Bilingualism on Steep Rise in U.S.

fig-1While a record 64.7 million people ages five and older in the U.S. spoke a language other than English at home in 2015, a growing share of them are also fully proficient in English. According to analysis of census data by the Migration Policy Institute, "an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think-tank dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide," 60% of those speaking a foreign language at home were fully proficient in English in 2015, up from 56% in 1980—even as immigration levels rose significantly.

The population of immigrants and U.S. natives speaking a language other than English at home—which represents about one in five U.S. residents—has nearly tripled since 1980 when it stood at 23.1 million.

Most English-Learner Children Born in U.S.

fig-2The analysis found that the vast majority of English-language learners (ELLs) in U.S. K-12 schools during 2015 were born in the U.S. with 82% of prekindergarten to 5th grade English-learners and 65% of 6th and 12th grade English-learners being U.S.-born, whereas the foreign-born general population was much more likely to have limited English proficiency than the U.S.-born population. In 2015, approximately 49% of immigrants (21 million) were Limited English Proficient (LEP), compared to 2% of the U.S.-born population.

Overall, the analysis found that more than half of U.S. residents who spoke a foreign language in 2015 were also English-proficient.

To read the full report, visit http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/language-diversity-and-english-proficiency-united-states

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