POLITICS

Nearly 38 Million In U.S. Speak Spanish At Home, Census Says

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  A sign reading, "Se habla Espanol", identifies a bilingual election official as voters go to the polls for Super Tuesday primaries in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights on February 5, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Latinos are an increasingly important factor in California where they are expected to account for 14 percent of the vote and tend to favor presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) over rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). At 44 million, Latinos make up15 percent of the US population, the nation's largest minority group according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 05: A sign reading, "Se habla Espanol", identifies a bilingual election official as voters go to the polls for Super Tuesday primaries in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights on February 5, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Latinos are an increasingly important factor in California where they are expected to account for 14 percent of the vote and tend to favor presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) over rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). At 44 million, Latinos make up15 percent of the US population, the nation's largest minority group according to the latest Census Bureau estimates. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)  (2008 Getty Images)

Nearly 38 million U.S. residents speak Spanish at home, a stunning increase over the 1980 number of 11 million, according to the U.S. Census.

Spanish-speakers accounted for roughly two-thirds of the nearly 61 million who speak a language other than English at home, the Census report said.

At the same time, proficiency in English seems to be on the rise among Spanish-speakers, with 5.6 percent of this group saying that they speak English “less than very well,” compared with 5.7 percent over the 2005-2011 period.

Overall, the number of people in the United States who speak a foreign language at home has tripled since 1980.

“The study provides evidence of the growing role of languages other than English in the national fabric,” said Camille Ryan, a U.S. Census statistician and the report’s author, in a statement. “Yet, at the same time that more people are speaking languages other than English at home, the percentage of people speaking English proficiently has remained steady.”

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After Spanish, Chinese followed by a very distant margin – it is spoken by just under 3 million people.

Other languages whose use at home use has grown significantly over the decades are Vietnamese, Russian, Persian, Armenian, Korean and Tagalog.

Vietnamese saw the highest percentage jump of all the most commonly spoken languages, but Spanish had the largest numerical gain, with nearly 26 million.

Laredo, Texas led metropolitan areas in the percentage – 92 – of residents older than the age of 5 who speak a language other than English at home.

Different parts of the United States showed a wide variety in the speaking of a foreign language at home. For instance, 44 percent of the population in California speaks a language other than English at home, whereas in West Virginia only 2 percent does.

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