Four questions about foreign language speakers in the U.S.

Learning English — and becoming proficient in it — is virtually essential for immigrants. Parents and youth who can converse in English are better equipped to access health care, secure employment and engage with their community. (Ge here).

How many people speak other than English at home? Ans: 50 million, or about 16% of the population

According to Pew Research, in 2011, 37.6 million persons ages 5 years and older speak Spanish at home. The next most spoken non-English languages are Chinese (with 2.8 million speakers), Hindi, Urdu or other Indic languages (2.2 million), French or French Creole (2.1 million), Tagalog (1.7 million), and Vietnamese (1.4 million). Adding other languages, the total is probably around 50 million.

Since there were in 2011 about 42 million foreign born-persons, this means that 8 million then were born in the U.S. who speak other than English at home. A good number of these are likely U.S. born children of immigrants.

What share of the Hispanic speak Spanish at home? Ans: about 70%

There were 56.5 million Hispanics in the United States in 2015, accounting for 17.6% of the total U.S. population. This implies that about 70% of speak Spanish at home.

In 1980, 10 million persons spoke English at home. In 2000, 25 million spoke Spanish at home.  In 2011, 37.6 million.

Are more Hispanics speaking English? Ans: yes.

This is due to demographic changes with more U.S. born Hispanics vs. recent immigrants. In 2012. 59% of Hispanic adults speak English proficiently, up from 54% in 2006 and 2000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

In 2014, When asked about their language use and English proficiency in 2014, some 88% of Hispanics ages 5 to 17 said they either speak only English at home or speak English “very well,” up from 73% who said the same in 2000.

Fully 89% of U.S.-born Hispanics spoke English proficiently in 2013, up from 72% in 1980. That means, of course, the 11% of U.S. born Latinos did not speak English proficiently in 2013.

How many children of immigrants live in linguistically isolated homes? Ans: about 4 million or about 21% of children of immigrants.

Linguistically isolated households have zero individuals age 14 or older who speak only English or who speak English very well.

Fourteen percent of all kids in immigrant families have a hard time speaking English, 21% live in linguistically isolated households, and 54% live with parents who have difficulty speaking English.

The rate of linguistic isolation among children in immigrant families has dropped—from 26% in 2008 to 21% in 2015.

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