We ask questions about whether a person speaks a language other than English at home, what language he/she speaks, and how well he/she speaks English to create statistics about language and the ability to speak English.
Local, state, tribal, and federal agencies use language data to plan government programs for adults and children who do not speak English well. These data are also used to ensure that information about public health, law, regulations, voting, and safety is communicated in languages that community members understand.
We use your confidential survey answers to create statistics like those in the results below and in the full tables that contain all the data—no one is able to figure out your survey answers from the statistics we produce. The Census Bureau is legally bound to strict confidentiality requirements. Individual records are not shared with anyone, including federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone—not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency.
We ask one question about whether people speak a language other than English at home, what language they speak, and how well they speak English to create a profile of the languages spoken in communities.
The results from this question are compiled to provide communities with important statistics about language. You can see some of these published statistics here for the nation, states, and your community.
We ask about language spoken at home in combination with other information, such as disability status, school enrollment, and poverty status, to help schools understand the needs of their students and qualify for grants that help fund programs for those students (Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965). Information on how many children and youth with limited English-speaking abilities who depend on services provided through schools helps school districts make long-term staffing and funding decisions.
We want to know about the languages spoken by people in the community in combination with information about housing, voting, employment, and education, to help the government and communities enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination based on national origin. For example, language data are used to support the enforcement responsibilities under the Voting Rights Act to investigate differences in voter participation rates and to enforce laws and policies related to bilingual election requirements. Knowing languages spoken in a community also helps federal agencies identify needs for services for people with limited English proficiency under Executive Order 13166.
Researchers, advocacy groups, and policymakers are interested in knowing whether people who speak languages other than English have the same opportunities in education, employment, voting, home ownership, and many other areas. For example, language data are used with age and ancestry data to address language and cultural diversity needs in health care plans for the older population.
The language spoken at home question originated with the 1890 Census. It was transferred to the ACS in 2005 when it replaced the decennial census long form.