More Norwegians learning Spanish, but German is more needed

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An article here in Norwegian goes over a point I often make, that the popularity of a language among students should not be seen as a barometer for the usefulness of a language to a country. Recently Spanish has been more popular in Norway, and there's nothing wrong with that, unless one forgets that considering Norway's position in the world German is a much more useful language for someone living there.

The article seems to be mistitled though (unless by fewer it means relatively fewer), since it makes the claim that fewer are learning German and French but the numbers on the very same article showing the change over the past two years (albeit only in two school districts in Oslo) don't show this to be true. From the article:

2007/08 vs. 2009/10
German in Bærum
Grade 8: 290 --> 307
Grade 9: 317 --> 310
Grade 10: 122 --> 227

German in Asker
Grade 8: 152 --> 181
Grade 9: 131 --> 172
Grade 10: 92 --> 133

French in Bærum
Grade 8: 390 --> 396
Grade 9: 456 --> 339
Grade 10: 151 --> 347

French in Asker
Grade 8: 179 --> 187
Grade 9: 216 --> 179
Grade 10: 132 --> 160

Spanish in Bærum
Grade 8: 653 --> 578
Grade 9: 482 --> 623
Grade 10: 300 --> 594

Spanish in Asker
Grade 8: 329 --> 331
Grade 9: 299 --> 295
Grade 10: 48 --> 286


Putting them together, we get:

German 1104 --> 1330 (20% increase)
French: 1524 --> 1608 (6% increase)
Spanish: 2111 --> 2707 (28% increase)

So a better title might be "more and more students studying foreign languages; Spanish shows largest increase".

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