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 2013 and 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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