Stagnation or Worse for K-12 Foreign Language

January 21, 2010

Foreign language instruction in elementary and secondary schools is "no better -- and in some areas worse" -- than it was in 1997, according to the "National K-12 Foreign Language Survey." The study found "pockets of innovation" in teaching methods and increases (from a very low base) in the teaching of Arabic and Chinese. But many other findings -- with implications for foreign language programs at colleges and universities -- suggested backward movement. The teaching of French, German and Russian all are down at both the elementary and secondary level; the gaps between foreign language availability at public and private schools have grown larger; and "severe" teacher shortages exist in many areas. The report, based on a national survey, was conducted by the Center for Applied Linguistics for the U.S. Education Department.

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