Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

“The decline in enrollments appears to be ‘the beginning of a trend rather than a blip'” — From the MLA Newsletter, Spring 2018

In the current spring 2018 issue of the MLA Newsletter, I read this week that “the report finds that the decline in enrollments appears to be ‘the beginning of a trend rather than a blip,’ a cause for concern — and a challenge for all of us who are foreign language educators, stakeholders, and supporters/advocates.


Having recently had the privilege of participating in the 2018 MLA conference, as well as in all 4 of the regional annual foreign language education conferences — NECTFL, SWCOLT, CSCTFL, and SCOLT — presenting on foreign language advocacy at 3 of the 4 the regional conferences, and participating as part of a panel discussion on college foreign language requirements at MLA, I have had the opportunity to speak with, and to listen to and learn from, foreign language educators and advocates from across the country in the days and weeks immediately preceding and following the release of the report.

I firmly believe that it is time to act — within our professional associations at all levels, and as individual change agents in alignment with our core beliefs and values, and within our local context.

What is needed is “a sense of urgency.” (Kotter, 2008)

While the current issue of the MLA Newsletter is available online to members only, the following  articles are freely available:

Foreign Language Enrollments Drop Sharply

Enrollment in Most Foreign Language Programs Continues to Fall 

Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education

Languages do matter!


Kotter, John P.  A Sense of Urgency. New York: Harvard Business Press, 2008.

MLA Newsletter.



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