The US Language Landscape

The U.S. language landscape has largely been shaped by immigration patterns to the United States.  Large-scale British immigration before independence due to colonialism makes English the most widely spoken language in the United States; however, the United States has always been multicultural and multilingual.  In fact, the first bilingual education program was in Ohio to support German-speaking students in the early 1800’s, followed shortly by a bilingual program in Louisiana to support French-speaking students.  Hence, Bilingual Education has always been a fundamental and important student right in the United States.  The table below depicts what the language landscape currently looks like in the country.  

Commonly Spoken Languages in the US

LanguageU.S. Population
English Only231,122,908
Spanish37,458,470
Chinese Languages (including Cantonese, Mandarin, and other Chinese languages)2,896,766
French and French Creole2,047,467
Tagalog1,613,346
Vietnamese1,399,936
Korean1,117,343
German1,063,773
Arabic924,374
Russian879,434
(US Census, 2010)

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