Most Spoken Languages in the U.S. (Besides English and Spanish)
While the United States does not have an official language, English is the country's main language. With 42.5 million native speakers in the U.S., Spanish lands in second place.
But what about all the other languages that centuries of immigration have brought to this melting pot of a country? If we take English and Spanish out of the equation, these are the languages most spoken in every U.S. state.
Some will definitely surprise you.
9. Aleut Languages (Tie)
State where it's most spoken: Alaska
The Aleutian Islands are located between Russia and Alaska. Aleutian is actually where the name of the state comes from. Divided into three dialects (one of which is now extinct), Aleut language has fewer than 200 speakers in Alaska.
Still, it landed as the most spoken language in the Last Frontier after English and Spanish.
*Data is based on WordFinder X's "America's International Languages" report.
9. Dakota Languages (Tie)
State where it's most spoken: South Dakota
Divided into two dialects, Dakota is a language spoken by the Ohéthi Šakówi, also known as the Sioux. While their land was originally in Wisconsin and Minnesota, the U.S. government pushed them into Canada, Nebraska and the Dakotas after the Dakota War of 1862.
Today, there are only 290 Dakota speakers left in the world. Many of them residing in South Dakota.
9. Haitian Creole (Tie)
States where it's most spoken: Florida
Though Miami is over 70 percent Hispanic and Latino, the city's second-largest immigrant population comes from Haiti. There's even a Little Haiti neighborhood where you'll hear more Haitian Creole than English or Spanish.
The Haitian population is so large that the French-based Creole is the third most commonly spoken language in all of Florida.
9. Hmong (Tie)
States where it's most spoken: Minnesota
The Hmong are an ethnic group from Southeast Asia that have been heavily persecuted for centuries. After the Vietnam War, a large number of Hmong people sought refuge from persecution by moving to the United States. Most of them reside in Minnesota, with about 81,000 people living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Officially declared an endangered language, Hmong is being lost in the United States. But Hmong-Americans are doing their best to preserve their culture.
9. Japanese (Tie)
States where it's most spoken: Hawaii
In the 19th and 20th centuries, many Japanese people came to Hawaii to work on the island's plantations. Most of them never went back to their country. After native Hawaiians, Japanese people are the second-largest ethnic group in the state, so it makes sense that the language would be widely spoken.
There are actually more Japanese speakers than Spanish on the islands.
9. Polish (Tie)
States where it's most spoken: Illinois
When Polish immigrants fled Europe in the 20th century, most of them went to New York or Illinois. And many ended up in Chicago. The city claims to have about 1.9 million people of Polish descent, which we're inclined to believe given that there are several Polish neighborhoods and even the Polish Museum of America.
It seems that despite the passage of time, this group has made an effort to keep its language alive.
9. Russian (Tie)
States where it's most spoken: Oregon
You would've probably guessed that Russian was common in Alaska, not Oregon. But it turns out that there is a sizeable population of about 50,000 people from former Soviet Union countries in the Portland Area. Most of these immigrants are from Ukraine, but you'll find groups from several countries and they often communicate in Russian.
In fact, Portland is home to the only Russian radio station in the U.S., KXRU-FM 105.5.
9. Tagalog (Tie)
States where it's most spoken: Nevada
When you go to Vegas, expect casinos, light shows and Tagalog. Yep, you read that right. There are around 200,000 Filipinos living in Nevada, mostly in the Vegas area. Their influence is so strong that October is officially Filipino American History Month in the state, and Tagalog has been present in voting cards since 2020.
5. Korean (Tie)
States where it's most spoken: Georgia, Virginia (2)
Most Korean-Americans live in California and New York, but other languages take the crown in those states. But you know where Korean reigns supreme? In Virginia, mostly because there is a huge population of Koreans in Washington, D.C.
Atlanta also has enough people of Korean descent to have its own Korean Town.
5. Navajo (Tie)
States where it's most spoken: Arizona, New Mexico (2)
The Navajo people have fought hard to not lose their language. Today, it is one of the most widely spoken native languages in the U.S., with about 178,000 speakers. Navajo Nation is mostly located in Arizona and New Mexico, so it makes sense that the language would be prevalent in these two states.
Fun fact: Did you know that Navajo was used during World War II to send unbreakable code messages?
5. Vietnamese (Tie)
States where it's most spoken: Oklahoma, Texas (2)
California has the largest population of Vietnamese speakers, but the language isn't dominant in the state. Instead, you'll find it's the third most-spoken language in Oklahoma and Texas.
Not many people know that Oklahoma City has its own Asian District, which started as Little Saigon thanks to all the Vietnamese families that moved to the district in the 1970s. As for Texas, the city has over 80,000 people of Vietnamese descent. It's said that many people fleeing the war headed to the state because of its relatively warm climate. Today, you can find authentic and fusion Vietnamese food all over the Houston area.
5. Arabic (Tie)
States where it's most spoken: Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee (4)
Since the 1980s, people from the Middle East and Northern Africa have come to the States seeking refuge from the numerous wars of the region. In 2021, an estimated 1.4 million people from Arab countries migrated to the U.S.
While these immigrants are scattered around the country, many have settled in the Great Lakes region. About 13 percent of them have made a new home in Metro Detroit in Michigan.
States where it's most spoken: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Utah (5)
We don't often talk about how badly Portugal fared in the 20th century because the country wasn't an active participant in the World Wars. However, like its neighbor, Spain, Portugal was ruled by a right-wing dictator, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar from 1932 to 1968. During this time, many escaped the country and came to the U.S.
Most of these refugees headed to New England, where you can still find their descendants. Massachusetts has by far the largest number of Portuguese speakers, at 30 percent. Outside of the region, you'll find this group in California and Utah.
about 30% of them live in a cluster encompassing Massachusetts (258,238), Rhode Island (81,685) and Connecticut (43,079). California is the state with the largest Portuguese-American community (309,958).
States where it's most spoken: California, Delaware, Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington (6)
Chinese (including all dialects and languages) is actually America's third-most spoken language, with an estimated 3.5 million households using it as their primary language in the home. Waves of Chinese immigrants have been settling in the United States since the 19th century as maritime merchants, workers looking to strike it rich during the California Gold Rush or refugees fleeing political persecution and famine after the Chinese Revolution of 1949.
Today, you'll find large China Towns in various cities in the U.S., most notably along the West Coast and in New York City.
States where it's most spoken: Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont (7)
During the European colonization of the Americas, France was a major player that ended up losing most of its territory to the British Empire. The two countries battled over a large territory in New England, though the fight settled the current border during the French and Indian War, which ended in 1763. You can still see French influence in the region, as Canadians who come from Quebec often settle close to the border.
Similarly, Louisiana, once a French territory, continues to have notable elements from its former colonizer, including a unique colloquialism and cuisine.
States where it's most spoken: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming (13)
It's not that German has the most speakers in the U.S. after English and Spanish — we've already established that that honor goes to Chinese. But it is the third language in more states than any other language.
You'll find German speakers everywhere from the Great Lakes to the South, thanks to large waves of 19th and 20th-century immigrants and refugees who established strong communities. In fact, you can find U.S. German villages in places like Frankenmuth, Michigan, and Hermann, Missouri.
Most Spoken Languages By State