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Easy Text: Immigration and Population

In 1790, the American population was about 4 million. In the year 2010, the population was over 300 million. How many Americans will there be in the future, do you think?

Immigranter står i kø etter ankomst på Ellis Island, ca 1900. Foto.

Immigrants arrive at Ellis Island

In the Beginning

The USA - Immigration


In 1775, around the time of the War of Independence, there were less than four million Americans. Until 1848, the population was rather small. This was changed by two events: the Gold Rush in California (1848) and the Homestead Act (1862), an act of law giving free land to farmers.

Difficult words
  • population = befolkning/folketal
  • event = begivenhet/hending
  • law = lov
  1. How many Americans were there in 1775?
  2. Why did the number of Americans increase rapidly around the middle of the 19th century?

Immigrants and Population Growth

The population grew after this. Within 50 years, the U.S. population tripled. Until 1840, mainly British people came, but more and more immigrants from Western Europe began to arrive. Poverty and political oppression were typically some of the reasons why people emigrated and looked forward to freedom in the “New World”.

Edited WOrld War One propaganda poster. Illustration.


The U.S. has been more open to immigration than other countries. However, since the beginning of the 1900s, many Americans have wanted stricter rules for immigration. They are afraid of overpopulation, unemployment, poorer social conditions and a weakened national identity. Others have welcomed a multicultural population. Since an immigrant is a person that has moved voluntarily to another country, Native Americans and African Americans are not considered immigrants.

Difficult words
  • tripled = ble tre ganger større/blei tre gonger større
  • poverty = fattigdom
  • oppression = undertrykkelse/undertrykking
  • stricter = strengere/strengare
  • unemployment = arbeidsledighet/arbeidsløyse
  • weakened = svekket/svekka
  • voluntarily = frivillig
  1. What were some of the reasons why immigrants came to the "New World"?
  2. Why do some Americans want stricter rules for immigration?
  3. Why are the African Americans and the Native Americans not considered to be immigrants?

New Immigrants

Since 1965, people from countries such as Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and Asiatic countries have been entering the U.S. legally and illegally. Some people claim that the USA is changing its color. By the year 2050, whites may have become out-numbered.

Difficult words

out-numbered - bli i mindretall/bli i mindretal

  1. What does it mean when some people claim that the U.S. is changing color?
  2. Immigrants enter the USA in two different ways. What are they?

This text is an easy version of Immigration and Population

Tasks and Activities

Find out

  1. How many Americans there are at the moment. Use Population Clock.
  2. How many Americans will there be in 2020? Use United States Population on Wikipedia. Click on Population Projections in the menu.
  3. Look at the statistics below. Which is the fastest growing immigrant group?

Ethnic Group






Non-Hispanic Whites






African Americans



Asian Americans



U.S. Census Population Projections (source Wikipedia)


In pairs, study this timeline and ask each other two questions from each time frame.

The Making of the American People

The Making of the American People


  1. Use the link ' The Peopling of America' to briefly present immigration in one period of US history. Add pictures and tables to your text and remember to state your sources. Feel free to use any additional web sites as resources.
  2. Search the Internet for 'the Statue of Liberty' and find information about symbolic meanings of the statue's various details.

Make a Quiz

Based on the text and the links, make a quiz and have at least two other students try it out. Make sure the alternatives in your quiz are clearly different. (Making a quiz is a bit harder than it looks so work on the language before you present it.)

Sist faglig oppdatert 05.10.2018
Skrevet av Åse Elin Langeland, Engelsk for videregående (Vega) og Catharine Ruud




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