Rise Of Foreign Language Enrollment

Foreign languages are making a comeback. Modest? Sure. Slight? Yes. But a comeback indeed, as enrollment in foreign language majors has been rising steadily, according to the Washington Post.

Enrollment in every foreign language has been consistently rising slightly, according to a new survey by the Modern Language Association of America, published in the Washington Post.

The trend of all foreign languages rising slightly is fairly new. Language enrollments for French, German, Italian, Latin, Russian and Japanese have been on enrollment roller coasters, experiencing short-lived ups and down in, according to past surveys by the Modern Language Association of America.

However, the Modern Language Association of America found that all languages are rising at a steady rate, since 2000.

Overall, enrollment in foreign languages rose 6.6% since 2006, growing from 1,577,810 in 2006 to 1,682,627 in 2009. Spanish, French and German still remain to be the most popular languages, respectively.

Spanish has always been the most popular language, garnering more students than all the other languages combined. However, Spanish enrollment has leveled off slightly, standing at 865,000 national students, compared to 765,000 for all other languages.

French, which was more popular in the 1960s topping off with an enrollment of 388,000 in 1968, has decreased since to 215,000; however, it has been rising slightly – similar to other languages – in recent years.

German also peaked in 1968 at an enrollment of 215,000; then it continuously lost enrollment until lately, now standing just shy of 100,000.

Italian enrollment, however, has risen fairly steadily since 1960, now standing at 80,000 students.

American Sign Language is rising faster than any of the other languages, shooting ahead of Italian, gaining over 90,000 students in college classrooms throughout the nation. American Sign Language grew from nearly nothing in the 1990s, showing colleges and universities that it is a language worth studying.

Chinese and Japanese are growing rapidly; however, their enrollment numbers can’t quite compete with other languages, standing at 70,000 and 60,000 for Japanese and Chinese, respectively.

This trend could make foreign languages more ubiquitous at colleges, as colleges attempt to respond to the increase of demand in studying foreign languages. If this trend continues colleges, high schools and grade schools will need more foreign language teachers, giving current and future foreign language students more potential career paths.