Foreign language courses are booming on American college campuses, a new study finds, with enrollment in Arabic more than doubling from 2002 to 2006.
The latest figures from the Modern Language Association of America, released Tuesday, reflect a major push toward internationalization on college campuses, more government support for language study and simply more interest from students. Over four years, total enrollment in language courses has grown 12.9 percent.
Spanish remains the most popular subject, with more than 823,000 students enrolled -- up 10.3 percent since 2002 and nearly four times higher than No. 2 French.
But Arabic is the fastest-growing major language, breaking the top 10 for the first time with just under 24,000 enrollments, compared to about 10,600 in 2002. The number of institutions offering Arabic has nearly doubled to 466, including both two- and four-year colleges.
Between 2002 and 2006, Arabic enrollment jumped from 222 to 482 at Georgetown University, from 37 to 156 at Boston College and from 65 to 184 at Arizona State.