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A Look at the Changing Demographics in the U.S.

According to recent data from the Census Bureau, about 22% of the population in the United States speaks a language other than English as their primary language at home. This highlights the growing diversity of the nation and the importance of providing language access in public service areas such as healthcare. Ensuring that every patient receives equal levels of care, regardless of their primary language, is crucial.

Take a look at how the demographics in the U.S. have changed and how healthcare providers can use this data to serve LEP communities in a culturally competent way. 

How the LEP Population Has Changed in Recent Years 

The United States population has grown profoundly diverse in recent years. Refugee populations have changed from what they once were, bringing in people with more diverse languages, cultural beliefs, and backgrounds. Language diversity has grown to be so substantial in the U.S. that in the country's largest cities, there are almost as many people who speak another language as there are those speaking English. 

The Top Languages Spoken in the U.S.: Highlights from GLOBO's Language Access Field Notes 

Our recent effort to comprehensively examine the changing U.S. language demographics revealed many important data points. We harvested the latest information from the United States Census Bureau, the Department of Homeland Security, and other reputable sources. 

Take a look at a few interesting highlights from GLOBO's Language Access Field Notes: 

  • The Spanish-speaking population continues to grow in all 50 states but also continues to face health disparities 
  • Chinese languages are now the second most common language other than English in the U.S. 
  • There has been a 200% increase in the number of Tagalog speakers since 1980 
  • Arabic is now the fastest-growing language population in the U.S. 
  • There are now nearly 1.5 million Hindi and Urdu (two of the most common Asian-Indian languages) speakers in the U.S. 
  • The number of people who rely on American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate could be as many as two million 

Each of these language groups faces unique challenges regarding health disparities. In our full report, we took a look at the top 15 languages in the U.S. and the unique health disparities and barriers to care faced by each group. For example, Slavic Russian-speaking immigrants are highly likely to have no health insurance. Likewise, Arabic-speaking individuals often face barriers to care related to a lack of understanding of Islamic beliefs among healthcare providers. 

How Healthcare Systems Can Support Patients Using Language Information 

Keeping tabs on the ever-evolving language demographics in the U.S. is vital to healthcare providers and organizations. LEP populations face a number of health disparities, oftentimes due to a lack of language support like no medical translation or healthcare interpreter provided during a visit. The more you know about the population you serve as a provider, the more you can prepare by ensuring adequate language support is in place. 

For example, most refugees who made their way to the U.S. in 2021 were from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where French is the most common language. Therefore, when a provider knows their local area will become home to refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they can prepare by: 

  • Using translation services to obtain printed materials in French 
  • Ensuring adequate access to interpreting services for those who only speak French 
  • Preparing staff members through cultural competence training to become familiar with refugee culture and beliefs 
  • Translating messages and text in digital media to reach refugee populations 

Explore the Changing Language Demographics in the U.S. With GLOBO

Are you looking to expand your knowledge of diverse language populations? Download Language Access Field Notes: Your Guide to Limited-English Speaking Populations in the U.S. to get an even deeper look at language demographics from GLOBO. 

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