Arabic fastest-growing, Hindi least popular in US varsities

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Washington, DC: Post 9/11 attacks, Arabic has become the most sought-after foreign language in US universities with enrollments nearly doubling, but the number of Hindi learners dwindled, according to a study released here on December 8.

The survey by the Modern Language Association (MLA) found that enrollments in Arabic has surged by 46.3 percent between 2006 and 2009, and making it the eighth most studied foreign language at US colleges and universities, up from tenth position in 2006.

“Enrollments in Arabic language courses grew by 46.3 percent between 2006 and 2009, building on an increase of 126.5 percent in Arabic enrollments in the previous MLA survey, the first in which the language appeared among the ten most studied at US colleges and universities,” MLA, the longest-running and most comprehensive analysis of the study of languages other than English at US colleges and universities.

“The study of Arabic by young Americans started to show significant growth immediately after the September 11 attacks in 2001, and its enrollment has tripled since then, MLA’s executive director, Rosemary G. Feal, was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times.

However, Spanish and French still remain the most popular languages, other than English, studied at US universities, with nearly 865,000 and 216,419 enrollments respectively — a rise of five and six percent over 2006.

Also, significant increase is seen in Korean (up 19.1 percent), Chinese (up 18.2 per cent), American Sign Lan-guage (ASL) (up 16.4 per cent), Portuguese (up 10.8 per cent), and Japanese (up 10.3 per cent) languages.

However, the enrollments in Vietnamese language went down from 21 to 16 in 2009; Swahili, from 63 to 39; Hindi, from 92 to 54; Persian, from 125 to 103; Hindi-Urdu dropped from 84 to 34; Turkish, from 83 to 59; Swedish, from 29 to 2; Sanskrit, from 155 to 107, the study revealed.

Modern Language Associa-tion of America and its 30,000 members in 100 countries work to strengthen the study and teaching of languages and literature.

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