Preply names El Paso the most bilingual city in the US

The most bilingual city in the United States is El Paso, Texas, according to recently released research conducted by e-learning company Preply.

Earlier this year, Preply released a report analyzing the most — and the least — bilingual cities in the nation. Using census data to identify cities with large populations of bilingual individuals, Preply found that about one in five residents of the country’s largest cities is bilingual. That figure goes up closer to one in three residents for cities with higher bilingual populations like El Paso (where 39.4% of residents are bilingual) and Los Angeles, California (with a bilingual population of 33.5%).

“The ability to speak two or more languages varies from place to place worldwide, with some 42% of the population in Switzerland using two or more languages in everyday life, but just 20% doing the same in France,” writes Preply’s Matt Zajechowski. “That’s also true in the United States, where residents of some regions are more likely to be bilingual or multilingual than people in other places.”

After El Paso and Los Angeles, San Jose, San Antonio, and New York City round out the top five most bilingual cities in the United States — in each of these cities, Spanish is the most commonly spoken language after English and more than 40% of the population speaks a language other than English. For example, in El Paso, 70% of residents speak a language other than English.

Source: Preply

Preply also noted the least bilingual cities in the country — with just 6.3% of its residents identifying as bilingual, Detroit, Michigan, is the least bilingual major city in the country. There, only 11% of residents speak a language other than English. The remaining cities in the bottom five include Indianapolis, Nashville, Jacksonville, and Columbus, each of which are home to a bilingual population that makes up less than 10% of the city’s total population.

The nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., is also home to a surprisingly slim number of bilingual individuals — according to Preply, it’s the sixth least bilingual city in the country, with just 11.5% of its population considering themselves bilingual. 

“With the nation growing more bilingual and the demand for bilingual employees and services increasing, the advantages of speaking more than one language are apparent,” the company’s blog post concludes. “Knowing Spanish can be particularly helpful, given that it’s the No. 2 language in most big cities — even those without a large Hispanic population.”

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.


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