More US college students are studying Middle Eastern, African and Asian languages although Spanish, French and German remain the most favorite foreign languages, said a survey released Tuesday.
The survey offers a latest snapshot of student interest in foreign languages at all post-secondary schools in the country. The survey was conducted by the Modern Language Association (MLA), an institute that has tracked such statistics for nearly 50 years.
The study found Spanish is still by far the most popular foreign language studied at US colleges and universities.
However, for reasons ranging from the Sept. 11 attacks to the globalization of the US economy, the largest increases in interest were in Middle Eastern and African languages, where enrollment grew by 55.9 percent. A 24.6-percent increase was reported in Asian and Pacific languages.
According to the survey, the single most dramatic increase was in Arabic, with a 126.5 percent jump in enrollment between 2002 and 2006, while Chinese and Korean enrollments climbed by 51 and 37 percent respectively during the four-year period.
But almost three-quarters of all students continue to study the traditional favorites -- Spanish, French and German.
Enrollment in Spanish has expanded by 10.3 percent during the survey period, continuing a record of uninterrupted growth starting in 1980, the study showed.
It found that the overall portion of US college students studying foreign languages has increased only slightly, a trend that researchers say reflects the increasing number of competing course offerings.
(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2007)