Over the course of this week, we’re sharing the top ten foreign languages spoken in the U.S. in three installments, working up to the most common foreign language in the country. Yesterday, we highlighted numbers 8, 9, and 10: Italian, Russian, and Arabic.
Today, we’ll tackle four more. First up…
Over 50 million Americans identify German ancestry, making German the single largest ethnic group in the United States. Only about a million of them speak the language, but German remains the most spoken language, behind English and Spanish, in 16 states. Learning German could be particularly useful if you work the midwest or if your company has branches there, as those states have the highest concentration of German speakers (especially North Dakota, where it is the second most spoken language!) German companies are dominant in the manufacturing, engineering, and energy sectors internationally, and speaking the German language could certainly be an asset in those fields.
Approximately 1.2 million Americans speak Korean, a number that has tripled since 1980. Korean is the third most spoken language (behind English and Spanish) in Georgia and Virginia, and Korean speakers are also clustered in major urban hubs including Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, DC. South Korean companies are among the world leaders in electronics, vehicles, machinery, and industrial technologies, and many major companies in these sectors have Korean branches and Korean-speaking leadership.
There are over 1,300,000 French speakers in the U.S., and when speakers of French Creole are factored in, that number easily exceeds two million. French remains a mainstay in American public school programs, and is, behind Spanish, the second-ranking foreign language studied by U.S. students. French is the second most spoken language in Louisiana as well as in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, which all border French-speaking Canada, and it is among the top three foreign languages spoken in a handful of other southeastern states. Paris sits behind only Tokyo in the number of Fortune 500 companies it houses; and the airline and aerospace, cosmetics and luxury products, and telecommunications industries are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to France’s leading industries.
Clocking in at fourth on the list is Vietnamese, with nearly 1.5 million U.S. speakers. Following three significant waves of immigration between the mid-1970s and early 2000s, Vietnamese-American communities have been concentrated in the western United States, particularly in California, Washington, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Vietnamese language skills may prove especially useful if you live or work in the west or midwestern United States, or are involved in the garment, machinery, or energy and natural resources fields.
Can you guess what the top three languages spoken in the U.S. are? Check out our final installment here to see if you’re right!