[lg policy] Job Outlook for Language Scholars Is Less Gloomy Than Predicted

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 20 14:34:08 UTC 2010

Job Outlook for Language Scholars Is Less Gloomy Than Predicted
By Mary Helen Miller

The job market for English and foreign-language scholars is poor, but
not as dismal as it seemed in December, according to a new report.
Still, the coming year should bring fewer open positions in language
scholarship than there have been in least 35 years.In a midyear
analysis of its Job Information List, the Modern Language Association
predicts that the number of jobs advertised for English will drop 27.5
percent from last year, and the number of jobs advertised for foreign
languages will see a 26.7-percent decline. In a similar report
released in December 2009, the MLA predicted a 37-percent fall in
2009-10 for advertisements for both English and foreign-language jobs.

The initial report was based on the number of jobs advertised in the
October 2009 list, and the current report takes the December 2009 and
February 2010 editions into account. The final count for the year will
be available in August. Last year the number of jobs advertised fell
24.4 percent in English and 27 percent in foreign languages. If this
year's projections hold true, there will be a two-year decline of 45.2
percent in English jobs and 46.4 percent in foreign-language jobs.
Such drops would be the steepest since the MLA first published the Job
Information List, in the 1970s.

Since December, when the MLA released its initial projections for the
number of jobs that would be advertised in 2009-10, the job market
appears to have improved slightly. The current report suggests that
there may have been fewer jobs listed in the October 2009 edition
because "hiring has been delayed this year, not disallowed."  Rosemary
G. Feal, executive director of the MLA, speculated that hiring was
probably delayed because budgets were more uncertain in the fall than
they are now. And although there has been an uptick in the number of
jobs advertised since October, Ms. Feal said that institutions may not
actually fill them all.

"It is very much in a state of flux," she said. Severe budget cuts in
state systems as well as the rebounding endowments of some
institutions could push hiring either down or up, according to Ms.
Feal. She also said that institutions may have to hire if they have
reached the minimum number of instructors with which they can operate.



 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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