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Common Languages Spoken in the Melting Pot

June 15, 2016

The United States of American is often called the “great melting pot” or the “mixing bowl” as a way of referring to the cultures of many nations coming together into a new unified people. There is probably no other place where this is more obvious than in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. A simple walk through the typical tourist's districts will be rife with foreign language speakers. In fact, you’ll probably hear more diverse languages being spoken in a 30 minute stroll through D.C. than anywhere else in the country.

English is, of course, the most widely spoken language in the U.S. followed by Spanish. In fact, according to a 2011 Census Bureau survey, Spanish was the most spoken second language in all but seven states. There are over 37 million Spanish speakers in the United States.

While Spanish may dominate the top spot on the list, Chinese is quickly growing in ranks. Much of this is due to the globalization of our economy and the strength of China’s role in this arena. There are nearly 3 million speakers of Mandarin or Cantonese dialects of Chinese in the U.S., many of whom are found in New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.

Third on the list is a language many have not heard of, Tagalog. This is the principle language of the Philippines and spoken widely in Hawaii. The number of Tagalog speakers in the U.S. has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Why the strong growth? The principle reason is immigration. Filipino immigrants have become one of the fastest growing populations in the United States, consistently ranking among the top 5 countries of origin since 1990.

Vietnamese and French occupy positions 4 and 5 on the list, both experiencing growth over the past 3 decades. Surprisingly German (#6) has had a 30% decrease in speakers since 1980 with the population of U.S. citizens now down to just over 1 million.

It's no secret that we love languages at ProLingo. If you have an interest in learning something new, we hope this list will help you decide on a direction to go with your studies. There is always a need for new interpreters who are skilled in two or more languages.

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