Most commonly studied languages in the US

This is only looking at people attending college or university and enrolled in a language class there, so it doesn’t include people studying it elsewhere (such as with a private tutor or in high school) nor those doing self-study.

Higher Education Languages

Still, pretty interesting stuff.  I’m frankly rather surprised to find Japanese still outpacing Chinese.  I was taking my very first Japanese class at a university in the US during the Fall 2006 semester, and even then the general impression was that Chinese was more popular compared to Japanese whose popularity was thought to be waning.  But apparently more people were choosing to take Japanese that year than were in 2002 even.  And it is still the most popular non-European language to take.

On the other hand it is equally surprising how low those numbers are.  There are something like twenty million students enrolled in college in the US, so sixty thousand is a pretty small percentage of that.  And it is a pretty small number generally, too.  I’m really surprised that there were only 66,604 others taking Japanese at the college level besides myself that term.  Considering that only a small handful of those would continue studying Japanese after that semester, and the staggeringly huge amount of time required to get even passable at conversational Japanese, let alone being able to do something (not) so advanced as reading a newspaper, combined with the (perhaps equally) small number of Japanese people capable of such feats in English, it is not really all that surprising that Japan and the Anglophone world (and the West in general) don’t always seem to understand each other.

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