The Pew research organization has found that English proficiency among Latinos in the United States has risen over the past 14 years. The increase is due almost entirely due to the growing share of younger Latinos born in the country, according to Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. However, despite the rise of English proficiency among Latinos, most Latinos say the Spanish language does not define their identity: 71% say speaking Spanish is not necessary to be considered Latino.
When asked about their language use and English proficiency in 2014, some 88% of Latinos (ages 5 to 17) said they either speak only English at home, or speak English “very well.” This is an increase from 73% who said the same in 2000. And among Latinos ages 18 to 33, the share who speak only English at home or say they speak English “very well” increased from 59% to 76% during this time.
More Latinos in the U.S. today were born in the country than arrived as immigrants. Another factor in the demographic rise in English proficiency is that the number of newly arrived immigrants from Latin America has been in decline for a decade. For example, according to Pew, 65% of Latinos in 2014 were U.S. born, compared with 60% in 2000. One consequence of this trend is that a greater share of young Hispanics ages 5 to 17 are growing up in households where only English is spoken – 37% in 2014 compared with 30% in 2000.
Many Latinos do continue to speak Spanish. Pew’s analysis indicates that 36.7 million Latinos speak Spanish at home, making Spanish the most spoken non-English language in the United States. In other words, about three-fourths (73%) of Latinos say they speak Spanish at home.
Aviation Machinist's Mate Elmer Rayos, right, receives his certificate of United States citizenship on board the Nimitiz-class
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