cervantes institute
Spain's Crown Prince Felipe makes a speech during the opening ceremony of the Cervantes Institute in Hamburg (Instituto Cervantes Hamburg), June 30, 2011. The Cervantes Institute was founded in 1991 by the Spanish government, and works to advance knowledge of Spanish around the world. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

More Spanish is spoken in the U.S. then Spain, according to a new study released by the Institutio Cervantes entitled "Spanish, a living language.” The U.S. is home to the third-largest group of Spanish speakers, following Mexico and Colombia. Spain is fourth. If trends continue, the report estimates that the U.S. could have more Spanish speakers than Mexico by 2050. It’s not just Latinos and immigrants that make the U.S. a top spot for Spanish. More Americans also study Spanish more than any other country.

These headline-grabbing facts do have to be taken with a grain of salt. The U.S. is really, really, big, with a population of 350 million. It’s also growing. Spain has a slightly shrinking population, and only 46 million residents. Millions of those are immigrants and an even smaller number aren’t considered to have native-level speaking skills. As we show in our facts below, Spain actually has more native-level speakers than the U.S., the study reports. Yet so many Americans speak a little bit of Spanish that the U.S. has more speakers.

According to the Instituto Cervantes, here’s how many people speak Spanish in the U.S. and Spain.

1) Less Americans speak Spanish really well (Native-Level Speakers).

Spain: 43.9 million

U.S.: 41.3 million

2) More Americans speak Spanish sorta-okay (Limited Competence).

Spain: 3.7 million

U.S.: 11.6 million

That’s right, 11.6 million people are learning a fair amount of Spanish from their high school teachers or abuelas.

3) More Americans study Spanish than any other in the world. Brazilians are a close second. France is a distant third.

U.S. Spanish students: 7.8 million

Brazil Spanish students: 6.1 million

France Spanish students: 2.5 million

4) Spanish speakers in Latin America dwarf those in Spain, but Castellano isn’t the only European language to do better abroad. Portuguese speakers from Portugal number around 10 million. Meanwhile, 200 million Brazilians are speaking the language, not to mention colonies like Mozambique, Angola, East Timor, etc. English, French and other colonial language have faced a similar fate. English in particular has outstripped its origins, becoming more common as a global second language than a native tongue.

5) Around 470 million people have Spanish as a native tongue, according to the report, around 6 percent of the global population. Around 559 million speak Spanish as a second language, including millions of indigenous people in Latin America.

6) Just because you’re Latino, doesn’t mean you speak Spanish. We’ll let Flama explain this one, in the video below.

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