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American Language First, Signs Rise

VU International News and Reviews No. 109 March 26 2018

March 2018

A report on Enrollments in Languages Other Than English by the Modern Language Association in the US shows that aggregated fall 2016 course enrolments in languages other than English were 1,417,921 against 1,561,131 in fall 2013. Thus, admissions fell 9.2% between fall 2013 and fall 2016, suffering the second-largest decline in the history of the census (the most significant decline, 12.6%, was in 1972). This history dates back to 1958. Since then, the enrolment in foreign language suffered an overall decline from 162 enrolments per 100 students (so 1,6 on average per student) to 75 in 2016.

In terms of ranking, Spanish and French still lead as the two most studied languages. American Sign Language continues to be third, having displaced German in 2013.

The report is based on a survey among the over 2600 HE institutions in the US offering non-English language education, with an overwhelming response rate of over 95%!

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