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.”
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.