Home > Mediterranean Archaeology in North Dakota > Latin and Greek in the American University

Latin and Greek in the American University

About a month ago Marilyn Hagerty and I had a brief and pleasant correspondence after one of her charming columns (which can be yours for $2.95!) promoting the study of Latin at the University and High School level. 

On Wednesday the Modern Language Association published a report on foreign language enrollments in US universities.  The publicity around the report focused on the growing enrollments in Arabic, Chinese, et c. in US universities and the continued expansion of the study of languages at American universities in general.

This report also showed that enrolments in Latin and Ancient Greek courses have grown apace.  In fact, the study of Ancient Greek has grown faster than the general increase in the study of language since 1998, showing a 24% increase in enrolments compared to 17% growth in the study of languages in general. Latin slipped only a bit off the pace with enrolments growing 14% since 1998.  In fact, the the growing enrolments in Ancient Greek have kept pace with increasingly popular languages like Chinese (20% since 1998) and Japanese (21%).  Moreover, enrolments in Latin and Ancient Greek have managed to hold on to their share of the foreign language market despite the rapid growth of languages like American Sign Language and, predictably, Arabic.  Since 1960, Latin and Greek have held steady even as traditional stalwarts like French and German steadily lost market share to new languages and the growing popularity of Spanish. 

More interestingly still, students who enroll in Ancient Greek at the introductory level are as likely to stick around for upper level course (the ratio of introductory to upper level courses are 4:1) as students enrolled in French and German and more likely to stick it out than students enrolled in Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic. (Latin doesn’t fair as well with a 6:1 introductory to upper level ratio, so Marilyn Hagerty still has work to do!).

The full report is here.

UND struggles to offer consistently Latin and Greek.  Dan Erickson, in our one man Classics Department, does the best he can to offer lower and upper level courses in Latin every semester.  This study would seem to suggest that, if we offer it, they will come.  So, perhaps it’s time, on the University’s 125-iversary, to celebrate the kind of scholars who founded the University by hiring another Classicist, perhaps a Hellenist, and contribute to the continued success of the study of the Ancient Greek (and Roman) world!

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