Society

The Most Spoken Languages In America

English reigns in the United States, but Spanish and other languages are also spoken throughout the country.

Although the United States has no official language, English is the most commonly spoken language within the country, and the explanation for this is very simple. America, before gaining its independence, was a British colony. The country, therefore, inherited much of its culture as well as language from the British. A majority of the country’s population has British ancestry which, along with other factors, has contributed to English standing strong within American language and culture. English is used in official platforms across most states, and almost the entire population has basic knowledge of English. Still, other languages are gaining traction as being frequently used within America’s borders, and we look at some of the most prominent influences on this trend.

Following English, the most spoken languages in the United States are Spanish, Chinese, French, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. 

A Country of Immigrants

Immigration has largely influenced the demographic patterns of the United States. The predominant majority of US immigrants hail from neighboring Mexico and other Latin American countries. A large influx of Hispanic people has made Spanish the second most widely spoken language in the country. In California and Texas, the Spanish language is spoken and understood to some degree by over 20% of the population. Other states where Spanish’s influence can be greatly felt are New York and Florida. In the latter case, the state's proximity to Cuba and the high rates of immigration from the Caribbean countries have increased the popularity of Spanish in the state.

Technology also has a direct influence on the frequency and variety of languages spoken in the United States. Technology companies, in a bid to keep up with a high level of global competition, have been forced to employ workers from other technology dominant nations. Most of these expatriates are from Asian countries where technology has been at the forefront of economic development for decades. These immigrant workers have added to the linguistic diversity of the US. Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken Asian language in the country. Nearly 2% of the American population can communicate in this language. Besides Chinese, other Asian languages commonly spoken in the US include Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

German and Jewish Influences

German and Hebrew are also spoken in the US by a significant proportion of the population. German immigrants have been arriving in the area since the colonization of the New World. German-Americans is one of the largest ethnic groups in the country. The German influence in the United States can be heavily felt in places such as Chicago, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Hebrew is also commonly spoken in the country since the US has the highest Jewish population outside Israel. The United States and Israel share very close political and economic ties, and this has contributed to a large influx of Israelis into the country. Many Jews also immigrated to the US from Europe to escape the Holocaust. Los Angeles and New York City are great examples of American cities with large Jewish populations today.

 

The Absence of Native American Languages

Without a doubt, the United States is a highly multicultural country. It has received immigrants from all across the world who have contributed to the linguistic diversity of the nation. However, one must not forget the indigenous languages of the native Americans that are at great threat today. It is important to note that no native American language makes it to the list of the top 25 languages spoken in the US. The Navajo language, which is the most widely spoken Native American language, has roughly 170,000 speakers only. Thus, the state of preservation and growth of Native American languages is a major issue in the country.

What are the Most Spoken Languages in the United States?

Although the country has no official language, English is the most commonly spoken language within the United States. Following English, the most spoken languages in the country are Spanish, Chinese, French, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

Most US Native Speakers By Language

RankPrimary Language Spoken at Home in the USNumber of speakers
1English231,122,908
2Spanish37,458,470
3Chinese (incl. Cantonese, Mandarin, other Chinese languages)2,896,766
4French and French Creole2,047,467
5Tagalog1,613,346
6Vietnamese1,399,936
7Korean1,117,343
8German1,063,773
9Arabic924,374
10Russian879,434
11Italian708,966
12Portuguese693,469
13Hindi643,337
14Polish580,153
15Japanese449,475
16Urdu397,502
17Persian391,113
18Gujarati373,253
19Greek304,932
20Bengali257,740
21Panjabi253,740
22Telugu247,760
23Armenian237,840
24Hmong214,943
25Hebrew212,747

Citations

Your MLA Citation

Your APA Citation

Your Chicago Citation

Your Harvard Citation

Remember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.

More in Society