More on Language
Ancarett is riffing off the post below, and it reminded me about a concomitant problem with the whole language requirement thing. FTEs and Gen.Ed./Core requirements. I think that the problem may be worse at smaller campuses where smaller also = financially strapped. For any given requirement of a course or courses in one department, another department whose courses are not required will feel hard done by. Sometimes the argument will be phrased as "but this is important in terms of a well-rounded education." And sometimes, that's true. Language certainly fits in there. But there is often pressure from above ("too many requirements mean students have too few choices, and they will leave us and go elsewhere") and from within the faculty ("why do you think your field is more important than mine"). The former argument is dodgy. The latter, just stupid. Some fields are more necessary to a Liberal Arts education than others. Because, well, there are these things we call Liberal Arts. Seven of them, as it happens. History's one of them. The social sciences? not. So I'm all for arguing that History should be required, but that non-majors should be able to satisfy a general social science requirement with Econ, Sociology, Anthro, Psych, PoliSci ... But I also do understand that people's egos are at stake.
In more practical terms, though, I think a lot of it is about funding. The pie is only so big, and smaller departments don't want their budgets diminished at the expense of something as lame as foreign languages. I've seen this happen at a couple of places. The people who side with languages? History (usually, as long as History is already required), some kinds of Lit people, International Relations, and some of the Health Care professions. One guy from the Business School (it's always a guy ... talk about gender imbalance). A cultural Anthropologist, if there is one. For the rest of the faculty, not so much support. Note: this is not true for faculty who went to really good SLACs or universities and had to learn languages themselves. They usually appreciate the value.
But as long as funding is based on enrollments, there will be problems getting meaningful language requirements.