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Digest of Education Statistics
2018 Tables and Figures All Years of Tables and Figures Most Recent Full Issue of the Digest


Table 311.70. Course enrollments in languages other than English compared with total enrollment at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by enrollment level, institution level, and language: Selected years, 1965 through 2016
Enrollment level, institution level, and language 1965 1970 1974 1980 1986 1990 1995 2002 2006 2009 2013 2016 Percent change
1965 to 1974 1974 to 1986 1986 to 1995 1995 to 2006 2006 to 2016
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
                                   
Number of language course
   enrollments
                                 
All levels, institutions,
   and languages
1,034,651 1,153,239 946,310 924,337 1,003,173 1,185,465 1,138,772 1,395,807 1,575,838 1,673,566 1,561,131 1,418,206 -8.5 6.0 13.5 38.4 -10.0
                                   
Undergraduate --- --- 904,419 892,275 970,007 1,149,655 1,100,103 1,359,164 1,534,756 1,635,992 1,526,365 1,388,974 7.3 13.4 39.5 -9.5
2-year institutions --- --- 154,713 162,716 161,683 227,625 233,123 337,304 364,980 393,050 343,245 288,741 4.5 44.2 56.6 -20.9
4-year institutions --- --- 749,706 729,559 808,324 922,030 866,980 1,021,860 1,169,776 1,242,942 1,183,120 1,100,233 7.8 7.3 34.9 -5.9
Graduate --- --- 41,891 32,062 33,166 35,810 38,669 36,643 41,082 37,574 34,766 29,232 -20.8 16.6 6.2 -28.8
                                   
American Sign Language --- --- --- --- --- 1,602 4,304 60,781 79,744 92,068 109,651 107,399 1,752.8 34.7
Arabic 911 1,324 2,034 3,471 3,417 3,683 4,444 10,584 23,987 34,908 32,855 31,165 123.3 68.0 30.1 439.8 29.9
Chinese1 3,359 6,265 10,662 11,405 17,002 19,510 26,504 34,333 51,560 61,797 62,280 54,515 217.4 59.5 55.9 94.5 5.7
French 371,747 358,494 253,135 248,303 275,132 273,116 205,351 201,985 206,019 215,244 197,679 175,667 -31.9 8.7 -25.4 0.3 -14.7
German 213,909 201,766 152,113 127,015 120,920 133,594 96,263 91,100 94,146 95,613 86,782 80,594 -28.9 -20.5 -20.4 -2.2 -14.4
Greek, Ancient2 19,495 16,543 24,283 22,132 17,806 16,414 16,272 20,376 22,827 20,033 12,848 10,684 24.6 -26.7 -8.6 40.3 -53.2
Hebrew3 8,093 16,567 22,371 19,290 15,669 12,966 13,083 22,774 23,739 22,665 19,824 15,500 176.4 -30.0 -16.5 81.4 -34.7
Italian 22,950 34,236 33,048 34,793 40,904 49,824 43,760 63,899 78,176 80,322 70,982 56,743 44.0 23.8 7.0 78.6 -27.4
Japanese 3,505 6,620 9,604 11,516 23,454 45,830 44,723 52,238 65,410 72,357 66,771 68,810 174.0 144.2 90.7 46.3 5.2
Korean 82 101 87 365 875 2,375 3,343 5,211 7,146 8,449 12,256 13,936 6.1 905.7 282.1 113.8 95.0
Latin 38,038 28,422 25,167 25,019 25,038 28,178 25,897 29,841 32,164 32,446 27,209 24,866 -33.8 -0.5 3.4 24.2 -22.7
Portuguese 3,040 5,065 5,072 4,894 5,071 6,118 6,531 8,385 10,310 11,273 12,407 9,827 66.8 # 28.8 57.9 -4.7
Russian 33,818 36,369 32,522 23,987 33,945 44,476 24,729 23,921 24,784 26,740 21,979 20,353 -3.8 4.4 -27.1 0.2 -17.9
Spanish 310,012 386,617 361,911 378,952 411,376 534,143 606,286 745,215 822,148 861,015 789,888 712,608 16.7 13.7 47.4 35.6 -13.3
Other languages 5,692 54,850 14,301 13,195 12,564 13,636 17,282 25,164 33,678 38,636 37,720 35,539 151.2 -12.1 37.6 94.9 5.5
                                   
