That’s the good news. The bad news is that “stable” means that the English and modern foreign language teaching positions are still few and far between, reports an Inside Higher Ed article, “A Tough Job Outlook.”
According to the annual Modern Language Association (MLA) report, teaching positions in English are level compared to last year, but are 20.3% fewer than in 2008-2009, and 39.8% fewer than in 2007-2008.
For foreign languages the number of positions is on par with the number in 2009-2010, but is 16.9% lower than in 2008-2009, and 39.3% lower than in 2007-2008.
On the bright side, the number of English Ph.D.s has dropped from 965 in 2008 to 896 in 2009, suggesting that there may be less competition in the job market. For modern languages, the number of graduates has remained consistent. The good news for the language Ph.D.s is that there are now more non-Spanish job openings available—6% of the language openings are in Chinese and 4% in Arabic, compared with 1.4% and 0.5% respectively a decade ago.
As one can imagine, there are a plethora of disgruntled Ph.D. students and graduates, including the paraphernalian, an English doctorate holder who published “because: a manifesto,” a poem highlighting her reasons for leaving academia, mainly: “Because the failures of a flawed system are not my personal failures / Because I am tired of being made to feel like a failure because I have been failed by a flawed system.”
Rosemary G. Feal, MLA’s executive director, calls for “systemic” changes in higher education, including “better public support for the humanities and academe in general, and reforms of graduate education to help improve the job market for new Ph.D.s.” Not all graduates are going to last research positions at top universities, she says. Programs need to better train their students to be prepared for the sorts of teaching positions that actually exist today.
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