The importance of speaking Spanish

Growing up in the United States has a huge impact on how a person is shaped, especially for those who are the first generation to live here. Society molds the young, and many tend to slowly let go their ancestors’ culture, including the language they spoke.

According to the United States Census Bureau, 38.4 percent of the Texas population is Hispanic. But Hispanics that don’t know how to speak Spanish are becoming more common.

Hispanics see both English and Spanish as important, though in different ways. According to a Pew Research survey, “when asked whether adult Hispanic immigrants need to learn English to succeed in the U.S. or if they can succeed by speaking only Spanish, nearly nine-in-ten Hispanics say adult immigrants need to learn English.”

Learning English is essential for U.S. residents, but that shouldn’t mean its necessary to neglect your native language.

“Even though the number of Spanish speakers is projected to grow, among Hispanics, the share that speak Spanish is projected to fall from about 75 percent now to 66 percent in 2020,” said director of Hispanic Research at the Pew Research Center Mark Hugo Lopez.

More non-native Spanish speakers are leaning towards learning the language for better job opportunities and college credit, but it isn’t the same when one learns a language for professional purposes rather than learning it for your family and culture.

The Pew Hispanic Center ran multiple surveys to see the primary language of Hispanic immigrants. Among immigrant Hispanics, the majority speak Spanish over English. By contrast, among second-generation Hispanics, Spanish dominance falls to 8 percent, but the share who are bilingual rises to 53 percent. By the third generation, almost 69 percent of Hispanics are English dominant.

According to CNN, America’s youth is changing, their cultural ideal impacted by many different factors in society. Schools are as influential as parents when it comes to speaking Spanish.

“Language is just as much about value, culture, identity, context, emotion, behavior and usage. Children learn in their school setting that the only language that really matters in this society is English,” said assistant professor of linguistics at Florida International University Phillip M. Carter.

Most schools don’t offer bilingual education programs, where students receive half of their education in each language, and that can create a loss for students.

Because there is loss of the language within the educational system, it is important to maintain the language within the household.

Not only is speaking the language a way to maintain it, but reading, watching television or listening to music are all ways to engage in Spanish.

Because of the power of English-language institutions and culture, the Spanish language is threatened among Latinos in the United States. It’s up to this generation to try to preserve the individual cultures that create America.

Opinion columnist Rebekah Barquero is a print journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].


    • What is American culture? America was formed by immigrants from Europe and other countries, looking for better opportunities. It is important to speak English, but not neglect your cultural background either. It is a generalization saying that immigrants do not assimilate to American culture based only on observations from one person. Whenever someone moves to a new country, they face cultural clashes; it takes time to adjust to surroundings, and learn to merge two cultures together.

      • How can you then explain that of all of the previous major immigration waves, they were eager to learn English and have it become their primary language, while at the same time retaining ties to their cultural background. This was the case with the Europeans, and now with the Asians and Africans. For the last many decades, this has not happened particularly with south of the border immigrants, legal or otherwise. Border states are increasingly pandering by using printed materials, signs, etc in multiple languages. This blending you speak of is no longer occurring.

        • Actually, referring ro the article, many immigrants do come to the country “eager to learn English and have it become their primary language,” which is why the majority of 3rd generation Latino Americans do not know Spanish. These statistics are based on National Surveys. There have been “signs” in multiple languages for a while now.. It’s nothing new. And this blending is extremely current, the fusion of cultures is prominent in many parts of the world, especially in the United States; the fusion of foods, languages, and holidays. It sounds to me you just have strong thoughts regarding border patrol, but don’t let that cloud your judgement on cultural identities within the US..

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