American students are studying Arabic and Asian languages more than ever before, according to a Modern Language Association survey. Spanish has been the most studied language since 1995, still with more than 50% of students, but Arabic is fastest-growing, jumping 126.5% from 2002 to 2006—making up 1.5% of all language enrollments. Overall, modern language study was up 13%.
"Americans are, above all, pragmatic language learners," said an MLA member. Globalization and military involvement abroad have driven the diversification. Additionally, “heritage learners” have contributed to the growth of Korean and Chinese studies. Middle Eastern and African languages grew 55.9% from 2002 to 2006. (Read more language stories.)