|Photo Credit: Ryan Ozawa|
Other findings from the report:
"The report shows that the percent speaking English "less than very well" grew from 8.1 percent in 2000 to 8.7 percent in 2007, but stayed at 8.7 percent in 2011. The percent speaking a language other than English at home went from 17.9 percent in 2000 to 19.7 percent in 2007, while continuing upward to 20.8 percent in 2011.
"This study provides evidence of the growing role of languages other than English in the national fabric," said Camille Ryan, a statistician in the Census Bureau's Education and Social Stratification Branch and the report's author. "Yet, at the same time that more people are speaking languages other than English at home, the percentage of people speaking English proficiently has remained steady."
Of the 60.6 million people who spoke a language other than English at home in 2011, almost two-thirds (37.6 million) spoke Spanish. Reflecting the overall trend, the percentage speaking Spanish at home grew from 12.0 percent in 2005 to 12.9 percent in 2011. In contrast to the overall trend, however, the percent who spoke Spanish at home but spoke English "less than very well" declined from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent over the period.
The recent increase in non-English speakers continues a trend dating back three decades. Between 1980 and 2010, the number of people speaking a language other than English climbed 158 percent, compared with 38 percent for the overall population 5 and older. The seven-fold increase in Vietnamese speakers was the highest percentage jump among 17 of the most common languages, while Spanish speakers posted the largest numerical gain (25.9 million). In contrast, the number speaking Italian, German, Polish, Yiddish and Greek declined over the period.
To look at the complete report, including visual maps illustrating which languages are spoken throughout the United States, please click here.
- In addition to English and Spanish, there were six languages in 2011 spoken at home by at least 1 million people: Chinese (2.9 million), Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), German (1.1 million) and Korean (1.1 million).
- The prevalence of people speaking non-English languages at home varied widely across states, from 44 percent of the population in California to 2 percent in West Virginia.
- Laredo, Texas, led all metro areas with 92 percent of residents age 5 and older speaking a language other than English at home.
- Metro and micro areas in the West, South and Northeast tended to have higher levels of people speaking non-English languages at home. Those in the Midwest tended to have lower levels, with the exception of Illinois.
- Of Spanish speakers, 45 percent of foreign-born naturalized citizens spoke English "very well" compared with 23 percent of foreign-born non-citizens. Those who were native-born, had at least a bachelor's degree or were not in poverty were more likely to speak English "very well."
- Eighty percent or more of French and German speakers spoke English "very well." In contrast, less than 50 percent of those who spoke Korean, Chinese or Vietnamese spoke English "very well". The rate for Spanish speakers was 56 percent."