MassLang: Languages Offered

MassLang: Languages Offered

A key question we sought to answer in the MassLang survey was “Which languages are offered in Massachusetts public high schools?”  We found that there are 16 different foreign languages offered; the graph below shows the number of schools that offer each language.

Number of Schools That Offer Each Foreign Language. “Others” includes Arabic, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, Khmer, Irish, and Armenian.

In decreasing order of popularity, the languages taught in MA high schools are Spanish (offered in 325 of 351 schools, or 92.6%), French (236 of 351 schools, 67.2%), Latin (134, 38.2%), Mandarin (81, 23.1%), Italian (39, 11.1%), German (26, 7.4%), American Sign Language (22, 6.3%), Portuguese (18, 5.1%), Greek (9, 2.6%), Arabic (5), Japanese (3), Turkish (3), Russian (2), Khmer (1), Irish (1), and Armenian (1).  The table below shows the full summary of languages offered in each of the four types of high school in our analysis.

Foreign Languages Offered By Massachusetts Public High Schools. (“Others” includes Arabic, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, Khmer, Irish, and Armenian.)

Spanish is offered in all 260 of the Traditional public high schools and 325 of 351 schools overall.  Of the 328 high schools that offer at least one foreign language, only 3 do not offer Spanish.  French is also extremely common, offered in 218 of 260 (83.8%) of Traditional schools and 236 of all 328 (71.9%) high schools that offer at least one language.Spanish is offered in all 260 of the Traditional public high schools in MA and 325 of 351 schools overall.   In Traditional high schools that offer exactly 2 languages, those 2 languages are most commonly Spanish and French (60 of 74 schools).  Latin is the third most-popular foreign language, offered in 124 of 260 (47.7%) Traditional schools and 134 of 328 (40.9%) schools that offer at least one language.  In Traditional high schools where exactly 3 languages are offered, the most common trio (38 of 83) is Spanish, French, and Latin.  French and Latin are both significantly more common in Traditional high schools than in all other types of schools.  Mandarin Chinese has been growing dramatically in Massachusetts high schools and currently is the fourth most-popular language, offered in 81 schools.  In contrast, several languages that were historically popular in MA high schools, including Italian, German, and Russian, have been dropped by many schools.  Italian and German are perhaps artificially propped up by the fact that they are languages for which Advanced Placement Exams are available; however, the existence of an AP Exam has not helped Japanese, which is now offered by only 3 Massachusetts schools.   Spanish, French, Latin, and Mandarin are the other languages for which AP exams are offered.

How Many Different Languages Are Offered In Each School?

Another question we sought to answer was “How many different languages does each Massachusetts public high school offer?”  We found that the number of different languages offered in Massachusetts public high schools ranges from 0 to 7.  The graph below shows the number of schools that offer from 0 to 7 different languages.

Number of Schools (y-axis) vs. Number Different Foreign Languages Offered (x-axis)

The most common numbers of languages offered are 2 languages (88 schools) and 3 languages (92 schools).  Of the 351 schools, 328 (93.4%) offer at least 1 foreign language, while 23 offer none.  The most common numbers of languages offered are 2 languages (88 schools) and 3 languages (92 schools).  Only 2 high schools in Massachusetts offer 7 different languages, and only 9 schools offer 6 languages.  The full results are summarized in the table below.

Number of Different Foreign Languages Offered By Massachusetts Public High Schools

All 260 of the Traditional public high schools in MA offer at least 1 foreign language;  6.9% offer only 1 language (always Spanish), 28.5% offer 2 languages, 31.9% offer 3, 21.2% offer 4, and 30 Traditional high schools (11.5%) offer 5 or more languages.   13 of 16 Non-traditional high schools offer 1 or more foreign language.   Among Charter high schools, 36 of 38 (94.7%) offer at least 1 foreign language;  22 (57.9%) offer 1 language, 7 (18.4%) offer 2, and 7 (18.4%) offer 3.  A little more than half of Vocational high schools (19 of 37, or 51.4%) offer a foreign language.