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Foreign language classes, by the numbers

Nationally, about 32 percent of students in grades seven through 12 take a foreign language.

Massachusetts does not require students to take a foreign language to graduate from high school, but recommends students study the same language for two years.

Spanish is the most popular foreign language in public high schools, taught in about 220 districts, followed by French and then Latin.

About three dozen districts offer German, including Canton, Wal-pole, and Weymouth. A similar number teach Italian, including Norwood and Quincy.


Mandarin Chinese
is the fastest-growing foreign language, taught in about three dozen districts, including Brockton, Hingham, Marshfield, Quincy, Sharon, Walpole, and Whitman-Hanson.

Only a handful of high schools — including Norwell — teach Arabic.

Sources: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Massachusetts Foreign Language Association