Equity & Diversity

Guatemalans, Hondurans More Likely to Have Limited-English Proficiency

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 19, 2009 1 min read
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Out of 10 Hispanic groups in the United States, Guatemalans and Hondurans are most likely to say they speak English “less than well,” according to demographic profiles released by the Pew Hispanic Center and based on U.S. Census data.

Last week, the center released profiles of Colombians, Ecuadorians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Peruvians living in the United States. Earlier this year, it put out profiles for Cubans, Dominicans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Salvadorans.

Of all those groups, Hondurans were the most likely to report limited proficiency in English. Nearly 63 percent of Hondurans ages 5 and older reported they speak English less than well, compared with 38.8 percent of all Hispanics. Guatemalans make up the group that was next in line to be most likely to report limited-English skills, 59.7 percent.

The two Central American groups are not less likely to have been born outside the United States than some other groups who tend to be more likely to report a good command of English. For example, a larger proportion of Peruvians were born abroad than were Guatemalans or Hondurans, but U.S. residents of Peruvian origin are still more likely to report having a command of English.

The profiles give a clue, however, about why the Central American groups are less likely to be proficient in English. Both Guatemalans and Hondurans have lower levels of education than the Hispanic population overall, while Peruvians have higher levels of educational attainment than average for Hispanics in the United States.

Some 48.4 percent of Hondurans ages 25 and older have not obtained a high school diploma. For all U.S. Hispanics, that figure is 39.4 percent.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.