Study finds fewer US college students enroll in foreign language classes

Apr 16, 2018

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Classroom at West Los Angeles College in Los Angeles, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016.; Credit: Susanica Tam/For KPCC


A study by the Modern Language Association (MLA) found the number of US college students studying foreign languages is on a steady decline.

Data shows fewer students are enrolling in language classes other than English. The most popular language among college students was Spanish, which has also seen a drop in student enrollment, according to research findings. Other languages with a popularity decline were German, Russian and Italian.

By contrast, the Korean language has seen an increase in interest with enrollment up 65 percent – that said the actual number of students studying Korean is just 14, 000 compared to 700,000 students studying Spanish. The study is based on the enrollments of undergraduate introductory courses as well as advanced-degree programs.


Dennis Looney, director of programs and of the association of departments of foreign languages at the Modern Language Association (MLA); he co-authored the study that found a decline in student enrollment in foreign language classes

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