Language enrollments

Sfauthor at Sfauthor at
Sun Dec 1 19:52:41 UTC 1996

My compliments to Lars Martin Fosse for his perceptive comments throughout
the--sometimes less than stellar--"Hindi thread."

The following excerpt is from the Agora newsletter. Their website is at Note the drop in Russian following real world

As I remarked some months ago, China and Japan have risen on the world stage,
India hasn't yet, and teaching positions and class enrollments reflect that. 

Brian Akers


MLA Survey Points to Shifts in Language Study

In a study of 2,700 two- and four-year U.S. colleges the Modern 
Language Association found students were studying languages in the 
following numbers:  Spanish - 606,286    French - 205,351    German - 
96,263    Japanese - 44,723    Italian - 43,760    Chinese - 26,471 
Russian - 24,729    Arabic - 4,444.  National enrollments for language 
studies have dropped by 4% overall.

The most noticeable shifts were in Chinese, which has gained by 36 percent
since the last survey, and Arabic by 28 percent.  The general trend toward
Spanish has continued unabated, wooing students away from French and
German, which have both lost by 28%.  Russian has fallen by a dizzying 45%
since the end of the Cold War. 

Strangely, as the U.S. enters a time of economic globalization, its
citizenry and local educational policy seem to favor putting all eggs in
the "Spanish" basket.  While NAFTA paves the way for much more trade with
Central and South America, there are many other worlds which we must
understand in order to remain informed, not only economically, but
politically and culturally.  As Northeastern University Spanish professor
Stephen Sadow puts it "I teach Spanish yet I am deeply concerned at the
reduction in diverse language offerings across the board.  In this country
we need a critical number of good speakers of Swahili, of Ukranian, of
Portuguese, and many other world languages.  As we to lose our
appreciation for the great literatures of Germany, France and Italy we
become a poorer nation." 

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