According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Vintage 2022 Population Estimates, the country's population has rebounded across various racial and ethnic groups after experiencing a dip during the pandemic.

The analysis reveals that the Hispanic population grew by 1.04 million people, compared to 786,622 the previous year. The Asian and Pacific Islander population increased by 475,679, compared to 240,191 the previous year, while the Black population increased by 211,193, compared to 121,787 the year before.

The population growth can largely be attributed to a rise in net immigration. 

Immigration nearly tripled compared to the year before and, together, Latinos and Asians make up more than two-thirds of arrivals. 

READ: Hispanics Are Less Likely to See a Doctor, Report Says

The expansion of the Asian population was particularly driven by immigration, making it the fastest-growing race or ethnic group in the country. Additionally, growth in the Hispanic, Black, tribal, and Hawaiian populations was propelled by births outnumbering deaths.

The released population estimates shed light on the factors influencing changes in different racial, ethnic, and age groups since the onset of COVID-19 in April 2020. By the middle of last year, the U.S. population had reached 333.2 million, representing a 0.4% increase over the previous year.

For White residents in the U.S., immigration played a significant role in population expansion. Without immigration, the White population, including those who identify as more than one race, would have experienced a decline of over 85,000 people, rather than a meager growth of more than 388,000 individuals or 0.1%. This data highlights the complexity of population patterns and emphasizes the nuanced nature of immigration's impact, which is often overlooked in political debates.

Arrey Obenson, the president and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis, which assists newcomers in adapting to life in the U.S., emphasizes the contributions of immigrant and refugee communities. He states, "Immigrant and refugee communities bring talent, culture, and a set of skills that are needed in our community.”

Full article: Associated Press

Students Switch to AI to Learn Languages

AI-powered language learning apps are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to adapt to individual learners’ needs and preferences. These apps use machine learning algorithms to analyze users’ progress and provide personalized feedback and suggestions, making the learning process more efficient and engaging.

READ: Three Mistakes to Avoid When Learning a New Language

One of the key benefits of AI in language learning is the ability to create personalized learning experiences. AI can analyze a learner’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing the app to tailor the content and difficulty level to suit the individual’s needs. This targeted approach helps learners progress more quickly and effectively.

A Costa Rican who works in the construction industry tells me that his AI-powered keyboard has been useful for polishing up his technical vocabulary in English. For instance, it's saved him a great deal of time to be able to find an English word for a tool by describing it.

A South African café owner has gone further in improving his Spanish grammar with the aid of AI. He had a hard time finding simple study tools, especially given his ADHD, so he started using ChatGPT to quickly generate and adapt study aids like charts of verb tenses.

Developers have been quick to jump on this wave of interest, and there are now numerous apps that have drawn on open-source code to customize AI for language learners.

one of the specific language-learning chatbots is LangAI, launched in March by Federico Ruiz Cassarino. Ruiz Cassarino drew on his own experiences of learning English after moving from Uruguay to the UK. His English skills improved dramatically from speaking every day, compared to more academic methods. He's now using his own app to work on his Italian.

Many people get self-conscious about making mistakes in a language they barely speak, even to a tutor, Mr Ruiz Cassarino notes. But a chatbot won't judge you. And the new wave of generative AI is so advanced that it can cultivate AI penpals, which is how he sees his product.

Rather than sticking to boring pre-scripted roleplays, with current AI "you can speak about things that are interesting to you, which makes it feel like not as much of a chore to learn,” he said. 

Full article: BBC

The Race to Extract a Language From Its Last Speaker

It’s a ritual that Roberto Zariquiey and Nelita Campos have engaged in for more than a decade.

The odd couple — Zariquiey, a university linguist conducting postdoctoral research at Harvard; Campos, the last lucid speaker of her Indigenous language — sit at the roughhewn kitchen table of her raised cabin, overlooking a muddy stream in the village of Callería, deep in the Peruvian Amazon.

“You complain a lot,” Zariquiey teases Campos.

“No, you’re the one that never stops complaining,” cracks back Campos, barefoot, with long jet-black hair that defies her 75 or so years.

Zariquiey, a 44-year-old professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, is slowly extracting the Iskonawa language from Campos.

He fires off questions, listens attentively to the answers and meticulously writes down all the details Campos can share: The vocabulary, grammar and syntax of one of the world’s most endangered languages. Throughout, the pair, who have built an unlikely mother-son relationship, joke incessantly.

Roberto Zariquiey, a linguist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, has met with Campos for more than a decade in the effort to record all she knows of the Iskonawa language. 

Over time, Campos, who communicates with Zariquiey in both Iskonawa and Spanish, has managed to share much of this frequently onomatopoeic tongue from the Panoan family of languages of the Western Amazon. It’s heavy with polysemy — words with multiple meanings — and notable for allowing users to stack multiple verbs one atop the other.

Along the way, Zariquiey, who grew up in a middle-class family in Lima, has absorbed much of a culture finely attuned to its tropical rainforest environment, including the Iskonawa creation myth about an “isko,” a yellow and black bird that shoots its deadly feathers at humans who covet its stash of peanuts until a shaman persuades the angry fowl to share.

Around the world, researchers are fighting a losing battle to save the world’s linguistic diversity. The most optimistic estimates suggest that half the estimated 5,000 languages spoken today, from Siberia to the Australian Outback, Africa to the Amazon, could vanish by the end of the century. 

The U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs warns that as many as 95 percent could be “extinct or seriously endangered” by 2100.

As these ways of speaking disappear, some linguists say, so, too, do ways of thinking. At risk are vital clues to unlock mysteries of human evolution, neurology, even medical science.

Full article: Washington Post

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