Fewer students are learning a foreign language in elementary or middle school compared to 1997, concludes a federally funded report by the Center for Applied Linguistics. In high schools, foreign language instruction has held steady.
Spanish is the most popular language by far. Some schools are dropping French and German, reports the New York Times. Once fashionable Russian and Japanese classes are vanishing in favor of Arabic and Chinese.
This year it’s expected more students will take the Advanced Placement test in Chinese than in German, taking over the number three spot after Spanish and French.
It’s not just an issue in the U.S. Learning a foreign language is becoming “the privilege of elite and wealthy children,” a British government adviser warned this week. Teens are choosing other electives.