Original URL: http://www.azstarnet.com/star/Thu/31009NCensus-Languages.html

U.S. sees surge of non-English speakers
October 9, 2003

WASHINGTON - Nearly one in five Americans speaks a language other than English at home, the Census Bureau says, after a surge of nearly 50 percent during the past decade.

Most speak Spanish, followed by Chinese, with Russian rising fast.

Some 47 million Americans 5 and older used a language other than English in 2000, the bureau said. That translates into the nearly one in five, compared with roughly one in seven 10 years earlier.

There also were more people considered "linguistically isolated" because of limited English, a situation that some analysts say can prevent people from assimilating fully into American society and hinder such activities as grocery shopping or communicating with police or fire officials.

The Spanish-speaking population rose by 62 percent over the period to 28.1 million.

The numbers are a further reflection of the surge in immigration since 1990. The influx helped make Hispanics the largest minority group, surpassing blacks.

California, New Mexico and Texas had the highest percentages of residents who did not speak English at home.

The trend has had vast ripple effects across American culture. Many school districts are scrambling to find bilingual instructors to teach an influx of immigrant students.

Find out more about the Census Bureau's report on the most spoken language: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-29.pdf