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Americans May Be More Bilingual and Multilingual Than You Thought:

Jan 15, 2012

More and More Americans Speak Another Language

In Gray Matter,'s Michael Erard questioned whether Americans are truly monolingual. He also reported what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at the Foreign Language Summit in 2010. "For too long, Americans have relied on other countries to speak our language," the secretary said. "But we won't be able to do that in the increasingly complex and interconnected world."

For some reasons, many people believe that not too many Americans speak several languages. They assume that few Americans speak more than one language. However, it has been shown that more and more Americans are learning foreign languages to conduct their business, for travel purposes, and to communicate with their employees.

Then, the reporter made this declaration, "I know I’m not alone. There are countless Americans who speak languages other than English outside their homes: not just those of us who have learned other languages in school or through living abroad, but also employers who have learned enough Spanish to speak to their employees; workers in hospitals, clinics, courts and retail stores who have picked up parts of another language to make their jobs easier; soldiers back from Iraq or Afghanistan with some competency in Arabic, Pashto or Dari; third-generation kids studying their heritage language in informal schools on weekends; spouses and partners picking up the language of a loved one’s family; enthusiasts learning languages with computer software like Rosetta Stone. None of the above are identified as bilingual by the Census Bureau’s question.....