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The Languages to Learn in San Diego...Other Than Spanish

Situated only about 15 miles from the Mexican Border, San Diego is truly a multicultural city. Countless languages are spoken here, some more so than others. And although English is the most widely spoken language, about 25% of the population are native or fluent Spanish speakers. So, it’s clear that picking up Spanish is vital for any polyglot who is going to live in this beautiful seaside city, but what other languages are spoken here?

Well, a great many, it turns out. According to the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, of those who speak a language other than English at home in San Diego County, roughly two-thirds (66.1%) speak Spanish — no surprise there. What is interesting to discover is the fact that, of those who speak a language other than English at home in San Diego County, roughly one in five (21.2%) speaks an Asian or Pacific Island language.

There are over 40,000 native Chinese speakers; about 14,000 native Korean speakers; nearly 12,000 native Japanese speakers; and about 5,000 native Mon-Khmer (Cambodian) speakers. Other languages with a sizable presence include Hmong, Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and other Pacific Island and Asian languages.

Translation: Getting it Right

There are also a number of Indo-European languages represented in the city of San Diego. Nearly 9,000 people speak French; over 5,000 speak Italian; approximately 8,300 people speak Russian; over 11,000 speak German, and about 4,500 people speak Portuguese. Other Indo-European languages with a presence here include Armenian, Persian, Greek, Polish, and Hindi.

Arabic is another useful language for San Diego residents to pick up, as there are nearly 22,000 native speakers here. African languages are spoken by nearly 13,000 people, and there is a small collection of Navajo and other Native North American languages here as well.

So while you are definitely more likely to hear English and Spanish in the great city of San Diego, they are certainly not the only languages widely spoken within our bustling, multicultural metropolis.

Photo credit: Robert Lamb

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About Jennifer Bustance

Jennifer Bustance is a California-based freelance writer, playwright, and novelist. Her plays have been performed all over the country, and her prose has appeared in various online and print publications. Jennifer is a teaching artist with the Playwrights Project, San Diego Writers, Ink, and UCSD Extension. She is the Playwright in Residence at the Scripps Ranch Theatre and a founding member of their New Works Studio. She has an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.

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Meet the Authors

Brian Gruters

In addition to writing blogs for us, Brian Gruters manages translation projects for corporate clients. He started with Language Translation in 2015.

Brian brings several years of experience as a Spanish to English translator to his work. He has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Arizona and a master’s in Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

As a writer, Brian is mostly interested in language, science, and environmental conservation issues. He writes for various publications, as well as his blog, briangruters.com.

Jennifer Bustance

Jennifer Bustance is a California-based freelance writer, playwright, and novelist originally from Troy, Michigan. Her plays have been performed all over the country, and her prose has appeared in various online and print publications.

Jennifer is a teaching artist with the Playwrights Project, San Diego Writers, Ink, and UCSD Extension. She is the Playwright in Residence at the Scripps Ranch Theatre and a founding member of their New Works Studio. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Chris Maroulakos

Chris Maroulakos has worked at Language Translation since 2007, and he is currently the director of operations. He has been a blogger and managing editor for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear since 2008, and he also worked as a blogger and associate editor for NBC San Diego's SoundDiego music blog.

Chris holds certifications in SDL Trados Studio for Translators (Advanced Level), SDL Trados Studio for Project Managers, and SDL MultiTerm for Translators and Project Managers. He is Inbound Certified by HubSpot and also has certifications in Localization and Localization Project Management from California State University Chico, the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), and the Localization Institute.

He graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a BA in Communications and with minors in Italian and International Studies.