Number of North American university students learning Portuguese up by 10.8% between 2006 and 2009, still behind Biblical Hebrew

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here's an article on the increase in the number of students learning Portuguese in between 2006 and 2009, which has increased by 10.8% over the period but is still well behind what Portuguese should be at as one of the most spoken languages in the world. In comparison it seems that the number of students learning Spanish in North America is somewhere around 60 times that learning Portuguese. It will be interesting to see the numbers about a decade from now assuming that Brazil continues to grow as it is now, moving from the world's 8th largest economy to 5th by then. CBS had a special on Brazil just the other day too:

Info from the article:

Students learning Portuguese in North American universities have increased by 10.8% between 2006 and 2009, but still represent a small percentage of those studying foreign languages. The figures were revealed on the 8th of December by the Association of Modern Languages.

According to the numbers Portuguese is in 13th place in languages learned in higher education in North America, with a total of 11,371 students. In comparison with the 10.8% for Portuguese Arabic has increased by 46.3%, Chinese by 18.2%, Korean by 19.1% and sign language by 16.4%. Portuguese is now ahead of Korean (14th place) and behind Biblical Hebrew (12th), Classical Greek (11th) and Russian (10th), whereas the most studied languages Spanish, French and German have registered "modest" gains.

The increase in Portuguese is greater than the average of all languages during the period, 6.6%. The growth in Portuguese was greater however during the period between 2002 and 2006 when it increased by 22.4% compared with the average of 12.9%.

Its growth over recent years has let Portuguese reinforce its position as one of the principal foreign languages studied in higher education, with a total of 0.7%. In comparison, Spanish represents more than 50%. Numbers from the Association show that the increase in students studying Portuguese has taken place mostly among graduate students, whereas port-graduate students studying the language have dropped from 487 in 2002 to 438 in 2009.

Taking these numbers this means that in 2006 the number of students studying Portuguese was about 10260, and back in 2002 it would have been 8380.

2002: 8380
2006: 10260
2009: 11371

In sheer numbers then this represents 470 students more per year between 2002 and 2006, and 370 students more per year after that.

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