Sep 7, 2023 - News

The Californians who speak a non-English language at home

Share of Californians who speak a language other than English at home
Data: U.S. Census American Community Survey; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Nearly half of all Californians speak a language other than English at home, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.

Why it matters: Over 1 in 4 people in the state are foreign-born.

  • Across California, Spanish is the most-spoken language other than English, followed by Chinese, Tagalog and Hindi.

Yes, but: In San Francisco, it's flipped.

  • Over 148,000 people in the local population speak Chinese at home, while more than 89,000 speak Spanish.
  • Variations of Filipino and Vietnamese are also among the top most-spoken languages among the city's residents, per data compiled by the San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs.

Of note: City departments are required to provide language access services anytime San Francisco counts over 10,000 residents with limited English proficiency who speak a shared language.

  • These services are currently available in Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin), Spanish and Tagalog.

What to watch: The larger Bay Area records Arabic, Chinese and Korean as some of the fastest-growing languages across its nine counties, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • Supervisor Shamann Walton is spearheading legislation to strengthen the city's language access ordinance, which includes increasing bilingual staffing and improving language services planning and coordination for crises and emergencies.

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