Education expert Dr. Sarah Eaton recently blogged some highlights from “Getting Their Babel On” by Dan Berrett—published by Inside Higher Ed earlier month. The article explores the amount of university students in the U.S. studying foreign languages and cites a study conducted by the Modern Language Association (MLA).
Findings indicate that the most popular languages to study in the U.S. (aside from English, which the MLA does not consider a “foreign” language) are Spanish, French and German in that order.
Data we’ve gathered based on our U.S. membership is nearly a match. Spanish learners account for 32% of our U.S. members, followed by French learners at 17%. English comes in third at 13%, followed by German, Italian and Japanese.
Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and Arabic are also among the top 10 languages being learned at Livemocha by U.S. members.
The MLA study also notes that enrollments in language courses by U.S. students grew from 1.57 million in 2006 to 1.68 million in 2009, or 6.6 percent.
That’s positive, but we think the fact that our U.S. membership more than doubled between 2009 and 2010 is an even stronger indication of American interest in learning a foreign language. We may be a nation of stubborn Anglophiles but Livemocha’s U.S. member growth gives us hope that in the coming decades Americans will embrace the social, political, and economic power that stems from fluency in multiple languages.
See Eaton’s recap of the data at http://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/spansh-french-german-and-asl-most-popular-languages-taught-in-us/.