Data Dictionary: ACS 2007 -- 2011 (5-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: B16002. Household Language By Households In Which No One 14 And Over Speaks English Only Or Speaks A Language Other Than English At Home And Speaks English "very Well" [14]
Universe: Universe: Households
Relevant Documentation:
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.

Household
A household includes all the people who occupy a housing unit. (People not living in households are classified as living in group quarters.) A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live separately from any other people in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. The occupants may be a single family, one person living alone, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated people who share living arrangements.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2007-2011 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Ability to Speak English
Respondent's Ability to Speak English
Respondents who reported speaking a language other than English were asked to indicate their English-speaking ability based on one of the following categories: "Very well," "Well," "Not well," or "Not at all." Those who answered "Well," "Not well," or "Not at all" are sometimes referred as "Less than 'very well.'" Respondents were not instructed on how to interpret the response categories in this question.

Households in which no one 14 and over speaks English only or speaks a language other than English at home and speaks English "very well"
This variable identifies households that may need English language assistance. This arises when no one 14 and over meets either of two conditions (1) they speak English at home or (2) even though they speak another language, they also report that they speak English "very well."
After data are collected for each person in the household, this variable checks if all people 14 and over speak a language other than English. If so, the variable checks the English-speaking ability responses to see if all people 14 and over speak English "Less than 'very well.'" If all household members 14 and over speak a language other than English and speak English "Less than 'very well,'" the household is considered part of this group that may be in need of English language assistance. All members of a household were identified in this group, including members under 14 years old who may have spoken only English.

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 English Language Ability question has been the same since the beginning of ACS. "Households in which no one 14 and over speaks English only or speaks a language other than English and speaks English 'very well'" has been calculated the same way in all years of ACS data collection, but has sometimes been termed "Linguistic Isolation."

Limitation of the Data
Ideally, the data on ability to speak English represented a person's perception of their own English-speaking ability. However, because one household member usually completes American Community Survey questionnaires, the responses may have represented the perception of another household member.
Comparability
All years of ACS language data are comparable to each other. They are also comparable to Census data from 1980, 1990 and 2000. Though the term "Linguistic Isolation" is no longer used, data under this heading may still be compared.