Updated on Monday, April 6, 2015
The number of people in the US who speak a language other than English has more than doubled since 1980. That’s hardly surprising, given the ever-expanding diversity of language in the United States and the increasing trend toward bilingual households, but a few of the most common non-English languages spoken might surprise you.
According to a recently-released Census Bureau report, the following are the most popular languages in the United States, as of 2011:
Representing the largest decline on this list, Italian claims only 723,632 speakers – half as many as in 1980. Italian can still be heard in places like New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Almost as big a boost as Vietnamese, the 905,843 Russian-speakers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, among other cities, have increased by 391 percent since 1980.
The Arabic-speaking population in the US is larger than most people likely realize — as of 2011, the census recorded 951,699 native Arabic speakers. In 1980, there were only 251,409 Arabic speakers on record.
1,141,277 speakers of Korean, located mainly in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC and Chicago, have quadrupled over the last thirty years.
Found primarily in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington DC, German-speakers number 1,083,637, which is actually a 30 percent decrease in speakers since 1980.
The 1,301,443 French-speakers found primarily in New York, Washington DC, Boston and Miami represent a 28 percent increase compared to 1980.
With an increase of 510 percent since 1980, Vietnamese is the language with the biggest change, with 1,419,539 speakers found in Los Angeles, San Jose, Houston and Dallas, among other cities.
This language from the Phillipines boasts 1,594,413 speakers in the US – slightly more than tripling its numbers in the last three decades, and recently surpassing French and Vietnamese on this list. Speakers of Tagalog are concentrated mainly in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and San Diego.
Just about 2,882,497 people speak a Chinese dialect such as Mandarin or Cantonese, an increase of 290 percent! You’re most likely to find Chinese dialect-speakers in New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco.
With 37,579,787 speakers, the number of Spanish-speakers in the US has increased by 210 percent since 1980, with the highest concentrations in Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Chicago.