25 Million U.S. Residents Speak English Poorly, 350 Languages Spoken in U.S.

The Associated Press

At least 350 different languages are spoken in homes across the country and tens of millions of people in the U.S. do not speak English well, according to new Census Bureau data.

In tables based on American Community Survey data collected from 2009 to 2013, the Census revealed more than 60 million people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home, 25 million of whom speak English less than “very well.”

More than 231 million people in the U.S. speak only English at home.

The top languages other than English spoken in U.S. homes include Spanish (with more than 37.4 million speakers), Chinese (with about 2.9 million speakers), French (with 1.3 million speakers), Korean (1.1 million), German (1.1 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), Arabic (924,573), Tagalog (1.6 million), and Russian (879,434).

Within each language category the Census Bureau details how many people do not speak English well. Among Spanish speakers, for example, more than 16.3 million speak English less than “very well” as do 1.6 million Chinese speakers.

Large metro areas boast a wealth of language diversity, as the Census reveals. For example 192 different languages are spoken in New York metro area homes and 38 percent of the population over the age of five speaks a language other than English at home.

Additionally, more than half of the population of Los Angeles, 54 percent, speaks a language other than English at home and at least 185 languages are represented. More than half of Miami, 51 percent, also speaks a language other than English at home and 128 languages are spoken.

Other metro areas of distinction include Chicago where 29 percent of residents speak languages other than English at home and at least 153 languages are spoken. In Dallas 30 percent of the population speaks a non-English language at home, as does 37 percent of Houston, 26 percent of Washington, 23 percent of Boston, 40 percent of San Francisco, 40 percent of Riverside, Calif and 26 percent of Phoenix.

According to the Census, Tuesday’s release represents the most comprehensive data on languages spoken in the U.S.

“While most of the U.S. population speaks only English at home or a handful of other languages like Spanish or Vietnamese, the American Community Survey reveals the wide-ranging language diversity of the United States,” said Erik Vickstrom, a Census Bureau statistician.


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