Sacramento city sign
© Robert Galbraith / Reuters
Chinatown in San Francisco
More than 66 million people in the US speak a 'foreign' language at home, the Center For Immigration Studies has discovered, and almost half of the residents in its five largest cities don't speak English with their families.

American heterogeneous society has failed to become more homogeneous over the last three decades, with more people opting to speak their native tongue at home. Data from 1980 shows that only 11 percent of people living in the US didn't speak English with their relatives; by 2017, that number had risen to 21.8 percent, the Washington-based immigration think tank discovered, after examining Census Bureau data for 2017. That is 66.6 million legal and illegal residents in a country with over 325 million citizens.

The acuteness of the phenomenon is felt across America's five largest cities, where 48 percent of residents now speak in their native tongue at home. In Los Angeles, the hottest melting pot of American society, over half of the population, or 59 percent, chose not to communicate in English at home. The mosaic of American society also failed to compel residents of New York City or Houston to adopt English. In both cities, 49 percent of residents opt out of conversing in the official language of the country in their home settings. In Phoenix, that number stands at 38 percent, while in the windy city of Chicago some 36 percent failed to integrate linguistically with American culture.

While the five major US cities are dominated by foreign speech, the issue is the same in at least 85 cities and Census Designated Places (CDP), in which over half of the population failed to communicate in English in their household. These include immigrant-abundant communities such as Hialeah, Florida where 95 percent of its population of roughly 220,000 failed to speak English, and in Laredo, Texas, where 92 percent of the community of 250,000 opted out of English.

It comes as no surprise that in Latino-dominant minority communities across the US, some 41 million people speak Spanish, followed by Chinese, which is enjoyed by some 3.5 million inhabitants. In addition, some 1.7 million Filipinos speak Tagalog, while 1.5 million speak Vietnamese across the US. These languages are followed by Arabic and French, with 1.2 million and Korean, with 1.1 million speakers.