Most Studied Foreign Languages in the U.S.

It can be difficult to determine how often a particular subject is studied nationwide. The Modern Language Association, an important U.S. cultural institution, tracks enrollment in college-level language courses as a way to gauge how often people study different languages.

While Spanish and French continue to be the top two languages studied in the U.S,they decreased by an average of 10.5% between 2013and 2016. Total enrollment declined by just over 9%. Among the top ten languages, only Japanese showed any growth in enrollment figures. The only other individual language to show substantial growth was Korean.

LanguageFall 2016 Enrollments% Change from 2013Fall 2013
% Change
from 2009
Fall 2009
% Change
from 2006
Fall 2006
1. Spanish712,240-9.8790,756-8.2864,9865.1822,985
2. French175,667-11.1197,757-8.1216,4194.8206,426
3. American Sign Language107,060-2.3109,57719.096,3492.294,264
4. German80,594-7.186,700-9.391,76316.478,829
5. Italian56,743-20.171,285-11.380,7523.078,368
6. Japanese68,8103.166,740-7.873,43410.366,605
7. Chinese53,069-13.161,0552.060,97618.251,582
8. Arabic31,554-5.932,286-7.535,08346.323,974
9. Latin24,866-8.627,192-16.232,6061.332,191
10. Russian20,353-7.421,962-17.926,8838.224,845
Source: The Modern Language Association of America.
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