Language Usage Among Latinos in USA

The Pew Research Center has performed some studies over the past decade to track the use of language by Latinos who have come to this country as immigrants as well as second generation individuals who were born here. Their findings show that a majority of Latinos consider proficiency in the English language as an important component to living in the United States and while many do become proficient and consider themselves bilingual, there is still great importance placed upon the use of Spanish among those who are well-versed in both languages.

Recent surveys conducted by Pew found that over 30 million Latinos who are living in the U.S. currently have a proficient grasp of the English language with 68% of that demographic at aged 5 and up. This accounts for a ratio of six out of ten Latinos and among that group 36% consider themselves bilingual, 25% prefer to use English and 38% place a greater emphasis on speaking Spanish. Children born of Latinos who immigrated to this country are more prone to becoming bilingual at a rate of about 50%

Yet even with an 87% response from Latino immigrants that English is critical to get ahead in America (which could account for the trend in well-educated Latinos embracing bilingual practices), there is still great importance placed on speaking Spanish inside the home. Nine out of ten Latinos believe that those who have come to the country as adults must learn English.

By contrast, 11% feel Spanish alone is sufficient for success in the U.S. But even with this prevailing notion towards English being crucial to achievement leading to a slight drop in the number of Latinos speaking Spanish at home, there are still nearly 36 million of them who prefer their native tongue in the household. This poses a potential problem to those Latinos who feel that English is crucial to the American experience.

Only 60% would classify their ability to hold a conversation in English as “very well” or “pretty well” with about the same percentage claiming they can read at the same level. Those numbers range by generation, with adults who immigrated here holding these least confidence in their skills and later generations improving in those areas to around 92% or higher.

This could also account for the rise in a mix of both languages together known as “Spanglish” being used by approximately 70% of Latinos between the ages of 16 and 25. These are the individuals who best signify the gap between adults who have come here from their home country and the younger members born here to immigrant parents. They are the ones who feel the most pressure to have bilingual skills so that they may succeed in this country yet are faced with a household of parents and grandparents who choose to speak Spanish due to their lack of proficiency.

The Latino Family Literacy Project are experts in working with Spanish speaking parents and can train your staff to work specifically with parents at your school to read with their children and develop English vocabulary for school success. Workshop attendees for professional development, can participate via online webinar training or in-person workshops.

Katherine Del MonteLanguage Usage Among Latinos in USA