America Becoming More Multilingual

According to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) of newly released Census Bureau data for 2016, a record 65.5 million U.S. residents over the age of five spoke a language other than English at home. The number is up six million since 2010 and has increased by nearly 34 million since 1990. As a share of the population, over 20% U.S. residents now speak a language other than English at home.

Of languages with more than 400,000 speakers, the largest percentage increases since 2010 were among speakers of Arabic (up 42%), Hindi (up 33%), Urdu (up 22%), Chinese (up 20%), Persian and Haitian (each up 15%), and Gujarati (up 14%).

The largest numerical increases 2010 to 2016 were among speakers of Spanish (up 3.5 million), Chinese (up 564,000), Arabic (up 366,000), Hindi (up 201,000), Telugu (up 143,000), Vietnamese (up 129,000), Tagalog (up 128,000), Haitian (up 109,000), Bengali (up 101,000), Tamil (up 89,000), and Urdu (up 86,000). Telugu and Tamil are spoken in India and Tagalog is the national language of the Philippines; Bengali is spoken in India and is also the national language of Bangladesh.

Languages with more than a million speakers in 2016 were Spanish (40.5 million), Chinese (3.4 million), Tagalog (1.7 million), Vietnamese (1.5 million), Arabic (1.2 million), French (1.2 million), and Korean (1.1 million).

CIS researchers estimate that nearly one in four public school students now speaks a language other than English at home. In California, the estimate is 44% , while in Texas, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, and Nevada, it is estimated that over a third of school-age children speak a language other than English at home.

The analysis was carried out by Karen Zeigler, a demographer and Steven A. Camarota, the director of research at the CIS, which supports decreasing immigration.



  1. Hasn’t America been multilingual before? I remember 30 years ago I would enter a store in New York
    and the store employee wouldn’t be able to speak English. Just like now. Even with the quoted numbers. I wonder. Alex Jenin.

  2. Alex Jenin, America has always been multilingual. The brief article points out the increase in a short span of time and the variety of languages.Using your one example of a store employee that could not speak English as the nation being multilingual does not make sense. Magdalena Ruz Gonzalez

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