Total enrollment at degree-
   granting institutions
                                 
All levels 5,920,864 8,580,887 10,223,729 12,096,895 12,503,511 13,818,637 14,261,781 16,611,711 17,754,230 20,313,594 20,376,677 19,846,904 72.7 22.3 14.1 24.5 11.8
Undergraduate --- 7,368,644 8,798,728 10,475,055 10,797,975 11,959,106 12,231,719 14,257,077 15,179,591 17,464,179 17,476,304 16,874,649 22.7 13.3 24.1 11.2
2-year institutions --- 2,318,956 3,402,732 4,525,097 4,679,548 5,240,083 5,492,098 6,529,198 6,513,303 7,522,581 6,970,644 6,092,418 37.5 17.4 18.6 -6.5
4-year institutions --- 5,049,688 5,395,996 5,949,958 6,118,427 6,719,023 6,739,621 7,727,879 8,666,288 9,941,598 10,505,660 10,782,231 13.4 10.2 28.6 24.4
Graduate --- 1,212,243 1,425,001 1,621,840 1,705,536 1,859,531 2,030,062 2,354,634 2,574,639 2,849,415 2,900,373 2,972,255 19.7 19.0 26.8 15.4
                          Change in percentage points
Number of language course
   enrollments per
   100 students enrolled
                       
All levels 17.5 13.4 9.3 7.6 8.0 8.6 8.0 8.4 8.9 8.2 7.7 7.1 -8.2 -1.2 # 0.9 -1.7
Undergraduate --- --- 10.3 8.5 9.0 9.6 9.0 9.5 10.1 9.4 8.7 8.2 -1.3 # 1.1 -1.9
2-year institutions --- --- 4.5 3.6 3.5 4.3 4.2 5.2 5.6 5.2 4.9 4.7 -1.1 0.8 1.4 -0.9
4-year institutions --- --- 13.9 12.3 13.2 13.7 12.9 13.2 13.5 12.5 11.3 10.2 -0.7 -0.3 0.6 -3.3
Graduate --- --- 2.9 2.0 1.9 1.9 1.9 1.6 1.6 1.3 1.2 1.0 -1.0 # -0.3 -0.6
---Not available.
†Not applicable.
#Rounds to zero.
1 Includes Cantonese and Mandarin.
2 The apparent drop in Ancient Greek from 2009 to 2013 may be attributed to changes in reporting. Some premodern Greek language categories, such as Koine Greek and Old Testament Greek, were reported for the first time in 2013. In previous surveys, these languages may have been reported under the category Ancient Greek.
3 Hebrew was reported as a single category prior to 1986 but in multiple categories beginning in 1986. For 1986 and later years, includes the Biblical Hebrew category in addition to Modern Hebrew and Hebrew; other reported categories are excluded.
NOTE: The number of course enrollments is not the same as the number of students studying a given language; a single student majoring in a language may be enrolled in more than one class in that language. Unless otherwise noted, enrollments do not include those in classical, religious, or regional dialects of the language. Data through 1995 are for institutions of higher education, while later data are for degree-granting institutions. Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. The degree-granting classification is very similar to the earlier higher education classification, but it includes more 2-year colleges and excludes a few higher education institutions that did not grant degrees. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: The Modern Language Association of America (MLA), Language Enrollment Database, selected years, 1965 through 2016, retrieved May 30, 2019, from http://www.mla.org/about_search_flsurvey. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Opening Fall Enrollment in Higher Education, 1965; Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS), "Fall Enrollment in Colleges and Universities" surveys, 1970 through 1985; Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), "Fall Enrollment Survey" (IPEDS-EF:86-99); IPEDS Spring 2001 through Spring 2018, Fall Enrollment component. (This table was prepared May 2019.)

2018 Tables and Figures All Years of Tables and Figures Most Recent Full Issue of the Digest