University of Illinois Urbana‑Champaign

Language: Limited English Speaking Households

Our interactive map lets users view limited English-speaking data by year and either Spanish or other languages spoken. Users also can hover their cursor over individual counties or Chicago Community Areas to get the specific results for that county or area.

About this data

A limited English-speaking household is one in which no member 14 years old and over (1) speaks only English or (2) speaks a non-English language and speaks English “very well.” In other words, all members 14 years old and over have at least some difficulty with English. Data are based on answer to questions: “Does this person speak a language other than English at home?” and “What is this language?”

The U.S. Census Bureau defines “household" as 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. 

For children age 5, use language of child. For children under age 5, use language of mother; if not mother present, use language of father; if no father present, use language of head of household; if no head of household present, indicate unknown. Thus, the data represent the language spoken by the child or likely being learned by the child.

The fact that a child is reported as speaking or learning one of these non-English languages does not imply that the child does not know or is not learning English also.

Source of data: IECAM, based on several estimates from the Census Bureau

Note: Because of pandemic-related disruptions to data collection in 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau has alerted American Community Survey (ACS) data users to expect somewhat larger margins of error in the 2016-2020 5-year estimates than in previous 5-year releases.

The data for “Number of limited English-speaking households, Spanish/other languages” for the years 2005 through the most recent available (for all regions) can be found via the online database.