Last month, the Pew Research Center released the findings of its study “Latinos’ Views of and Experiences with the Spanish Language,” which confirmed the growing importance of Spanish in the U.S. and anticipates the probability of a majority bilingual nation. The study finds that most U.S. Latinos speak Spanish—75% say they are able to carry on a conversation in Spanish pretty well or very well. And most Latinos (85%) say it is at least somewhat important for future generations of Latinos in the U.S. to speak Spanish. However, not all Hispanics are Spanish speakers, and about half (54%) of non-Spanish-speaking Hispanics have been shamed by other Hispanics for not speaking Spanish. At the same time, 78% of U.S. Hispanics say it is not necessary to speak Spanish in order to be considered Hispanic.
Key findings of the report include:
While most U.S. Latinos speak Spanish, not all do. 24% of all Latino adults say they can only carry on a conversation in Spanish a little or not at all. Among third- or higher-generation Latinos, a much higher share are not Spanish speakers: Close to two-thirds (65%) of third- or higher-generation Latinos say they cannot carry on a conversation well in Spanish.
About half of U.S. Hispanics who do not speak Spanish have been shamed because of it. 54% of Hispanics who say they speak no more than a little Spanish say another Hispanic person has made them feel bad for it.
Some Hispanics make jokes about those who do not speak Spanish. Four-in-ten Hispanic adults say they hear other Hispanics make jokes, extremely often or often, about Hispanics who do not speak Spanish or don’t speak it well.
Spanglish use is widespread among U.S. Hispanics. A majority of U.S. Latinos (63%) say they use Spanglish at least sometimes, including 40% who say they do so often.
Personal Hispanic identity is related to views about Spanish. U.S. Hispanics who consider their Hispanic identity to be extremely or very important to how they think about themselves are more likely than other Hispanics to say it’s important for future generations to speak Spanish. They are also more likely to say it is necessary for someone to speak Spanish in order to be considered Hispanic.
For this report, Pew Research Center surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,029 U.S. Latino adults, in English and Spanish, from Aug. 1 to 14, 2022. Findings among the sample often differ by nativity, immigrant generation, age, educational attainment and language use.
Pew Research Center, September 2023, “Latinos’ Views of and Experiences With the Spanish Language” (https://www.pewresearch.org/race-ethnicity/2023/09/20/latinos-views-of-and-experiences-with-the-spanish-language/)