Data Dictionary: ACS 2008 -- 2010 (3-Year Estimates)
you are here: choose a survey survey data set table details
Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: B16001. Language Spoken At Home By Ability To Speak English For The Population 5 Years And Over [119]
Universe: Population 5 years and over
Table Details
B16001. Language Spoken At Home By Ability To Speak English For The Population 5 Years And Over
Universe: Population 5 years and over
Variable Label
B16001001
B16001002
B16001003
B16001004
B16001005
B16001006
B16001007
B16001008
B16001009
B16001010
B16001011
B16001012
B16001013
B16001014
B16001015
B16001016
B16001017
B16001018
B16001019
B16001020
B16001021
B16001022
B16001023
B16001024
B16001025
B16001026
B16001027
B16001028
B16001029
B16001030
B16001031
B16001032
B16001033
B16001034
B16001035
B16001036
B16001037
B16001038
B16001039
B16001040
B16001041
B16001042
B16001043
B16001044
B16001045
B16001046
B16001047
B16001048
B16001049
B16001050
B16001051
B16001052
B16001053
B16001054
B16001055
B16001056
B16001057
B16001058
B16001059
B16001060
B16001061
B16001062
B16001063
B16001064
B16001065
B16001066
B16001067
B16001068
B16001069
B16001070
B16001071
B16001072
B16001073
B16001074
B16001075
B16001076
B16001077
B16001078
B16001079
B16001080
B16001081
B16001082
B16001083
B16001084
B16001085
B16001086
B16001087
B16001088
B16001089
B16001090
B16001091
B16001092
B16001093
B16001094
B16001095
B16001096
B16001097
B16001098
B16001099
B16001100
B16001101
B16001102
B16001103
B16001104
B16001105
B16001106
B16001107
B16001108
B16001109
B16001110
B16001111
B16001112
B16001113
B16001114
B16001115
B16001116
B16001117
B16001118
B16001119
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2008-2010 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Language Spoken at Home
Language Spoken at Home by the Respondent
Data on language spoken at home were derived from answers to questions 14a and 14b. These questions were asked only of persons 5 years of age and older. Instructions mailed with the American Community Survey questionnaire instructed respondents to mark "Yes" on Question 14a if they sometimes or always spoke a language other than English at home, and "No" if a language was spoken only at school - or if speaking was limited to a few expressions or slang. For Question 14b, respondents printed the name of the non-English language they spoke at home. If the person spoke more than one non-English language, they reported the language spoken most often. If the language spoken most frequently could not be determined, the respondent reported the language learned first.

Questions 14a and 14b referred to languages spoken at home in an effort to measure the current use of languages other than English. This category excluded respondents who spoke a language other than English exclusively outside of the home.

An automated computer system coded write-in responses to Question 14b into more than 380 detailed language categories. This automated procedure compared write-in responses with a master computer code list - which contained approximately 55,000 previously coded language names and variants - and then assigned a detailed language category to each write- in response. The computerized matching assured that identical alphabetic entries received the same code. Clerical coding categorized any write-in responses that did not match the computer dictionary. When multiple languages other than English were specified, only the first was coded.

The write-in responses represented the names people used for languages they spoke. They may not have matched the names or categories used by professional linguists. The categories used were sometimes geographic and sometimes linguistic. The table in Appendix A provides an illustration of the content of the classification schemes used to present language data.

Household Language
In households where one or more people spoke a language other than English, the household language assigned to all household members was the non- English language spoken by the first person with a non-English language. This assignment scheme ranked household members in the following order: householder, spouse, parent, sibling, child, grandchild, other relative, stepchild, unmarried partner, housemate or roommate, and other nonrelatives. Therefore, a person who spoke only English may have had a non-English household language assigned during tabulations by household language Government agencies use information on language spoken at home for their programs that serve the needs of the foreign-born and specifically those who have difficulty with English.
Under the Voting Rights Act, language is needed to meet statutory requirements for making voting materials available in minority languages. The Census Bureau is directed, using data about language spoken at home and the ability to speak English, to identify minority groups that speak a language other than English and to assess their English-speaking ability. The U.S. Department of Education uses these data to prepare a report to Congress on the social and economic status of children served by different local school districts.

Government agencies use information on language spoken at home for their programs that serve the needs of the foreign-born and specifically those who have difficulty with English. Under the Voting Rights Act, language is needed to meet statutory requirements for making voting materials available in minority languages. The Census Bureau is directed, using data about language spoken at home and the ability to speak English, to identify minority groups that speak a language other than English and to assess their English-speaking ability. The U.S. Department of Education uses these data to prepare a report to Congress on the social and economic status of children served by different local school districts. State and local agencies concerned with aging develop health care and other services tailored to the language and cultural diversity of the elderly under the Older Americans Act.


Question/Concept History
The Language Spoken Questions have changed only once since ACS began. Examples of languages were listed immediately followed the question "What is this language?" in the 1996-1998 questionnaire. Starting in 1999, the list of languages was moved to below the write-in box.

Limitation of the Data
The language question is about current use of a non-English language, not about ability to speak another language or the use of such a language in the past. People who speak a language other than English outside of the home are not reported as speaking a language other than English. Similarly, people whose mother tongue is a non- English language but who do not currently use the language at home do not report the language. Some people who speak a language other than English at home may have first learned that language in school. These people are expected to indicate speaking English "Very well."

Comparability
All years of ACS language data are comparable to each other. They are also comparable to Census data from 1980, 1990 and 2000.
See the 2010 Code List for Language Code List.