New MLA Report Documents Trends in Language Study

The results of the MLA’s latest census of language course enrollments in colleges and universities in the United States are now available in a preliminary report on the MLA Web site. According to Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Summer 2016 and Fall 2016: Preliminary Report, aggregated fall enrollments in languages other than English decreased by 9.2% since the MLA’s last census in 2013. Of the fifteen most commonly taught languages, only Korean and Japanese saw growth between 2013 and 2016, showing increases of 13.7% and 3.1%, respectively. Spanish still leads as the most commonly studied language. In 2016 more than half of all language enrollments were in Spanish, and Spanish programs reported more than 710,000 enrollments.

While the report—which assembles responses by a total of 2,547 institutions, including two- and four-year colleges, universities, and seminaries—presents a comprehensive picture of language enrollments, it does not take up the questions of why enrollments are down and to what extent the recent decline is due to program cuts. A longer, in-depth analysis of the findings from the 2016 census will be published this summer. To get detailed information on enrollments, view the MLA’s searchable online database of language enrollment data since 1958.