Most Popular Foreign Languages
With globalization and international companies drawing distant countries closer, foreign languages have become a hot topic in today's education system. Companies generally pay their American employees more money for their facility in languages in addition to English, establishing an incentive for students to become proficient in specific languages.
According to the Modern Language Association (MLA), the 10 most common languages study while in an American university are (in descending order): Spanish 52.2%, French 13.1%, German 6%, Italian 5%, Japanese 4.2%, Chinese 3.3%, Latin 2.0%, Russian 1.6%, Arabic 1.5%, and Ancient Greek 1.4%. These 10 languages account for more than 90% of all languages studied in the universities.
Along with a higher demand for employees that can speak other languages fluently comes a monetary benefit, also called a premium. The wage premium generally increases for languages that have fewer people studying them. In particular, the premium for Spanish is a 1.7% pay increase whereas the increase for the less studied German language is a 4% pay increase (Forbes).
Depending on your specific career choice, certain languages are more in demand. Defense departments are hiring people that can speak the languages that are threats to the safety of America. The CIA specifically mentions on its website that it is looking for translators and language instructors that can teach and translate “Arabic, Persian (Farsi), Dari, and Pashto”. (CIA)
It’s fairly safe to say that potential students of foreign languages should stay away from the top 10 foreign languages because there is such a large group of people that already know and understand those languages. It is also beneficial to study languages that will be required in your career field. The decision of which foreign language to pursue should not be taken lightly.