In 2015, an MLA study showed that the number of students studying languages as a major in US universities had declined for the first time ever – why is this? And is it a reason to worry? I don’t think so, as it reflects the changes in how people want to learn languages, and the changing approach towards higher education, and actually it could be said that interest in learning Spanish is increasing.
The general approach to higher education has changed immensely in the last 5 years or so, with students looking more to vocational degrees that make them more employable like engineering, business, or construction, as opposed to arts and languages courses, and explains why numbers are down for enrolment onto Spanish majors.
That enrolment for studying Spanish as a major is down does not mean interest in studying the language is down, as it’s still very popular – people just simply want to learn it by different means nowadays. For example, online Spanish lessons are becoming more and more popular, which coincides with the general shift by consumers in looking for more customized products. In all areas of society these days we see customers in search for products that cater towards their individual needs, whether it be Netflix, or online shopping, so it is no surprise that language learning is also evolving to the point where students can learn Spanish online in private classes at a time that is convenient to them.
Online Spanish classes really fit into the modern consumers’ needs as they enable choice on when you want to take the classes, choice over what to study in classes, and are better value as they are cheaper. This, combined with the fact that Spanish is spoken by over 500 million people worldwide and is an official language in 21 different countries means that interest in/need for studying the language will not be going away anytime soon.
Indeed, current trends suggest interest in learning Spanish will grow with more business graduates emerging in the coming years, with a need to speak the language to gain an edge in the market.