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ERIC Number: ED569204
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Feb
Pages: 82
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 13
Enrollments in Languages Other than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2013
Goldberg, David; Looney, Dennis; Lusin, Natalia
Modern Language Association
SINCE 1958, the Modern Language Association (MLA) has gathered and analyzed data on undergraduate and graduate course enrollments in languages other than English in United States colleges and universities. The previous survey examined language enrollments in fall 2009; here the MLA presents its twenty-third survey in the series, describing trends in language course enrollments in fall 2013. Course enrollments in languages other than English tallied 1,562,179 in 2013. Aggregated results for enrollments in all languages show a decrease of 6.7% from the 2009 survey, thus ending a steady rise in enrollments since 1980 (with the exception of a slight dip in 1995), when numbers moved from 924,337 in 1980 to 1,673,543 in 2009. In terms of ranking, Spanish and French still lead as the two most studied languages. American Sign Language (ASL), continuing to experience remarkable growth, especially in undergraduate enrollments, is the language with the third most enrollments, displacing German, which is now fourth. Italian, Japanese, and Chinese come next, in the sequence they have occupied since 1998, followed by Arabic, Latin, and Russian. As in the 2009 survey, enrollments in courses in Korean are greater than those in Modern Hebrew, and Korean continues to hold its place after Portuguese as the fourteenth most commonly studied language in 2013. In terms of percentages, between 2009 and 2013 the geographic distribution of enrollments has remained relatively stable. Eight states (Delaware, Hawai'i, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia recorded increases in enrollments in 2013; six of these states and the District of Columbia had also reported gains in 2009. Of the forty-two states posting enrollment losses in 2013, thirty-one had shown gains in 2009, and eleven had also shown losses in 2009. Of the thirty-one states showing gains in 2009 and losses in 2013, twelve had increased enrollments by more than 10% in 2009. Nineteen of the forty-two states posting losses in 2013 showed losses of over 10%. The data collected in the 2013 language enrollment survey show trends that are polarized. On the one hand, there is an indisputable drop of 6.7% across total enrollments. On the other hand, in many sectors of the curriculum and in many institutions across the country, there have been remarkable gains in enrollments that counter the negative downturn. One can take away from the data in 2013 the following crucial detail: many programs, presumably those that are well run and have been provided with enough resources to survive, if not thrive, do succeed. Such programs need to be studied, for they are apparently remarkable models of effective foreign language teaching and learning, all the more so in a time of financial constraints, challenges to the profession, and general disregard for language study.
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Endowment for the Humanities; National Security Education Program (NSEP)
Authoring Institution: Modern Language Association of America