Foreign languages growing in popularity with Hoosier students

A new study finds that Indiana is one of a handful of states that have seen rising enrollment in college foreign language courses.

The study conducted by the Modern Language Association shows that while enrollment in language courses other than English fell 9.2 percent at the nation’s colleges and universities between fall 2013 and fall 2016, four states showed increases.

Indiana led the way with an 8 percent rise, driven in part by growing interest among Indiana University students in foreign language course, The Herald Times reported.

The university’s College of Arts and Sciences has a two-year language requirement, and other schools within the university have similar conditions for graduation. The foreign language requirement is part of the university’s commitment to make it a globally engaged institution.

The effort began during World War II when the university began offering courses on languages rarely taught in the U.S. to aid the war effort.

The university also offers a summer language program where anyone can complete a year’s worth of study in a couple of months.

Russell Valentino is the associate dean for international affairs at IU’s College of Arts and Sciences. He said more than 50 different languages are regularly taught on the Bloomington campus.

The university has Language Flagships for Turkish, Arabic and Chinese. There are 25 Language Flagship programs offered at 21 institutions. They were created under the National Security Education Act of 1991 and are designed to foster a superior level of foreign language and cultural knowledge.