CONTACT:  Sarah Potter
Communications Coordinator



Vol. 46, No. 80
November 9, 2012

Missouri Students Taking More Foreign Language, World History Classes

International Education Week Nov. 12-16 promotes global learning

More students in Missouri are studying foreign languages and world history ‒ classes that will help prepare them for living and working in an increasingly global society.

The Missouri State Board of Education adopted a resolution last month in support of International Education Week, Nov. 12-16, to encourage schools to provide students with the knowledge they need to succeed in a globally competitive economy.

"The ability to communicate effectively with people from other countries and develop a deeper understanding of other cultures has never been more important," said Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. "International education helps prepare students for a world where global partnerships are common and economies are interconnected."

With an increasing number of students taking foreign language and world history classes, Missouri is headed in the right direction, Nicastro said.

Last year, public school enrollment in world history classes totaled nearly 90,000 students, compared to about 53,000 for the 1991-1992 school year, according to data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.


Foreign language classes* taken by
Missouri public school students

Foreign language classes






The number of students studying Spanish has almost tripled in Missouri in the past two decades. Nearly 145,000 students were enrolled in Spanish during the 2011-2012 school year, compared to about 55,000 students during the 1991-1992 school year. Enrollment is also growing in French, German, Russian and Chinese classes.

While foreign language classes are not required for high school graduation in Missouri, they are strongly recommended as core electives to help students succeed in postsecondary education.

Preparing students for college, other postsecondary training and a career is a primary goal of the Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for education in Missouri to rank among the top 10 states nationwide by the year 2020.

International Education Week is sponsored annually by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of State to promote the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. More information can be found at