The most interesting part of the article for me was the following:
High schools across the country were asked by the College Board’s world language initiative whether they’d consider adding Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Italian, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese–and the organization was amazed at the results, said Tom Matts, initiative director.
Fifty schools in the 2003 survey said they’d offer the Russian option, about 175 said Japanese, and 240 said Italian.
“And for Chinese, it was 2,400–10 times the number of any of the other three,” Matts said. “We had no idea there was such an incredible interest out there. Of all the new AP courses, certainly Chinese shows the most promise for growth.”
Im here to tell you, its not an easy language to learn!
I dont consider myself an expert on world languages, although I seem to learn hello pretty quickly. One thing I have found in my travels is that English is fast becoming the common language of the world. Ive traveled to over 15 countries and have yet to really work at learning another language. Maybe its because I spend most of my time in touristy areas, but Ive always been able to communicate what I want. In Saudi Arabia, English was the common language. There are almost as many expats in Saudi as there are Saudis speaking many different languages and many different dialects. In that country English is the common language and I could communicate with Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Italians, French, South Africans, and more all through English.
I think the Internet is helping in forming this common language as most web pages and most programs are natively written in English, although Chinese is gaining ground quickly. This might be one the side affects of the flatting of the world. As the world gets flatter and more and more people need to communicate across cultures a common language will emerge and Im putting my bet on English.