by Amanda Rollins, Japanese Language Program Coordinator
In February, the Modern Language Association (MLA) published a report titled “Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2013.” This report, published about every four years, researches the number of enrollments in world language courses in American colleges and universities. The survey resembles a census in that MLA attempts to survey every single college or university which offers world language courses in the United States. This year MLA surveyed 2,435 schools.
Overall, higher education language enrollments in the US decreased by 6.7% since 2009. Spanish enrollments decreased for the first time since the original MLA survey in 1958. Both French and Spanish, the languages with historically the most enrollments, decreased by about 8%, and German and Italian also decreased by 9.3% and 11.3% respectively. Within the top 15 languages, only 4 languages reported an increase in enrollment: American Sign Language (19%), Chinese (2%), Portuguese (10.1%), and Korean (44.7%).
Experiencing the first decrease since 1998, enrollments in Japanese language courses decreased by 7.8%. Between 2009 and 2013, 47.6% of colleges which offer Japanese experienced stable or increased enrollment in those courses while the other half experienced decreased enrollment. Since 2009, Japanese remains in the same rank among languages (#6) and maintains the same percentage of enrollments as a whole (4.3%).
Other interesting statistics show that 29% of colleges which offer foreign language offer Japanese (for a total of 706 institutions in 2013), and 25.6% more bachelor’s degrees in Japanese were awarded in 2013 than in 2009.