Foreign Language Enrollments in Public Secondary Schools, 1965


  • Glen Willbern

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      Glen Willbern (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is Director of Statistical Research and Assistant Systems Coordinator of the Modern Language Association. During the past three years he has directed a half-dozen statistical studies, including foreign language enrollment surveys for secondary schools and colleges, university manpower resources in the neglected languages, the status of German in high schools, and foreign language entrance and degree requirements in U. S. colleges and universities. He has been a teacher of Spanish at Southwestern University and of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University. (Most of the tabulation of data for the present survey was performed by Hans Rütimann, MLA Assistant Director of Statistical Research, and Caroline Teague, Research Assistant. The survey was done with support from the U. S. Office of Education under NDEA Title VI. The full report will be available through ERIC.)


ABSTRACT: This eighth consecutive MLA annual study of foreign language enrollments in the public secondary schools reveals that in the fall of 1965 the total FL enrollment, grades 7–12, was over 4.5 million (27.4% of the total public secondary school population) compared with 2.8 million (23.4%) in fall 1960. This represents an increase of 62% compared with an increase in the overall secondary school population of 38%. The proportion of secondary schools, grades 7–12, offering a FL was 80.4%. At the level of grades 9–12, the ratio of enrollments to the total relevant school population was Spanish (12%), French (10.8%), Latin (5.1%), German (2.8%), and all other foreign languages (0.4%), for a total of 31.5%. In grades 9–12, modern FL have increased from 13.7% of the total school population in 1948 to 26.4% in 1965; in the same period Latin declined from 7.8% to 5.1%. Charts and tables show the distribution of 1965 enrollments by regions and by languages. Tables detail the comparative 1960–65 enrollments, by states, in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian, and Latin.