The Most Spoken Languages in California

A voting sign in Los Angeles in multiple languages. Editorial credit: Underawesternsky /
A voting sign in Los Angeles in multiple languages. Editorial credit: Underawesternsky /

California is a state in the United States located on the Pacific coast. California has a population of around 37 million people. California’s population is 12% of the entire US population. According to a study done by American Community Survey, 42.6% of people in California above the age of 5 spoke a language other than English at home. 

California has over 200 languages spoken in the state. English is the most spoken language with Spanish being the second most spoken. In California there are over 100 indigenous languages which make the state one of the most linguistically diverse regions on the globe.

Most Widely Spoken Languages in California

English is the most used language in California with an estimate of 20,379,282 speakers which translates to 58.8% of California’s population. English became the official language in California after it was passed in 1989 due to the passage of Proposition 63. English is the language of education, business, and commerce as it is understood and spoken by a large population. Spanish or Spanish Creole is the second most spoken language with 10,672,610 people, which is 28.46% of the whole population. 

Chinese, including Mandarin and Cantonese, has 1,231,425 speakers which are 2.80% of the whole population. Tagalog, a language native to the Philippines, is the most common language spoken in California after Spanish. Tagalog is spoken by an estimated 796,451 residents who constitute 2.20% of the California population.

The Vietnamese language is spoken by over 558,932 which is 1.43% of California’s population. San Jose in California has the highest number of Vietnamese speakers in the US and outside of Vietnam. Korean has around 367,523 speakers which make 1.08% of the whole population according to a study carried out in 2007. Armenian is spoken by about 192,980 people who are 0.52% of California’s population.

Persian and Iranian have 203,770 speakers in California. The state of California boasts the largest concentrations of Iranians and Persians in the world outside of Iran. This is due to large numbers immigrating from Iran because of civil wars. Japanese speakers consist of 0.43% of California’s population. Southern California hosts the largest Japanese American population making California have the largest Asian American population after Hawaii.

Indigenous Languages in California

Unfortunately, all indigenous languages in California are facing extinction. However, some efforts have been put in place to enable language revitalization. Some of the native languages of California include Chukchansi, Luiseño, and Yurok. 

The Most Spoken Languages in California

RankLanguageEst. Number of Speakers

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