The value of learning a foreign language

A student studies legal textbooks in the law faculty at Humboldt University prior to the beginning of the winter semester on October 11, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. New figures show that the number of Europeans studying German is way up in light of the economic crisis there.

Figures out from the Goethe-Institut in Germany show that the number of Spanairds, Italians, and other Europeans looking to learn German were way up last year. In Spain alone, the figure rose 35 percent.

It seems as though this is linked to the desire to get a job in the more well to do countries -- which I'm guessing means that Greek classrooms aren't filling up too quickly.

For our Mid-day Extra, we're going to explore why certain languages become more trendy -- and perhaps valuable -- with Michael Geisler, vice president of the Language Schools and Schools Abroad at Middlebury College.

He says that language trends often follow the ebb and flow of political power, with languages from Arabic to Japanese each gaining popularity at certain moments in U.S. history. And as it turns out, many Americans end up losing jobs to their more multi-lingual competitors overseas.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

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