Portuguese Studies at the University of Wisconsin

Ellen W. Sapega
3 páginas

In its most recent newsletter (Spring 2004), the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) reported a record high number of post-secondary students in the U.S. who are studying a foreign language. According to the findings of the MLA’s fall 2002 survey of foreign language enrollments in U.S. colleges and universities, overall enrollments in foreign languages have risen by 17% since 1998, with enrollments in Portuguese increasing 21.1%, from 6,926 in 1998 to 8,385 in 2002. This is a heartening statistic that corroborates anecdotal evidence regarding the growth of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies in the United States, but it must be taken with a grain of salt. While the percentage increase of students enrolled in Portuguese classes is certainly noteworthy, the total number of students in these programs continues to be significantly less than those who opted to study such “mainstream” European languages as Spanish, French, German or Italian. In comparison to these languages, Portuguese remains in the category of a less commonly taught language within the U.S. academy and, like our colleagues who specialize in other areas where less commonly taught languages are spoken, researchers and teachers who concentrate on the Lusophone world must spend a good deal of their time and energy seeking ways to attract more students to their field of study.