Foreign Language Teaching in U.S. Schools: Results of a National Survey

Nancy C. Rhodes and Ingrid Pufahl

Published by Center for Applied Linguistics


CAL has completed a comprehensive survey of K-12 foreign language programs nationwide, describing how our schools are meeting the need for language instruction to prepare global citizens. For comparative purposes, the survey has collected statistical data in 1987, 1997, and 2008. Elementary and secondary schools from a nationally representative sample of more the 5,000 public and private schools completed a questionnaire during the 2007-2008 school year. The 2008 survey results complement and enhance the field's existing knowledge base regarding foreign language instruction and enrollment in the United States.

The report of the survey, Foreign Language Teaching in U.S. Schools: Results of a National Survey, provides detailed information on current patterns and shifts over the past 20 years in languages and programs offered, enrollment in language programs, curricula, assessment, and teaching materials, qualifications, and trainings, as well as reactions to national reform issues such as the national foreign language standards and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. The survey results revealed that foreign language instruction remained relatively stable at the high school level over the past decade but decreased substantially in elementary and middle schools. Moreover, only a small percentage of the elementary and middle schools not teaching languages planned to implement a language program within the next two years. The findings indicate a serious disconnect between the national call to educate world citizens with high-level language skills and the current state of foreign language instruction in schools across the country. This report contains complete survey results, along with recommendations on developing rigorous long sequence (K-12 programs whose goals are for students to achieve high levels of language proficiency, and are of interest to anyone interested in increasing language capacity in the United States. 2010

Read about the survey methodology.

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Santillana USA

The printing and production of Foreign Language Teaching in U.S. Schools: Results of a National Survey was made possible by the generous support of Santillana USA.