Spanish speaking people living in communities where English is the most prevalent language face the challenge to teach their children Spanish. A lot of children in these communities speak only English in school and with their friends so they have limited exposure to Spanish outside their homes. Often they prefer to speak English at home as well as they develop a comfort level with the language due to the daily exposure in school. Many parents do the best they can to make sure their children learn and use Spanish as much as possible but if they do not master the language to a high level it is unlikely that they will speak Spanish at home to their children in the future.
According a Pew Research Center article, Census Bureau projections show that the share of Hispanics who speak only English at home will rise from 26% in 2013 to 34% in 2020. Over this time period, the share who speak Spanish at home will decrease from 73% to 66%. This trend could be due to a number of reasons. Many immigrants prioritize the need for their children to learn and speak English so that they can be successful in school and in the job market. At times this can happen at the expense of maintaining the native language at home. Children strive to fit in with the new culture and prefer to speak the language spoken in the community and by their friends.
According to a 2013 Pew Research Center National Survey of Latinos, "Latino adults who are the children of immigrant parents are most likely to be bilingual. Among this group, 50% are bilingual. They found that as of 2012, Latinos with immigrant parents (defined as those born outside the U.S. or those born in Puerto Rico) made up roughly half (48%) of all U.S.-born Hispanics. By comparison, a third (35%) of Hispanic immigrants are bilingual, as are a quarter (23%) of those with U.S.-born parents". This findings appear to indicate that children of Hispanic parents that immigrated to the US are more likely to be bilingual compared to the children of Hispanic parents that were born and raised in the US.
Another interesting finding of this survey is that with each passing generation of immigrants, the percentage of Spanish speakers or bilingual speakers diminishes significantly. With each passing generation the likelihood that parents will make the effort to continue speaking Spanish at home becomes less prevalent. This trend can be partly due to Spanish speaking people marrying non-Spanish speakers which makes it more challenging to have the children learn the language.
Spanish can survive in the US but it will be up to second and third generation parents to take the time and make the effort to pass on this beautiful language to their children. Also, new immigrants will be first generation Spanish speakers that will keep the language alive and well for generations to come.
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