The 5 Fastest Growing Languages in U.S. Schools

June 16, 2021

The United States is diversifying faster than ever, especially among youths. That means K-12 schools, colleges, and universities often need to meet the needs of students and parents who speak a language other than English. And while the majority of English learners are native Spanish speakers, four out of the five fastest growing languages trace their origins to Asia. In this blog post, we take a look at those languages and explore how educational institutions can meet students’ linguistic needs through translation and interpreting.  

5 Fastest Growing Languages

Below is a brief overview of the fastest growing languages in the U.S. between 2010 and 2017. Depending on where you live, you may see a rise in students who speak one or more of them.

  1. Telugu – Up 86%

Spoken primarily in South India and Sri Lanka, Telugu is the language of the Telugu people. It’s also the fastest growing language in the U.S. due to the influx of Telugu speakers in tech and engineering. Between 2008 and 2012, the city of Hyderabad alone sent over 26,000 students to U.S. universities.   

Around 415,400 Telugu speakers live in the U.S. The majority reside in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and California.   

  1. Arabic – Up 42%

Spoken by 580 million people worldwide, Arabic is the official language of 23 countries in the Middle East and Africa. The number of Arabic speakers is in the rise due to both increased immigration over the past 20 years and the size of Muslim families. (American Muslims tend to have more children than Americans of other faiths.)   

Around 1.1 million Arabic speakers live in the U.S., most of whom reside in California, Michigan, New York, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, and Ohio.

  1. Hindi – Up 42%; 4. Urdu – Up 30%

Hindi and Urdu are registers of the Hindustani language, and are official languages of India. Around 863,000 Hindi speakers live in the U.S., making it the most widely spoken Indian language. Urdu is spoken by about 507,300 people. As is the case with Telugu, the increase is primarily due to the influx of highly skilled immigrants and university students.

The majority of speakers reside in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Texas.

  1. Chinese – Up 23%

Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, and the third most widely spoken language in the U.S. It’s also the fastest growing language in the U.S. in absolute numbers.   

Around 3.5 million Chinese speakers live in the U.S. The majority live in the metropolitan areas of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore-Washington, Seattle, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Delaware Valley.

The Role of Translation and Interpreting Services in Education

Now, many students and parents who speak these languages may already speak English fluently. However, under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, those who don’t are entitled to certain translated materials and access to an interpreter while they’re learning English. And keep in mind that even if a student or parent can speak some English, they may still need assistance in their native language. Navigating enrollment and learning how the U.S. education system works can be challenging for new arrivals—regardless of their English proficiency level.  

How INGCO International Can Help

As you prepare for the next school year, you may be wondering how you can ensure all students and parents have the linguistic resources they need. That’s where we come in. At INGCO International, our network of professional translators and interpreters are ready to assist in over 200 languages. We’ve provided translated documents and educational interpreters for numerous schools, and we’re ready to do the same for you.

Ready to discuss your educational translation and interpreting needs? Contact us today!