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List of most commonly learned foreign languages in the United States

The tables below provide a list of foreign languages most frequently taught in American schools and colleges. They reflect the popularity of these languages in terms of the total number of enrolled students in the United States. (Here, a foreign language means any language other than English, and includes American Sign Language.)

Contents

ListsEdit

Below are the top foreign languages studied in public K-12 schools (i.e., primary and secondary schools). The tables correspond to the 18.5% (some 8.9 million) of all K-12 students in the U.S. (about 49 million) who take foreign-language classes.[1]

K-12Edit

K-12 students (2007-2008)
Rank Language Enrollments Percentage
1 Spanish 6,418,331 72.06%
2 French 1,254,243 14.08%
3 German 395,019 4.43%
4 Latin 205,158 2.30%
5 Japanese 72,845 0.82%
6 Italian 65,058 0.73%
7 Chinese 59,860 0.67%
8 American Sign Language 41,579 0.46%
9 Russian 12,389 0.14%
Others[2] 255,825 2.87%
Total 8,907,201 100%

Colleges and universitiesEdit

Below are the top foreign languages studied in American institutions of higher education (i.e., colleges and universities), based on fall 2016 enrollments.[3]

College and university students (2016)
Rank Language Enrollments Percentage
1 Spanish 712,240 50.2%
2 French 175,667 12.4%
3 American Sign Language 107,060 7.6%
4 German 80,594 5.7%
5 Japanese 68,810 4.9%
6 Italian 56,743 4.0%
7 Chinese 53,069 3.7%
8 Arabic 31,554 2.2%
9 Latin 24,866 1.8%
10 Russian 20,353 1.4%
11 Korean 13,936 0.9%
12 Greek, Ancient 13,264 0.9%
13 Portuguese 9,827 0.7%
14 Hebrew, Biblical 9,587 0.7%
15 Hebrew, Modern 5,521 0.4%
Others 34,830 2.4%
Total 1,417,921 100%

List of top five most commonly learned languages by yearEdit

Grades K-12Edit

Year Languages Source
1 % 2 % 3 % 4 % 5 %
2004-2005 Spanish 72.9 French 15.0 German 4.2 Latin 2.6 Japanese 0.7 [1]
2007-2008 Spanish 72.1 French 14.1 German 4.4 Latin 2.3 Japanese 0.8 [1]

Higher educationEdit

Year Languages Source
1 % 2 % 3 % 4 % 5 %
1960 French 37.9 Spanish 29.7 German 24.2 Russian 5.1 Italian 1.8 [3]
1968 French 34.4 Spanish 32.3 German 19.2 Russian 3.7 Latin 3.0
1980 Spanish 41.0 French 26.9 German 13.7 Italian 3.8 Latin 2.7
1990 Spanish 45.1 French 23.0 German 11.3 Italian 4.2 Japanese 3.9
1995 Spanish 53.2 French 18.0 German 8.5 Japanese 3.9 Italian 3.8
1998 Spanish 55.6 French 17.0 German 7.6 Italian 4.2 Japanese 3.7
2002 Spanish 53.4 French 14.5 German 6.5 Italian 4.6 American Sign 4.4
2006 Spanish 52.2 French 13.1 German 6.0 American Sign 5.1 Italian 5.0
2009 Spanish 51.4 French 12.9 German 5.7 American Sign 5.5 Italian 4.8
2013 Spanish 50.6 French 12.7 American Sign 7.0 German 5.5 Italian 4.6
2016 Spanish 50.2 French 12.4 American Sign 7.6 German 5.7 Japanese 4.9

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Foreign Language Enrollments in K–12 Public Schools" (PDF). American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). February 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  2. ^ "Others" includes (in order of quantity) Native languages, Korean, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Hebrew, Polish, Swahili, Turkish.
  3. ^ a b Looney, Dennis; Lusin, Natalia (February 2018). "Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Summer 2016 and Fall 2016 Preliminary Report" (PDF). Modern Language Association. Retrieved July 2, 2018.

External linksEdit