College Students Still Studying Foreign Languages

Despite big fears among university staff about colleges cutting language programs, students themselves are apparently quite eager to keep studying them.

According to an Associated Press article at KKUT in Alaska:

A new study by the Modern Language Association says enrollment in foreign language courses grew 6.6 percent between 2006 and 2009 to reach the highest level since the study began in 1960.

Advocates of language study say while growth is good, it’s slowed since the group’s previous report when enrollment was growing nearly twice as fast.

While the Modern Language Association is not exactly an unbiased observer here (the MLA was founded in 1883 as an advocacy group for the study of literature and modern languages), its study does seem to indicate that students are still studying languages enthusiastically, even if many colleges are trying to save cash by cutting them.

Arabic is the fastest growing foreign language. Enrollments in Arabic language courses grew 46.3 percent between 2006 and 2009. It’s now the eighth most studied language, following Spanish, French, German, American Sign Language, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese. Some 35,080 college students now study Arabic.

Read the MLA report here.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer