REPORT: Record number of Americans speak foreign language at home

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The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) analysis of 2016 Census Bureau data reveals that the number of U.S. residents five years of age and older who speak a language besides English at home has doubled since 1990 and tripled since 1980.

This means that a record 65.5 million people are now living in bilingual households.

The findings also reveal that half of the growth in foreign language speakers since 2010 is among those born in the United States. Overall, 44 percent (29 million) of those who speak a language other than English at home are U.S.-born.

Nearly 1 in 4 public school students now speak a language other than English at home. In California, that number rises to 44 percent. And in Texas, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, and Nevada, nearly one in three school-age children speak a foreign language at home.

The number of foreign language speakers has increased by nearly 34 million since 1990. As a share of the population, more than one in five U.S. residents now speaks a foreign language at home, according to the data. The largest percentage increases since 2010, among languages with more than 400,000 speakers, were for Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Chinese, Persian, Haitian, and Gujarati. Hindi and Gujarati are spoken in India; Urdu is spoken in Pakistan.

Of those who speak a foreign language at home, 26.1 million (39.8 percent) told the Census Bureau that they speak English less than very well. However, since the Census Bureaus does not measure language skills, this figure is entirely based on the opinion of the respondents.

Under the RAISE Act, which would move our immigration system to a merit, point-based system, immigrants will receive points for their English-speaking ability.

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