LanguageLine Blog

Part II: 4 More Population Trends Shaping Language Services

Written by Patti Geye | January 24, 2017

We recently shared some fascinating statistics on the changing faces and languages of the United States.

For instance, it’s no surprise that California and Texas have the largest Hispanic populations, but did you know that North Dakota has the fastest-growing Hispanic population?

In this next post, we’ll explore what other ways our country’s population is shifting and how those changes are impacting the most commonly spoken languages.

Here are four more population trends that may cause you to re-evaluate the language services your organization offers.

1. The Other Most Commonly Spoken Languages Vary By State

A map of the most commonly spoken languages across the country (aside from English and Spanish) reveal some interesting findings. Perhaps not surprisingly, German is the most commonly spoken language in much of the Midwest, and French is the most common along much of the East Coast.

 Source: Census Bureau American Community Survey, Map by Ben Blatt/Slate

However, it may be surprising to some that Vietnamese is the second most commonly spoken language in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Oregon. In California and Nevada, it’s Tagalog, the basis for the standardized language of the Philippines.

2. Asians Are the Fastest-Growing Immigrant Population

Latin America and Asia historically have been the largest source of immigrants, but that has changed in recent years. In fact, Pew Research findings show more Hispanic immigrants actually returned to Mexico than arrived in the United States between 2009 and 2014, resulting in a net loss. Meanwhile, the number of immigrants from Asia has continued to grow. Over the next 40 years, Asian immigrants are projected to outpace Hispanics as a percentage of the population.

3. Arabic is the Fastest Growing Language In the United States

The number of Arabic speakers has grown 29 percent to 1.1 million from 2010 to 2014, making it the fastest growing language in the United States. In response to the growth, the U.S. Census Bureau is considering translating its 2020 census form into Arabic and adding a Middle East/North Africa category. It already offers language services to help Arabic speakers fill out the English-language questionnaire.

4. Fifteen Percent of the U.S. Population Has Trouble Hearing

Approximately 37.5 million American adults, or 15 percent of the population, report having some trouble hearing, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The likelihood of disabling hearing loss increases with age; 2 percent of adults ages 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss, but that number increases to 25 percent among those 65 to 74 and 50 percent among adults 75 and older.

Taking the Next Step

A growing immigrant population, the prevalence of other languages and the growing number of people with hearing problems are just a few factors you should consider as you assess your language needs in the coming year.

For instance, you may want to consider adding new languages to the interpreting services you provide or adding video remote interpreting to better accommodate those with hearing problems.

If you need help taking the next step with your language services in the new year, feel free to contact us today.