Axios Austin

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Hey, Friday!

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Austin members Mark Tobey and Mimi Purnell!

☔️ Today's weather: Chance of severe thunderstorms, with a high near 79.

  • Prepare for more rain through the weekend.

🌧 Situational awareness: Saturday's SXSW community concert will relocate from Lady Bird Lake to Palm Door on Sixth Street due to inclement weather. Free and open to the public from 2-6pm.

Today's newsletter is 949 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Adieu, foreign languages

Data: University of Texas; Chart: Axios Visuals

University of Texas students are showing less and less interest in foreign language classes, mirroring national trends.

Why it matters: The trend is part of a broader movement from liberal arts to STEM classes on university campuses.

By the numbers: The total number of undergraduate enrollees in 11 foreign language classes, from Arabic to Spanish, dropped from 4,750 in the fall of 2014 to 4,224 in the fall of 2023, per data provided by UT to Axios.

  • In fall 2014, Spanish classes made up 39.2% of all of the university's foreign language enrollment. By 2023, that number was 48.9%.

What they're saying: Richard Meier, adviser to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts for Languages and Area Studies, told Axios the decline could be because many popular degrees do not require extensive coursework in a foreign language.

Zoom out: Enrollment in languages other than English at U.S. colleges and universities dropped 16.6% between the fall of 2016 and the fall of 2021, the Modern Language Association (MLA) reported last year.

Between the lines: Language study on college campuses peaked in 2009 and has been dropping ever since, the MLA noted.

  • Some of the drop in enrollments can be tied to the overall decrease in college students, but the phenomenon also seems linked to the overall denigration of non-STEM fields on campus, Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson writes.

Yes, but: "People who speak another language score higher on tests and think more creatively, have access to a wider variety of jobs, and can more fully enjoy and participate in other cultures or converse with people from diverse backgrounds," the American Academy of Arts & Sciences says.

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2. Venezuelan comic brings Spanish set to Austin

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Angelo Colina

U.S. Latino comedians have largely become successful by performing in English, but one Venezuelan comic is flipping the narrative by selling out shows, including this weekend's Austin show, and drawing a massive online following with his entirely Spanish-language sets.

The big picture: The surging popularity of 29-year-old Angelo Colina comes as demand for Spanish-language content grows, Axios' Salt Lake City's Kim Bojórquez reports.

  • The U.S. is home to the second-largest population of Spanish speakers in the world, behind Mexico.
  • Nearly one-third of Texans and 21% of Travis County residents speak Spanish at home, according to 2018-2022 U.S. Census Bureau data.

Zoom in: Most successful Latino comedians — think George Lopez and Cristela Alonzo — have long performed in English.

Like Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny, who has never released an English-only track to appease commercial audiences, Colina doesn't feel the need to constrain himself to English-speaking audiences.

  • "Doing comedy in English … you really have to explain why you have an accent. You kinda go into these identity politics," he says.
  • In 2021, Colina teamed up with Venezuelan comedian Andrés Sereno to launch a tour called "Español Please."

What's next: Colina is on a national tour, intentionally visiting cities that don't have a robust Latino population, including Indianapolis, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; and Louisville, Kentucky.

Read the rest

3. 🤠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚧 South by Southwest could be relocated for three years as the city plans to give the convention center a makeover after the 2025 festival. (Austin Chronicle)

🚔 Vehicle thefts around the airport have jumped by 80% between 2022 and 2023, per Austin Police. (KVUE)

🚊 CapMetro officials say the Red Line has bounced back after mechanical issues delayed rides during the opening of the new McKalla Station near Q2 Stadium. (Austin American-Statesman 🔒)

🚫 Pornhub, one of the most-viewed websites in the world, disabled access in Texas yesterday over objections to a state law that requires age verification to prevent access to minors. (Axios)

4. 📈 Charted: The Austin metro's growth

Change in population, 2020 to 2023
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

New census data underscore what most of us already know. Everyone wants to live here.

Driving the news: The country's top four fastest-growing metro areas from 2020-2023 are all in Florida, with Provo, Utah, and Austin trailing just behind, according to census figures out this week.

  • The Austin metro area saw its population balloon by more than 7.5% since the pandemic, per the data.

Yes, but: Growth slowed between 2022-2023, breaking our 12-year streak as the fastest growing large metro area in the country.

  • "These population estimates show a continued trend of strong and rapid population growth for the Austin metro area even if we're not at the very top of the list," city demographer Lila Valencia said in a statement.

Of note: The data is part of the most recent release of the annual Population Estimates Program, which tracks population numbers between censuses.

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Stay booked and busy

The Two-Parent Privilege with Melissa Kearney at Littlefield Home at UT on March 18: This event aims to present its audience with evidence of the effects of family structure on childhood outcomes and to explore public policies to strengthen the potential for two-parent households while making the consequences of single-parent households less onerous.

Hosting an event? Email [email protected].

5. SXSW panel picker

Mexican singer Peso Pluma performs at ACL Live this week. Photo: Erika Goldring/WireImage

We've got you covered with some fun ideas for panels, parties and music through the remainder of SXSW.

🎵 Find out how the Billboard Charts have evolved in the digital age with a session between Billboard's Keith Caulfield and Silvio Pietroluongo and 10:22PM founder Celine Joshua. 10-11am today at the Austin Convention Center, Room 16AB.

🌐 Catch a keynote from Patreon's Jack Conte, who will talk about how internet algorithms are threatening creativity. 1-2pm today at the Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D.

🎤 Discover up-and-coming Latin music artists at the De Los Showcase from 8pm-2am tonight at La Factoria.

🎬 Don't miss the world premiere of "The Idea of You," starring Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine, to close out SXSW on Saturday. Paramount Theatre at 7pm.

☀️ Stop by Hotel San José for live music and local vendors at the annual South by San José. Music from 12-10pm today and tomorrow. Free and open to the public.

🎸 Dance during the last two nights of Billboard's annual concert series at Moody Amphitheater with performances by Christian Nodal tonight and ILLENIUM tomorrow. Badgeholders receive priority admission and general admission tickets can be purchased online.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes and Anjelica Tan for copy editing this newsletter.

🏝️ Asher is out.

Nicole can't wait to see DJ Johnny Jane (Janelle Monáe) at the Pourri x Rolling Stone showcase tonight.