Looking at undergraduate and graduate course enrolments at 2,616 colleges and universities in the US, the report saw that the number of enrolments in foreign language courses decreased by 6.7% between 2009 and 2013.
Korean language enrolments, meanwhile, jumped 44.7% between 2009 and 2013.
“Korean is considered a critical language given the political issues related to North and South Korea”
Rosemary Feal, executive director of MLA, reasoned that the rising demand in Korean was fuelled by geopolitical and cultural interests.
“Korean is considered a critical language given the political issues related to North and South Korea,” she told The PIE News.
“And Korean popular culture has great appeal for today’s college students, and I’m sure many of them want to study the language to learn more about the people, to be able to understand works in the language in which they are presented, and so on.”
Elsewhere, Ancient Greek and Modern Hebrew displayed the greatest drops between 2009 and 2013, with a decrease of 35.5% and 19.4% respectively. The study of Spanish, which is the most studied foreign language in the US, was also down 8.2%.
Feal commented that while language enrolments have dropped since the last study in 2009, they are still slightly above where they were in 2006.
“The overall trend in the last decades has been rising enrolments in languages, which means that students continue to show great interest in language study,” she said.
In addition to Korean, other languages saw slight boosts in enrolments: American Sign Language increased by 19.1%, Portuguese by 10.1%, and Chinese by 2%.