Are you speaking your patients’ language? That’s not a metaphor – I mean it literally. As the U.S. population becomes increasingly diverse, providers need to increase their ability to deliver multilingual communications to various groups of patients. How diverse have we become? Here are some interesting facts you may not have known regarding language use in the U.S.
- 20% of Americans over the age of five speak a language other than English in their home.
- 24% of those who speak another language in the home claim to speak English either “not well” or “not well at all”.
- The number of people in the U.S. who speak a language other than English has more than doubled since 1980.
- In its 2007 American Community Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau notes 381 unique language spoken throughout the nation.
- Aside from English, the top five most commonly-spoken languages in the U.S. are (in order): Spanish, Chinese, French, Tagalog and Vietnamese.
- Spanish is far and away the second most popular language, with 14 times more popularity than the third-place Chinese language.
- Vietnamese has experienced the highest percentage of growth since the U.S. Census Bureau began tracking language use in 1980 – growing 510% to over 1.2 million today.
- German is the only language ranking in the top 10 to have experienced a decline since 1980. German-speakers are down 30% in the U.S. since 1980.
Just for fun, here’s a map of the percentage of people who speak a non-English language by county. It’s based on the 2000 Census data, so it’s a little dated. Updated with present day data, you’d certainly see a lot more blue.