Asian-American Immigrants Have More Difficulty Mastering English Than Hispanics

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, November 3, 2015

Those who speak Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese at home are less proficient in English than Spanish-speakers according to striking findings the Census Bureau released Tuesday that suggest some Asians may have a tougher time mastering English than Hispanics.

Overall, Americans speak more than 350 different tongues at home, including some 150 Native American languages, some of which have so few speakers that the bureau declined to release the totals for fear that it would identify actual individuals.

And in the country’s largest cities, English is actually a minority language: A staggering 54 percent of residents in the Los Angeles metropolitan region speak a language other than English at home, as do 51 percent of Miami-area residents, 40 percent of San Francisco, 38 percent of New York, 37 percent of Houston and 36 percent of the Washington, D.C., region.

The data, gleaned from Census information from 2009 to 2013, found 60.3 million residents, or more than one in five people over the age of 5, speaks a language other than English at home. Spanish is the top alternative, with 37.5 million home speakers, followed by Chinese with 2.9 million home speakers.

Other top languages with more than 1 million home-speakers were French, German, Korean, Vietnamese and Tagalog. Arabic, meanwhile, was nearing the 1 million mark.

But the breadth of languages was also apparent, with about 25,000 speaking Finnish at home, about 212,000 speaking Hebrew, approximately 166,000 speaking Navajo and 237,000 or so speaking Armenian.

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The federal Department of Education said 4.4 million students, or about 9.2 percent of the total, were deemed English language learners in the 2012-13 school year. Local school districts say the extra costs for educating those students run thousands of dollars more than the average student who speaks English proficiently.

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