African-American Students' Opinions About Foreign Language Study: An Exploratory Study of Low Enrollments at the College Level


  • Zena Moore

    1. University of Texas at Austin
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      Zena Moore (PhD, Purdue University) is Associate Professor in Foreign Language Education at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas.


Abstract: Persistent low numbers of African Americans in the foreign language teacher certification program at the University of Texas at Austin motivated the study reported here. Two groups of students responded to a questionnaire that sought information on foreign language experience at elementary and high school, as well as family experiences in foreign languages. Findings revealed that whereas very few students had the opportunity to study a foreign language at the elementary level, all were exposed to at least a two-year compulsory program at high school. These experiences were not motivating enough to encourage college-level continuation, nor were family experiences. Students' language preferences did not support previous findings that low enrollment figures resulted from language offerings that lacked ethnic and cultural appeal. Rather, the study found that there appeared to be little effort made to encourage African-American high school and college students to consider teaching career paths. Students recommended more aggressive dissemination of information to African-American students at the college level about the advantages on pursuing foreign language study. They overwhelmingly suggested including a foreign language requirement in all discipline areas.