English Proficiency on the Rise Among Latinos – U.S. Born Driving Language Changes

Photo: desmotivaciones.es
Photo: desmotivaciones.es

 
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English Proficiency Rising Among Latinos as Spanish Use at Home DeclinesA record 33.2 million Hispanics in the U.S. speak English proficiently, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.1 In 2013, this group made up 68% of all Hispanics ages 5 and older, up from 59% in 2000.
At the same time that the share of Latinos who speak English proficiently is growing, the share that speaks Spanish at home has been declining over the last 13 years. In 2013, 73% of Latinos ages 5 and older said they speak Spanish at home, down from 78% who said the same in 2000. Despite this decline, a record 35.8 million Hispanics speak Spanish at home, a number that has continued to increase as the nation’s Hispanic population has grown.
These shifts coincide with the rise of U.S.-born Hispanics as a share of the nation’s Hispanic population, and the slowdown in immigration to the U.S. from Latin America. In 2013, U.S.-born Hispanics outnumbered foreign-born Hispanics by nearly two-to-one—35 million to 19 million—and made up a growing share (65%) of the nation’s Hispanic population. They are also much younger, with a median age of 19 years compared with 40 among immigrant Hispanics (Stepler and Brown, 2015). At the same time, immigration from Latin America, primarily Mexico, has slowed (Passel, Cohn and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2012), leading to fewer Spanish-speaking new immigrant arrivals and a more settled U.S. Hispanic immigrant population.
As a result, since 2000, U.S. Hispanic population growth has been driven primarily by U.S. births rather than the arrival of new immigrants (Krogstad and Lopez, 2014).
U.S.-Born Hispanics Drive Gains in English ProficiencyFully 89% of U.S.-born Latinos spoke English proficiently in 2013, up from 72% in 1980. This gain is due in part to the growing share of U.S.-born Latinos who live in households where only English is spoken. In 2013, 40% of U.S.-born Latinos, or 12 million people, lived in these households, up from 32% who did so in 1980. The gain in English proficiency is also due to the rising share of U.S.-born Latinos who live in households where Spanish (or another non-English language) is spoken, and who say they speak English “very well.” Half (49%) of U.S.-born Latinos said this in 2013, numbering 14.7 million, up from 40% who said the same in 1980.
By contrast, the share of foreign-born Latinos who speak English proficiently is little changed since 1980, even though the number that is English-proficient has grown. In 2013, 34% of foreign-born Latinos spoke English proficiently, numbering 6.5 million. In 1980, that share was 31% and numbered 1.3 million.
Looked at another way, just 5% of foreign-born Hispanics spoke only English at home in 2013, about the same share (4%) as in 1980. And 29% of foreign-born Hispanics speak Spanish (or another non-English language) at home, but say they speak English “very well,” a share also little changed from the 27% who said so in 1980.
 

One-Third of Hispanics are Not Proficient in English

Selected Characteristics of Hispanics Not Proficient in English, 2013
Even though English proficiency is on the rise among Hispanics, there are many who speak English less than very well—or not at all. According to the Pew Research analysis, 12.5 million Hispanics in 2013 said they speak English but rate their speaking ability as less than “very well.” And an additional 3.2 million say they do not speak English at all. Together, these groups of Hispanics make up one-third (32%) of all Hispanics ages 5 and older.
These groups also differ in many ways from Hispanics who speak English proficiently. For example, 21% of Hispanics who do not speak English are ages 65 and older. Among those who speak English but speak it less than “very well,” 9% are in this age group. By contrast, among English-proficient Hispanics, just 4% are ages 65 or older. By gender, 57% of those who do not speak English are women, compared with 47% of those who speak English but speak it less than “very well” and 49% of Hispanics who speak English proficiently.
There are also differences between these two groups—those who speak English less than “very well” and those who don’t speak it at all—by educational attainment and nativity. Three-in-four Hispanics who do not speak English have less than a high school education, compared with 52% of those who speak English but speak the language less than “very well” and 18% of Hispanics who are English-proficient. And by nativity, 93% of those who do not speak English are foreign-born, compared with 76% who speak English but speak the language less than “very well” and 19% who speak English at least “very well.”
Language Use Among Hispanics, 2013
Latinos’ changing language use patterns are reflected in other ways. With English proficiency on the rise among Spanish-speaking Latinos, more than half of Latino adults who are English speakers say they can speak both languages very well, according to Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos (Krogstad and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2015).2 One-in-four Latinos speak only English at home. And when it comes to consuming news media, among Latino adults, a growing share get their news in English, while a declining share do so in Spanish (Lopez and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2013). Even so, for Hispanics overall, 95% say it is important that future generations of Hispanics living in the U.S. be able to speak Spanish (Taylor et al., 2012). Nearly as many, 87%, say that Hispanic immigrants need to learn English to succeed in the U.S.
Accompanying this report is a statistical portrait of the nation’s Hispanic population in 2013. It is based on the Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey and features detailed characteristics of the Hispanic population at the national level, as well as state population totals. Topics covered include age, citizenship, origin, language proficiency, living arrangements, marital status, fertility, schooling, health insurance coverage and employment. In addition, statistical profiles of the Hispanic population in 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 are available, documenting trends on key demographic and economic measures among Hispanics.

To read full report: http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/05/12/english-proficiency-on-the-rise-among-latinos/?utm_source=Pew+Research+Center&utm_campaign=584e6a283d-&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3e953b9b70-584e6a283d-399867309


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