You might be surprised to learn that the language that has seen the most growth in the United States over the past few years isn’t Spanish or Chinese — but Telugu.
A new study by the by Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reveals that the number of Telugu speakers in the United States grew an astounding 86 percent between 2010 and 2017. According to researchers, that jump was the highest experienced by any of the most widely spoken languages in the country.
Telugu is a Dravidian language with speakers that are primarily from the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In 2010, there were just 87,543 people in the United States that spoke the language. That number shot up to 415,414 just seven years later.
That growth can perhaps be attributed in part to a growing effort by members of the Telugu-speaking community to pass the language on to their second and third generation children. In 2016, the Los Angeles Times profiled Vidya Tandanki, a Telugu teacher outside of Los Angeles who holds language classes at her home three times a week.
“When my kids go back to Andhra Pradesh they shouldn’t feel like a fish out of water,” she told the paper. “Our language is vulnerable; it’s definitely endangered. Children no longer learn the language in the home. So after 40 or 50 years, what will happen?”
Other Indian languages that showed an impressive growth in speakers in the United States included Hindi — which remains the most widely spoken South Asian language in the country — Bengali and Urdu.