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Do All American Schools Need to Teach Chinese?

Given the growth of the Chinese economy, Sweden's considering adding Chinese classes to grade schools. Should we be doing the same?

Given the phenomenal growth of the Chinese economy, more American schools are adding Mandarin Chinese to their foreign language offerings. But no Western nation is taking Chinese language education more seriously than Sweden. Time reports that the Swedish education minister Jan Björklund recently announced plans to add Chinese to their nationwide grade school curriculum. According to Björklund, learning Chinese is going to "be much more important, from an economic perspective" than the traditionally offered European languages. Do American schools need to do the same to stay economically competitive?

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Want to Major in German? Good Luck With That

The end of the Eurocentric world view? The number of four-year colleges offering French, German and Italian as majors is on the decline.



Bad news for fans of European languages. According to a new study by researchers at the University of California at Riverside: Since 1970, an increasing number of schools have dropped traditional Romance languages— like French and Italian—from the choices of possible majors. And if you want to major in German, good luck finding a school offering it.

In 1970, almost 44 percent of four-year colleges offered German as a major. By 2006, that number had dropped down to just under 27 percent. As for French and Italian, 76 percent of schools offered those majors in 1970. Now only 59 percent of campuses offer them. And, since the study ends in 2006, before recession-induced budget cuts became the new normal, the number of schools dropping majors in the three languages is probably much higher.

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