Education

English-Learners & Immigrants

January 08, 2003 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Language Trends

Spanish is the dominant language among Hispanic adults in the United States, but their children use mainly English or are bilingual, a recent survey shows.

“2002 National Survey of Latinos,” from the The Pew Hispanic Center and Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (Sections of the report require Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Forty percent of adults living in the United States who identify themselves as of Hispanic or Latin origin or descent haven’t learned English, according to the survey, conducted from April to June of last year by the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The survey authors determined whether Hispanics were dominant in Spanish or English by how they answered four questions about their language skills, including, “Would you say you can read a newspaper or book in Spanish/English very well, pretty well, just a little, or not at all?”

They interviewed 2,929 Hispanics, including people who were born in the United States and in other countries, plus 1,008 non-Hispanic whites and 171 non-Hispanic African- Americans.

The survey results showed that a large share of children whose parents were born in Spanish-speaking countries prefer to use English in their own social settings in the United States.

Forty-five percent of foreign-born Hispanics surveyed said their children communicate with their friends mostly in English, and an additional 32 percent said their children use Spanish and English equally.

Only 18 percent of foreign-born Latinos said their children communicate only in Spanish with their friends; an additional 5 percent said their children speak more Spanish than English.

Almost all second-generation Hispanics are comfortable with English and are either English-dominant or bilingual, the survey authors say. Only 7 percent of second-generation Hispanic immigrants said they were Spanish-dominant.

The survey results illustrate the difference between the opportunities that Hispanic adults have to learn English in this country compared with those of their children, said Michael Fix, the director of the immigration-studies program at the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank.

“At least the teaching of English is professionalized within elementary and secondary schools,” he said. “For adults, it’s very fragmented.”

—Mary Ann Zehr mzehr@epe.org

Events

School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: June 15, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 8, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 1, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 11, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read