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].