسکاتلندی، ایرلندی ها و ولسی را از بنیان کندند. من کار شما را کاملا می ستایم وقتی کودک " پین " را یاد گرفت بعد بسیار دشوار است که برایش قلم را بیاموازنید. ما باید زبان خود را از شر این جنایت کاران نجات بدهیم وگرنه یک مردم گنگ خواهیم شد. مانند تاجیکها، آفریقایی ها، هندی ها، پاکستانی ها هیچ یک از زبانهای اینها توانایی تشریح کتاب های دانشگاهی را ندارند. ولی این را باید اضافه کنم که هرچیز را که منع کنی رغبت بدان بیش گردد پاینده ایران و جمهوری اسلامی راستی من چندان باورمند به دین نیستم ولی چرا جمهوری اسلامی را دوست دارم چون رشته مدیریت نفت و گاز را در انگلیس خواندم و میدانم که جمهوری اسلامی چه سیلی های بروی این نفت دوزدان زده. کمپنی بی پی انگلیس چهارمین کامپنی جهان است که از پول ایرانی ها ساختند همچنان بانک هچ اس بی سی از پول ایران و سستی شاهان ایران ساخته شده