To read the entire survey entitled: "English Usage Among Hispanics in the United States" click here. -Patricia
By JULIA PRESTON | NY Times
Published: November 30, 2007
Most children of Hispanic immigrants in the United States learn to speak English well by the time they are adults, even though three-quarters of their parents speak mainly Spanish and do not have a command of English, according to a report released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.
Only 23 percent of first-generation immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries said they spoke English very well, the report found. But 88 percent of the members of the second generation in Latino immigrant families described themselves as strong English speakers, a figure that increased to 94 percent for the grandchildren’s generation.
“The ability to speak English and the likelihood of using it in everyday life rise sharply from Hispanic immigrants to their U.S.-born adult children,” the survey reported.
The Pew Hispanic Center is a nonpartisan research organization that does not take a position in the contentious immigration debate. The new report is based on an analysis of six surveys the center conducted from April 2002 to October 2006, covering more than 14,000 Latino adults over 18 years old.
The findings address rising worries among some voters that immigrants arriving from Latin America in the last two decades have resisted learning English and are failing to assimilate into American society. Advocates of tighter borders and reduced immigration have said that Spanish may be competing for dominance with English in states like Texas and California with large Latino populations.
At least one state, Kansas, adopted a law this year declaring English its official language and eliminating requirements that official documents be produced in Spanish as well as English, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Measures favoring English have also proliferated in counties and towns.
The Pew report found that Hispanics are generally eager to master English, believing it is “necessary for success in the United States.”
Many Hispanics believe they will face discrimination if they speak Spanish and lack strong English skills, according to the report. In the analysis, 46 percent of Latinos cited poor English skills as the leading cause of discrimination against them, a far more significant cause than race or immigration status. In a survey this year, 54 percent of Latinos said they saw discrimination as a major obstacle to their progress.
The report sought to measure English skills as “a marker of attachment” to American society, said D’Vera Cohn, a Pew center researcher who wrote the report with Shirin Hakimzadeh, another Pew researcher.
The English skills of recently arrived immigrants varied widely depending on the countries they came from. Among Mexicans, who are by far the largest national group among recent immigrants, 71 percent said they spoke little or no English. Of Hispanics born outside the 50 states, Puerto Ricans were the most likely to speak English well.
Even as many Latinos learn English, they continue to retain and use Spanish. According to the report, 44 percent of Latino adults, whether born abroad or in the United States, said they were bilingual, while 41 percent said they spoke mainly Spanish. Only 15 percent of Latino adults said they were “largely English speakers.”