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Reports says U.S. students studying abroad don't speak language

July 28, 2003

Many college students believe they must be fluent in a language to study abroad. However, a recent study indicates that most students who study abroad are not language majors and many do not have any foreign language skills.

According to the Institute of International Education's most recent survey, 20.3 percent of U.S. students studying abroad are social science students and 18.1 percent are business management majors. Language majors ranked fifth on this list at only 8.2 percent of the total 154,168 students surveyed.

Students are choosing to study abroad to fulfill both general education and degree-related courses.

Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA), a study abroad provider for U.S. and Canadian college students, sends more than 1,500 students of all majors and language levels in study-abroad programs to Spain, France, Italy, Mexico, Costa Rica, England, Australia and Ireland.

According to Ann Halpin, academic relations manager at CEA, "study-abroad programs have diversified so much over the past 20 years. Foreign universities recognize the importance of offering courses taught in English to satisfy study-abroad students. This provides many more options for students wanting to study in a non-English-speaking country."

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CEA emphasizes that while previous language experience is recommended, it is not required.

To determine a student's language level, the host university provides a language exam to place students in classrooms with peers with the same speaking abilities.

For more information on Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA), go to www.GoWithCEA.com on the Web.

For information on the Institute of International Education, go to opendoors.iienetwork.org on the Web.

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