The United States is the birthplace of the most widely used modern foreign language education theories. A glimpse at the US gives us an idea of current foreign language learning trends. 10,600,000 of K-12 students in the US are learning a foreign language, this is 20% of total K-12 students.

But which are the most popular languages in the US school? And where does Chinese fit in? According to this story from Xinhua, the list may surprise you.

#1 Spanish

Spanish is by far the most popular foreign language taught in US schools. A whopping 7,360,000 students are learning Spanish. The Latin American presence still makes it the top language to learn in the US.

#2 French

French has been a popular foreign language to learn in the US ever since WWII when the Foreign Services Institutes taught marines French to prepare for the Normandy landing. Now 1,290,000 in US school students choose French as their foreign language. O la-la.

#3 German

This might surprise you, but German is the third most popular foreign language in the US. 331,000 school students learn German. This close kin of the English language was no doubt important during the US's aid of European post-war construction and during the Cold War when Germany was split into two.

#4 Chinese

Chinese has risen to the 4th on the list, having 227,086 students enrolled. From 2009-2015, the number of Mandarin learners doubled, and may continue to rise.

Do you think there should be more people learning Chinese than, say, German or French? Write your comment below.