National K-12 Foreign Language Survey

The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) conducts a national survey of foreign language instruction in public and private elementary and secondary schools every decade to provide an updated national and regional portrait of foreign language instruction in the United States. Working with Westat, a leader in survey research, CAL analyzed results from the third survey to be able to show trends in foreign language education at three points in time (1987, 1997, 2008).

Survey questionnaires were mailed to a stratified random sample of more than 5,000 elementary and secondary schools across the country in October 2007. Data collection was completed in June 2008. The response rate was 76%.

The survey was designed to help us understand, among other issues, current patterns and shifts over time in these areas:

  • Foreign language enrollments
  • Number of schools offering foreign languages
  • Types of foreign language programs offered
  • Foreign language curricula and methodologies in use
  • Teacher qualifications and training
  • Effects of No Child Left Behind legislation on foreign language instruction

Survey data were examined and presented according to various factors that may affect language instruction, including these:

  • Type of school (public or private)
  • Location of school (urban, rural, or suburban)
  • Socioeconomic status of students
  • Percentage of minority students enrolled in the school
  • Geographical region (e.g., Northeast, Pacific Northwest)

The survey results present national and regional data; state-by-state data were not an outcome of this survey. Answers to the following questions are presented in the final survey results:

  • Does the school offer foreign language instruction?
  • What languages are taught?
  • What types of programs are most common?
  • Is there an established foreign language curriculum?
  • How much do teachers use the foreign language in the classroom?
  • What are the qualifications of the techers?
  • Do teachers integrate national and/or state foreign language standards into their instruction?
  • How has the foreign language program beenaffected by NCLB?

The overarching theme in the analysis was how the data can be used to help our country increase and improve language teaching in elementary and secondary schools over the next decade.

Read the executive summary.

About the Project

Funder: U.S. Department of Education, International Research and Studies Program
September 2006 – August 2009