More than 20% of US residents speak a language other than English at home, a recent American Community Survey has found, and this percentage has almost doubled since 1980. In real terms, 66.6 million US residents now speak a language other than English at home and this number has doubled since 1990 and tripled since 1980, survey data showed. These are exciting figures if you believe in multi-cultural societies.
But this data point alone does not indicate whether the need for language assistance has increased in the US. The survey, which reflects the US population as of July 1, 2017, also reveals that of the 66.6 million people who speak a foreign language at home, 39% or 26 million self-assessed themselves as speaking English less than very well, and are considered to be Limited English Proficient (LEP). This means that rather than an increase in language skills within the US, this means that there is an increase in people speaking languages other than English as their main language.
An increase in the number of residents who require some form of language support to access public services underpins and drives language services in general and interpretation services in particular.
The survey was carried out by the Census Bureau and includes over two million native-born US residents, legal immigrants and illegal immigrants aged five and above, and the data is available on government census portal FactFinder.