"Among America’s approximately 27,500 middle and high schools offering at least one foreign language, the proportion offering Chinese rose to 4 percent, from 1 percent, from 1997 to 2008, according to the survey, which was done by the Center for Applied Linguistics, a research group in Washington, and paid for by the federal Education Department."
“It’s really changing the language education landscape of this country,” said Nancy C. Rhodes, a director at the center and co-author of the survey."
And AP Chinese is rapidly taking over German as the third most take AP foreign language test (after Spanish and French).
"The results, released last year, confirmed that Spanish was taught almost universally. The survey found that 88 percent of elementary schools and 93 percent of middle and high schools with language programs offered Spanish in 2008.
The overall decline in language instruction was mostly due to its abrupt decline in public elementary and middle schools; the number of private schools and public high schools offering at least one language remained stable from 1997 to 2008"
"America has had the study of a foreign language grow before, only to see the bubble burst. Many schools began teaching Japanese in the 1980s, after Japan emerged as an economic rival. But thousands have dropped the language, the survey found."
"Japanese is not the only language that has declined. Thousands of schools that offered French, German or Russian have stopped teaching those languages, too, the survey found."
This decline in Japanese also means, for us locally, that students who promote out of JSIS and Hamilton might have fewer high school choices (right off-hand the only high schools I know that teaches Japanese are Garfield, Roosevelt, Chief Sealth, Hale and Ingraham if Chinese might start pushing Japanese out.
"Some schools are paying for Chinese classes on their own, but hundreds are getting some help. The Chinese government is sending teachers from China to schools all over the world — and paying part of their salaries.
At a time of tight budgets, many American schools are finding that offer too good to refuse.
“We were able to get a free Chinese teacher,” she said. “I’d like to start a Spanish program for elementary children, but we can’t get a free Spanish teacher.”
(Jackson’s Chinese teacher is not free; the Chinese government pays part of his compensation, with the district paying the rest.)"
This is true in SPS. I know that West Seattle High had several Chinese teachers come this year but I don't know the details of the financial arrangements.