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There are many benefits to pursuing the study of a foreign language. Post 9/11 and in the wars that followed, there was concern over Americans’ inability to communicate with the world. Even more than that, however, is the global business market. For American companies to gain and retain a competitive edge, the ability to communicate with foreign partners in their own language is a distinct advantage.

According to the Modern Language Association’s most recent survey on foreign language enrollment in American higher education, the number of students enrolled in non-English language courses fell by 9.2% between 2013 and 2016. In the same time period, 651 foreign language programs were cut nationally (MLA, 2016). As the recession of 2008 hit the budgets of our nation’s higher education institutes (HEIs), foreign language courses were cut at a rate of more than double of other humanities-based subjects. While it is not inexpensive to educate students in foreign languages, it is a far smaller cost-per-student than other subjects such as education or fine arts.

As enrollment in foreign language education declines, enrollment in online courses has risen at nearly the same rate. Schools from K-16 are increasingly adopting and using technology in their language classes through different formats, such as formal online courses, virtual worlds, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), mobile apps, and learning communities in social media (Hockly, 2015).

Currently, nearly one in three students enrolled in American higher education is taking at least one course online (Lederman, 2018). Online learning grows remarkably as it requires fewer faculty hours than traditional, face-to-face courses (107 hours versus 112 hours) and costs between $12 and $66 less per credit hour to deliver (Bishop, 2019). Online learning also provides flexibility and sustainability as to language program development for HEIs, which have limited people and financial resources, fluctuating demand, and limited classrooms and supplies (The National K-16 Foreign Language Enrollment Survey Report, 2017).

As college enrollment declines will continue (Higher Inside Ed, 2019), we are investigating a future trend in HEIs that foreign language learning and teaching is moving online. This research first introduces two types of online learning, blended and fully online. Then it examines the strengths and drawbacks of using each distant language learning format as an alternative in the context of a reduction in the number of language programs and the dropping enrollment rates. To conclude, a number of guidelines are proposed for the policymakers, teaching staff, and technology support staff in higher education institutes to consider for providing an effective online language learning experience.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • Education

  • Department
    • Department of Modern and Classical Languages, College of Letters and Arts

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event date
    • 15 November 2019

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Author Biography:

      Yizhe Huang received her dual M.A. degree from the University of Rhode Island in Foreign Languages Teaching and Applied Linguistics from Minzu University of China. Yizhe has taught Chinese as a foreign language in various places to students from all over the world. She joined the University of North Georgia as a tutor coordinator for the Chinese Flagship program in 2014. Prior to that, she taught Chinese at the University of Rhode Island. Yizhe is an ACTFL certified tester and rater of the Chinese OPI and the AAPPL. She has presented on various topics at the local, state, and national levels, with research interests in foreign language teaching pedagogy, language and cultural proficiency, study abroad, and language assessment. As a lifelong learner, she is now a doctoral student at the Higher Education Leadership & Practice program at the University of North Georgia.

      Title of Award Granted:

      Scholarship of Integration

      Name of Institution that Granted the Award:

      University of North Georgia