Most people would be surprised to learn that the United States as a nation does not have an official language. However, some individual states have their own official languages.
Most Common Languages in the US
Despite the lack of an official language, it is generally accepted that English is the national language of the US due to the fact that it is spoken by around 250 million US citizens. Certain states have declared an official language, which for the most part, is English, while others have chosen not to declare one.
¿Hablas español? If you speak Spanish, you’d be able to communicate with 43 million native English speakers in the US and those who speak it as their second language. This is unsurprising due to the proximity to Central American countries, where Spanish is spoken. In fact, Spanish is an official language in 6 out of the 7 countries in Central America; Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and finally, Panama.
Even more pertinent is the border the United States shares with Mexico. This land border is almost 2000 miles long, and there are close ties between these two North American countries. Spanish is the official language of Mexico, and it is widely spoken in states along the Mexican border.
In the USA, there are around 3 million native speakers of varieties of Chinese, including Mandarin and Cantonese, among others. In the USA, you can find the largest Chinese population outside of Asia and also the oldest Chinatown.
Tagalog is the language spoken in the Philippines. Filipino, the standardized version of Tagalog, is actually the national language. It’s not surprising that over 1.5 million people in the USA speak Tagalog because of the Treaty of Paris. This treaty, which was signed after the 19th-century Spanish-American war, included the cession of the Philippines to the United States.
One of the biggest Asian American ethnic groups is Vietnamese Americans. As a result, there are almost 1.5 million native Vietnamese speakers in the United States.
Arabic is one of the fastest-growing languages in the world, something which is reflected in the number of Arabic students in the USA. There are just over 1 million native Arabic speakers in the US today, with the highest populations in California and Michigan.
French is spoken on every continent of the earth and in many countries, including the United States. It is spoken as a first language in parts of 4 states; Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The most well-known French-speaking part of the United States is Louisiana, which was under French control for parts of the 17th and 18th centuries. Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole are still spoken in Louisiana today, albeit by only roughly 200,000 people.
With a Korean population of around 2 million, it’s not surprising that the United States has around 1 million native speakers of the Korean language. The US is home to the biggest Korean diaspora in the world.
Top languages in the US
We cannot talk about the languages spoken in the US without mentioning Native American languages. Before the European settlement, there was a time when the top languages in the US were all native. There are actually more languages spoken in the United States alone than in Europe due to a large number of Indigenous languages. These languages are endangered and are primarily spoken on Indian reservations nowadays.
Most popular languages in the US
Despite the vast array of languages spoken in the US today, English is by far the most prevalent. Nevertheless, one-fifth of the population of the US (21.6%) speak another language at home.
What language do Americans speak?
Almost all Americans speak English, if not as a first language, then as a second. English is the main language in business, trade, and other industries making it a must-know language for living and working in America. With regard to those who aren’t native English speakers, the majority are Hispanic.
To conclude, English and Spanish are the most spoken languages in the US as both mother tongues and second languages. Although people in the United States speak many other languages, none come remotely close to being as widely spoken as English and Spanish.