Job market improves for languages professors

But annual hiring is still one-third lower than in 2007-08

The Modern Languages Association’s job board is North America’s dominant website for posting full-time professor jobs in English and foreign languages departments. That makes it a decent barometer for the two fields’ PhD job markets.

An analysis of this year’s listings shows that full-time job availability improved compared to the previous two devastating years—a period in which listings dropped 40 per cent. There were 8.2 per cent more English professor jobs posted in 2010-11 than in 2009-10. The number of foreign languages jobs was up too—7.1 per cent year-on-year. It’s a welcome improvement, but annual hiring is still one-third below its peak in 2007-08.

Click here to read about a similar trend in the sociology job market.

The analysis showed another bit of positive news too. The proportion of English positions that were tenure-track inched back up to 70 per cent of the total after falling from 75 per cent in 2007-08 to 65 per cent last year. Still, as the MLA points out, these figures can only gauge full-time jobs. Less is known about how many part-time professors have been hired. Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s more than a few: Click here to read “Whatever happened to tenure?” by Stephanie Findlay.